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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times

10/11/13 5:25 pm

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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy
By G Seetharaman, ET Bureau | 10 Nov, 2013, 04.30AM IST
19 comments | Post a Comment

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READ MORE ON Sunday ET | Rishad Naoroji | real estate | Ludwig van Beethoven | Jim Corbett | Jamshyd Godrej | Godrej Industries
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Organisations/Projects Naoroji has been involved with: Governing Council Member, Bombay Natural History Society Committee Once you get into that clique (hanging around with corporate honchos), all they talk about are numbers and markets and I Member, The Himalayan Club Director, get very bored Rishad Naoroji. Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation Trustee, New Ornis Foundation Godrej Industries Ltd. Adviser, Parsileaves Vulture Project. Super Typhoon 6 Former babus who changed Chhattisgarh goes to p

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At least people died in the central Aruna Roy who left cushy govt job at a If 10,000 there were an award for the billionaire

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Philippine province of Leyte after Typhoon young age to join the brigade of full-time strike violently before or after th with the most unassuming office, Rishad 2.25(0.79%) 2.80(0.99%) Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever to social activists. By making RTI a reality, Roy derail the govts aggressive effo Vol: 13255 shares traded Vol: 101589 shares traded make landfall, lashed the province.

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Naoroji would certainly be a top contender. has demonstrated that one can achieve away supporters from their fold Just outside his office are steel cupboards Prices | Financials | Company Info | Reports 8 facts about Navy's advanced jet trainer social goals Women outnumber men in se and drawers legendary for their longevity 'Hawk 132' reserved for STs How to unshackle CBI: Lessons from Some of the tallest his statues in the world With NABARD, Murshidabad Canada and carrying mother's maiden name, ET SPECIAL: spinning a new livelihood Manish Tiwari had sought statutory status Save precious time tracking your also among corporate India's most for CBI in 2010 investments recognisable: Godrej. Naoroji's room equally belies his wealth, estimated by Forbes magazine to be $1.8 billion as of March this year. One side of the room is monopolised by customary pictures of his father Kaikhushru, a trekker, environmentalist and photographer, who has perhaps been the biggest factor in Naoroji going off the beaten path. His table is packed with books and not of the management kind most commonly found in billionaires' offices; they are primarily to do with birds, especially raptors or birds of prey, his passion for decades. When ET Magazine meets him at his office, housed at Godrej Bhavan in south Mumbai, after a telephonic conversation, he is nursing a bad back, the fallout of a five-day trip to Nagaland where he went to observe efforts to save Amur falcons from being hunted for food. The Amur falcon BSE -4.55 % is a migratory bird which flies to northeastern India and Bangladesh from its breeding grounds in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia,
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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times

10/11/13 5:25 pm

before moving to Africa. His Raptor Research and Conservation Foundation, set up in 2011, has directed "a few lakh" rupees toward Amur falcon conservation, says the 62-year-old bachelor, who was also planning to visit the Balpakram National Park on the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, via Guwahati. But he called off the trip after he heard of United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) trouble in the region. "I have some 300 emails to read and also work on a research paper," says Naoroji, whose long face and raised silver hair puts one in mind of American filmmaker David Lynch, though Naoroji's smile and eyes have an avuncular tinge to them, a far remove from the coldness of Lynch's. Naoroji will shortly leave for Rajasthan where he has been collecting data on raptors for 10 years and plans to do so for another decade before arriving at conclusions. "Raptors are crucial because their presence tells you about the health of a forest," says Naoroji. Besides falcons, wellknown raptors include eagles, vultures, hawks and buzzards.

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Road Less Travelled Though Naoroji, a graduate from Mumbai's HR College of Commerce and Economics, tells ET Magazine that working in the family business never caught his fancy, according to a hagiographic chronicle of the group written by journalist BK Karanjia, he would have liked to work for the group founded by his maternal granduncle Ardeshir Godrej in 1897 as well as carry on with his interest in birds. But, "the breeding time of raptors is six months, and it takes more than two months to locate their breeding sites. Reading about birds, writing about them, and photographing them take a hell of a lot of time. [So] No, I couldn't possibly combine the two," Karanjia quotes Naoroji as saying in his 1997 book. Naoroji says his family did not have much of a problem. Adi Godrej, his first cousin and chairman of Godrej group, agrees: "There was not much discontent in the family. Though the trend then was for kids to follow in their fathers' footsteps, it was becoming perfectly appropriate for someone to live off the dividends of their shareholding and pursue their passion. I admire Rishad for what he did." The Godrejs, along with the Tatas and Wadias, are among the best-known Parsi families in business, and are also one of the tightest-knit in India Inc which has seen several groups being torn asunder by intrafamily rivalry. The group started out with locks and claims to have produced the first soap in the world to be made from vegetable oil in 1920. It also supplied nine lakh ballot boxes for independent India's first general elections in 1951 and in the subsequent year launched what became one of its biggest brands: Cinthol soap. It was also known for its typewriters, besides its cupboards and safes. The group later ventured into other segments and today has a presence in appliances, real estate, agricultural inputs, retail and information technology. The group posted revenues of Rs 22,300 crore in 2012-13. Godrej Industries BSE 0.79 % and Godrej Consumer Products BSE 3.60 % have made shareholders much richer in the last decade, with their share prices spiking 31 times and 22 times, respectively, compared to just over four times for the benchmark Sensex. Godrej Properties, on the other hand, has seen its share price fall by over a fourth since its listing in January 2010 while the Sensex has risen less than a fifth. The group's holding company Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company is not listed. Some members of the family's next generation, including Adi's daughters Tanya Dubash and Nisa, and son Pirojsha, and Jamshed's son Navroze, are already involved in various arms of the group. The Godrej family fortune is equally split between Adi, his brother Nadir, Jamshyd and his sister Smita, and Naoroji, and further divvied up between their kids.

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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times

10/11/13 5:25 pm


29 people recommend this. Be the rst of your friends.

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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times

10/11/13 5:25 pm

Readers' opinions (19)


Bangalorewala (Bangalore) 158 Followers 19 Minutes ago Platinum: 48.5K

Birds that fly or WALK??!!

Agree (0) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Gururaj B Narayan (Bangalore) 64 Followers 22 Minutes ago Gold: 21.1K Agree (0) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

After making billions, one can afford such fancy hobby. Businessmen and professionals can enter public life, when they no longer are under pressure to make a living by working.

Nishi Malhotra (Unknown) 35 Followers 1 Hour ago Gold: 5988

Get Corporate Leaders!!

Agree (1) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Abhinav Gautama (Mumbai) 20 Followers 2 Hours ago Silver: 4177 Agree (0) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

With how much he's earned he can afford to now bird watch

Aam Aadmi (India) 67 Followers 2 Hours ago Gold: 11.1K

Is he related to Dadabhai Naoroji, the freedom fighter?

Agree (0) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Prakash Chandwani (Mumbai, Maharashtra, Ind) Replies To Aam Aadmi 15 Followers 1 Hour ago Gold: 7445

I don't think so...

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TRK (Pune) 3 Hours ago

Some people are like that. They sincerely pursue their interest and make their life richer.

Agree (1) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Radhakrishnan Menon (Chennai) 29 Followers 3 Hours ago Silver: 3738

Normally wealth begets wealth. The Rich thinks once they make enough money, they would relax. But once you reach "there", "enough" eludes them. This is not economics, but human psychology. There are exceptions to this normal human behaviour and Rishad Naoroj is one such

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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times
Prakash Chandwani (Mumbai, Maharashtra, Ind) Replies To Radhakrishnan Menon 15 Followers 1 Hour ago Gold: 7445
1 4

10/11/13 5:25 pm

Well put...I concur.

Agree (0) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Gilbert Dawson (Unknown) 28 Followers 3 Hours ago Gold: 17.9K

Once u hv sufficient money u can follow yr dream that u dreamt in a fairy land. Your hobbies can be anything.

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Raizada Vaibhav (Mumbai) Replies To Gilbert Dawson 3 Hours ago Silver: 1249

Need to respect him for what he is doing. Greed / competition to perform better than cousins can always lead the person to rat race. Salute the guy.

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Gilbert Dawson Replies To Raizada Vaibhav 28 Followers 3 Hours ago Gold: 17.9K

Agree to yr statement but I was targeting is the settled self with no botheration. We all dont hv such a privilege.

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Prakash Chandwani (Mumbai, Maharashtra, Ind) Replies To Gilbert Dawson 15 Followers 1 Hour ago Gold: 7445
1 4 3

I think it's about the state of mind. With passion and support (not necessarily monetary), you can possibly pursue anything...

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N Prakash (India) 19 Followers 5 Hours ago Gold: 14.7K

Good Financial back up then you can pursue your goals for sure.

Agree (3) Disagree (0) Recommend (0) Offensive

Akash76 Y (Hyd) 24 Followers 6 Hours ago Silver: 4286


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COLRANBIRLAMBA Lamba (PTA) 487 Followers 7 Hours ago Platinum: 81.4K

made enough

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Rishad Naoroji: Meet the billionaire who prefers birdwatching to talking business strategy - The Economic Times

10/11/13 5:25 pm

Kranthi Kumar (Noida) 703 Followers 8 Hours ago Gold: 17.7K

so nice of him

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Follow_Your_Passion (Mumbai) 9 Hours ago

Great , When will India learn to persue passion and give Dignity to Labour , rather than Numbers in the Bank Account and Counting Degrees , Fame and Wealth ???

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Keysman (Kol) 14 Followers 10 Hours ago Silver: 3511

well done

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