“I took part in firings but only at the level of approval, wasn’t deeply involved in the process. I generally avoided it. But it’s not a pleasant thing if you have to do it.”
It was a confession of sorts from Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy, better known as JRD, the man almost synonymous with the Tata Group in India for several decades, before Ratan Tata took over.
In a Doordarshan interview hosted by journalist Rajiv Mehrotra many years ago, Tata revealed his discomfort when it came to firing (from 6:54 to 11:31 in the video above).
In 1978, Tata was fired as the chairman of his group’s civil airlines initiative Air India by the former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The Tata Group and the Government of India had an almost equal stake in the air service at the time.
Although Tata laughed about this being the first time he was fired in his life, he felt that the way it was done – he came to know about it from his successor – was unpleasant.
But he understood the decision, too. “If one is prepared to look at things in a human way...understanding that the decisions of others, even if they are adverse decisions... they’re done in the belief that it’s the right thing to do. Mr Desai must have thought it was the right thing to fire me...”
Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology
Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.
“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.
Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.
That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.
Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.
As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.
Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.
It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.