Prof. Rahul Gupta Choudhry

Specialization: Marketing, Strategy and General Management

 Elton John has immortalized blue eyes in his famous love song “Blue Eyes”. The deep blue ocean and the deep blue skies are always keeping a watch on us, presumably for our well-being. What do they see? Are they happy with what they see? Are they supposed to be happy? Or, are they appointed just as our guardians - destined to travel the entire journey of humanity without any guidance. We do not yet know if they want to communicate something to us – and if they do, what are the media that they choose. Is it that we do not understand or choose to ignore, or is it that they really do not have anything to tell us.

On a trip to USA long time back, I was being taken to various factories as part of my project. I saw the advanced methods and technology being used in most of the Fortune 500 companies. My pre-determined perception of great companies located in USA was getting reflected in reality. By then I had seen the picture post card vision of the American dream – the suburban bungalow with a few expensive cars thrown in – the stuff that was also the Indian middle and upper middle class dream that Indian’s dream of. I do not know whether the Indian dream can be fulfilled in India or it has to be necessarily consummated in USA only. It is not that the plight of the few homeless among all the wealth and riches of American cities escaped me altogether. However, I kept on visiting companies and their factories according to their schedule.

It was all of a sudden I realized that right under my nose in the same city I was based in, the oldest and probably the most famous steel plant of the world was located. Having come from a steel city myself, I made a special request to visit the plant. My wish was granted and one beautiful evening, we landed on the well-manicured lawns of the factory. I was not at all prepared for what awaited me inside the factory. We entered and I saw unfolding before me a ramshackle 18th Century spectacle desperately trying to still maintain its relevance in this century of never seen before technological developments. I for a moment thought about my experience of steel factories back home – huge public sector undertakings running in to several miles and manned by thousands of people brimming with activities giving a feeling that one is perhaps in the midst of a war like situation.

I started walking further inside the factory and was particularly attracted towards a spot where a middle aged man was sitting on a trolley. I went to the spot and to my astonishment saw that the trolley was actually sitting on a dug-out small stream through which red hot molten metal was passing. The temperature there would have easily run into a few thousand centigrade. This is a scenario I have never encountered in my life before. Hailing from an industrial city, I was used to blast furnaces and coke ovens operating on 1200 – 1500 degree centigrade and workers operating in that environment.

I went and stood near that man – a man with perfectly chiseled features and – deep blue eyes. I kept looking at him in bewilderment and after sometime I realized that this man was also fixedly looking at me. I still do not know what I was thinking at that point in time, but we kept staring at each other. I was mesmerized at this unexpected turn of events and was rooted to the ground. After what seemed to be a long time, I saw the man opening his mouth and was trying to say something to me. He said a few words or a sentence – but all was lost in the cacophony of the factory operations. At the same time, my Professor and the VP of the unit arrived on the spot and guided me away from the spot.

I do not know and will never know what those blue eyes in that handsome face were trying to tell me at that point in time. What were the blue eyes conveying – helplessness? Cry for help? Brotherhood of shared destiny? Revolt? Unfairness of life – a system which needs to be mended? Unfortunately, for me there are only questions. No solution to a struggle which I see in my daily life back home – but so uncommon in a developed country – comfortably cocooned and smug in the knowledge of being an economic and military powerhouse. In my home town, I see the street urchins across major street corners. They come close and I look in to their eyes. The sheer hopelessness of their existence does not get reflected in their eyes – they are still joyful and may be even happy in this wonderful world. They have made peace with life and they expect nothing from me, from us. Those blue eyes will never accept life as it is given to him and his pain of having been left behind by a society which does not care may not subside – ever.

In my sleepless nights I see those blue eyes – in that middle aged handsome face – and I still wonder – what were those blue eyes trying to tell me? Will the deep blue ocean wash it away or should we wait for the deep blue sky to tell us? Sometimes, it is better not to know what we do not know – dreams are easier to live with than reality.