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From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom... A common man's journey
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Happiness Unlimited...How to be happy..always !!
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Dream On...Every setback is a little nudge from HIM to Dream On
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The Autobiography Of A Stock
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Friday, March 31, 2017

Kalpana Saroj : A Dream On Story

Kalpana Saroj was born in a Dalit family. Even though her father allowed her to get an education, wider family pressures saw Kalpana become a bride at the age of 12 - yes 12 years - when our sons and daughters are getting educated in a convent school - perhaps in 7th or 8th standard - enjoying all possible comforts of life.
She moved to Mumbai to be with her husband who was 10 years older, but was shocked to find herself living in a slum. That she went on to be a Padma Shree awardee, turned around a debt laden company, produced films, has net worth more than $100 million - cannot be just a stroke of luck. It is her grit, determination and ability to consider every negative situation as an opportunity - that defines her destiny today.

"Some of my friends' parents would not let me in their homes, and I was not even allowed to participate in some school activities because I was a Dalit."

That was not to be the end. 
"I was treated badly by my husband's elder brother and his wife. They would pull my hair and beat me, sometimes over little things. I felt broken with all the physical and verbal abuse," says Kalpana.

Leaving a husband is widely frowned upon in our culture, but Kalpana was able to escape the violent relationship, thanks to her supportive father. When her father visited her in Mumbai, he was shocked to see his daughter emaciated and wearing torn clothes and took her back home.

Many villagers were suspicious of her return, viewing Kalpana as a failure. She tried to ignore the judgemental comments thrown at her, focusing instead on getting a job. She learnt tailoring as a way to make money.

But, even with some degree of financial independence, the pressure became too much.

"One day, I decided to end my life. I drank three bottles of insecticide, termite poison" she says, recalling her lowest moment.
Kalpana was saved after her aunt walked into the room and found her frothing at the mouth and shaking uncontrollably.  From this nadir, things took a U-turn - and that is exactly what happens in a Dreamer's life.

"I decided to live my life, and do something big, and then die." she says.

At the age of 16, she moved back to Mumbai to live with her uncle. She started working in a garment factory to support her family. Using government loans for scheduled caste people, she successfully started a tailoring business and then a furniture store - eventually joining the league of successful Indian women entrepreneurs. 

"The first time I came to Mumbai, I did not even know where to go. I was from such a small village. Today my company has two roads named after it in the city," she says, summing up the extent to which her life has transformed.

She began by earning less than a Rs. 50 a month, but tirelessly learnt how to operate industrial sewing machines, and as a result saw her income rise. But the money she earned was not enough to pay for her sister's treatment which could have saved her life, a moment which defined Kalpana's entrepreneurial spirit.

"I was highly disappointed and realised that money did matter in life, and that I needed to make more."

She took a government loan to open a furniture business and expand her tailoring work. She went on to become one of the few Dalit's to have succeeded by unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit.

She worked 16 hours a day, a routine she has not managed to shake off to this day. that is what Dreamers do. Work so hard at their passion - that success no more remains a choice. It is not about proving to the world. It is all about proving your capabilities to yourself.

In the following years, she remarried, this time to a fellow furniture businessman, and had two children.

Her reputation led to her being asked to take over the running of a metal engineering company, Kamani Tubes, which was in massive debt. By restructuring the company, she turned things around.

"I wanted to give justice to the people who were working there. I had to save the company. I could relate to the staff who needed to put food on the table for their family." she says of her motivations at the time.

Saroj, 53, says it was the plight of the workers, many of whom had to drive rickshaws or sell incense sticks to make ends meet, that led her to take the plunge.

To save the troubled company, which she bought in 2006, Saroj hired consultants, negotiated with banks, settled with trade unions, and shifted the factory from Kurla to Wada. While she has no education to boast of, the Kamani experience made Saroj "part-lawyer and part-chartered accountant". that is how Dreamers learn - by venturing into uncharted territories - failing and learning on the way.

Now, Kamani Tubes is a growing business, worth more than $100m.

Kalpana employs hundreds of people, from all backgrounds and castes. She has met prominent businessmen such as Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, and in 2006 won a prestigious award for her entrepreneurial spirit.

Kalpana regularly visits her home village and does charity work to help those in her community. As a Dalit and a woman, her story is all the more remarkable in a country where so few CEOs are from such a background.

"If you give your heart and soul and never give up, things can happen for you," says Kalpana - the dreamer.

It is a mantra that has helped Kalpana through the worst of times and still rings true for her.

The nation honored this amazing woman who was born in Roperkheda village of Maharashtra with the Padma Shri.  

She was also appointed to the board of directors of Bhartiya Mahila Bank, a bank primarily for women, by the Government of India. She is among only three members from a non-banking background to have been selected to the board of the Bharatiya Mahila Bank.

Kalpana Saroj also started KS Film Production and produced first movie which was dubbed in English, Telugu and Hindi.

Khairalnji Movie is produced by Deelip Mhaske, Jyoti Reddy and Mannan Gore under Kalpana Saroj's banner. [ Read the amazing turnaround story of Kalpana's friend Jyoti Reddy here... ]

She is very much aware of her successes. 
"The workers at Kamani call me Maa Bhavani now," she smiles. 
"They say everything I touch turns to gold." A Buddhist monk from Thailand even wrote a song for her in his language naming her "the daughter of the Buddha".

Saroj carefully lists her various social initiatives: the beauty parlour she launched to train underprivileged girls, the housing complex where poor people pay rent of just Rs 1,000, cheap commercial spaces for fledgling businessmen, and a workshop for Ganpati idol makers. She even attempted to start a law college but it wasn't approved by the Bar Council.

Saroj - a dreamer - realised at some stage of her life that every setback, every faliure - is an opportunity for her to learn and grow bigger - a little nudge from HIM for all of us to DREAM ON...

So go on, Dream Big ! Do not let your reasons become a hurdle in achieving your dreams. Every setback is a little nudge from HIM for us to Dream On !

Are you ready to Dream On in life, and get set to lead an extraordinary life? 

Catch hold of this epic story of a dreamer, catch hold of the book.. Dream On.

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Want to read more Dream On stories? Click here


Manoj Arora
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