[AI] very inspiring

Syed Imran syed.fame at gmail.com
Tue May 15 07:40:49 CDT 2007

Most remarkable, most remarkable indeed!

Syed Imran
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Subramani L" <lsubramani at deccanherald.co.in>
To: "kishor lalit gohil" <noda at rediffmail.com>; 
<accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:37 PM
Subject: Re: [AI] very inspiring

Here's a very funny thing about screen readers that most of us get to 
experience --As I read the below article, the first sentence in the second 
para sounded very funny: "Suresh started Laser Soft in 1986 with just Rs 200 
and five people."

When I actually wondered how someone can start a company with Rs 205 people 
(while allowing JAWS to read the sentence continuously), I read the sentence 
word by word and understood what the writer meant. Perhaps, people writing 
documents and articles must also be sensitive to screen readers?


-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in 
[mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of kishor lalit 
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:03 AM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] very inspiring

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May 10, 2007

Suresh Kamath,
the managing director of Chennai based Laser Soft Infosystems Ltd is an 
unusual man. Unlike most other entrepreneurs, he does not aspire to create a 
empire; his sole ambition is to provide employment to 10,000 people. He also 
plans to reserve 40 per cent of the jobs for the disabled.

Suresh started Laser Soft in 1986 with just Rs 200 and five people. Today, 
the company is a force to reckon with in the banking software arena.

In recognition of his commitment to the disabled, President of India A P J 
Abdul Kalam felicitated Suresh with the Best Employer award in December 
He also won the Best Employer award from the Tamil Nadu government. He has 
been awarded the NCPEDP shell Helen Keller Award for giving equal rights and
gainful employment to persons with disabilities.

Read on for the inspiring story of Suresh Kamath

Ambition as a child

I come from a poor family. We lived in a one-room-kitchen house in Mysore. 
Though my father struggled very hard, he did not let his penury affect the 
of his children. Unemployment, depravation, hardship pained me and right 
from my school days my ambition was to create employment in this country. As 
child I was motivated by Mr Laxman Rao - one of my teachers at school who 
always advised me to do something for the country.

I heard tales of poverty and struggle from my father and grandmother. How my 
father could study only up to the 10th standard, as he did not have money 
further education. My mother too did her schooling only till the 8th 
standard. But all this hardship did not stop them from encouraging us to 
with our studies. I was the eldest among my siblings and took up the mantle 
of setting an example. Encouraged by my performance - I was always a rank 
- my younger siblings too did very well in studies.

As far as my career was concerned, my father gave me full freedom and I 
decided to study engineering. I joined the National Institute of Engineering 
Mysore in 1975 in electronics and then did my M Tech in computer science 
from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Life after graduation

I was keen to start my own company immediately after my post graduation. But 
since I did not have any job experience I was advised against any such move.
So, I joined Tata Consultancy Services and worked for a year. I noticed that 
all the major Indian software companies were into services; they were not
into creating products and it disappointed me. I was convinced that India 
could create excellent products thanks to the huge talent pool available 

While at TCS I found that most of my colleagues aspired to go abroad to 
further their career. But I was not interested in overseas assignments.

Even at IIT, I was the only student in our batch of 20 who did not go abroad 
after studies. On hearing of my ambition, many of my friends ridiculed me 
even called me a 'fool'! I took their scorn in my stride. However, my 
parents were very supportive. They encouraged me not to pay heed to what 
others were
saying and encouraged me to strive to give shape to my ambition.

After TCS, I joined another company that was into hardware because I wanted 
some related experience. I worked there for three years.

Starting Laser Soft

When I was 28, my father told me to get married. I decided to marry the girl 
of his choice. By then I had decided to quit my job and start my own 
I told my fiancee of my plans and asked her if she still wanted to marry me. 
She said, 'Yes. I have faith in you.'

On May 1, 1986 I launched my company. I intentionally chose May Day as it is 
also labours' day.

With initial capital of Rs 200 and five technical people from NIIT the 
company was launched. I told them, 'I will give you whatever I can afford 
but all
of us will draw the same salary.' I did not even try to hire any engineers, 
as I was convinced that they won't work for a small company like mine. Also,
I strongly believe that you don't need engineers for programming. What you 
need is logic. I also wanted a team that would be the foundation of the 
who would remain with the company.

Why Laser Soft? Because the word laser - meaning accuracy and precision - 
appealed to me, and soft is of course from software. Our office was a room 
my house, and our first job was to get visiting cards and letterheads 

First client

We decided to focus on banking and healthcare. Banking because it was a 
gargantuan sector and had huge potential. At that time automation of the 
system was a faraway dream. We approached the State Bank of India and Apollo 
Hospitals and told how our products could facilitate their work. SBI 
that they had a six-month backlog in the DD purchase for Madras Fertiliser 
Ltd. Since we did not have computers, we requested SBI to allow us to work 
the bank in the evening. They agreed.

First product

Our product for SBI was out in two weeks' time and the backlog was cleared 
within a month. Our first product was thus a big success. Both SBI and MFL 
very happy and we were paid a remuneration of Rs 5,000.

Sensing that we could help them in various quarters, SBI sent us to their 
overseas branch -- which incidentally was their largest branch in the South 
business of over Rs 5000 crores. Everything was done manually. On any given 
day the branch could take only 25 bills from the exporters. Our product, 
in a week's time, was exclusively for handling export bills.

>From 25 bills, they were able to handle 200 bills a day and the profit of 
>the branch zoomed to Rs 55 crores (Rs 550 million).

End of first year

By the end of the first year, our turnover was Rs 128,000, and our staff 
strength had doubled to 10. With Rs 1000 as monthly salary, we could manage. 
the success of the export bills, SBI assigned more work to us. As our work 
pressure increased, we hired more people and by the end of the second year 
were 25 people and our profit stood at a handsome Rs 600,000. In five years' 
time, we computerised 70 SBI branches all over India.


Then one morning in 1987 Parthasarathy - we call him Partha - came to meet 
me. He was disabled and was not an engineer but had undergone a computer 
that the government had offered in an institute. I told Partha, "I like to 
employ people like you."

And it was not a wrong decision. Partha had an amazing zeal and his 
disability did not stop him from being mobile. I thought it was the right 
model for
any industry to follow.

I was not doing any charity by employing him because my company benefited 
more from Partha than vice-versa. I have noticed that physically challenged 
are more committed than others but unfortunately we pay scant attention to 
them. Business houses talk about attrition. I tell them, 'Look at these 
they will never leave you.'

Disabled-friendly office

At that time our office was in the first floor and Partah had difficulty 
tackling the stairs. Seeing him struggle, I decided to make the entire 
office disabled-friendly.
Our ground floor is now exclusively for the disabled people, and we have 
ramps in our office and there are special toilets for them too. We have also 
houses for them near the office so that they can avoid long travelling 

After meeting Partha, I decided to hire more disabled people. We waited six 
months to get a disabled person who could be our receptionist.


I don't look at employing disabled people as charity. I look at this as my 
responsibility. This country has spent money to educate me and I feel it is 
duty to do something for the less privileged.

It had been a great experience working with them. Seeing them work, get 
married, settle in life and have children is a wonderful experience.

We have 550 employees now, and 15 per cent of them are disabled. We go to 
engineering colleges looking for disabled people but find only one or two in 
college. Parents don't send them out. The biggest challenge for the 
physically handicapped is the attitude of their parents. We, at LaserSoft, 
hire them
even if they are not engineers.

Other than the physically challenged, we have people suffering from cerebral 
palsy too working for us. We find them good in graphics. Many of our 
are deaf and dumb.

Best employer award

I was elated when I won the award but with all humility, let me say I am 
doing very little. I am very disappointed to see that I was chosen when 
there are
so many business giants in India. Seven per cent of India's population is 
disabled but all of us turn a blind eye to them. I realised that if I could 
an award by doing so little, it means that others are not doing even this 

I was honoured to meet Dr Abdul Kalam. He is a wonderful person, a real 
motivator. He asked me, 'What exactly do the disabled people do in the 
Do they do software or menial job?' I told him barring two all are involved 
with technology.


My ambition is to create 10,000 jobs, and I want to reserve 40 per cent of 
that for the disabled. We also have a light top model as far as salaries are
concerned. We don't give huge salaries to those who occupy the top positions 
but distribute the money to all the employees.

Reservation row

Reservation based on caste is going to divide us further. Reservation should 
be based on economic criteria alone. We should learn to forget our past and
start looking at the future. What have today's children got to do with what 
some people did in the past?

What difference does it make if you are a brahmin or a non-brahmin when you 
are poor? How many IITs and IIMs do we have? How many good medical colleges
and engineering colleges do we have? We have such a vast population but not 
enough resources. Instead of starting more colleges, and there should be 
colleges for the disabled, the government is talking about more and more 
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