Ranjan Das, CEO and MD of SAP for the Indian subcontinent region, died after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai on Wednesday, says a front-page news report in The Times of India. Das, 42, joins a list of illustrious IT professionals like Dewang Mehta, former chairman of NASSCOM who died at 40 and Sunil Mehta, another senior NASSCOM leader, who passed away at 41.
The Times report continues, "Ranjan was a health freak. He ate right, jogged and worked out daily. He had no bad habits like drinking or smoking. He was very ambitious, and always believed that four hours of sleep were enough for him to be fit and fresh. He was a bundle of energy. He even ran the Chennai marathon a couple of months ago. His demise is such a shock to all who knew him," said a source who knew him closely.
All death, untimely or otherwise, is tragic and what I am about to say is not to make fun of it, but of the reactions that sometimes follow it. "He had no bad habits like drinking or smoking," is one such. Smoking I can understand; it is an in-vogue whipping dog like whale hunting, bull fighting, deforestation, pollution, non-vegetarianism, bursting firecrackers etc. But why is drinking a bad habit? Maybe the source meant 'excessive drinking'. Maybe it's just a cultural thing: All drinking is bad, as portrayed by the seventies wall painting, 'बाटलीने बाटला तो संसारातून उठला!'
But Das's death and the healthy life that preceded it has me worried: After 26 years of smoking, I have quit. Out of choice and not because of an illness or emotional blackmail. And it's been just over a month.
Maybe Neil French, famous copy writer and ex-Creative Head WPP Worldwide, was right when he said to me, "Smoking doesn't kill, drinking doesn't kill, stress kills".