The story of 28-year-old Shantanu Naidu attained much buzz across social media platforms, as a young boy in his early twenties, who got noticed by leading industrialist Ratan Tata, for his start-up that develops reflective collars for stray dogs to prevent them from being the victims of night-time road accidents. Tata went on to invest in Naidu’s startup, and over the years became a mentor, boss and an unexpectedly dear friend to Naidu, inspiring new ventures and learnings. Naidu currently works as his Personal Assistant.
Putting together a short memoir of Ratan Tata, titled, ‘I Came Upon a Lighthouse’, giving glimpses of the legendary entrepreneur in warm light, millennial author – Shantanu Naidu talks about his bond with one of the world’s most loved octogenarians – our very own Ratan Tata, who turned 83 on December 28th, 2020.
Ratan Tata, who writes a note in the book, shares, “He (Naidu) and his young friends had been bootstrapping a small start-up in Pune to feed, care for and find homes for these poor animals. He earned recognition when they made reflective collars, based solely on passion and kindness for animals. Knowing my love for dogs, he wrote to my office, not even expecting a response. I was impressed by what they had done and the compassion that Shantanu and the college kids had shown by investing their personal time and resources. I decided to invest in his start-up, and they received not just support but also encouragement to grow it through personal involvement.”
Naidu shares how Tata has been an excellent mentor teaching him things, in the best way possible – by example. “How much you can learn from someone like Ratan Tata is less about him handing out life lessons and more about how attentively you observe and listen… The thought behind this book has always been that of sharing the privilege of knowing Mr. Tata personally with the larger community of his many admirers who only know him through news reports… I told him that when I write a book, I would write about another side of him and not just historic events or business milestones. I would write about us and our adventures together, and how I saw him, colours and shades of him unknown to the world. Life beyond the great steel wall of ‘industry doyen’. He agreed saying – ‘There cannot be one book that captures everything … So you do your thing, give your perspective.’ There are shades of him other than that of a humble businessman which I have tried my best to capture in this light-hearted narrative,” said Naidu.
Wanting to share how genuine and wholesome intergenerational friendships can be, he adds, “Being around and learning from the Mr Tata is a privilege that I acknowledge… Inter-generational friendships are something that aren’t talked about or encouraged much. However, I love them! And, the older generation is very fun to get to know too… Through this book, I also wanted to bring to the fore, the facet that friendships don’t need to be among same age groups or classes… my relationship with Mr. Tata broke all those barriers. Mr Tata is someone who is always keen to learn, and looking for opportunities to talk to young people – that forms the basis of any friendship – the fact that you want to listen to each other.”
Published by Harper Collins India, with illustrations by Sanjana Desai, ‘I Came Upon a Lighthouse’ is scheduled for release in January, 2021. Priced at Rs. 499/-, it will be available for purchase on Amazon in digital and hard cover format from the 11th of the next month.