One of his fans remembers Atal Bihari Vajpayee
I grew up as a kid in 60s and 70’s hearing my father praise Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was then president of the Jan Sangh (which later evolved into the Bharatiya Janata Party). We would read about Vajpayee in newspapers and discuss how he could one day change the future of India.
In college, I had volunteered to raise money at the grassroots level after I heard Sri Vajpayee address people in Bangalore after the emergency in 1977. I was mesmerized and awestruck by his oratory, his passion and his commitment to India’s growth.
In 1999 after the success of our efforts, a group of us, including Kanwal Rekhi – who was the president of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) a not-for-profit founded in 1992 in the Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals, toured India to open TiE chapters in different cities. We were invited to meet Sri Vajpayee who was the prime minister of India by that time. I was thrilled when I was told I would meet Sri Vajpayee face to face. I couldn’t believe a day would come that I will be meeting him and having such a conversation. My father would have been the happiest man to know it, had he been alive.
We had a very fruitful conversation about creating policies to open up the Internet in India and also to create more friendly policies for entrepreneurs and startup companies. A few months after that we saw massive changes in India’s telecommunication policies, resulting in Internet and telecommunication prices drop significantly and Internet service providers getting licenses without much government intervention.
The rest is history: We see today how well India is connected by both data and voice.
Always a big fan of Sri Vajpayee, I treasure the opportunity I had of meeting him in person a few times in New Delhi. Whenever I visit India and I travel on the national highways, I cannot but remember him and his vision to connect north and south, and east and west through these national highways. Had he stayed in office one more term, we probably would have seen India’s water problems vanish, since he had hoped to connect many rivers to solve water shortfall – especially in South India.
India and the world miss this amazing man who lived and breathed Bharat, and thought about the country’s progress and nothing else all the time.
BV Jagadeesh is Managing Partner at KAAJ Ventures based in Silicon Valley. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, Angel Investor, and a Philanthropist. The views expressed in this piece are his own.