Towards continuous learning from Role Models

A Role Model is a person from whom each of us learns so many lessons. They can be public figures. They can also be one's own father, mother, brother, an uncle, an aunt, a neighbor or even a school teacher. From very high achievers, we do hear so many such Role Models. Some dimensions of learning from such Role Models is discussed in this article.


Role Models are people who have the highest values of honesty, integrity and hard work. They also respect others and never talk ill of anyone. They do not blame others for their faults. They always maintain their values and there is absolutely no compromise on values of any sort. They often have huge respect for authority figures and just do their duty, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Yes, they are the ideal men and women. Learning from Role Models is a continuous process.

More specifically, one could learn from a) Public leaders who have accomplished a lot b) Corporate leaders who have been high achievers c) Teachers who have done extraordinary work and d) Ordinary citizens who reach out to others for doing solid social work.

Public leaders who have accomplished a lot

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Kamaraj are the names which ring a bell in each of us, several years since they have already gone. They were really very good in their own ways. They were superb in their Vision for the country. Yes, they were selfless. Honesty, integrity, and dependability are some values that were naturally seen in each of them.

Kamaraj, for example, gave up the chance to become the Prime Minister of India. He was the tallest of all Congress leaders at that time and chose Indira Gandhi. The rest is history. She was positively not in the same mold as the others.

Be that as it may, even today, the entire nation salutes their contributions. But for Nehru, where would we have had the giant public sector enterprises like BHEL, NTPC and so on, that have established modern India over the years? For example, BHEL is a globally competitive organization. It is quoted on the stock exchange as well. It might be a Public Sector, but it is like a typical private sector organization. There is no scope for laxity in this company. Every engineer who joins this organization, knows jolly well that he can progress to the highest level if he tries hard.

Corporate leaders who have accomplished a lot

Want to know a giant of a Corporate leader who did not take a single day's leave for several decades? Who would often turn up on the shop floor, unannounced to check quality parameters and just ensure that things were okay, at 2 AM in the night? This workaholic subsequently became the CEO of this company and is now Chairman Emeritus.

His name is A.M. Naik. He is synonymous with Larsen and Toubro. He has now committed seventy percent of his earnings for charity. Larsen &Toubro is one giant of an engineering company. The projects executed by this superb organization are simply world class. The Bahai temple in New Delhi is an architectural masterpiece. It has laid some of the superb roads in various parts of the country. It has associated itself with several metro projects, including the Chennai metro.

Years ago, when the late Mr. M. Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister, the entire contract for building so many huge bridges in parts of Chennai city, was handed over to L&T. This was above board and was a transparent process. When the corrupt Jayalalitha came back to power, she opened up the old files and tried to point out some corruption. This company was ready with all records. The CEO and the Management would never ever give a single pie to anyone, anywhere in the world, to get a contract. Employees who work for this giant of an organization know this for sure.

The case quietly died down. Ratan Tata was another superb leader. Narayanamurthy of Infosys Technologies is the Guru of the Indian IT industry, even today. His voice is always heard. Wipro's Azim Premji rubbed all the big shots of the Corporate industry on the wrong side of the shoulder when he said that the rich should pay more taxes to the Government. This was a lone sane voice.

Leaders of such caliber have the moral authority to take on the Government. Wipro would not pay a single pie to anyone in the Government to get any job done. In the TVS and Murugappa groups, for example, it is impossible to get a single pie in cash, if you are a supplier. Ethics is a way of life here.

Mr. Suresh Krishna, the big boss of Sundaram Fasteners, which has world-class quality, does not set an upper limit for the medical expenses of his staff and their family members. Such practices teach us a lot. If we were to have something extra, we should share that with society.

Each of the role models mentioned above is superb for learning. They teach us honesty, integrity, and dependability. They teach us that being a person of very high values is still possible.

Teachers who have done extraordinary work

Each of us would have had teachers who would have gone the extra mile. Years ago, a van met with an accident. One female teacher, who was on the spot sacrificed her life to save the lives of several children in the Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu.

What a superb service to society? This lady was herself from a very poor family. Yet, she did what she did. We do often come across such teachers. We should learn patience, hard work, sincerity, and reliability from each of them. We often remember them even decades after we leave school. In fact, several alumni meet in several pockets of India are still deeply emotional affairs. The more we learn from such people and try to at least follow them in one way or the other, we will have done justice to our lives. We will still have hope and instill hope in others. Even such hope is a big service to society.

Ordinary citizens who reach out to others for doing solid social work

Ukkadam lake is the pride of Coimbatore city. Yet, a few years ago, some real estate sharks tried to monopolize this lake and encroach into parts of it. Through immediate litigation, one Ms. Vinita Mohan, wife of one of the big Corporate houses of the city, sprung into action. What followed was volunteering work of even children, as young as four years old. They built a big wall around the lake and fenced it. Today, the lake has been saved. The same lady has done superb work in rainwater harvesting and saving thousands of small lakes, through an organization called "Siru thuli" ( small drops ).

Medha Patkar is another big name in saving the environment. She has fought many a war against mindless industrialization. The need to do extraordinary work is something that should work in the minds of millions of people. Yes, the world is full of such people too. This is why we still have some good values in our society. Mr. Nirmal, who runs a voluntary organization called Exonora, in Chennai, has done commendable work to clean up the city, in certain areas.

There are thousands of others too. The lessons are mostly the same. The richest values. The values that stand the test of time. They are indeed timeless.

We should learn such values at all times.


Role Models can be our own parents. However, the work of several others who have been Role Models for millions, as described above in some detail can always offer fresh insight and keep us on the right track. The more we learn from these Role Models, the better.

Our children should also be made to read about such Role Models, as often as possible. Most of these leaders have a big history behind them and their work has been very well documented.


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