The Godrej rhyme

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This poem, which traces the evolution of the Godrej Group in the early days, was read by Nadir Godrej in 1997, the centenary of the Group’s founding, at the inauguration of a research centre named after Dr Burjor P Godrej, who pioneered the soap and oleochemical industry.

When Ardeshir Godrej joined the bar

He was soon sent to Zanzibar.

Where he soon found that to win

He was obliged to commit a sin

Today it may not seem uncouth

To legally distort the truth

But Ardeshir was of sterner stuff

He told himself enough’s enough.

He quit the law and looked for work.

And commencing with this little quirk,

The Godrej group got its start.

His first attempts were not so smart.

The man who abjured perjury

Made instruments for surgery.

The technology was very fine

But products of the best design

Can fail if the unseen hand

Decides there is no demand.

This early failure was no block.

He moved on to the humble lock.

By carefully eliminating,

The spring, a part known for failing,

He patented a better lock

And soon sold out all his stock.

And now I would like to mention

That he next turned his attention

To an object then quite misleadingly

Known as a safe which was exceedingly

Likely not to have the desired effect.

Most safes were unable to protect

Their precious contents from the dire

Damage by the terrible fire

Resulting from the great earthquake

That made San Francisco shake.

After much research he was on track

He changed the design of the back

And proudly claimed that he had found

A perfect fire-proof compound.

In ’44 disaster struck

Is there no end to bad luck?

An explosion ripped through the port,

There was damage of every sort,

Godrej safes though completely bathed

In fierce fires were unscathed.

No form of praise could have been higher

His safes survived ordeal by fire.

Soap at that time was made from fat.

But Hindus couldn’t live with that.

After much experiment and toil

He made a soap from vegetable oil.

To his scientific attitude

We owe a debt of gratitude.

And thanks to his firm foundation

Today we have this celebration.

The torch of science burned on bright

With Burjorji it found new light.

From fatty acid he made soap

An innovation of great scope.

And then he pioneered fractionation

And much to people’s consternation

The quality of acid made

Was superior to cosmetic grade,

Without being triple pressed

His fatty acids truly impressed.

Till his last day he was at work

Alpha olefins were his quirk.

Today we take them quite for granted

He was the one that early planted

The seed from which we could grow

The oleochemicals that we now show.

In his honour we dedicate this lab.

You still might see an empty slab.

But soon I’m told it will be filled

And students then will be thrilled

To have the chance that he enjoyed

To see how the spirit’s buoyed

When science works for human needs

And uproots the widespread weeds

Of sloppy thought and superstition.

I think it should be our ambition

That science should empower our nation

And pull us out of our stagnation.