I am a product of many lessons learnt from context - parents, teachers, friends, colleagues and even my children. Most of the advice I got and lessons I learnt were not from the prescription they gave me, but from how they conducted themselves.
I will just talk about one important lesson I learnt from one of my favourite teachers. The teacher who influenced me most as a high school student was Mr K.V. Narayan (KVN), the head master of Sarada Vilas High School, Mysore, where I did my 10th and 11th years of high school. KVN was a tough taskmaster, a disciplinarian, and expected a lot from his students. But outside school, he was kind and affectionate. He taught us Chemistry in my final year. I sat in the front bench in his class.
One day, he was demonstrating an experiment for which he needed to put some common salt into a test tube. He was extremely careful about how much salt he put in, and he took quite some time to optimise the amount. My friend, who was sitting next to me, found it very amusing and burst out laughing. KVN stopped the experiment, asked my friend to stand up and asked him why he laughed. My friend was very honest and said he was amused at how stingy he was in using salt for the experiment. Even today, I remember KVN's words: "Children, I want you all to learn one important lesson.
That is, this country became a slave nation because we all looked after our families and not our society. Therefore, it is very important for every one of us to treat what belongs to the community much more carefully than what belongs to our family. This salt belongs to the school and I have to be very careful how much I use. Please come to my house, and I will give you a large quantity of salt."
This was a very important lesson for all of us. From that day on, I have attempted to treat community property with lots of care. From day one of Infosys, I set rules that ensured that nobody used community resources for private benefit. In my opinion, this is the most important advice for every Indian - particularly for politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats, who violate this rule so blatantly day after day.