Last week, the papers were full of Rahul Gandhi, and talked about how India's heir-apparent has infused fresh life into the Congress party. When Red Hat chairman, Matthew Szulik was in India in 2005, we had faxed across a meeting request to Rahul's office. The very next day, we got a call confirming the meeting. Javed Tapia, who then headed Red Hat India, Szulik and myself met with Rahul. As an aside, Szulik is a passionate speaker on open source in education and it was one such speech that made me join Red Hat. Szulik updated Rahul on what is happening with open source around the world and tabled a request that the Indian syllabus should stop mandating proprietary software and endorsing brand names.
We spent around 30 minutes with Rahul. During the meeting he spoke very little but listened intently. He agreed with our point that the syllabus should stop endorsing brand names. While he did not speak much, it was clear that he had oodles of charisma, helped along by that famous dimpled smile. The lasting impression was that of someone who is a very pleasant human being, very understated and with absolutely no desire to show off. For that reason alone, I wish him and the new UPA government great success.
PS: In complete contrast was our effort to secure a meeting with the then IT Minister, Dayanidhi Maran. His secretary said that he would grant a meeting only if we promised to invest crores of rupees to set up a development center in Chennai. I conned the secretary into granting us an appointment but the meeting did not add up to anything.