How To Live & Die


I’ve often thought about what it is that makes people happy—what one has to do in order to achieve happiness.

1- First and foremost is good health. If you do not enjoy good health, you can never be happy. Any ailment, however trivial, will deduct something from your happiness.

2- Second, a healthy bank balance. It need not run into crores, but it should be enough to provide for comforts, and there should be something to spare for recreation—eating out, going to the movies, travel and holidays in the hills or by the sea. Shortage of money can be demoralising. Living on credit or borrowing is demeaning and lowers one in one’s own eyes.

3- Third, your own home. Rented places can never give you the comfort or security of a home that is yours for keeps. If it has garden space, all the better. Plant your own trees and flowers, see them grow and blossom, and cultivate a sense of kinship with them.

4- Fourth, an understanding companion, be it your spouse or a friend. If you have too many misunderstandings, it robs you of your peace of mind. It is better to be divorced than to be quarrelling all the time.

5- Fifth, stop envying those who have done better than you in life—risen higher, made more money, or earned more fame. Envy can be corroding; avoid comparing yourself with others.

6- Sixth, do not allow people to descend on you for gossip. By the time you get rid of them, you will feel exhausted and poisoned by their gossip-mongering.

7- Seventh, cultivate a hobby or two that will fulfill you—gardening, reading, writing, painting, playing or listening to music. Going to clubs or parties to get free drinks, or to meet celebrities, is a criminal waste of time. It’s important to concentrate on something that keeps you occupied meaningfully.

8- Eighth, every morning and evening devote 15 minutes to introspection. In the mornings, 10 minutes should be spent in keeping the mind absolutely still, and five listing the things you have to do that day. In the evenings, five minutes should be set aside to keep the mind still and 10 to go over the tasks you had intended to do.

9- Ninth, don’t lose your temper. Try not to be short-tempered, or vengeful. Even when a friend has been rude, just move on.

10- Above all, when the time comes to go, one should go like a Person without any regret or grievance against anyone.

– Khushwant Singh


It’s pretty well established that non-science degrees are not necessary for a job. In fact, the degrees cost you too much money, require too long of a commitment, and do not teach you the real-life skills they promise.
Yet, I do tons of radio call-in shows where I say that graduate degrees in the humanities are so useless that they actually set you back in your career in many cases. And then 400 callers dial-in and start screaming at me about how great a graduate degree is.
Here are the six most common arguments they make. And why they are wrong.

1. My parents are paying.

Get them to buy you a company instead. Because what are you going to do when you graduate? You’re right back at square one, looking for a job and not knowing what to do. But if you spent the next three years running a company, even if it failed, you would be more employable than you are now, and you’d have a good sense of where your skill set fits in the workplace. (This is especially true for people thinking about business school.)

2. It’s free.

But you’re spending your time. You will show (on your resume) that you went to grad school. Someone will say, “Why did you go to grad school?” Will you explain that it was free? After all, it’s free to go home every night after work and read on a single topic as well. So in fact, what you are doing is taking an unpaid internship in a company that guarantees that the skills you built in the internship will be useless. (Here’s how to get a great internship.)

3. It’s a time to grow and get to know myself better.

If you’re looking for a life changing, spiritually moving experience, how about therapy? It’s a more honest way of self-examination—no papers and tests. And it’s cheaper. Insurance covers therapy because it’s a proven way to effectively change your personal disposition. There’s a reason insurance doesn’t cover grad school.

4. The degree makes me stand out in my field.

Yes, if you want to stand out as someone who couldn’t get a job. Given the choice between getting paid to learn the ropes on the job and paying for someone to teach you, you look like an underachiever to pick the latter. If nothing else, you get much better coaching in life if you are good enough and smart enough to get mentorship without paying for it.
There are very very few jobs that require a non-science degree in order to get the job. (And really, forget about law school if that’s what you’re thinking.) So if you don’t need the degree in order to get the job, the only possible reason a smart employer would think you got the degree instead of getting a job was because you were too scared to have to apply or you applied and got nothing. Either way, you’re a bad bet going forward.

5. I’m planning on teaching.

Forget it. There are no teaching jobs. In an interview last week, the head of University of Washington’s career center even admitted to a prospective student that getting a degree in humanities in order to get a teaching job—even in a community college—is a long-shot at best. And, the University of Washington career coach confirmed that there is enormous unemployment among people who are qualified to teach college courses but cannot get jobs doing it. This is not just a Washington thing. It’s a welcome-to-reality thing.

6. A degree makes job hunting easier.

It makes it harder. Forget the fact that you don’t need a graduate degree in the humanities to get any job in the business world. The biggest problem is that the degree makes you look unemployable. You look like you didn’t know what to do about having to enter the adult world, so you decided to prolong childhood by continuing to earn grades rather than money even though you were not actually helping yourself to earn money.
Also, you also look like you don’t really aspire to any of the jobs you are applying for. People assume you get a graduate degree because you want to work in that field. People don’t want to hire you in corporate America when it’s clear you didn’t invest all those years in grad school in order to do something like that.

7. I love being in graduate school! Everything in life is not about careers!

Sure, when you’re a kid, everything is not about careers. But when you grow up, everything is about earning enough money for food and shelter. So you need to figure out how to do that in order to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. This is why millionaires have stopped leaving their money to their kids—it undermines their transition to adulthood. But instead of making the transition, you are still in school, pretending things are fine. The problem is that what you do in school is not what you will do in a career. So if you love school, you’ll probably hate the career it’s preparing you for, since your career is not going to school.
When I met my husband one of the first things he told me was that he went to school for genetic biology. But in graduate school his research was in ultrasound technology for pigs. But he missed being with the pigs, which is what he wanted to do for his job. So he left school.
And every time I see the pigs on our farm I think about how he took a risk by dumping a graduate program in order to tend to pigs. I love that.
(Photo: Drew Maughan, Flickr)

Posted by:Penelope TrunkPenelope Trunk

Originally at

A quiet billionaire


Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, 82, is the world’s most reclusive billionaire. For a man with an estimated wealth of almost $10 billion (Rs 55,000 crore), he is surprisingly invisible, rarely seen or heard in the public space. One of India’s most successful and powerful businessmen, he controls a construction empire that operates across India, West Asia and Africa. He, along with his sons, also controls an 18.5 per cent stake in Tata Sons, the holding company of the $100 billion (Rs 550,000 crore) Tata Group, making the Mistrys the largest individual shareholders in India’s most diversified business conglomerate. He is called, with a mixture of awe and curiosity, the Phantom at Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata Group, in Mumbai. His younger son, Cyrus Mistry, 43, will control the group when Chairman Ratan Tata exits in December.

Construction magnate Pallonji is an Irish citizen, by virtue of marriage to an Irish woman, but he lives mostly in India, in his sea-facing Walkeshwar bungalow in Mumbai. In 2012, Forbes estimated his wealth to be $9.7 billion (Rs 53,350 crore), making him the wealthiest person of Parsi descent as well as the richest Irishman in the world. Much of that wealth comes from his shareholding in the Tata Group, says Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej Group of Companies. Deepak Parekh, chairman of HDFC, recalls how the Mistrys first acquired shares in the Tata Group. “Pallonji’s father built factories for Tata Motors and Tata Steel. The Tatas had no money to pay for them so they gave him shares instead,” he says. Pallonji slowly consolidated his family’s shareholding in subsequent years by buying out shares of Tata family members who wanted to exit the business.

For those close to him, Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry is not elusive. “To me, he is very approachable. I could reach him any time, either on phone or I could just walk into his home or office, that too without prior notice, and he has always received me with warmth. He is very nice, very friendly and also helpful,” says eminent architect Hafeez Contractor, who has been associated with Pallonji since 1968. But Contractor is one of a fortunate few. Until recently, Pallonji was chairman of the $2.5-billion (Rs 13,750 crore) Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG); he handed the reins of his empire to his eldest son, Shapoor, 48, earlier this year. The group is involved in businesses from textiles to real estate, hospitality to business automation. The companies under SPG fold include Shapoorji Pallonji Engineering and Construction, Afcons Infrastructure, Forbes Textiles, Gokak Textiles, Eureka Forbes, Forbes and Co, SP Construction Materials Group, SP Real Estate and Next Gen among others. Pallonji was also the former chairman of Associated Cement Companies, now ACC Ltd, from September 24, 1977, to July 26, 1979, and later from September 4, 1997, to April 26, 2000, and had chaired the company’s annual general meetings (AGMs). Such AGMs are among his rare appearances in public. Ashalata Maheshwari, an investor with shareholding in about 1,000 companies, including ACC and Tata Group firms, says: “I interacted with him at meetings of Associated Cement Companies, but that was a long time ago. I don’t think I had ever sought a meeting with him.”

Pallonji has an eye for detail and is a perfectionist to the core. He strives for perfection, even if that means costs ex-ceeding budget allocations. Contractor, who is currently doing eight projects for the group, says Pallonji has a simple philosophy: “‘We should ensure that this is the best, because both our names are associated with it.’ That’s his standard statement before we start work on a project.” Contractor has collaborated with SPG on several projects: The Sarala Birla Academy, a boarding school for boys, in Bangalore; a township project called ‘Empress City’ in Nagpur and the 60-storeyed Imperial Towers in Mumbai, India’s tallest skyscraper.

SPG has built some of India’s most iconic buildings-The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers and The Oberoi Hotel, both of which were attacked by terrorists in 2008 (26/11), the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Brabourne Stadium, the World Trade Centre in Mumbai, as well as the Sultan’s palace in Oman and the president’s palace in Ghana.

And now it seems there will be a change of guard. Murmurs of a new order grew louder after Pallonji relinquished board positions at some of the companies early in 2012. Citing old age and health issues, the 82-yearold stepped down from boards of Forbes & Company and Afcons Infrastructure in March. Earlier, he had resigned as chairman of United Motors (India), a company promoted by the group. In early June, he officially bequeathed the chairman’s title of flagship SPG to eldest son Shapoor. There was no pomp, no ceremony, and the media got wind of the news only a month later. Shapoor’s crowning came almost six months after younger brother Cyrus was appointed the deputy chairman and chairmandesignate of Tata Sons.

Pallonji now dons the mantle of chairman emeritus and continues to advise the group. “Pallonji has instilled his unshakeable values in his two sons, who have carried the baton forward,” says HDFC’s Parekh. When Shapoor was appointed SPG chairman, Cyrus reportedly told him that the future of his children was in his hands.

Shapoor’s quiet appointment was very much in line with Cyrus’s appointment as the successor to Ratan Tata in November 2011, which the media got to know about only when a formal statement was issued by the Tata Group. The group, which gets twothirds of its $83 billion (Rs 456,500 crore) in revenue from overseas operations, had named Cyrus after a global hunt that ended at home. Cyrus’s sister, Aloo, is married to Ratan Tata’s halfbrother Noel, and Cyrus has been a director of Tata Sons since 2006. The future chairman’s shareholding in the Tata Group has been moved into a trust as part of an agreement between SPG and the Tata Group.

Not everyone was convinced about Cyrus’s elevation. Says Ashalata Maheshwari, “I was sceptical at first as people told me that Cyrus was just a boy, how would he run such a big empire? But then Mr Tata (Ratan Tata) also did not have much experience when he took over the reins.” The 75-year-old shareholder had earlier said she would stop attending AGMs when Ratan Tata retired. She has now changed her mind. “The family (Mistrys) is not money-minded. They are very simple. Cyrus is young and intelligent, and I think Tata saheb has taken the right decision. I will continue to attend AGMs,” she says.

There is a difference in working styles between Pallonji and his elder son Shapoor. Says a businessman who is associated with the group of the elder Mistry, “Pallonji Mistry’s policy is to solve every single problem immediately and stop it from aggravating… At the group, the contracts undertaken are executed with a personal touch, and that makes the group different.” Shapoor has a different focus. He is a ‘strategist’, says a company insider, adding that Shapoor had already begun the process of revamping the group for a global role. This would see various group firms-like Afcons Infrastructure, acquired in 2000, and Forbes India, bought in 2002, being re-branded. There will be a new logo, and the tagline will be ‘Built to Last’, say sources. “Earlier there were two managing directors looking after the entire operation. After Cyrus moved away, there is just one person, Shapoor. Things have to be brought under a single fold. Moreover, there is a move to further strengthen the group’s activities, focus on core competencies and bring in professionals from the industry,” says a senior company official. Shapoor has already roped in Jai Mavani, who was a director with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Yes, I have joined the group as an executive director and I would be looking after mergers and acquisitions and family practice business,” Mavani confirmed, declining to provide further details. There are “strict instructions” against speaking to the media, officials at Bombay House and SPG say, declining to go on record. Pallonji Mistry, Shapoor Mistry and Cyrus Mistry did not answer detailed questionnaires sent to each of them for this story.

Very little is known about the private lives of the Mistrys. Shapoor is married to Behroze Sethna, daughter of lawyer Rusi Sethna. He is the most flamboyant member of the family and loves race horses-the family owns a huge stud farm in Pune. Cyrus is married to Rohika Chagla, daughter of lawyer Iqbal Chagla. Of the two daughters of Pallonji, Laila is married to Rustom Jehangir, and Aloo is married to Noel Tata, considered a contender for chairmanship of the Tata Group. “The family is down-toearth, and when you meet them you don’t feel that they are so rich and famous,” says Contractor.

The two sons need these simple values in abundance as they steer the fortunes of two of India’s biggest conglomerates.

– By Rajesh Kurup, with Shravya Jain.
India Today.

Originally at

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