Monday, February 29, 2016

The Lights of Benyamin

The Malayali author's novel, 'Yellow Lights Of Death', is a murder mystery, a far cry from his best-selling 'Goat Days'

Photos by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

In 1502, Andrew Pereira, his wife Catherina, and son Diego embarked from Portugal, in the company of the famed explorer Vasco Da Gama and reached Kozhikode. Thereafter, Pereira decided to settle down in Kochi.

Initially, the King of Cochin appointed Pereira as a treasurer and later, as the chief trainer of the Army. Following the death of Pereira on January 9, 1520, his son Diego was given the same positions. In 1545, the King made Diego a 'Madambi' (a local chieftain). And he was the only Christian among 71 Madambis.

The Andrappers [a corruption of Andrew Pereira] married Portuguese women, but in 1786 Kochandy Andrapper married a local woman called Anna. It was then that the integration of the family to Kerala became complete. Over the years, some members moved to Pondicherry, Diego Garcia and Africa.

In 2005, Benyamin read, with rising excitement, the family's history in a Malayalam magazine. This became the spark behind the novel 'Manjaveyil Maranangal' or 'Yellow Lights of Death', which has just been published in English by Penguin Books.

In the novel, Benyamin does a fictional exploration of the history of the family. He also writes about the history of Kerala in the past 500 years, including the life of Thoma of Villarvattom, the head of India's only Christian dynasty in Udayamperoor.

At the same time, the book is a murder mystery. A killing in a restaurant in Diego Garcia sets in motion a series of events that has the reader gripped. “I had deliberately written a thriller, because I did not want to repeat myself,” says Benyamin, at his home in Pathanamthitta. “In every book, you should try a new style, theme and story.”

Benyamin's earlier book, 'Goat Days' (‘Aadujeevitham’) had been a big bestseller. It tells the story of a shepherd who lives like a slave under a cruel landlord at a farm in a desert at Saudi Arabia. “'Goat Days' was liked by many ordinary people, because it is a simple book,” says Benyamin. “Anybody could understand it. But 'Yellow Lights' will not be accepted by all.”

Nevertheless, the book has done well. Publication Manager AV Sreekumar of DC Books, one of Kerala's leading publishers, says, “The Malayalam version has already crossed 50,000 in sales. We are very happy.”

Interestingly, Benyamin says that the Malayalam edition has got a new readership. “The young generation has embraced this novel,” he says. “One reason is that I have written about social networks and other contemporary subjects.”

One great attraction about 'Yellow Lights', ably translated by media person Sajeev Kumarapuram, is the clear and lucid writing. Benyamin says that it is a deliberate decision. “This is the only way to lure people, who are hooked onto the visual media, to start reading,” he says. “The era of literary gimmicks is over. We have to attract a reader within the first five pages, otherwise we will lose him or her forever.”

Benyamin would feel the loss of readers since he is a full-time writer. Two years ago, he gave up a job in Bahrain, after working there for twenty years, and returned to Kerala.

Asked about his current life, Benyamin says, “It is much more pleasant being a full-time writer. For one I can devote more time to literature. Secondly, it has become easy for me to travel, as I am not working for anybody. I am able to attend a lot of literary meets in Kerala, and abroad.”

In November, last year, Benyamin went to attend the annual conference of the Literary Association of North America in New York. “The drawback is that there are a lot of literary meets which take place, and it is difficult to say no,” he says. “But truly the writer should be always at his desk writing.”

Today, Benyamin is doing research for a historical novel which will be set in Central Travancore, from the 1970s to the 90s. “For me, research is a basic tool of writing,” he says. “It is necessary to have historical supports for a novel.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ways And Means To Get Better

Members of the Kerala Urban Development Society offer their suggestions for the improvement of Kochi

Photo: (From left) Sooraj Sasikumar, Anup Joachim and Kenny P Joy. Pic by Ratheesh Sundaram  
By Shevlin Sebastian
Anup Joachim can never forget the time when his late mother, Prof. Mercy Williams, the Mayor of Kochi (2005-10) had to go to Thiruvananthapuram to get around 25 signatures from various departments to make an official trip to Europe, which was being paid for by the hosts. The Chief Minister gave the final signature.
To do something, you need permission from too many agencies,” says Anup, a Kochi-based patent lawyer. “When a project gets passed, it happens only in January or February, while the funds get lapsed at the end of March. The processes should be speeded up. Only one or two permissions should be needed, to avoid the enormous waste of time and energy.”
So, when Anup's US-based friend Abraham George Vatakencherry, a teacher, suggested that they start an organization to provide suggestions for urban development, the former did not hesitate. “Abraham is a city enthusiast,” he says. “He keeps track of all the developmental activities in Kochi. So we decided to do ahead.”
Abraham gives his own reasons. “The future of Kerala depends on how quickly our cities can adapt to meet the challenges of the globalized world,” he says. “Kochi is not only competing with other Indian metros in IT, biotechnology and tourism, but with major South Asian cities as well.”
So the Kerala Ubran Development Society (KUDS) was set up in 2009, with Anup as the Secretary. On February 12, in the presence of Mayor Soumini Jain, KUDS has started a Centre for Advanced Research in Urbanism.
The strength of our team is that it is multi-disciplinary,” says Anup. “We have urban planners, lawyers, architects, businessmen and financial consultants.”
One of the key issues for the state, as well as Kochi, is the disposal of solid waste. So KUDS has come up with an application, ‘Ciolve’, a Mobile Redressal System. “Suppose, there is waste in your locality which has not been collected,” says architect Kenny P. Joy, a member of KUDS. “You can send photographic evidence, along with the location, to the Corporation and they will send somebody to collect it immediately.”
Of course, this depends on Corporation officials co-operating with KUDS. “There are competent people in the Corporation,” says Kenny. “But the system is bad, which is why they tend to become complacent. But change is coming to Kochi. The Metro rail, many new flyovers, as well as the Smart City will have a good impact. The Goshree Bridge has been made, while the Children's Park has been renovated. Soon, there will be a change in the mind-set, also.”
KUDS has teamed up with leading urban planners to give suggestions on setting up minor satellite hubs, as well as a walking plaza on MG Road. “Another aim is to make Kochi the state's first solar city,” says Sooraj Sasikumar, KUDS member. Initially, there are plans to set up solar lights, as well as toilets, at public places, including Subhash Chandra Bose Park, the Nehru Park, at Fort Kochi, the Jankar Jetty and the Fort Kochi beach.
There are ideas for an Aerotropolis (a development zone around the Kochi airport). This will be done in consultation with Dr. John D Kasarda, the pioneer of Aerotropolis projects across the globe.
What is heartening to see is the sincerity of the members. And unlike most middle-class people, who shy away from public involvement, they have stepped forward. “We felt that being involved is far better than just criticising from the sidelines,” says Anup. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode) 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Everybody Said It Was Bad Luck


Director Siddique talks about his experiences on the film, 'Godfather'

By Shevlin Sebastian

Director Siddique felt nervous. Crew members of the film, 'Godfather' (1992), had told him that to start a shoot on a Sunday would bring bad luck. When he informed this to the producer, Swargachitra Appachan, the latter told his long-time astrologer, “Many films, which began their shooting on Sunday, had become flops. So, should we avoid it?”

The astrologer was adamant that there was nothing wrong in filming on a Sunday. “We believed in him,” says Siddique. “For our hit films, like ‘Ramji Rao Speaking’ and ‘Harihar Nagar’, he had given us the auspicious time to start shooting.”

So, the crew gathered at Kozhikode on Sunday, August 18, 1991. Only actor Mukesh was present. Initially, Siddique was planning to do some outdoor scenes with the star. But the omens were not good. It began raining so heavily, that there was no chance to do any shooting. “In fact, the streets had become flooded,” says Siddique. “The weather forecast said that it would rain for another four days.”

So, they went in for an indoor shoot at the government guest house on West Hill. Later, at Kappad beach, the song, 'Pookkalam Vannu Pookkalam', sung by Unni Menon and KS Chitra was picturised with Mukesh and Kanaka. “Again we were told that whenever songs were shot at Kappad beach, the movie flopped,” says Siddique. “But we ignored it. Then we went to the top of a nearby hill, which is a familiar spot for film-makers. This was also a place which had a lot of bad luck. On top of that, the shoot was on a Sunday, too.”

On Kanaka’s last day, thereafter, she was scheduled to act in a Tamil film, the scene was supposed to take place at the government guest house. The shot shows Kanaka coming to visit Mukesh and Jagadish who are staying in a room. “But the room we were supposed to shoot in, to ensure continuity with the earlier scenes, had been occupied by a judge,” says Siddique. “The manager immediately said he can provide another room, as he could not ask the judge to move. We were in a dilemma. And did not know what to do.”

Finally, production executive Babu Shahir got up the courage and approached the judge and told him about their predicament. “The judge immediately agreed to move,” says Siddique. “Members of our crew helped to take his luggage to another room. And we could do the shooting.”

Then two days before the release date, the wife of the noted writer Muttathu Varkey filed a stay order in a court in Kottayam stating that the story was plagiarised from a work written by her husband. Somehow, Siddique managed to get the stay vacated, and released the film on time.

As is now well known, 'Godfather' became a huge hit. And it set a unique record when it ran for 405 days in Sreekumar theatre at Thiruvananthapuram.

Meanwhile the case went on for two years. “The lawyer made several attempts to reach a financial compromise, but I refused,” says Siddique. “I was determined to win, because it was a slur against my integrity.” In the end, the case was thrown out of court.

Asked about the success of 'Godfather', despite so many bad signs, the multi-hit director smiles, at his home in Kochi, and says, “The film industry has too many blind beliefs. If your mind is clean, if the road you take is straight, if you are truthful, and the script is great, then the film will do well.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram) 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Going On And On... Brilliantly

Eminent Bharata Natyam danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam enthralled an audience at Kochi with her performance on the Bhagwad Gita

Photo by Ratheesh Sundaram

By Shevlin Sebastian

At the valedictory function of the centenary celebrations, at the Sanskrit College at Tripunithara, eminent Bharata Natyam danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam was presented with a gift. But instead of a plaque, she was given a silver band. “This is worn by the women characters in Koodiyattom and Kathakali,” says Padma. “They first tie the band on their forehead, before they apply the make-up. It is a typical Kerala tradition. I felt very moved.”

On her part, Padma presented a unique dance: a bird’s eye view of the 18 chapters of the Bhagwad Gita. “It was an ambitious presentation,” she says. The former Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Kalamandalam Dr. KG Paulose gave a brilliant introduction in Malayalam, so the audience could understand what was being portrayed.

I played both Krishna and Arjuna,” says Padma. “The people were completely with me and I was completely with them.”

Not many people will know that this is Padma’s 63rd year of non-stop public performance.God has been kind to me,” says the Padma Bhushan winner. “All my gurus and parents have blessed me. The admiration of my fans has sustained me. You need to have good health and lead a disciplined life. You also must have a passion for the work that you are doing. Lastly, I manage the physicality of it, through constant practice.”

And Padma gets inspirations all the time. Last year, she met the great Kathakali dancer Chemancheri Kunhiraman Nair. “At 100, he is still dancing. He is the oldest living performer in the world. So, I have a long way to go,” says Padma, who is in her early seventies.

Asked to give tips to young dancers, Padma says, “Try to live life devoid of ego. If you feel that you have achieved everything in life, you will not work hard any more. As for me, I try to ensure that I am always like a student. There is a saying in Tamil: ‘What the goddess of learning has learned is the size of one finger. What has yet to be learned is as big as the world’. There is so much that needs to be explored.”

But, today, Padma is focused on a new project. She is setting up the Bharata Ilango Foundation For Asian Culture as a centre for artistes all over Asia to interact with each other. “We are going to have a museum, as well as a seminar hall, auditorium, and library,” she says. “There are many common features within Asia which needs to be recognised.”

The building, near Mahabalipuram, is coming up on five acres of land, donated by the Tamil Nadu government. “I am looking for monetary help from corporate and other sources,” she says. “Lots of artistes have come forward. Shobhana, Priyadarsini Govind, the present director of Kalashetra, and actor Vineeth, who was my student, have performed for free at fund-raisers.”

Meanwhile, she has placed the band that she got from Sanskrit College on the forehead of the idol of Bharata Muni that they have at Mahabalipuram. She also has plans to put up 108 granite sculptures of Shiva and Parvati, all of which have been designed by her. But Padma got a surprise when she discovered that her design tallied with the dance sculptures at the temple of Prambanan in Central Java, Indonesia, which she had not seen earlier. “This was an eye-opener,” she says. “I knew that India’s imprints are there in other parts of Asia, but this confirms it. It will make people understand that all of Asia is one.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)  

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Reaching Out To A Global Audience

The Malayalam author C. Radhakrishnan has brought out a few of his acclaimed novels in English: e-books as well as printed versions

Photo of C. Radhakrishnan by Melton Antony 

By Shevlin Sebastian

In 1970, Edatata Narayanan, the New Delhi-based chief editor of the 'Patriot' newspaper,asked for a volunteer to go to the jungles in West Bengal and meet up with the Naxalities, led by Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal. Assistant Editor C. Radhakrishnan agreed to go.

In the district of 24 Parganas, Radhakrishnan was able to get in touch with the Naxalites. “I stayed with them for 14 days in the forests,” he says. “After that I told the leaders that I had to return to Delhi. But they said I could not leave because I knew too much. In case I am caught, I may be forced to reveal their whereabouts.” So Radhakrishnan ended up staying with them for three months.

It was tedious, painful as well as unforgettable,” he says, at his home in Kochi. “I saw, first-hand, all the police operations. Some of the Naxalites were lined up on the banks of a river, shot point-blank, and pushed into the water. The police conducted numerous fake encounters. These poor Naxalites did not have any weapons, clothes to wear, food to eat or soap to wash their bodies.”

Finally, Radhakrishnan managed to escape, met a police officer in Kolkata, who, after confirming his identity, by calling the 'Patriot', provided him with clothes and money.

This experience proved the inspiration for Radhakrishnan's acclaimed trilogy: 'Munpe Parakkuna Pakshikal', 'Karal Pilarum Kalam' and 'Iniyoru Nirakanchiri'.

Recently, all the three novels have been brought out in English: 'Birds that Fly Ahead', 'Heartrending Times' and 'Now For a Tearful Smile'.

These fluent translations have been done by a Hyderabad-based English teacher, Kairali Narayanan. This happened by accident. One day, Radhakrishnan received a couple of chapters, of 'Iniyoru Nirakanchiri' (Now for a Tearful Smile), translated by Kairali, in his e-mail inbox. He liked it and asked her to do the entire work. Following that, he sent it to his critic-friend, Professor V. Sukumaran who stays in Kozhikode. “After reading it, he said that this was one of the best translations of a Malayalam text,” says Radhakrishnan.

The author has a specific reason for publishing in English. “We are not known outside Kerala,” he says. “Whenever I go abroad, I look for books by Indians, translated into English but I hardly find anything. The many foreigners I have met have no idea about our vernacular literature. Now, technology has come to our aid. The e-book has enabled us to reach out to a global audience.”

In fact, after placing his book on Amazon, Radhakrishnan has got some responses from the USA and UK. “Today, most reading in the west is in the e-book form,” he says. “People don’t have the time to go to bookstores. The e-book is the present, as well as the future of book-reading.”

Keeping in touch with current trends has been a feature of Radhakrishnan's writings. As a result, he has won numerous awards, like the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Vayalar Award, the Bharatiya Jnanapith's Moorti Devi Award, the Mahakavi G Award, and the Lalithambika Award for his contribution to Malayalam literature.

He is one of the few writers in the world who has been able to live off his works. Amazingly, he has 75 titles in print. And several of them have been best-sellers for several years. Asked the reasons for his success, he says, “I write in a simple and straight-forward manner. I learnt this method as a journalist.”

And, again, unusually, for a writer, he publishes the works himself through the imprint, Hi-Tech Books. But the distribution is done through well-known publishers like DC Books. “Thanks to my readers, I have been able to carry on,” says the 76-year-old. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Wall Collapse Triggers Panic Scenes


Manoj K Jayan recalls his experiences in the films, ‘Kaazhcha’ and ‘Mallu Singh’

Photos: Manoj K Jayan. Poster of 'Mallu Singh'
By Shevlin Sebastian
Superstar Mammooty was not sure. In early 2004, when debutant director, Blessy, told him that there would be a shoot for the film, ‘Kaazhcha’, on the steps of the St. George church at Edathua, which led to the Pampa river, he said that it would be risky since there was not adequate security and huge crowds would be watching the shoot.
Nevertheless, Blessy decided to go ahead. The next morning, Manoj K Jayan, who plays a character called Joy, stepped into the chest-deep water, wearing only a white mundu. “In the shot, I am supposed to come up from below the water’s surface and say that the water is so bad,” says Manoj. “Then another character says, ‘It has come to a stage where we are unable to have a bath in the river’. Then I get back on the steps and wipe myself with a towel.”
At 9 a.m., as Mammooty had predicted, a large crowd had formed. The superstar himself was waiting in a house on the opposite side, since his shoot was to take place later.
Next to the church, there was a wall. People sat on it. “I could see from the water that it was shaky,” says Manoj.
Meanwhile, noted Tamil cameraman Azhagappan and Blessey remained on the steps, near the camera. There were three huge lights that were also placed nearby.
While the take was taking place, the wall collapsed. About 40 people went tumbling down the steps. They hit Blessey and Azhagappan. Both fell into the water.

The camera also fell into the water, right in front of me, and sank to the bottom,” says Manoj. “The camera is the most precious equipment while making a movie. During a shoot, if somebody wants to spray the actor with perfume, first they will cover the lens, before it is done.”
Azhagappan made it back to the shore. “There were shouts and screams,” says Manoj. “Blessey was going up and down, swallowing water. He did not know swimming. So, I held him up.”
Blessey was distraught and began crying. “My life is finished,” he said.
The liability will be on me. There will be talk in the industry that I am an unlucky director. The film is doomed. It cannot do well now.”
Suddenly, a boat arrived. Blessey and Manoj climbed on to it. “We decided to go and meet Mammooty,” says Manoj. When Blessey told Mammooty the news, the latter said, in a soft voice, “I told you not to do the shooting here. I did feel it was unsafe.”
Anyway, the producers, Xavy Mano Mathew and Noushad, reacted with speed. A camera was brought from Kochi in the evening and shooting commenced once again. The original camera, priced at Rs 1 crore, was recovered, and sent to Germany for repairs. Thankfully, there was an insurance coverage.
Today I can say, with certainty, that all these superstitions do not matter at all,” says Manoj. “If the film is well-made and has a good story, it will do well. Blessey was so sincere while making the film. So, it was no surprise that ‘Kaazhcha’ was a critical as well as a commercial success.”
Mallu Singh’ was another film that did well at the box office. In December, 2011, Manoj was in Patiala, along with Kunchacko Boban, Biju Menon and Sooraj Venjaramoodu for its shoot.
It was while there I understood that Punjabis have a good sense of humour,” says Manoj. “Once, during an off-day, Kunchacko and I went roaming around Patiala in a car. At one point, we stopped at a traffic signal. Right in front of us was a Sardarji on a Bullet motorcycle. On the back, it was written, ‘Left Hand Drive’.”
Manoj also realised the vastness of India, when, in rural Punjab, he met a couple of farmers who asked him where he is from. “I said, ‘Kerala’,” says Manoj. “Then they asked earnestly, ‘Is it in India?’” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvasnanthapuram and Kozhikode) 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Fascinating World of Ants

On a recent visit to Kerala, Dr Charlotte Sleigh gives an insight into the behaviour of ants and how scientists have an ever-changing perspective about the tiny creatures

Photo of Charlotte Sleigh by Manu R. Maveli; Ants by A. Sanesh  

By Shevlin Sebastian

When Charlotte Sleigh was doing her doctorate in science, in 1998, at the University of Cambridge, in England, she came across a book by the biologist Julian Huxley called 'Ants'. “In the book Huxley said that ants are very similar to human beings,” says Charlotte. “That sparked in me a lifelong interest in ants.”

In fact, she is known as the 'ant woman', having published two books on the insect. One is called 'Ant', while the other is 'Six Legs Better'. “I have shown how social and cultural perspectives have shaped the ways in which scientists have looked at ants,” says Charlotte.

For example, in the 19th century, scientists felt that ants are wonderful because they are hard-working and helped one another. “They said that human beings should imitate them,” says Charlotte.

However, in the 1930s, when Fascism and Communism were sweeping the world, people looked at ants and said they are nature's fascists. “Because there is no individualism,” says Charlotte. “Everybody acts the same. They cannot leave and set up home on their own. They have to serve the colony. Big Brother is always watching them. Scientists swung from admiring ants to fearing them.”

But once World War II was over, their attitude changed once again. “Scientists became interested in understanding how ants exchange information,” says Charlotte. “The colony is like a computer. It is always processing information in how to act. Perhaps we can make a better computer if we can make it like an ants' nest.”

Charlotte, a Lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent, had recently come to Thiruvananthapuram, to give a talk for the British Council’s ‘Science and Beyond’ series.

When the 'Ant Woman' was asked about the number of species of ants, she says, with a smile, “There are more than 10,000 types. They grow a bit bigger in hot climates like Asia, while they are smaller in Europe.”

And she gives an easy answer as to why ants can always be seen moving in a straight line. “They are following chemicals called pheromones which have been dropped by other ants,” says Charlotte. “The first ant goes wandering about and finds a good food source. So, on its way back, it leaves a trail, which is a way to tell the other ants, go this way. The next one follows the trail. The path tends to be straight.”

This is something similar to how humans behave. “When you move to a new town, you might ask your neighbour the location for the best shop for vegetables,” she says. “And they will tell you a particular spot. The reason why they said that was because when they moved to the town for the first time somebody else told them that.”

When the ants get the food they return to the ant colony. This colony is entirely female. There is a Queen, but she is not the boss. “It is similar to the big city, but there is no governor saying, 'Do this and do that',” says Charlotte. “At the same time everybody is buzzing about doing their thing. Ants work for each other and for the colony.”

But there are few males present. Unfortunately, unlike human beings, males are only used for reproduction. In fact, the male and female meet up only once a year to reproduce. Then the females go out and establish new colonies, while the males tend to die.

Charlotte sounds fascinated whenever she talks about ants. “We should never stop looking at this tiny creature, because there are always new things to learn from them,” she says. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It’s Not All In The Family

Top HR consultant, Ashish Arora, the MD of HR Anexi, says that family-run businesses have to change in order to remain successful

By Shevlin Sebastian

Rohit and Malini Ranade were feeling restless. After twenty years in the plastics industry, their business had not grown the way they had liked it. From a turnover of 35 crore, they wanted to make it Rs 100 crore, but they did not know how. So they got in touch with Ashish Arora, the MD of the Mumbai-based consulting firm, HR Anexi.

When Arora studied the company, he saw that the Mumbai-based outfit had a large factory in Silvasa, with an 800 plus staff. He also noticed that Rohit, 41, an engineer, as well as Malini, a chartered accountant, were dominating personalities at the workplace.

They never allowed the senior staff to express their views,” says Arora. “But when we studied the team, we noticed that they were some good team members, who had been with the company for over ten years.”

Arora then took the entire staff out for a two-day ‘visioning’ session. But he requested the Ranades to remain silent on the first day. So, when he asked for a vision for the company, the staff said that they could become a Rs 500 crore company. “The Ranades were shocked,” says Arora. “They thought that the staff had gone mad.” Later, the senior team stayed up till 2 a.m. and came up with a business plan, which included increasing exports and introducing a slew of new products.

A smiling Arora says, “In six years, the company has done a turnover of Rs 360 crore.”

Among his many skills, Arora is an expert in dealing with family businesses.

There are a lot of positives in a family business,” he says. “The decision-making is very quick. Most family businesses are run by entrepreneurs who are passionate about doing something.”

It is usually run on strong family values. “The owners bond with the employees,” says Arora. “There is no hire and fire. Employees are respected and taken care of. And they are always given financial support during bad times.”

However, there are weaknesses also. “Usually, owners have a tunnel vision and can rarely see the overall picture,” says Arora. “One reason is that they spend too much time on the day-to-day operations: purchase, people, production and supply-chain issues. So, they are not able to come up with a long-term vision and strategies for growth. The best way out is to hire top professionals to run the day-to-day operations, leaving the owner free to concentrate on expansion plans and getting more funding.”

And in order to remain successful, there should be a proper succession plan. “Most entrepreneurs want their children to take over,” says Arora. “But the son or daughter may not have the same passion or excitement about the business as the father. Usually, they are better educated and want to do something else.”

So, the parents have to find out whether their children are keen to carry on the business. If they are not inclined, then the company has to be run by professionals, but it can remain family-owned.

[Infosys owner] Narayana Murthy's son, Rohan, could have taken it over, but he has not,” says Arora. “Instead, it is in the hands of professionallys, but Rohan remains an owner. This has increased the future prospects for the company.”

Of course, there are many instances of the second and third generation taking over, and increasing the turnover of the business. “Like their parents, they also have enormous passion and dreams for the company,” says Arora. “When this happens, the parents should consider themselves lucky.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)