Unforgettable Lessons

Once, in Singapore, a taxi company decided to ask its drivers for suggestions on how to improve their business. Many of the drivers were sarcastic. Some of them were negative and some others ignored the question. But there was one enterprising driver who came out with a list of twenty-five ideas. Some were practical, some far-fetched and some were downright hollow. One of the ideas was to install TV sets for passengers to watch while they are travelling.

The company accepted the idea and installed 5 screens in a 100 cabs. It was an instant success because passengers were pleased with the facility and many went out of their way to select this particular company’s cabs. The drivers were pleased to report bigger tips.

Some people lean on the old mental crutch, saying, “That is not my responsibility.” In fact, there is nothing like demarcated areas of work in life. Boundaries are marked only in playing fields where the player has to shoot at a goal or target. In life, every experience is a lesson, and a good lesson is a passport to better performance. One day, during my childhood, I was sitting in the front-seat of a bus which was proceeding to the nearby town where my grandfather lived. The bus deviated from the fixed route and halted in front of a house. None of the passengers knew whose house it was. As they were all wondering about whose house it was, the conductor said, ‘‘You need not speculate. This is the house of the Sub-Inspector of the local Police Station.”

A tall six-footer, impeccably dressed in khaki with a cross-belt, revolver and cane, emerged from the house. I was asked to vacate the front seat and stand in the rear. I felt humiliated at the time but it taught me a lesson.

While doing my postgraduate course at the Banaras Hindu University, I stayed back during the summer break to prepare for the All-India Service Examinations, and I was selected into the IPS in 1951. It was through a mixture of will, determination and luck that I had succeeded. I commanded many Sub-Inspectors of Police but the initial picture printed in my mind could never be erased. A lesson will continue till it is learnt fully.

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