Monday, March 1, 2010

REVIEW: Simply Fly

Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey
Captain G.R. Gopinath
HarperCollins India
Rs. 499
Pp 400
ISBN: 9788172238421

This is the journey of a boy born in a remote village, who went from riding a bullock cart to owning an airline, a journey of an entrepreneur who built India's first and largest low-cost airline Filled with rich anecdotes of everyday struggles and joys, this is the awe-inspiring story of Captain G.R. Gopinath. This autobiography narrates in gritty detail Captain Gopinath's incredible journey: quitting the Indian Army in the late 1970s with a princely gratuity of Rs 6500, going back to his farm land inundated by the river, converting a piece of barren land to set up a farm for ecologically sustainable silkworm rearing, winning the Rolex award for it, his loves and passions, his extraordinary determination to launch an airline (which touched a crazy market cap of US$ 1.1 billion in less than four years ), in the process rewriting aviation history.

Reviews etc
A flight into sunset Business Standard
Captain GR Gopinath burst upon the scene when he floated Air Deccan, India’s first low-cost carrier, some time in 2003. Without a doubt, it was he who brought air travel to the masses. Till then, it was something only for the well-heeled. But he ran it ineptly. For quite some time, there were long flight delays which made airports worse than a fish market. It didn’t get any better once you boarded an Air Deccan aircraft. As there was no seat number on the tickets, there would invariably be a fair amount of jostling for the aisle seats in the front rows.

The business idea was great but the business model wasn’t. In less than five years, the airline had totted up huge losses, Vjay Mallya had come on board as an investor, and Gopinath was out of the company he had founded.

There was no way Gopinath’s autobiography could have been a dull read. And to be fair, Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey is a competent piece of work — indulgent in places, under-edited, inadequate in some details, yet racy and engaging. Let’s go through my grouse list first. One, the Air Deccan story begins after you have trudged through no fewer than 250 pages. Of the 380 pages, Gopinath has devoted only about 100 pages to the airline that brought him out of obscurity and gave him his share of fame. Wish there was more on Air Deccan and less on the rest of the stuff.

‘Businessmen are more corrupt than politicians’ Financial Express
Simply Fly captures the spirit of Captain Gopinath to perfection. The first generation entrepreneur, who gave wings to dream and fly to the aam aadmi through Air Deccan, has become an icon of the common man. But for his own inspiration he looks up to Napoleon for sheer military leadership, Mahatma Gandhi for being an extraordinary human being, Leo Tolstoy for his lateral thinking and Narayana Murthy and Sam Walton for their business sense. He believes that he belongs to a generation that always held rivers in awe and reverence, but is pained when he sees that for the new generation, water is something that comes in the tap and in bottles. If Bhimsen Joshi’s music moves him, he doesn’t miss the charisma that Vijay Mallya exudes. “Charisma is inexplicable. Nehru had more charisma, but Gandhi had a different impact. You become charismatic by what you do. Your work, achievement and humbleness all add to it.” As he sets out to steer his new logistics venture, Sarika Malhotra tries to unearth what made him believe, ‘I can fly’: Excerpts

In your early years, you talk about how after an accident in the army, you considered becoming a monk. What were those years like?
I underwent a spiritual crisis. In comparison to a jawan, the officer lives a life of luxury. When you live a life of a young army officer, you experience all good things of life. But there is so much evil, injustice and poverty around you. I was torn between a conflict of spirit and flesh. Finding equanimity is difficult. So I wanted to become a monk. But soon realised if I become a monk I will be a burden on society. I remembered reading how Leo Tolstoy had described the arrogance of the monk when he is surrounded by the powerful and women. I was not comfortable with the idea at all. I went through a process of internal realisation, ‘you have to lose yourself in action, to find yourself’. That is when I went back to my village and the farm and submerged myself in it. It was a physical and spiritual challenge for me. I lived in a tent, ploughed the land, and milked the cattle

MBA Universe
Can a boy who grew up in a remote village and went from riding a bullock cart go onto owning an airline, one that would become India’s first and largest low-cost carrier? Yes, it is possible in the New India, where opportunities abound! Passion, Grit, Hard work and a bit of luck is all what it takes – not millions of dollars or crores of rupees. That’s the message coming out from SIMPLY FLY, A Deccan Odyssey, a book by Capt Gopinath, the man who revolutionized Indian airline industry with its low-cost Air Deccan for common man.

The 380 page thick tome offers an inspirational read to those willing to soar. The book traces Capt Gopinath’s journey from being an Army man, to a village farmer, to starting an airline and then selling it off to Vijay Mallya – only to turn entrepreneur again with his latest venture Deccan 360!

The Deccan Challenger Indian Express
His story has the panoramic breadth of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, if plunging sometimes to agonising depths, reminiscent of Booker Prize-earner The White Tiger.

But while both Slumdog and White Tiger are fictional, Simply Fly is a true-to-life, extraordinarily candid autobiography from Captain G.R. Gopinath, the man who spawned India’s low-cost, no-frills airline industry.

At the very beginning Captain Gopi, as he is widely known, writes, “this is not a how-to book”. But the story of Air Deccan, as described in the book’s 13 chapters, contain many practical life lessons for aspiring Indian entrepreneurs

Captain Gopinath chronicles Air Deccan journey Little About 
Captain Gopinath, the founder of low-cost carrier Air Deccan which revolutionised India's aviation sector, Tuesday launched his book titled "Simply Fly" which talks about his life and the making of the private airline.

At a launch Gopinath said he went through a difficult phase when he faced corruption at all levels in the government to start the private airline."But there were good and honest people also who helped me to make my dream possible, where everybody could afford to travel by air," he said.

The book was launched jointly by Minister of Civil Aviation Praful Patel and chairman of Kingfisher Airline Vijay Mallya."This is a story of a boy who grew up in a remote village in Karnataka riding a bullock cart and later joined the armed forces and quit to own India's first and largest low-cost carrier," said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

No comments:

Post a Comment