I often describe Sreekant as an old fashioned journalist. This description is to suggest that you just can’t scratch his back. That nothing could ever coax him to do anything immoral, unethical or unfair. That he is rooted in moral foundation that guides every personal or professional decision and passes it through an is-it-fair sieve. And if SK feels otherwise, well forget it. His commitment to do the right thing, regardless of the circumstance or the consequence, is unwavering. SK's ability to think and reason the intellect is astounding. He has figured out that in life the challenge is not so much to crack how best to play the game, the challenge is to figure out what game you’re playing.
Many journalists may perhaps grudgingly reveal that a compromise between the ethics of moral conviction and the pressure of business are often tested. For Sreekant a conflict between the two doesn’t arise. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that he is a pushover or a softy when it comes to running a business. On the contrary, his armor of morality gives him the courage to be almost fearless. And other than a guiding moral compass, what supports him to be fearless is not the security of a well-lined purse, but the spirit of perpetual optimism. A spirit that continuously generates enormous positivity. A self directed Pygmalion effect – a persistently held belief that all will be well, such that the belief itself becomes a reality.
Morality is closely coupled to the idea of impartiality and impartiality to being fair. Ask anyone who has worked/interacted with Sreekant and s/he will tell you that SK is intuitively fair. And the ability to very quickly understand, distil and logically explain right or wrong, gets many to share their disquiet with him.
Last week I ran him through, what I had felt was a well thought through decision. In my head it was fair, loaded with goodness - the moral thing to do. He heard me out for a minute or two and told me that what I was planning was plain stupid.. that it may make me feel virtuous and reduce guilt if any, but the decision to the contrary was not wrong or immoral. He then went on to tell me why and I quickly realized how foolish I was.
The ability of making meaningful connections vs. vapid chitchat comes naturally to SK. So when he asks 'what’s happening' you can’t get away with ‘all good'/‘sab badiya’ response. He will draw you in with charm, candour and warmth and get you talking.. about family, about good times, bad times..
Sreekant met a friend of mine for the first time. A friend who I thought I knew rather well. At the end of an hour in an Ahmedabad hotel, drinking genuine Teachers and munching on masala papad with loads of hari mirch, Sreekant knew everything about him, his family over the last three generations, his cultural roots in Ahmedabad.. And all I could sheepishly mutter was “par Chandanbhai, you never told me this". Sreekant is a master at drawing people out of their shell, people instinctively trust him.
Sreekant has been my partner for almost twenty years. Many partnerships dissolve into a messy heap of savage negativity because of ego, self-interest, selfishness, distrust.. We have remained firmly together and will remain so because SK has the ability to get the best out of even the ill tempered and the insensitive. I am fortunate to have met him. And I say this from my heart and not to gain his favor. As I said a back scratch really gets you nowhere with Mr. Khandekar.