Simply Fly, Captain Gopinath, Collins Business, Pages 369, Rs. 499 (HB)
CAPT Gopinath is not an unknown name in India, famous as being the father of Low Cost Airlines. People identify with him, applaud him when he wins, and offer sympathy when he seems down and beaten.
His autobiography-Simply Fly (a slogan which he gave to his airline Air Deccan, too), traces his journey from a village boy to a man who gave middle class Indians wings to fly.
Simply Fly is an expression of a restless man, whose mind seems to be running faster than his body can keep pace with. Through the book he comes across as an explorer, finding new solutions to problems whether during his army days, or as an agriculturist, or as a flyer.
And what more can you say about a book for which the Foreword has been written by none other than our People’s former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
The seed of thinking out of the box was perhaps sown in his childhood when, as Gopinath tells us, his father did not send him to school till the 5th standard. “He believed, like Gandhi, Tagore, and our own Shivaram Karanth, that schools are systems of regimentation and that children are better off at open-air schools, free from the burden of examinations. Real education is in life’s experiences, school is like a jail,” his father said. And, luckily for Gopinath, he finds the right life partner in Bhargavi, a woman who shares his dream and passion right from day one.
His leaving the army at the age of 27 had many in his family unhappy, because that was the time when youngsters were moving towards cities in search of better prospects. And, here was this boy who wanted to become a farmer.
Gopinath gets into coconut farming, silkworm farming, gets electricity to the fields, and brings unique solutions and ideas here, too. About agriculture, he says. “If something is not ecologically sound, it is not economically sound.”
At one point of time, his restless spirit shows him a future in introducing helicopter services for weddings, medical evacuation, oil-drilling industry, etc. And, a flying career begins. Numerous problems come but are sorted out.
Launching a Low Cost Airline brings with it a huge set of problems and challenges. Politicians and bureaucrats – who feet-drag and get him into red-tapism – have to be tackled. The airline takes off and becomes a roaring success. But later, the hurt come clearly through as Gopinath senses a non-cooperative attitude of his CRS company or when he sees a takeover bid coming.
“When I had nothing, I built Deccan,” says his never-die spirit, and adds, I will “begin all over again.”
That was the birth of his logistics company. “We will go where the industry is going, we will go where the SEZ are going,” he says.
The book is the story about an indomitable spirit. As Gopinath puts it, “My life in rural India enriched and enobled me – farming, poverty, debt – and often when it all seemed the very end with my back to the wall, I tapped into an unknown inexhaustible well of optimism and energy to get up each time after falling, summoned strength and courage and started all over again.”
A very inspiring book, but as Gopinath warns in the beginning, it should not be taken as a How To book.
(HarperCollins Publishers India, A-53, Sector 57, Noida-201301.)