Saluting a Journey of Courage
A son’s tribute to his father
(December 21, 1936- January 9, 2011)
Anirban R Banerjee
The purpose of some journeys is not to arrive but to keep discovering. The experiences of such lives enrich the lives of many.
It is always difficult for a son to write the obituary of his father. He has to balance between personal and public personae. It is a highly subjective and emotive issue. If the life of a man is measured by his actions then it would be altogether dramatic to write an obituary of my father. They might not find a place in the pages of history but can certainly deepen our perceptions about life. The event of death cannot take away his abounding energy that like the radiance of sun surrounds us.
My father Rathindranath Banerjee was born on December 21, 1936 in Jabalpur, then Central Province, now Madhya Pradesh. His father had apparently migrated to place from Bengal for professional reasons. He spent his early years in the native town, doing his schooling at St. Aloysius, Jabalpur. At the age of 16 he went to Indian Air Force Technical College, Bangalore. The ensuing four years were spent there until his passing out in 1958. In 1962 he graduated in special course from the United States Army Aviation Centre of Excellence (USAACE) at Fort Rucker, Dale Country, Alabama. In those days Defence Service was a career option the young men were willing to accept as a challenge. He rendered his active or supportive services towards 1961 liberation of Goa, 1962 Indo-China War (air force rendered only provisional support), 1965 Indo-Pak War . In 1971, my father got married to the lady he loved. My dear mother had followed him with care and dedication through all stages of his life. Her dedication to everything my father had stood for is beyond my ability to express through words.
After retiring from Indian Air Force he worked with an American manufacturing company Ingersoll Rand and Dresser Rand as Head, Quality Assurance and Supply Chain Management, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. As a distinguished Quality trainer he has trained people in various organizations. He domiciled in Gujarat, a state whose people he found highly industrious and hospitable.
My father, by temperament, was a man of few words and immense action. Living a simple life, he considered work as worship. Irrespective of circumstances he was able to stay calm and determined. As in workplace, so in personal life, he was a disciplinarian and perfectionist. He would criticize somebody’s action, if necessary, without criticizing his persona. Depth of his personality and knowledge are something I rarely see these days. I had asked him one day what I should try to be like, and he told that never to be unjust to people. No man is perfect but should try to develop that virtue persistently. He enjoyed life till the last moment and I had the experience of life time in learning from the way he lived each day of his life. His ideal in his life was his father; mine is to be like him.
We belong to an erstwhile feudal family of Bengal, though it is assumed that Banerjees came from Kannauj (Uttar Pradesh) during the medieval era. We were settled by the Royal family of Bikrampur (Dhaka) at a placed called Dhaukhali on banks of river Padma. My grandfather apparently migrated to Jabalpur, by being an employee of Royal Ordnance Factory. The Ordnance factory, being headquartered near Calcutta, one finds many Bengalis in that organization. My father, despite having a convent education and comfortable childhood, chose strenuous and risky vocation in Indian Air Force. He taught me never to be afraid of taking a stand once taken in life regardless of the consequence. Greatest assets of our life, he says, are our values and we shall not compromise upon it for anything.
My father had certain principals in his life which guided him in all that he did in his life; He had always extended a helping hand to people and stood up for them when needed. He was a man who was never afraid to be taking a stand..The values my father had faith in are universal and I feel all parent irrespective of the community they belong to would like their child to follow .Its the ways we can put them to practice and stand by them in difficult times is the valuable part of the lesson I learned from my father. Some times when the going gets tough and what we stand for comes under fire we need to be all the more strong and committed to defend them. In the coming issues I will write more about life experience of my father his mission and how each one of can benefit from them in our professional and personal life .His life experience and be a guide to overcome some challenges and learn the art of practicing some of the principles he followed .We all stand to gain from being more committed to what we do , the way we do our work and how we conduct our self . My father had faith in people with principles and values, irrespective of the religion they follow or community they belong to. If there are sorrows in life, there are joys also. He loved life and its joys; the greatest joy of life he felt was doing his duty right. It’s my mission to travel in the direction shown by him. My father will live as long as we have men who are willing to embark on journey of courage. It is a kind of immortality human beings enjoy that idea envisage by them, words spoken, and action committed live on. With death his physical body is shed. His soul will live on forever.
Anirban R Banerjee
In loving memory of my father
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I belong to an erstwhile feudal family from Pre Partion Bengal. I was taught to value resilience and courage and never to up our values or hesitant to defend what we stand for. My father served in the India Air Force and my Grandfather was in the India ordinance factory service, I had the privilege to live in many part of India and learn about the oneness of Indian culture .We have made Gujarat our home and we belong to Gujarat now. Our relation with Gujarat dates back to the time when my grandfather was posted in Dahod during his service with the ordinance factory in the 1940s .After that my father had the privilege to operate from Jamnagar Air Base during his service with Indian Air Force and latter during his stint with a US corporate, I completed my Graduation from St Xavier’s in Ahmedabad and the opportunity do my first job in Gujarat. Gujarat is a state with warm people known for there resilience and enterprise and I have learned a lot form the culture and History of the people of Gujarat. The People of Gujarat has played a great role in shaping my mind and made me what I am today. Like my family India and Gujarat has traveled a long way in history with its glorious past and like my family endured many ravages of time. I feel the greatest asset an Indian has is the wealth of its values and culture irrespective of our financial standing and this we must not lose at any cost its our values that will endure us during tough times, our culture is our identity and our sole to me. My family never sacrificed our honor and values. Our Indian values that are the greatest wealth I hold. We must remember the world will respect us only as long as we don’t ape anyone and have something of your own to show.