Adi Farewell – By Nadir Godrej
Adi is my elder brother,
For good advice, there was no other.
He always took the greatest care
And in all things was very fair.
At school he was extremely smart,
Excelled in all, except for art.
For fame he never seemed to hanker,
In SSC he was first ranker.
Then Xavier’s college up to Inter.
He then had to contend with winter
As his next step was MIT,
Where, when just twenty-one, you see,
He was both Bachelor and Master.
And few have ever done it faster!
Once back home he started work.
No matter what, he’d never shirk.
This was way back in ‘63.
The years have passed as you can see.
His arrival meant rising hopes
For forty-year-old Godrej Soaps.
Just two crore was then the size.
And Adi set out to modernise-
MBA’s were soon recruited
And cars for managers were mooted.
The marketing was revamped,
And those who couldn’t change decamped.
He introduced cost accounting
And soon the sales started mounting.
But hair dye was his greatest coup
And over the years, it grew and grew.
The nineties then brought quite a change
The landscape now seemed very strange-
With multinationals at the door
We hardly knew what was in store.
Pepsi and Coke bought all in sight.
Should we sell or should we fight?
We chose a path that’s in between.
In hindsight now it can be seen
That Indian firms that learnt to hone
Their skills easily held their own.
But then we thought that we should seek
Strong partners or we would stay weak.
And so, we formed the odd joint venture,
Which proved to be quite an adventure,
We learnt a lot and that’s for sure.
It helps us still to endure.
An acquisition that was bold
Brought HI into our fold.
And many more were unfurled
As we spread around the world.
Though Godrej Soaps began to soar
On market price we couldn’t score.
Then our advisors thought it fit
That Godrej Soaps should be split.
GCPL came in to being.
And Adi, very quickly seeing,
The trend for better governance,
Put into place all at once,
With lots of help from CII,
Best practices that surely vie
With the very best in the world.
When our new stock was then unfurled,
It very soon began to fly
And to this day it still stays high.
GIL came into being
In recent days we are seeing
Our chemical business steadily rise
As we diversify and specialise.
Our new products should ensure
That the rapid growth will endure.
The shares we hold, as you can tell,
Are also doing very well.
In these companies at the start
Adi played a major part!
And so today one clearly sees
That now Godrej Properties
Which he served with fealty
Has really arrived in realty.
For Agrovet, Animal Feed,
Can be considered our core creed.
But it was not always so
And many of you may not know
The way we stumbled into feed.
For compound feed they saw no need.
Then Buhler sought out L & T
Together they had tried to see
If a market might exist
There were no takers on their list.
They chose to make a clean swipe
But were left with a prototype
A discount customer was sought
And Adi was the one who bought.
Serendipity and not a vision,
Thus, gave birth to this division.
In time the business forged ahead
Geographically we chose to spread.
And on my watch, we diversified,
New businesses were then tried.
Over the years it has grown
And now it’s listed on its own.
But it was Adi who laid the seed
That permitted us to succeed.
Is Adi’s success because of skill,
Or is it more his iron will?
For Adi was always organised
And punctuality was prized.
By dusk his desk is very neat,
His paperwork is all complete.
Not agonising is the trick,
Decisions must be very quick.
Adi can’t stand the status quo
All novel things he wants to know.
And if he thinks that it is right
He puts in all his will and might
Behind the new initiative
And with support that he can give
We quickly learn the latest ways,
Make sure the group sees better days.
But while he strove for the group
The industry was in the loop.
He’s always ready to lend a hand,
Be President or take a stand
With government on policy
And he’ll persist till industry
Gets exactly what it needs.
And once he headed CII
Ensuring that it would fly high.
And anybody that you ask
Will state this is no easy task.
Requiring traveling incessantly
And persuasive advocacy
How he survived I’ll never know
In fact, he had a cheery glow.
And now of course we all see
We have a working GST,
A cause he pursued relentlessly
And for this selfless contribution
He deserves his Padma Bhushan!
All who see him are inspired.
For all he does, he’s never tired
Where did he get the energy?
It shouldn’t be any mystery,
Adi of course, was very fit.
He didn’t seem to want to sit.
There’s not a sport, he hasn’t tried
For he can even paraglide.
He really loved to water-ski,
Not on a lake but on the sea.
And on a trip to Mt. Kailash,
Although conditions were quite harsh,
The mount was circled in a day.
Most folks his age would say, “No way”.
And none of us can fail to see
That he is full of energy.
He always set a rapid pace
As he led us in the race.
Though all of us most surely know
That we have many miles to go
But still we’re sure it can be done.
Indeed, this race must be won.
And if we stay on the proper way
And never let our value’s sway,
If all of us fulfil our roles
We will surely reach our goals.
A billion Indians, we can say,
Will use our product every day
And everywhere it will be seen
That we are great, good and green.
Adi’s spell was truly great.
The years he worked were fifty-eight!
But all good things come to an end.
Let’s hope we can maintain the trend.
He’s stepping down, as you can see,
The mantle has been passed to me.
His shoes are big and hard to fill
But with your support, I think we will
Continue well in the same way
As Adi did in his own day.
He will be Chairman Emeritus
And I’m sure he’ll merit us
With his presence and advice,
Invaluable beyond any price.
Now hearing praise can be quite tough,
I’m sure by now he’s had enough.
But all the same why don’t we stand
And then give him a rousing hand?
For service to both group and nation
He deserves a standing ovation!
August 13th, 2021