Trust came easily to Indu Ma, as did magnanimity

Guest Column: Mohit Hira, Marketing Strategy Advisor – YourNest Venture Capital, recounts a 'sweet' anecdote that spoke volumes about Indu Jain's thoughtfulness and kind-heartedness

e4m by Mohit Hira
Updated: May 17, 2021 11:26 AM
Indu Ma

In 2003, after 16 years in the cocooned comfort of Contract Advertising, I found myself on the fourth floor of 7 Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, the headquarters of The Times of India Group. There, in a darkened room, one autumn afternoon I met the lady we all called Chairman. 

Many people have referred to Mrs Indu Jain (and this is the first time I’m using her name in its entirety) as ‘Ma’ or ‘Mummy’: for those who didn’t interact with her, it may seem odd, but the fact is that she exuded an aura which drew you in, in the way a mother comforts her children. It may also seem unusual that her sons, Mr Samir Jain and Mr Vineet Jain, invariably spoke of her as the Chairman and not with the filial affection one would expect. In turn, she would address them as VC (Vice-Chairman) and MD (Managing Director), respectively – and with the full respect, their official titles deserved. It was a signal to the rest of us, but it was also the way she was: a mother to everyone who worked in the Group and also the Chairman who could if required, extend an iron fist in her velvet glove. She was always soft, yet steadfast in her goal to get you to accomplish whatever she had set her mind on. 

As the head of the Times Foundation, I worked very closely with her in one of my first assignments: her tranquil face would calm anyone who came into contact with her and was in stark contrast to the hurly-burly world of news-gathering that lies at the core of the Group. And while it was easy to assume that the Chairman was interested only in spirituality, she would often insist on getting a perspective on the business from people she trusted. Trust, in fact, came easily to her; as did magnanimity. 

One incident I vividly recall epitomises her: at one of the many lunch meetings with VC at his residence, I made the ‘mistake’ of admiring a carrot cake that she had brought over from her kitchen on Sardar Patel Marg. She happened to be there with us that day and had heard me telling a colleague how delicious it was. At the end of that day, when I eventually sat in the car to head home, a box was waiting for me on the seat: it was an identical large carrot cake (evidently two had been baked but only one consumed). The kitchen staff later told me it had been set aside for me to take home to the family. I was touched but also embarrassed, and when I mildly protested the next day, she merely smiled that beatific smile and asked: “Did the children enjoy it?” I responded: “They licked their lips” and her eyes lit up with a mischievous twinkle. 

That, in essence, was the Chairman. I regret not having remained in touch with her after I left the Group but, perhaps, there will be a time in another life… for some more of her cake, banter and blessings. 

Mohit Hira played myriad roles at The Times of India Group between 2003-2008 and remains its champion.

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