education. There are only a few subjects where you get edu-
cation — like medicine where you work as an intern, work
with doctors and get some practical insights about things
that you have to do in your future career.
True education happens only after you practice what you
learn as theory in schools. A guy fresh out of a school of
journalism does not really know much about the profession
except in theories. In that context I say that common sense
trumps expertise almost every time.
We run our business on common sense and not on
In both India and the US, entrepreneurs seem to prefer
hiring people with great management or engineering edu-
If you kook at the structure of IIMs and IITs, their biggest
thing is their selection process and their schooling, but
then they still do not give you education. Is their schooling
bad? No, it is OK. It is fine. But until you come out (of
schools) all you have is (that) you were good at taking tests.
When you come out and have to actually work in the real
world, then you get education. I am not saying those
schooling are bad; but if you think that IIM or IIT education is everything in your life, as most people tend to think,
it is not true at all.
Who would you hire — someone educated or a person who
is straight out of management or engineering school?
We do not hire people straightaway. In the military there
are officers who go straight from school to officers schools
and then to become officers. Then there is another kind
who start from being enlisted, then become a sergeant and
then come up the echelon. We prefer the second kind, peo-
including Bill Gates, have become successful. A lot of peo-
ple wonder how that is possible. But that is because they
think that a person gets all the education in universities…
One year (of studying at Princeton) was enough of train-
ing. Why should one stay for four years for that matter in a
school and not for five years? I thought in one year I got a
lot out of it and that was enough.
I would say my
education in those 12
years in an Indian
ashram had a basis in
terms of looking at
fundamentals of life.
Those things helped my
education. I would
attribute my success
to that. Without that
training I would not be
where I am today.
ple who have actually worked and
then have come up from the bottom
of the ladder, rather than straight
from fancy schools.
A lot of negatives happen in fancy
schools. Sometimes you start believ-
ing that you really know something.
Is that why you chose to drop out
of Princeton after one year – to have
education rather than schooling?
No. That was because I thought
that there was more to life than just
earning money. I wanted to find
that. That is what I did for 12 years
I believe you spent those 12 years
in Hanslok Ashram in India where
you spent time pursuing a life of
discipline as a monk. Why did you
Most of the time you go to fancy
schools or any school to have a good
job and a good career, and if that is
not as important to you, then you
find out what is important to you. I
found that it (Princeton schooling)
was not that important to me, so I left to get a different
kind of education.
Does it strike you at all that a person who thought there
are more things in life than just earning money, spent 12
years in ashrams, has become one of the richest Indians in
Not really. A lot of people who dropped out of college,