Sapped by Success: Ranjan Das’ Sad Demise

24 10 2009


Ranjan Das, MD of SAP India died the day before yesterday due to a heart stroke at his Mumbai residence. He was 42 years old. He is survived by his wife and two kids.

I do not know him personally. I have never met him and I have not even followed his career closely to be qualified to write an obituary. Yet, his death has set me thinking and perhaps, many other professionals in the IT industry are also doing the same.

Mr. Das, hailed from Assam and had excellent educational credentials. A BS in Engineering from MIT, USA and an MBA from Harvard. He had a great career with stints in Oracle, Tech-entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, SAP America and then in 2007 taking charge as MD of SAP India. As the Dataquest obit says, he made SAP India the largest software company in India, beating Microsoft.

By most professional yardsticks, it was a fantastic career and he was a young achiever. Most professionals would envy him for his achievements.

From news reports, it appears that he was a fitness freak. He even ran the Chennai Marathon recently. An interesting video interview of his after the Chennai Marathon is published in a blog  where, he has promised to return with his SAP team next year. Yet, it will not be.

Did he have to die so young? 

I guess he was very ambitious and he drove himself too hard towards success. So much so he forgot that he was after all a human being. The drive that he had for his work, he brought to his running too. In a telling comment about his drive, he remarks “My initial goal was to complete the race and then it was completing it in 70 minutes. Later, when I saw I had set myself a good pace, I shifted the goal to 60 minutes and I achieved it too, along with another colleague.” 

Unfortunately, Mr. Das is not much of an exception. There are several professionals like him in the IT sector, who are punishing themselves or pressured by their organizations to grueling routines and obscene levels of stress. Das’ untimely death will surely raise an alarm and force them to reflect.

What is the meaning of all the success, if the price is your life?

How far and how long can you stretch your body, beyond the normal, without it breaking down?

Is the pursuit of market share, market leadership really worth giving up your life for?

When should you say enough is enough?

Inconvenient questions with no easy answers.

May Ranjan Das’ soul rest in peace.





5 responses

26 10 2009

I think the key here is to manage stress effectively. Even with extremely grueling routines I have seen people not getting unduly stressed.

In a recent seminar on UN Day, a swamiji of Yogda said that we can experience joy even in adversity if we learn to deal with the fears and anxiety which arise whenever we are faced with problems. He said that ‘we are born out of joy, can live a life full of joy and will one day melt away in joy’.

30 10 2009
tamal moitra

He had education that every student will dream, had a career that every professional will envy, had an end that no one will ever want ……….

10 11 2009


I agree this is very tragic end to a seemingly bright career. There is lot of talk on work life balance and fitness. Recently had an interesting debate on this topic, there are no two lives that we are balancing. Its all the same continum;prortizing various activities and enjoying each of them creates that balance. Excessive focus on any one part creates that imbalance. Being internally happy in all of this is key


25 11 2009
tamal moitra

Uncertainty is inevitable, but worrying is optional. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure as decided by us. Knowing the road ahead is more satisfying than Knowing the role ahead.

Let us work with the compass and not with the clock.

15 02 2010
Geeta Sharma

I feel a need to share this with all the readers.
My son was 27 years of age and working in an upcoming company as AVP. He handled almost anything and everything, believing in perfection and was always trying to shell out more out of himself wherever possible. A restless spirit by nature – always seeking to do more he was an achiever and performer at a young age. He graduated from IIT(ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY) USA and was a topper throughout. Apart from this he is also known as the founder of, a cultural website that caters to various cultural and artistic interests of people.

He passed away in his sleep at 27, for similar reasons on 12th Dec 2009 – two months back. His sleep timings ranged between 4-6 hours due to professional expectations he had to fulfill as well as personal passions he wanted to pursue. However, he was careful about his diet and health, and very disciplined as a person on the whole…

What happened to him exactly still remains a mystery to me.

May be he was too harsh with himself and his intensity for life cost us all something that can never be regained – a void that can never be filled. His colleagues, friends, family members and all those who knew him looked up to him with immense admiration and respect for the essence of his character and the man that he had made out of himself.

I am writing this to let people who cope up with excessive stress and sleep deprivation know that this could lead to consequences that can never be compensated for. It’s time people wake up to the effects of an exhausting lifestyle. What we had taken away from us before we even realized, was a life that was priceless.

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