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Apr 28, 2003
Dr. N H Athreya::A pioneer advocate of excellence

Dr. N H Athreya is a sprightly man well into his eighties. He is a management consultant and educator. He is in demand all over India. He travels with the ease of a young man and has a mind to match.

He was born in Chennai and graduated in Mathematics. In 1943 he moved to Mumbai. Since 1955 he has been a management consultant . Even as he works on corporate problem solving, he has been emphasising the need for excellence in whatever we do.

In 1967, he and a few friends set up the Indian Centre for Encouraging Excellence in Bombay. The Centre’s main passion was to showcase the need for Indians to pursue excellence, They instituted the Acme Award that have since been given to 30 people in India and abroad.

Another way Dr.Athreya thought of promoting excellence was to publish a monthly journal, distributed free. Remember it was the late sixties. In a struggling, isolated India with an anaemic economy it was a heroic effort. It was published for over four years.

When GoodNewsIndia had been online for about two years, Dr Athreya got in touch. He had a set of his magazine, ‘Excellence’ as a gift. “I had been longing for someone to take to this sort of journalism. And when I heard of GoodNewsIndia in Rajkot during a seminar I was delighted. Keep up the good work. It is required,” said this grand old man.

It is striking how the two missions are similar. Articles in ‘Excellence’ speak of a postman who built a school, a collector who was brisk in disposing of grievances, a company secretary who championed a community and so on…

It is also obvious, from the many exemplary stories from abroad published in the magazine, Dr. Athreya was in fact seeding India’s public life with the need to pursue excellence. It is the work of many people like him in the early decades of Indian independence that seems to be paying off now. Which is why GoodNewsIndia is able to harvest so many successes in India.

Dr. Athreya marches on. He is currently working with the school system to deliver his message: ‘don’t complain about the darkness; light a candle’.

He has so far written 30 books. His latest is , “Practice of Excellence’. In it he commends reading stories of excellence. It is an easily readable, practical how-to book. The old Sanskrit saying has it that ‘as you think so you become’ [’yata chintayati tata bavati’]. For modern times, he rephrases that: “as you read so you become’ [’yata patati tata bavati’]


Dr. Athreya’e email:

To buy “Practice of Excellence” fax the distributor Select Books for details: 091- 022 - 22000446

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