He Played with Fire & Won


If you were to come across 59-year-old Bipin Ganatra on the streets of Kolkata, chances are that you would not give this reed thin, unassuming gentleman a second glance. Why does he merit your attention you ask? Well, for one, he has received the Padma Shri Award recently for having served as a voluntary firefighter and helped the West Bengal Fire Department relentlessly for 40 years now. Like any other professional firefighter, he is adept at rescuing people, dousing flames and cleaning debris after a merciless fire has taken its toll.

What makes “Bipin da” (big brother) special? Professional firefighters swear by his level of commitment and perseverance. They say that even though he has no professional training he can handle any fire dousing equipment though his wiry frame belies his courage and conviction. No matter how strong the fire, he does not hesitate to help and most importantly keeps his calm even when there is chaos and palpable fear in the air. His four-decade long journey as a firefighting volunteer has been anything but easy. He has had narrow escapes more than once and was even buried under the debris for as long as two hours, but managed to scrape through with minor injuries.

Born in a lower middle class family, he could not afford professional training as a firefighter. He remained a bachelor and worked odd jobs to make two ends meet. In his younger days, his friends mocked him for his “obsession” but Ganatra knows better. He says that each time he successfully saves an individual from an inferno he feels like he has saved his elder brother who was trapped in flames and succumbed to third degree burn injuries on a fateful Diwali night when Bipin Da was merely 12. Since then, he swore to douse every fire he could in every possible way. And now that he has won the Padma Shri, he is inspired even more to remain true to his purpose.

We believe Ganatra’s life can teach a lesson or two to every investor as well. Many of us fail to push ourselves to save enough or even start investing later in life, a key reason why we fall short of key goals like Retirement. It is rightly said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Like Bipin Da, we need to have a strong resolve to save, invest and meet our life goals like buying a house, our children’s education, our retirement, etc. Once you start investing, it is also important to be regular and consistent besides investing for the long run. Ganatra with his meagre standard of living clearly teaches us to remain focussed on our goals and be defiant in the face of adversities.

Systematic Investment Plan or SIPs in mutual funds, help you to save regularly. The longer the SIP duration, the better it could be as you also benefit from the power of compounding besides negating the impact of volatility over the long term. Most of all, they are easy on your pocket and start at Rs.500 per month. Think of SIPs like your Good EMI, an investment and not an instalment. After all it is the little “extra” that helps ordinary people achieve extraordinary feats!


Information contained in this article is not a complete representation of every material fact and is for informational purposes only. The recipient is advised to consult its adviser/ tax consultant prior to arriving at any investment decision.

Author: Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund

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