Saturday, September 08, 2007

My lazy ancestors

Queen Elizabeth can trace her ancestry back over many centuries and several generations. So many people in the British Isles believe that one of their forefathers came into the country along with William, the conqueror, in the 11th century. There are many Americans who can claim that some ancestor came over in the Mayflower. The author Alex Haley claimed to be the seventh generation descendant of Kunta Kinte, a native of Gambia who was kidnapped in 1750 and transported to Maryland, to be sold as a slave there. A Finnish colleague of mine takes pride in stating that he has his family tree dating back to the 14th century.

I am always impressed when I hear all this. For, I can barely trace my family tree back to my grandfather’s time. I know nothing of where he came from or what his grandfather did.

While on this forefather business, another thing I notice, with families such as the Tatas and the Birlas, is that somewhere in the family history, some grandfather has broken away from the routine, ventured into uncharted territory, taken risks which paid off, accumulated wealth and dutifully bequeathed all that to their descendants. The grandsons or grand-nephews such as Ratan Tata and Kumarmangalam Birla are enjoying the fruit of the entrepreneurial zeal of their ancestors. Building the fortune further is relatively simple. It is creating the base that is the difficult part and which was handled by the grand fathers.

I am sorry to report that my great grandfathers don’t seem to have had such noble thoughts. So, when the grandparents of Ratan Tata and Aditya Birla were toiling away and creating business empires for their descendants to enjoy, my great grandfather appears to have wasted his time and frittered away a golden opportunity to amass wealth for his great grandson. Just to cite an example, if only he had purchased a few hundred acres of land inside Chennai city those days when an acre of land probably cost a few annas ( equal to two thambis, at today’s exchange rate), and left it behind for my use, life would have been a lot easier.

No, I hear you say, not all wealthy people have inheritance from their ancestors. Didn’t Bill Gates or Dhirubhai Ambani become first-generation billionaires, on their own steam? Good question.

But, that’s exactly my point. My grandfather, like Gates or Ambani, could easily have become a first-generation entrepreneur, if he had tried.



Bit Hawk said...


Toxic Survivor said...

I totally agree with your analysis. As my grandparents and other ancestors are all dead, I think it makes sense to utilize a medium or spiritualist to help me contact them. It seems only fair that I should chastise them thoroghly for thier sloth, as I'm paying a high price now for it. No doubt my children, grandchildren and their progeny are all depending on me to right this terrible wrong.

If it works out, I'll get back to you with contact information for the medium.

Raj said...

bit hawk, thanks

toxic, do let me know. We grandsons must stick together.

dipali said...

Should apply for more successful grandparents in the next janama, kind of late for this one:)

Raj said...

dipali, yes, or take revenge on my grand children.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you be the starter in your family chain. Why can't you be the Bill Gates or Dirubhai Ambani in you family so that your great grand children can do the same that you wished to do. Thats is the karma of life. Work towards better life for the future generations.

Raj said...

anon, what will my grand children have to crib about, then?

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't give a chance for your grand children to write this... :-)