Chairperson's Address - Diamond Jubilee Lecture and Distinguished Alumnus Award 2021

Diamond Jubilee Lecture and Distinguished Alumnus Award 2021 Address, IIM Calcutta, November 14th, 2021

Before I start, please allow me the privilege to offer my pranams to the Supreme Teacher:

Om Shri Guru Bhyo Namah:

I also offer my pranams to my father, Prof. Gajanan Kulkarni, who was one of the first few founding faculty members at IIM Ahmedabad and who taught me so much. He passed away on 13th Oct 2021.

Respected Chief Guest, Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty; dear members of the IIM Calcutta Faculty and staff; distinguished alumni; distinguished guests and fellow students.

My namaskar to all of you.

IIM Calcutta has served the nation with distinction for 60 years. Today we celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and her immense contribution.

As is the practice, we felicitate our distinguished alumni on this day.

My heartfelt congratulations to the distinguished alumni, and the entire family and friends of IIM Calcutta.

It was four years ago on 14th November 2017 that I had the privilege to address my first annual day function.

Being the Diamond Jubilee foundation day – nothing can be more special than using this day to revisit fundamentals. What is good for us, must be repeated and revisited again and again.

  1. IIM Act 2017: It is important that we briefly review some major developments of the decade that passed. Two major developments have occurred which are impacting the Institute majorly.
    1. The first change is the setting up of thirteen newer IIMs (since 2010) as institutes of national importance. This explosion in the number of IIMs and the increasing impact of technology in business necessitates that IIMC take a fresh look at how we plan to retain and extend our leadership in the field of management education; conceptualization of management thought and management practice, in India and the world.
    2. The second change arises from the incorporation in the Act of a provision that the IIMs created by statute will enjoy autonomy.
      1. The range of subjects to which the nation expects IIMs to address themselves is wider than what IIMs are currently addressing. It includes management areas that are of concern not only to corporates but are also areas of social and public concern. These are now prescribed by law and must influence strategy formulation.
      2. Competition has taken a new form under this provision.
      3. Our ability to raise our own funds is now a necessity.
  2. Our identity: IIMC is not just another "Business School". We are an "Indian Institute of Management". We are a national asset. It is the responsibility of each of us, "the stakeholders", to consistently and systematically raise the value of this asset and expand our sphere of influence. One of the best ways to do so is to raise our intellectual capital. We must spare no efforts to remain relevant and valuable. This requires that we must regularly revisit our mandate and also review our performance. In these new circumstances:
    1. It is now our responsibility to prepare "managers", not just for industrial, financial and commercial enterprises, but also managers who will become pivots and enablers of "social change" and national development.
      1. For this IIM Calcutta will provide educational inputs to all sectors of the Indian economy and polity.
      2. As the nation seeks to achieve a new global status, IIMC will play an active role in contributing significantly to this journey of "Atmanirbhar Bharat".
      3. We will sustain our excellence. As a community we will reinforce a culture where every member is imbued with a "sense of duty", and a desire to graduate from having just a strong "sense of belonging".
    2. Competition is now global (online and hybrid delivery models for education are now available). In this scenario, Faculty who have high scholarship are the most important investment.
    3. We must reassess what we teach (curriculum) and how we teach (pedagogy);
      1. Should the present MBA curriculum and its overemphasis on analytics and models be reviewed and in its place efforts be made to buttress this foundation with the most important management skills – of humanity, judgement and critical innovative thinking? These are skills that add to the level of "human capital" of a leader.
      2. I ask, without this, how do we equip our students to work in the "gap" between what they know and what the environment expects.
      3. Technology will force and disrupt businesses. Management practices will have to shift from shareholder wealth maximization to "equitable distribution of wealth". Leaders will need to understand that "shareholder wealth maximization" has at its root "greed". It is violence – economic violence. As my great grandfather, Gandhiji repeatedly reminded us – "there is enough for our need, but not enough for our greed". Solving this problem is probably the most pressing economic need of our times.
      4. What role can our Management Center for Human Values play in helping IIMC further this critical thought? How can we use MCHV to differentiate our course offerings? Can IIMC play a defining role in shaping the "human capital" of business leadership? As it increases, so will the Gross Domestic Character of our economy.
      5. This Gross Domestic Character will be at the heart of leaders who will change the management paradigm from "shareholder wealth maximization", to "equitable distribution of wealth". This in my view is the only key that can unlock the problems of poverty and unemployment.
  3. Our students:
    1. In this new networked world, beyond the functions and domains of their specialization, our students will progressively need to equip themselves with some very important skills and attitudes:
      1. To be effective leaders they will need to have the ability to create new networks of partnerships for their organizations to be, sustainable, scalable and most importantly survive disruptions and failures;
      2. They will have to be comfortable comprehending the impact of data, artificial intelligence, cyber-security etc.;
      3. Culturally they will need to be able to accept multi-stakeholder networks and have a mindset for collaboration. This is the only way they can hope to overcome the complexity and interconnectedness across sectors;
      4. Ability to respect diversity and display empathy will be key to building personal credibility. Personal credibility will now be a non-negotiable attribute for leaders;
      5. In a nutshell – the networked world will force teams and organizations to "collaborate" and not "just compete".
  4. Our infrastructure: To achieve our vision, we will invest in upgrading our infrastructure.
    1. Physical infrastructure: We are committed to rebuild our infrastructure and make IIMC the choice destination for faculty, students and staff.
      1. Detailed master plan for the entire Joka campus;
    2. Digital infrastructure: Commensurate with the demands of online education and the networked world;
    3. Marketing infrastructure: Traditionally IIM Calcutta has not used marketing as a tool for our external connect. We realize the need to have a dedicated team for external relations focused on raising resources. To this end, a Section 8 company is in the process of being registered. Many talented alumni are already helping;
    4. Administrative infrastructure: We are reviewing and changing our governance structures and internal processes to be more transparent, efficient and nimble. These changes will equip us to meet competitive pressures and speed of response.
  5. My sincere request: Although I have the privilege of being the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of IIM Calcutta, it is my ardent belief that one of my most important roles is to also be a salesperson, who dedicates his time and energies for IIM Calcutta to bring opportunities that will increase her resources and her sphere of influence. But in this I cannot be alone. Every colleague on our Board, every faculty colleague, every staff colleague and every alumni and every student and all friends of IIM Calcutta are also salespersons and therefore we are team mates.
    1. When I think of IIM Calcutta, I see a mother, who has never disappointed a single student who came to her. She has consistently given each and every one of you wings for all your dreams. She launched you with a high velocity input into this world.
    2. In the name of the Divine and with folded hands I seek the support of each and every one among the IIMC alumni and friends of IIMC to help raise the funds for this Divine work to meet our needs.
    3. In your heart, there are the emotional chords of "generosity" and "gratitude". Please touch them when you think of helping "mother IIM Calcutta". Your offerings will be grateful accepted as "Dakshina".
    4. I wish to convey my gratitude to those alumni who have already connected with us and are contributing time, energy and resources.
    5. Please feel free to reach out to me or to anyone of us.

"Failure is not a crime, aiming low is".

Jai Hind