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A Vision sans Borders

Formula for Fulfilment: A biography of NS Rao 

By Vidya Gunavanthe

Publisher: Print House India, Mumbai 2009 

Rising from humble rural surroundings in Karnataka, Nalkur Sripad Rao, ('Sripadmam' to all in the Community, 'Sippy Rao' to outsiders and business associates) lived a remarkable life of achievements and creativity in an India and world that is hard for contemporary society, busy with its instant sound and memory bytes, to imagine. He was, and perhaps is, to date, the only Chitrapur Saraswat to head, at different times, three premier organizations that are familiar to the Aamchi world, and in the milieu of Mumbai and beyond—The Kanara Saraswat Association, the Standing Committee/Mahasabha of Sri Chitrapur Math and the Shamrao Vithal Cooperative Bank. But more than that, Sripad Rao pioneered Pest Control Services in India, setting up a company that set the benchmark for such services in India, at the same time setting up model farms, agro units, laying the foundation for fair trade practices and good management in these areas. He used benevolent and ideal management practices long before B-schools in the country taught these to greenhorn managers, and created a happy workforce that worked as a well oiled machine to deliver results.

All the wealth the company and its ancillaries generated was put to optimum and good use in social welfare—schools, NGOs to teach better agricultural and vocational practices, improvement in work practices, medical assistance in key areas. Alongside, Sripad Rao paid attention to our community organisations. An active Rotarian, he was also the founder member of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India.

Many perhaps are not aware of the key catalyzing role he played in restoring peace and harmony in the community that had seen rifts over leadership at Shri Chitrapur Math in the last quarter of the past century, and how he, from the backrooms, quietly helped in healing those rifts, bringing about understanding in the community, and most important of all, in the anointment of a new spiritual leader that we in the community are so fortunate to be blessed with today.  

Ms Vidya Gunavanthe has sketched the life and times of this personality, a sort of “Croesus and Santa Claus rolled into one”, in this slim biography, with a great measure of understanding and balance. A very interesting and fulfilling read, the book is generously peppered with photographs of a Man and his Times which are gone by, but whose creations, whether they are organisations or human persona, still abide.

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