Of Values and Morals - Konda Vishweshwar Reddy

Of Values and Morals

To the world, Konda Vishweshwar Reddy might be a man of many distinctions – an innovator, successful software entrepreneur, and most conspicuously, Member of Parliament (MP) from the Chevalla constituency of Telangana. However, to his three sons – Anindith, Vishwajith, and Viraj, he is their hero.

Vishweshwar is the perfect combination of father and friend to his sons, and vouches for the fact that fatherhood is one of the greatest gifts that life has given him. His humility, grace, and charm are evident in his soft-spoken and welcoming demeanour that is also visible in his sons. Since value systems are passed down generations, Vishweshwar is proud to have inherited a lot of the important values from his own father, Konda Madhava Reddy. The values that the sons echo in unison, imbibed from their dad, are his honesty, and his commitment to being fair and right under all circumstances.

The three boys each have their own areas of interest, Anindith is working on a medical app, VitaLyfe, and has a relentless passion for cars; Vishwajith, who is on the cusp of graduating from Drexel University in the US, is currently interning at Bain & Company in Mumbai, and loves talking business. Whereas, the youngest – Viraj, who the entire family unflinchingly vouches for as the nicest and most gentle person, is pursuing medicine in London at St. Georges, University of London. While each of them might have diverging interests, they do have one thing in common – their love for outdoor activities like dirt biking, off-roading, trekking, rafting etc. that they love doing with their adventure-loving father.

Vishweshwar dotes on his sons is a quietly proud and soft-spoken way. We caught up with the father and his two sons (while the third was with us in spirit, since he was in London at the time of the shoot), and discovered the unique and affectionate bond that they share.    – Suneela

Vishweshwar

What sort of relationship do you have with each of your sons?
Right from their childhood I was amazed by each of them. As babies they were extremely confident, besides being healthy and cheerful. They had a healthy curiosity about everything. I particularly enjoyed each of these unique traits that all the three boys had. My wife Sangita and I are proud that we gave them a very good and happy babyhood. Even after they became toddlers and grew up a bit, we spent a lot of time with them. It only started reducing once they were in high school.

It is extremely important that we spend time with our children. Subconsciously they learn a lot of things, more from our actions and what we do rather than what we say to them in words. They are like sponges; they pick up everything very quickly. They pick up more from the things we don’t say than what we do. That is why most times, reprimanding them or giving sermons doesn’t work. As their father, enjoying my children is what I love doing the most. While we should make sure that they reach their potential, we should not put excessive pressure on them either, because kids in general have their own internal and peer pressures. As a parent, I wouldn’t like to add onto those. As long as their upbringing is healthy, pressure is not needed. But yes, as parents we must direct them and keep reminding them of their potential.

As their father, what advice do you give them? Are there any words of wisdom in particular that you can share?
I don’t want to use the term advice, because it can seem imposing. Rather, my expectation for them is that they should be happy. That is their first and foremost responsibility to us. We gave them a very happy childhood, and that is the most important expectation I have from them. What Sangita and I really appreciate in the boys is their humility. I am in politics and Sangita heads a large corporation, but the good thing is that none of the boys throw their weight around. That is something we are very happy and proud about.  

However, if I really had to say something to my sons that could benefit them, it would be to expand their horizons when it comes to knowledge. The older generation, like mine, used to have wider exposure to things in general. The younger ones are not all that interested in global developments and national issues compared to local events and their immediate interests and hobbies. So, I would urge them to have a more voracious interest in what is happening in business, politics, and economy on a national and global scale. They should not restrict their knowledge to only what is relevant to them in their immediate surroundings.

What are the three qualities you would like your sons to cherish and value in order to live a life filled with happiness and success?
They should never regret what they did or did not do. They should do what they want to and doing that requires a lot of courage. But courage is not something to show on the outside; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It is an internal strength they need to have. Most important is to maintain this internal resilience. It is only if you have this that you tend not to have regrets in life.

How would you describe your bond with your own father?
I definitely feel like I got a lot of my values and internal strength primarily because my father did not put excessive pressure on me while growing up. That was very important and I do that with my own boys too.

As a father of three boys, did you miss having a daughter?
I never missed having a daughter as the boys were growing up, but now I am thinking maybe it would be special. Perhaps because daughters tend to spend more time with their parents. So in that respect I do miss having one (smiles).

And finally, what have been some of your best moments as a father?
The most wonderful thing to enjoy in life is children. There is nothing else more thrilling, exciting and fun than playing with your kids, interacting with them, and watching them grow.

“Sunday afternoon with Dada” was a tradition I had with the boys all through their childhood. We would just hang out on Sunday and enjoy each other’s company, and those were some of the most precious moments I have had with them while they were growing up.

Sangita
What is your favourite moment of the father-son bond that your husband and children share with each other?
There are multiple, because he is a very hands-on and super caring father. In his eyes his babies could do no wrong. So I had to do a lot of the disciplining. However, they have this combination of respect and fear at the back of their mind about ‘what will dada say’. They have done a plethora of outdoor activities together. It is a good relationship in terms of shared activities. There is one particular story that comes to mind that makes me smile when I think of the father-son bond. Vishwajith and Vishweshwar had gone kayaking together, and the path was long, the kayaks got punctured, and the water level was very low. They had to carry the kayak and trek. It was late and the cars were waiting for them. I was worried. When they finally arrived safely much to my relief, I asked Vivi (Vishwajith), who was around 10 at the time, if he was scared. He said “I was, but I knew my dada would take care of me” (smiles). The boys look up to their father as their hero. They have a truly unique bond.

Anindith
Tell us about your relationship with your dad.
I have quite a unique relationship with my dad. We do a lot of things together and we also work together. My dad is very outdoorsy and he loves adventure sports, so every weekend we go kayaking, trekking etc. I love that my dad gives me my space but is also a very involved father. We have a wonderful and informal relationship.

Your father is known for his unwavering in the right morals and also his simplicity and humility. You must have imbibed some key values from him. What would you say are the ones that have impacted you the most?
His honesty and virtue of always being fair. He is very particular about that, and over the years it’s become a big part of my brothers and me.

Does he give you and your brothers a lot of advice?
He gives us our space but there are some things he emphasises, like work ethic and being fair to everyone. He acknowledges good things about people, and he makes it a point that we do as well.

Your grandfathers, Konda Madhava Reddy, and Prathap Reddy are illustrious gentlemen in their own right. What has their role been in your life?
When I was much younger I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandfather; he used to live in Delhi. He is the most gentle person I have known who loved doing stuff with us.

My maternal grandfather is almost 80 years old and he still works with the energy and enthusiasm of a young person. He works so hard, even on Sundays. It’s really inspiring to watch the way he works. One of the things he says that has stuck with me is, “health knows no holidays, so I can’t afford to have holidays, either” (smiles). He is so knowledgeable; a lot of his outlook on healthcare and how it should be delivered is so simple, yet so effective. We don’t get to spend all that much time together because he lives in Chennai, but when we do it’s really special. I spend a lot of one-on-one time with him over dinner and it’s a lot of fun. And now that he is a great-granddad to three little ones, they have also become a part of our dinners (smiles).

Tell us something about your dad that no one knows.
My dad is really good at innovating and coming up with new concepts. My dad and I are the only engineers in the family, so this is a side of his I have always admired.The way he approaches building things is really unique, and it’s something I think I’ve taken from him, and I am grateful for that (smiles).

Vishwajith
What has been your favourite bonding moment with your dad?
When our car got stuck at a temple visit once, it was just the two of us in the middle of nowhere. And somehow my dad found a way out. My dad was my hero and he showed me how you can deal with situations against all odds. That was an unforgettable experience.

I am so lucky to have him as my dad. My friends tell me to this day that they love hanging out with my father as well. We do so many fun things. For instance, once my dad discovered a fort which no one really knew about. We trekked to the top and that was really fun (smiles).

Is your relationship with your dad more like a friend or a typical father-son?
Somewhat in the middle. He’s my friend when he needs to be and father when he needs to, which is how it should be, I feel.

Do you ask your dad for advice and guidance?
Sure. My dad guides me a lot. I have some pretty big ambitions, but he gives me a reality check when I need one. He is very practical.

Values are something that are passed down through the generations and become a part of a family’s heritage. What are some of the values you’ve imbibed from your father?
For me, the main thing I learnt is that he never does anything wrong. And if he sees something wrong happening, he corrects it and stands by the right thing all the time. I really admire that along with his bold and fearless personality. He is the most intelligent and honest person in the world, for me.

Have you spent much time with your grandfathers? What has their role been in your life?
Unfortunately with tatthaya (paternal dad), I don’t have much memory of.

My mom’s dad is one of my role models for sure. I look up to him. He is a very great man. He tells me a lot and I learn a lot from him. He always tells me that I should do something impactful. Profits don’t matter and that one should help people while they are also being successful. The important thing is to look at the bigger picture while also helping people.