Early Life and Philosophy

Answer to that question lies in my simple middle-class upbringing.

Coming from an orthodox Marwari-Maheshwari family, the question I get asked often is why I chose to be a professor instead of a businessman or join the corporate world?

The answer to this question lies in my simple middle-class upbringing besides my inherent stubbornness to step outside of stereotypical boxes assigned to me.

My paternal grandfather was a ‘Munim’ (accountant/book-keeper) in Dharmabad, Maharashtra. In the tradition of Marwari Maheshwaris, he indulged in Trust-based trade, collected interest from money leant to others from his savings, managing to acquire sizeable property by these means.


He frowned upon corrupt practices and neither did he accept any gifts nor did he approve of others accepting such things. He instilled this value in me from early on.


The first break from tradition was by my father. As a 14 year old he ran away from home to escape the cruelties of his stepmother and started working odd jobs with his maternal uncle in Hyderabad. He had a brilliant mind with a natural disposition for mathematics, so he taught himself before accepting a job in Rajahmundry away from his family business.

If my father was a self-made man, my mother was in many ways, his opposite. She came from a rich Marwari family settled for generation in Hyderabad and did not lack anything while growing up. Until the Indo-China war that is, when her father donated everything to the government’s coffers leaving her an ancestral property that was for a long-time to come mired in legal battles.


'Strength' has so many facets, and I learnt from my mother how to be resilient in adversity and to not lose my soft-edges.


Each in their own ways gave me many lessons for life. My father was an accountant who valued Integrity above all things. He frowned upon corrupt practices and neither did he accept any gifts nor did he approve of others accepting such things. He instilled this value in me from early on. On many occasions I could have held onto the coattails of members of my community or professional network and landed a comfortable job. Instead I struggled to complete my education through government institutions with subsidized fees before choosing a challenging profession.

I have also done my share of odd jobs (working at a small store during summer holidays in school) because my father believed in throwing me into challenging situations head-on and trusting me to land on my feet. He gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, provided I would do so independently and without his help. Another thing that I’ve learned from my father, and have tried to pass on to my students, is the value of Punctuality. Students in morning classes may have thought of me as the devil for stressing on punctuality but I believe it will hold them in good stead in the long run.

It is my mother though, who rounded my personality. During tough financial times, I’ve seen her work hard and conduct small businesses from our home to supplement our father’s income. 'Strength' has so many facets, and I learnt from my mother how to be Resilient in adversity and to not lose my soft-edges. She has taught me that caring for one’s family by putting in time and love is the biggest investment in life.


Having fallen on one too many hard times, I have realized that money is like water and one can never succeed in chasing it down.


College broadened my horizons. It is here that I got the chance to interact with people from all religions, classes and castes. Perhaps it is success in this endeavor that I managed to be unanimously elected as the head of the student body. This was carried forward to my interactions in the workplace.

Even though it has been decades since I worked on the floor of the Steel Plant in Bokaro, I am still in touch with many of them. Building strong personal relationships with people is fortunately one of my strengths that I am extremely proud of.

Having fallen on one too many hard times, I have realized that money is like water and one can never succeed in chasing it down. As you will note I have mentioned in my Investment Beliefs, playing the stock market game is half-science and half-fortune. There have been a time when I’ve sold my blood for ₹50 a bag and ended up selling my father’s gold ring on the black market. But by the grace of God I’ve managed to stand back up. And it is my friends and family who have stood by me.

This is why my mantra is always to invest in people and am glad to say that I am not lacking in true friends.