How to be an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a philanthropic with the help of a book by Amit Agarwal
By Amit Agarswal/ The Times Of India The first time you have seen an old-school Indian movie is when you watch the first installment of Rajkumar Hirani’s novel ‘The Book of Indian Movies’.
It is not a particularly funny book, but its impact on me is still there.
In it, the protagonist, a dentist, finds himself in the middle of an argument with a fellow dentist about a dentist’s practice.
The conversation turns to the subject of dental care.
The dentist says, “What is the value of a tooth?
What is its value?”
The dentist replies, “I think it is the price we pay for our lives.”
That is how the book begins, and its title is an apt description of what Agarwals words are: “How to be a philanthropy”.
The book is a story about the evolution of Indian dentistry from a small and humble institution to a modern entity.
It is the story of a young man named Jagadish Bhatia who, by the age of 18, had developed the world’s first dental surgery equipment.
His father, a former army officer, did not want his son to be any different.
Jagadish, in his early 20s, had gone to England to pursue a degree in civil engineering.
But Jagadish was not a very good student.
He dropped out, got a job in a construction company, and moved to a small town in the northern state of Karnataka.
The family lived in a two-room apartment.
His mother took care of him.
When he was 17, Jagadish got his first dental appointment.
It was a routine procedure, but he was told he had to have his jaw wired, a procedure that could kill him.
“I thought, ‘It’s not like I will die of a bad tooth’,” he says.
But he went anyway, because he had already got his education and was a diligent student.
“I was a student who did not have any hope of graduating from school.
I did not know that it was possible to get a decent education, let alone get a dentistry degree.
I never thought that I would be able to make it as a dentist.”
His father, meanwhile, had no time to teach Jagadish the importance of his job.
“We were very poor, we were illiterate, we had no health care.
He was working for the local government.
His main concern was that my son’s education would not be enough for him to earn a decent living.
I could not have cared less about my son.
He had no idea that I had made a career in the profession.”
In the years following his graduation, Jagada became the first person in Karnataka to get his first dentist appointment.
The man who had taken care of Jagadish would have been delighted, he says, because this appointment was a sign of his confidence in him.
But after three more dental appointments, he realised his son was not going to be able get the work he wanted.
“There was a period when I was depressed.
I was in a bad place,” he says of his time in England.
“My father was not happy.
I had nothing to do.
My work was just not done.”
In his quest to get work, Jagda took a job as a construction worker.
He never thought he would be a dentist.
“The work was not for me.
It did not interest me,” he recalls.
He found the job and, in five years, got to the point where he could afford to buy a car.
Jagada then began a relationship with his neighbour.
The relationship went on for three years and was only ended when Jagadish found a job with the government.
He says, when he started working in the dentistry, he knew he was a dentist for life.
“A dentist can change lives,” he told me, when we met in his office in the capital.
“He can fix your life.
He can make it a better place for your children and your grandchildren.
I have never thought of it as my profession.”
It is not unusual for Indian dentists to be in work for less than six months, which is about the time they would expect a dentist to start a family.
But many do not realise that there are a few things you can do to get ahead of the game.
First, you should work hard.
“You must take the initiative and have a passion for what you do,” says Rajiv Gokhale, a Mumbai-based dentist and author of the book ‘India’s Dental Guru’.
“I would never say that I am a career-oriented person, but I believe you have to work hard to succeed.”
Second, you need to have a sense of responsibility.
If you have the drive to do something, it will pay off in the end.
“If you are not passionate about the profession, you are likely to lose it