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December 2003 - January 2004


Business Forum

Interview with Robert Atkinson - Managing Editor, Rivlin International Ltd.

by Krishan Ralleigh


An Englishman whose love for India has been taking him to the subcontinent regularly for almost forty years finds great comfort in the 'heat and dust' of the land of his previous birth. So was he told by an astrologer back in 1962. Krishan Ralleigh talks to him about his adventures, dedication and affection for the country and its people.
 
 

1. When did you first realise that India was the land of fascination you could not resist?

Oh, I was 18. I met an astrologer who told me that I would be going to India again and again as it was the land of my previous birth. At that time I did not take much notice. But then in 1962, my company sent me to Calcutta. To me, it was like coming home. The smell, the sand of the beaches, all seemed so familiar. At that time I remembered what the astrologer had told me when I was 18.

2. Tell us more about your first job in Calcutta.

I was sent as a Marketing manager for Dent and Helliyer, manufacturer of medical equipment. I left the company in 1969 and joined Rivlin, which was already an established company manufacturing medical equipment. (established 1959). Since 1969, I have been with Rivlin, and gradually with my disciplined routine, faith in our products and dedication expanded the company's business in India and Africa. Now, as the Managing Director, for quite a few years now, I have been almost devoting myself in building hospitals in the third world countries. But India always comes first.

3. Have you thought of retiring?
Well: the day of reckoning will come. Meanwhile I have enough enthusiasm and energy to enable me to build a few more hospitals in India.
4. You have met Balaji Sai Baba. Do you really believe he is a spiritual master?
Yes, I have met him. He has blessed my activities. I feel quite comfortable in his company. He has definitely some spiritual power otherwise millions will not knock at his door. Personally, I am more interested in the work that he is doing for the poorest of the poor in his State. Building hospitals and other works of social welfare have more meaning for me than the spiritual side of his powers. He has the magnetic charm which attracts funds for his social welfare work
5. Tell us more about your personal life. Does your wife object to your frequent sojourn in India?
I have been married for more than 57 years. We had our 50th anniversary in 1996. I have four children, two boys and two girls. My wife does become apprehensive about my health when I am in India. But she knows I am tough; and I love the work I do.
6. What are your views on the present political situation in India?
India has strong democratic roots. There is free speech; Indian economy is growing rapidly. I think India has a great future. Once I met Mr. Deva Gawda when he was the Prime Minister of India. A simple man; but the task , I thought, was too enormous for him.
7. After doing so much work for India, I am sure , you are convinced that you were born in India in your previous life. Do you believe that there is life after death?
I certainly do. It is logical and natural. There are so many incidents which happen to all of us in this life which otherwise cannot be explained . My love for India was preordained for me. My devotion to my work - building hospitals - gives me satisfaction both materially and spiritually. Retirement is far from my thoughts.
 
I could not help admiring the energy and enthusiasm of Robert Atkinson. At his age, many of his countrymen will love to live a retired and leisurely life in an apartment somewhere in Europe by the sea. Now I know why Rivlin International is so popular in Hospital Management fraternity throughout the third world.
 

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