Guest AuthorPrabodh Sirur

Ashok Soota couldn’t say ‘no’ to my gift

Source |  |  BY:Prabodh Sirur  ,  voice presidentHR at Manipal  Technologies Ltd

They say – when you invest time in creating a gift for someone, you are giving away a portion of your life.

I have to share two stories where I gave away portions of my life; loved doing it.


My first gift was for Ashok Soota. The gift was to say ‘thank you’ for what he did and what he has been doing even now for our IT industry.

Ashok, now in his seventies, has led thousands of people to pinnacles of success – Wipro from a small USD 2Mn business to half a billion business (now nearing 9 billion), Mindtree to nearly a billion dollar business and Happiest Minds. He has been the President of CII (India’s largest industry association), has served on Prime Minister’s IT task force, is a counsel to The World Intellectual Property Organization, has been awarded the title of The IT man of the year more than once and regarded as one of the 12 gems that built our IT industry.

I had seven days, before meeting him, to think and to create some unique gift for him.

Ultimately I could create something unique. It was a wine bottle with a personalized label on it.

This is how the label looked.

Google helped me find pictures, quotes, including Soota’s caricature drawn by one of his employees, Noor Mahdi. I came to know so many interesting things about Ashok Soota and the companies he led. A printer helped me create a label that I could stick on the wine bottle.

I was ready to meet the big man.

When I handed over my gift to him, he said No, he couldn’t accept gifts. But when he saw the label on the bottle, he didn’t have the heart to refuse.


Anjali is a family friend. Once she told us about her cousin who had passed away in his twenties a few years ago. He suffered from autism. His autism, however, did not come in the way of his prolific production of art nor in his show of affection to all those he knew. When Anjali spoke about him, we could see how much she loved the boy.

We decided to create a replica of one of his paintings as a gift for Anjali. My family members also pitched in. This is how the painting progressed.

When she looked at what we created, we knew from her emotions that we had given her the most valuable gift.


Some of my friends may ask me, “What is the ROI (return on investment) for the time you spent in creating these gifts. You did not expect anything in return. Is all this effort worth the time?”

I would say, our gift was a tribute to the unconditional love Ashok showed for the country and the unconditional love Anjali felt for her young brother who faced challenges in leading a normal life.

In turn, it benefited us too. Psychologists say that ‘the act of giving’ releases oxytocin in our brains, a hormone that induces euphoria and warmth and helps us feel more connected to others. I am sure the receiver of the gift too will have the similar effect.

What do you think?



Whenever I create an article, I want to think about, write something about Impressionism. It is a source of inspiration to me. It reminds me to reflect about innovation and about challenging the status quo.

Impressionism (1860-1890) is a 19th-century art movement. It was started by painters to challenge the then existing style of painting. They re-defined painting as an impression of one’s mind rather than what is seen by the eye. They turned the artistic establishment upside down with their revolutionary new approach to painting.

Let me write about Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) today. Bazille, a French Impressionist, began studying medicine because of family pressure but moved to painting after he met the impressionist artists. His home in the Batignolles neighborhood in Paris became a headquarters for the Impressionists; hence the movement was first called the “Batignolles School.” Bazille died in combat at a tender age of 28 in the Franco-Prussian war.

Bazille was a pioneer of a composition where he transported human figures created in studios to outdoor settings. Have a look at his famous painting called The Pink Dress(1864) that will give you an idea of his style.

Here is a painting called Aigues-Mortes (painted in 1867) that I like because of its contrasts and a zooming effect.

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