An Entire Generation Sacrificed

Few days back, Larry Page announced his plans to create a new holding company called Alphabet. And Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. I like Larry’s plans as he is emulating the proven model of Berkshire Hathaway. Also he made India-born and bred Sundar Pichai as the new CEO of Google. The announcement from Larry Page excited me. But this article which talks about the sacrifices made by Sundar Pichai’s parents inspired me.

It’s the generation that we grew up holding hands of. It’s our parents.

Sundar Pichai, in one of his interviews, told that his parents, who were of a modest background, sacrificed a lot to ensure that he got all the facilities for education. They never had a car, or a TV and one of their bedrooms was their living room. Almost all the money that his parents had saved was used to buy tickets for Sundar to fly to the USA for his scholarship Master’s degree. – Aninda Baruah

Human brain is associative in nature. You start off with something and that acts as a cue to trigger many other ideas that are stored in our brain. The sacrifice made by Sundar’s parents reminded me of an incident narrated by Richard Feynman. Back in the fifties, Feynmann was visiting Port-of-Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago. He took a taxi and instructed the driver to show him the bottom part of the city, where the poor people lived. The driver agreed on one condition that he would question Feynmann at the end of ride. And asked Feynmann to look at everything very carefully. The conservation between Feynmann and the driver is given below.

So he took me to an East Indian neighborhood — it must have been some housing project — and he stopped in front of a house made of concrete blocks. There was practically nothing inside. A man was sitting on the front steps. “You see that man?” he said. “He has a son studying medicine in Maryland.” Then he picked up someone from the neighborhood so I could better see what they were like. It was a woman whose teeth had a lot of decay.

Further along we stopped and he introduced me to two women he admired. “They got enough money together to buy a sewing machine, and now they do sewing and tailoring work for people in the neighborhood,” he said, proudly. When he introduced me to them, he said, “This man is a professor, and what’s interesting is, he wants to see our neighborhoods.”

We saw many things, and finally the taxi driver said to me, “Now, Professor, here is my question: you see the Indian people are just as poor, and sometimes even poorer than the Negro people, but they’re getting somewhere, somehow — this man has sent his son to college; those women are building up a sewing business. But my people aren’t getting anywhere. Why is that?”

I told him, of course, that I didn’t know — which is my answer to almost every question — but he wouldn’t accept that, coming from a professor. I tried to guess at something which I thought was possible.

I said, “There’s a long tradition behind life in India that comes from a religion and philosophy that is thousands of years old. And although these people are not in India, they still pass on those traditions about what’s important in life — trying to build for the future and supporting their children in the effort — which have come down to them for centuries.”

I continued, “I think that your people have unfortunately not had a chance to develop such a long tradition, or if they did, they lost it through conquest and slavery.” I don’t know if it’s true, but it was my best guess. – What Do You Care What Other People Think

From Feynman my brain latched on to the speech given by Munger at USC. In the video given below watch from 4:00 – 5:40 minutes to see Munger talk about the value transfer that comes from one generation to the next.

I see one crowd of faces in the rear not wearing robes, and I know, from having educated an army of descendants, who really deserves a lot of the honors that are being given are the people here upfront. The sacrifice and the wisdom and the value transfer that comes from one generation to the next can never be underrated. And that gives me enormous pleasure as I look at this sea of Asian faces to my left. All my life I’ve admired Confucius. I like the idea of filial piety, the idea that there are values that are taught and duties that come naturally and all that should be passed on to the next generation. And you people who don’t think there’s anything in this idea, please note how fast these Asian faces are rising in American life. I think they have something. – Munger

By connecting Sundar, Feynmann, and Munger we can clearly see that the sacrifices made by an entire generation, our parents, made you and me. And it’s our duty to pass on the baton to the next generation, not just your kids and grandkids. If you don’t have time to help other kids then consider donating money to great foundations like Dakshana, which focuses on alleviating poverty by educating impoverished students in rural India.


15 thoughts on “An Entire Generation Sacrificed

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. A highly commendable work!
    Do you have a personal experience with Dakshana foundation ? The reason why I am asking is that it is crucial to verify whether foundation/NGO is making right use of the funds and resources.

    • Amit,

      Dakshana foundation is run by legendary investor Mohnish Pabrai. I personally started donating to the foundation from last year. And people like Prof. Bakshi support the foundation []. And I don’t have any doubts about their integrity.


  2. well written article Jana, I have been reading all your posts lately and I am impressed by the quality of your posts. I enjoyed the series on learning to learn its awesome.

  3. Once again great article Jana. Dakshana is my favourite charity and I love to donate. I can personally vouch regarding the traditional of sacrifice as my parents worked hard for me and sacrificed a lot.

  4. Charity begins at home, i believe and practice giving the maids, rickshwalas and most manual labrourers an extra salary / tip. Why haggle for Rs 500 PM with a maid, if she is honest and hardworking give her Rs 500 more than she is usually earning.

  5. I do read your all article and this is heart touching. I would really appreciate your work.

  6. We being in similar age as Sundar Pichai.. can understand and relate to the experience on how he grew or how everyone of has grown. People might be a different level but sacrifice by parents is same.. 🙂

    I am not sure if next generation will be able to relate to this experience.

  7. Thanks Jana! Excellent article.

    Yes our parents have sacrificed a lot, but they did not get sacrificed in this process. What they did – made their life worth living. And as you have suggested in the end – their life is worth emulating for all of us!

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