Lifestyle Leading Towards Success


Interview of honorable Shri M.L.Mehta, former Chief Secretary of Rajasthan.

About Honorable Shri M.L.Mehta

After a brilliant academic career Shri M.L.Mehta joined Indian Administrative Service in 1963 and rose to the position of Chief Secretary, Rajasthan from where he retired in 1997. His work in civil service was marked by sterling integrity, humanism, high dedication and concern for the poor and the downtrodden. He gave concrete shape to Gandhiji’s concept of Antodaya by developing famous Antodaya Scheme in Rajasthan in 1977 focusing on the poorest of the poor. This bottom up approach was later incorporated in the national programme of IRDP. Millions of poor have benefited from antodaya approach adopted by him.

His problem solving skills, innovation & creativity and penchant for institutional building shaped and influenced his career both in civil service and outside. In 1981, the building of Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration (popularly known as OTS) was washed away in heavy rains and there were deep entrenchments all around the campus. People were on the verge of losing hopes. At that time Shri M.L. Mehta was posted as Director there. He not only managed to get a new building built up but took the institution to great heights.

He was awarded Vriksha Mitra Award in 1986 by Government of India. Because of his sensitivity to the poor, he developed many community approach based schemes like Apna-Gaon Apna Kam, Roonkh Bhaila, Jan Mangal and Raj Laxmi. While working as tribal Development commissioner, he was instrumental in iradication of guinea worm disease from Rajasthan. He was conferred with Mewar Gaurav Award, in 1994 and Acharya Jaimal Gyan Award in 1998.

After superannuating from government service in 1997, he got himself fully involved in social work and community service. He founded a voluntary organization called Sumedha in 1998 for helping talented students from resource poor families. Thousands of students have been benefited so far from Sumedha with financial help of over Rs. 1 crore. The Eye Bank Society of Rajasthan formed under his chairmanship in February 2002 is engaged in promoting eye donation in Rajasthan for helping corneal blind persons. He is also engaged in the work of helping Riksha pullers in Jaipur city to be owner of their vehicles through self help under Apna Riksha Apne Nam scheme.

As chairman of Pratham, he is involved in the education of the underprivileged children at Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kishangarh. He is also President of Sandhan, an innovative organization engaged in educational research, training and curricula development. As chairman of Pragati Trust, he runs a Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Chomu for transfer of improved farm technology to farmers. As its first executive head, he set up and spearheaded Rajasthan Mission on Livelihoods, under the aegis of the Government of Rajasthan for skill development and livelihood promotion.

He is founder chairman of Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation Ltd. He is also Hon. Secretary of the Indian Institute of Health Management & Research, India’s leading business school in health sector which runs three well developed campuses at Jaipur, Delhi and Bangalore.

He also worked as consultant with World Bank in Kenya and Tanzania. He is widely traveled both in India and abroad having visited countries such as USA, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and many other Asian countries.

Every aspect of Shri M.L. Mehta’s life is worth learning from. In his words, it is not so important at which height a person is now. More important is to see how he reached there. How Gandhiji became a Mahatma is more important.

Let’s learn from Shri M.L Mehta himself how he shaped his life.

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An Interaction with Honorable Shri M.L.Mehta:
One Who Made Others Grow and Reached the Heights of Greatness

Question: Sir, tell us when for the first time you thought consciously about your life.

Sh. Mehta: I remember the journey of my life taking a shape from the age of 9 years when I moved from my village to another village which was 15 kms away for better education facilities. Later, when I came in IX Std., I moved to Udaipur. After that throughout my life, I have been conscious about three things – one, I should work hard, two, I should excel in whatever I do and set a benchmark for others and three, I should leave this world to be a better place.

Question: Is there a book or a person who has inspired you a lot.

Sh. Mehta: I am highly influenced by Swami Vivekanand and Mahatma Gandhi. Swami Vivekanand’s saying, “Arise, Awake and don’t stop till you achieve the goal” keeps on inspiring me.

Question: People still fondly remember you for rebuilding of RIPA after the floods of 1981. How did you manage it when the building had washed away, there were very deep entrenchments all around the campus and the funds were limited?

Sh. Mehta: First of all, I planned for making an institution, a team and not just the building. For that I asked my team members to think in terms of what is to be done and not in terms of the limitations. I assured them that the problems would be solved but the work should not stop. They should strive to achieve a certain standard in their performance.

Very soon, everyone was with me and after that we were incessantly at work. From idea generation to collection of resources, conducting training programmes to managing logistics – everything was done collectively and happily by all.

Question: You are known for institution building. What do you think should be the qualities of a leader to be able to build good teams and institution?

Sh. Mehta : A leader should have faith in fellow members and he should take care of their self respect. In difficult times, a leader should stand by his subordinates and give them moral support and guidance. I learnt a lesson of leadership from my riding coach in Mussoorie. He said while riding on a horse if the horse becomes restless, just pat him on the back. Similarly, when a fellow member is upset because of whatever reason, a senior should help him in cooling down.  

Leaders have great responsibility for future generations also. If we give proper guidance and support to our subordinates, they would do the same with their subordinates. On the other hand, strained relationships would lead to strained relationships in future also and ultimately the system suffers.

Question: Which principles you always followed in life?

Sh. Mehta: Honesty, Sensitivity and Concern for others and firm belief in values and ethics have always been my principles. Once an agent asked me for a bribe to get me admitted to a government Engineering College where I was not admitted because of my eyesight problem. I plainly refused. I was very clear that whatever I would do would be based on honesty and integrity.

Question: Whatever task you took in hand you never looked back. What really led to continuous success?

Sh. Mehta: First of all it was good planning and creative problem solving. I have a habit of reflecting on whatever I have done and I make continuous improvements. Apart from that, once I see meaning in something, I don’t get bothered by the problems. Innovative approach and winning spirit always pays.

Question:  What would you suggest to the working women?

Sh. Mehta: Working women are of course doing a difficult job. They have dual responsibility – at home and outside. However, with the changing times, the trend of women going out to work will increase. Therefore, the society should come forward to find the solutions to the problems which not only women but children and others also face because of this dual role of women. It is very important to change the upbringing process of boys and girls and make them used to household works and other small responsibilities so that in future there is little gender differentiation in managing household. Secondly, society will also find other solutions like flexible working hours etc. for women.

Question:  What would you suggest to others for the moments of depression?

Sh. Mehta: Depression comes when we see a failure. We should perceive a failure only as one of the two alternatives – success and failure. When we learn from every experience, the chances of getting success improve every time. Thus, by repeated trails and learning from failures, everyone can get success. We suffer from depression when we get obsessed with what we don’t have. Rather, we should learn to enjoy what we have and make systematic efforts to get what we want.

Question: What message would you like to give to the youth?

Sh. Mehta: Hard work, emotional stability, having some principles in life and concern for others are a must. Sensitivity for others should be high and there should be a human touch in professional relations also. 

I would like to quote a small incident here.  I was SDO Ajmer. It was election time. I was busy in moving from one place to another since morning. My driver Pukhraj was also moving continuously with me. At around 9.30 P.M., I called him and asked him to go for some work. When he was leaving, I saw some reluctance on his face. I immediately analyzed that this reluctance should have a reason. Either someone is not well in the family or he has not eaten anything. I asked my peon to call him back. When he came I asked him if he is not comfortable. There were tears in his eyes. He had not eaten anything since morning. His wife was also sick still he was on duty at stretch for 14 hours. I asked him to sit and sent a message to my place to send food. He had dinner with me and that day onwards he always remembers me and gives a lot of respect

You should have a genuine concern for all and you would never be alone.

I wish all the best to the youth and to all the viewers!