India Remembers Steve Jobs


Steve Jobs visited India only once -- as a backpacker in 1973 looking for spiritual enlightenment -– but his legacy deeply influenced the creative community.

NEW DELHI – As news of Steve Jobs' death broke Thursday morning, TV networks and the Internet went into overdrive to pay tribute to one of the greatest visionaries who had a spiritual close encounter with India.

“He stood alone and challenged every perception by turning technology into an art form. RIP Steve Jobs,” acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) posted on his Twitter account. “He made technology an extension of the child and artist in all of us and made our lives richer, more playful and creative... You will live forever in the hearts and minds of generations whose lives were changed by your incredible vision.”

Arthouse director and well-known Apple fanatic Dev Benegal stated on his Facebook page, “Every word I've written, movie I've made has been on a Mac. For 25 years – from the original Mac to the present - I've been in a Steve Jobs world. You always thought of the 'rest of us'. Thank You Steve.”

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One of Bollywood's Next Gen actresses Sonam Kapoor tweeted, “No one comes close to your brilliance and creativity. ”
“Well, the only person who could make some design improvements on heaven has just arrived there ...RIP Steve Jobs ,” said leading gaming company IndiaGames CEO Vishal Gondal. IndiaGames has developed online and mobile games for Hollywood and Bollywood movies including upcoming superhero caper Ra.One starring Shah Rukh Khan. As one of THR's Next Gen Asia 2010 executives, Gondal listed Jobs as one of his idols “as he runs the biggest fashion company in the world,” suggesting Apple's iconic design heritage.

Jobs' influence on Indians in Silicon Valley is also well-known, given that Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia worked at Apple, where he teamed up with colleague Jack Smith to later launch the well-known email service which was acquired by Microsoft for an estimated $400 million in 1997.

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“Every generation has its heroes. I was too provincial to love the Beatles and cry over John Lennon. I was too Indian to care much about Elvis. And I read about President Kennedy in books. But for me, Steve Jobs was all of those people. I don’t know why, how and where that happened but Jobs was my icon," influential San Francisco-based tech portal and media entity GigaOm founder and former Forbes journalist Om Malik stated in his online tribute to his idol,

Steve Jobs' India connection goes back to 1973 when as a 18-year-old backpacker, he visited the country with Dan Kottke after both friends dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

As a college dropout, another documented fact about Jobs' India connection was how he got his weekly free meals at a local Hare Krishna temple. “I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it,” Jobs shared in his now famous Stanford University 2005 commencement address.

However, Jobs was drawn to India in search of a guru, Neem Karoli Baba (a devotee of the Hindu god Hanuman) who had attracted some American followers in the 1970s just as the Beatles discovered Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

But when Jobs finally ended up at the ashram of Neem Karoli Baba he found out that the guru had died. “We weren’t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Karoli Baba put together,” Jobs is quoted stating in the book Steve Jobs: The Brilliant Mind Behind Apple  by Anthony Imbimbo.