Dr. Priyanshu Gupta

Awardee of 'Nirmal Chandra Memorial Doctoral Student Award'

Completing the doctoral program from IIM Calcutta has been the most exhilarating, intellectually stimulating, and soul-searching experience of my life. Coming with over eight years of experience at mid-senior level across consulting, impact investing and civil society activism, I had several questions and apprehensions on rejoining school: Would I get the flexibility and appropriate guidance to work on my topic of interest (at least what I initially thought was crystal clear to me)? Would I get the space to traverse multiple ideologies, disciplinary boundaries, and methodological barriers? Would I receive adequate training to bridge my knowledge gaps, especially since my engineering and management training had ill-equipped me to pursue an academic career in policy and social sciences? And overall, will I get a supportive environment for intellectual pursuits? After a little less than six years into the program, I can safely say that all my apprehensions have been put to rest and IIM Calcutta has not only equipped me well for the long academic journey ahead but shaped my orientation in ways that I could not even have imagined before coming here.

The doctoral coursework was the most amazing experience where we managed to read, reflect (and more importantly enjoy!) more than what we would have read in our entire lives. It was made immensely enriching because of a rare-to-find combination of (i) high rigour that exposed us to multiple philosophical orientations, theoretical approaches, and methodological tools, and (ii) great flexibility that allowed us to customize coursework to suit the interests, knowledge gaps, and learning pace. That I could also get several peer-reviewed publications from the coursework was a bonus. What made it all possible was the excellent pool of intellectually diverse, highly motivated, friendly, and supportive faculty members who took great interest in my PhD journey. The most remarkable aspect is the collegial attitude of faculty members at IIMC who treated us not as students but as academic peers.

I was also fortunate to have an excellent guide in Prof Rajesh Bhattacharya who not only placed immense faith and trust in me but also motivated and pushed me hard to question my beliefs and assumptions, all the while desisting from settling for any easy or obvious answers. He went far above and beyond mere responsibilities as a guide to essentially being a co-traveler in my PhD journey. He nudged me to explore newer theoretical areas and methodological approaches (often new even to him), all the while motivating me to bridge the gap between theory and practice. While I may not have been able to do complete justice to his efforts in seeing through my dissertation’s ideas to their fullest potential, I am inspired to try and emulate his example in my future academic career. I must also mention my good fortune to have an excellent group of friends and co-travelers in the doctoral journey who provided constant nourishment to the soul and made the journey a fun-filled, exciting, and gratifying experience.