We all have our red-letter days once in a while, isn’t it? But it seems, this one person’s red letter day happened because of, as a matter of fact, a letter. Shantanu Naidu, a 28-year-old, is the personal business assistant and a friend of magnate Ratan Tata, and it’s interesting to know how this millennial landed the dream job.

The Week

To begin with, Shantanu started working with the Tata group on completing his graduation. During this time, he came up with an idea that would help street dogs, which got him the attention of Ratan Tata, who wanted to sponsor the idea. This unexpected partnership led to him founding the animal welfare organization, Motopaws. 

Here is everything to need to know about Shantanu’s organization, Motopaws. 

Where did it all start?

In 2014, having graduated from the University of Pune, Shantanu started working with Tata Elxsi as a junior design engineer. He used to work night shifts then, and as a result would go home late. It was during this time that the 28-year-old found many dogs being run over by cars quite often in the streets. When he tried to find the reason behind these incidents by talking to 80-100 people, who were frequent drivers there, he got to know that was happening because people couldn’t see the dogs on the road after dark. 

The incident deeply affected him and he took it upon himself to save them and do something for these dogs. This gave Shantanu the idea: if people aren’t able to see dogs due to the dark, why not make them visible? And hence was birthed the idea behind Motopaws.

How was the idea implemented?

Now that Shantanu had identified the problem, he started the second step: finding the solution. And hence he decided to create ‘glow-in-the-dark’ collars for dogs to make them visible from a distance. However, the funding of the project wasn’t sufficient, and so Shantanu and his group turned to the people residing in the area for help. 

They collected denim pants from the neighbouring households. This would act as the base material to create the collars, which further is sewn to a reflective material. This came to its fruition after Shantanu researched thoroughly for a month, for alternatives. 

The initiative started with roughly 20 volunteers, but garnered a lot of support from other dog-lovers. Shantanu’s contribution towards animal welfare was recognised in the Tata group’s newsletter, as it had effectively solved the problem. 

And this made way to the next big thing…

Around that time, my dad asked me to write a letter to Mr Ratan Tata, since he loves dogs too. I was hesitant at first, but then I said to myself, ‘Why not?’.

-Shantanu Naidu

This handwritten letter didn’t go in vain. Two months later, Shantanu got an unexpected invitation from Ratan Tata for a private meeting! When Tata said that he was deeply touched by his work, Shantanu took him to his place to meet the dogs. And thus the final step was passed, and Ratan Tata helped him to start the venture called Motopwas to further the initiative of his love for dogs. 

Shantanu and I first met because of our common concern and affection for stray dogs. He has led a team of young college students to ‘adopt’ these dogs and give them affection, food, find homes for them and give them a sense of belonging.

-Ratan Tata

The Motopaws initiative by Shantanu Naidu became successful over time. 

Now with adequate funding, Motopaws kickstarted with the motto ‘Paws for a cause‘. The collar which is ‘harmless in nature’ is now worn by thousands of street dogs situated in more than 20 cities around India.

 At Motopaws, our mission is to make the streets safer for dogs as well as us, people and our vision is to eventually eradicate the issue of dog road kills and other such accidents caused by their low visibility. The Motopaws collar we make is coated with reflective fabric in order to make the wearer dog visible to us from a distance not only in the dark of the night, but also in broad daylight. 

-The Motopaws initiative

Following this, Shantanu was appointed by Ratan Tata to become his business assistant after he came back from Cornell University, having completed his post-graduation. 

I didn’t know how to react. So I took a deep breath, and a few seconds later said ‘Yes!’. [to the job offer by Ratan Tata].

-Shantanu Naidu

And hence, the initiative that saves thousands of dogs from road accidents at night was started, all kudos to Shantanu Naidu for his unwavering spirit and Ratan Tata for his canine love!