Ten Years in River Valley

On July 17, 2010, we had a small function in the afternoon to honour twenty six of our staff members who have put in more than ten years of service in this company. They were presented with mementos, granted extra increments to their salaries and several staff members felicitated them. The occasion was graced by Prof KSS Nambooripad (my mentor and guru), E Krishnan (my mathematician friend), Kaveh Bazargan (my partner in business and friend) and Lindsay MacLeod (publishing consultant from UK who visited us during this period) and delivered brief felicitation speeches. I too made a small speech although I could not make it as I was too emotional to talk. Here is what I intended to say.

When we opened the new office of our company on 17 August 1999 at St Josephs Press Building, Cotton Hills, Trivandrum, we were thirty one persons. You will be surprised to hear that twenty six persons out of these thirty one are happily with us and have completed a decade of service in River Valley. Doubtlessly, it is a great day of joy and celebration for all of us. Some of these twenty six persons have joined even pretty before that. For example, Mohanakumari, our first staff member joined in the year of inception of River Valley which was in 1994, followed by Shan, Thankappan Nair, Vidhya, Rishi, et al. in the next year, meaning, they have completed more than fifteen years!

During private discussions, many people have asked me about the secret of this when IT/ITES companies in India are worried over terrible attrition rates. In fact, there is no secret at all nor do I have made any theorizing effort to find out the reasons. We all joined hands in good faith to put in our efforts to do whatever each one of us can do best without any recourse to any kind of boundaries or hierarchies to restrain ourselves. Even today we do resort to the same kind of work culture although we have devised hierarchies and some such management trickery. But that is primarily aimed at stamping out the fears of clients who love to do analysis of imaginary risks. Anyway, our working methods slowly gave way to the emergence of a kind of pattern of connections between all these human beings among themselves and with the work they do, the surroundings, the infrastructure which is based on simplicity and functionality, the openness and transparency of operations, the free software eco system, etc. It is akin to the pattern of connection that exists between a butterfly and the flower or an ocean and its waves. Never ever a day has passed in my life for the last sixteen years without relishing the poetry of this symbiotic pattern of connections. While enjoying the poetry myself, I have tried to make these gentle people to know about it. I am sure, they should have experienced it in an amorphous way if not as tangible as I did. Often, I have felt that they became the butterflies and flowers synchronized in a single being, each person became the company and its employee simultaneously, thus our motto took shape: The Community is the Company. I believe, this is the only secret, if at all we can say so, of River Valley which might be difficult to replicate and which baffles every onlooker.

When we started our company, we were seldom resourceful as of now. Many new staff members now in service in this company today would not have chosen to get into our company at all, had they tried their entry during the formative years. That reveals the magnitude of devotion and sacrifice which these twenty six people have exhibited in building up this company. In fact, it is built upon their sweat and blood too as much as that of the founders. Without any murmur, they gave me enormous momentum and confidence to fight against any odds and huddles on our way thereby elevating all of us to newer levels of camaraderie and co-existence. They were the singular source of tremendous energy to build this company into a modern outfit based on the principles of scientific naturalism as propounded by Einstein or Richard Dawkins or people like them and one which respects human rights and dignity of labour with least influence of our feudal and tribal traditions. I use this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to each one of this founding team deep from my heart. The physical value of the memento or the extra increment on their salaries which they are going to receive from next month onwards, do not reciprocate the magnitude of their contribution at all. However, I would request them to accept those things as symbols of joyful appreciation and gratitude from the part of this company and how we value them and their services in the coming years.

Once again, my big thank you for all of you. Let us work together for a little more better world than what we have inherited from our predecessors.

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