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Ashok S. Ganguly on his new book, Afterness: Home and Away

On December 13, The Bengal Club hosted Hindustan Unilever chairman via a Zoom call who gave us all an insight into his life and achievements

Sudarshana Ganguly (t2 Intern) Published 27.12.22, 02:58 AM

On December 13, The Bengal Club hosted Hindustan Unilever chairman, Ashok S. Ganguly via a Zoom call who gave us all an insight into his life and achievements through his book Afterness: Home and Away. The event was organised in association with The Telegraph.

Introducing the memoir, Aniruddha Lahiri, who moderated the session, said: “The story, published by Penguin Random House, spans 80 years of his life and provides valuable insight into his thinking process and decision-making skills that have touched so many of us who have been privileged to know him and work with him. The book is honest and reflective, personal and yet revelatory.”


On being asked what made him write the book, Ganguly mentioned that he had written the chapters over a period, primarily to let his grandchildren know what their family was all about. The encouragement to finally publish the book, he said, had come from his former colleague, Gopalakrishna. Ganguly who had studied biotech, ultimately made a career in management. He said: “I only imagined a future. When I look back, after the tragedy of my wife’s death, I thought about our whole life; I found out that life has been exceptionally kind to me and my wife and my family. And at some point, in time, it’s worth reflecting back. I had a certain dream and the dream was overtaken by dreams of other people but I enjoyed every moment of it.”

In a career as long as his, failures were an integral part. Speaking on accepting defeats he said: “The first 15 years of my life was a litany of failures. You don’t always get what you aim for in terms of interactions and development; but if you don’t have that, you’re really not doing your job; you’re not fighting against odds; you’re not trying to persuade those who do not wish to be persuaded. And therefore, I don’t think they are disappointments, they are the realities of different parts of life and one has to learn how to deal with them, how to overcome different points of view, or to understand different points of view, which you may not have thought about.”

The conversation also led to Ganguly’s experience with a palmistry, which led to the question what plays a bigger role in success — destiny or drive, luck or labour? “None of these,” he answered with conviction. “It is the people who develop other people, who work for them, that determines your future,” said the noted industry expert.

He also reflected on the current state of affairs in his book and said: “Recent attempts to change India into a majoritarian Hindu nation can only be at the cost of dismembering the Indian Constitution.” He added: “I am not disappointed in the progress of the country, but I am rather simply stating my apprehensions.”

Picture: B. Halder

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