Chairperson's Message

Chairperson's address: Distinguished Alumnus Award 2022 and 62nd IIM Calcutta Foundation Day Lecture

Interaction with PGP 22nd Batch Alumni November 05, 2022, IIM Calcutta

Concluding remarks, 33rd Lecture of the Institute Lecture Series (ILS) November 2, 2022, IIM Calcutta

Honourable External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar, dear students of IIM Calcutta, faculty colleagues, members joining us online, members of the staff, other guests, ladies and gentlemen – Namaskar.

Dr. Jaishankar, thank you very much for sharing with us your deep insights on the complex issue of India and the World.

Over the last few days, I have wondered how I should use the time allocated to me for concluding remarks. In anticipation, I decided share some experiences. It is my hope that in sharing these experiences, I will be able to touch key aspects that for me define Bharat that is India – and in doing so do justice to Dr. Jaishankar’s talk to us.

  1. In 2015-16, I had the privilege to join my teacher Sri M on a padayatra from Kanyakumari in South India to Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir. This walk traversed 7500 kms across India and lasted 16 months. Over these 16 months I had ample time to think and consolidate my reasoning and my views. I summarize them in four points for you:
    1. It is our spiritual heritage – Sanatana Dharma that continues to bind us into one people;
    2. Our scriptures proclaimed “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah” thousands of years before we adopted our Constitution and amended its preamble (42nd amendment) to add the word “secular” in our solemn resolution in defining what constitutes our nation. Therefore, we must never forget that – “Bharat mata ka aanchal bahut bada hai, jo bhi aaya, jaise bhi aaya, sama gaya”. Sanatana Dharma is the life breath of Bharat mata.
    3. While we boast of “unity in diversity”, we must take note that the key word here is “unity”. When “unity” is compromised even a family falls prey to destructive forces.
    4. Bharat that is India – is not a nation, it is the world inside a nation!
  2. Dr. Jaishankar and his team at the Ministry of External Affairs is doing a phenomenal job for us. Sir, it is such a privilege to have you represent us globally. Your unswerving commitment to national interest, hard work and intellectual integrity make us feel safe and reassured.
  3. But all of us sitting here and joining in through the live link should never forget that:
    1. Any external affairs posture that we as a nation – have or wish to have and, the conviction and the strength that we can project or wish to project, is predicated on the strength back home.
    2. Two of the key factors that contribute to this strength back home are our social unity and social awareness (these are key to social mobilization) and our economic strength, which has two dimensions:
      1. Gross Domestic Product – GDP
      2. Gross Domestic Employment – GDE
    3. Economic strength is not only about wealth creation. But it is also about:
      1. Access to wealth creation - In 2012-13, I worked as a consultant to Govt. of Gujarat in the area of rural development, primarily rural livelihood. I visited umpteen villages and met even many more Self Help Groups of women. They created the wealth but did not have ready access to it and most disturbingly had ownership of an unfairly small proportion of the wealth they created. I clearly remember one of my monthly meetings with the then Chief Minister (to Shri Narendra Modi, to whom I used to report) who is now our Prime Minister – wherein I had shared with him this dilemma and suggested that social inclusion can be quickly achieved via financial inclusion – which will make rapid strides if we can also provide each woman member of the SHG with her own bank account (over and above the policy of a bank account for a Self Help Group) – this I believe translated into the “jan dhan yojana”.
      2. True economic strength is also about making available the ownership of that wealth across the broadest cross section of society;
      3. We therefore want to increase the middle class while continuing to increase the millionaire class;
      4. To achieve such economic strength, Government and industry have recognized the urgent need for a vibrant manufacturing sector.
      5. So, what impedes India's manufacturing sector? A popular excuse for its troubles is inadequate infrastructure, and inflexible labour laws and regulatory frameworks. What is not widely discussed is the inadequacy of strategy, both at the corporate and national levels, a general disinclination to take higher entrepreneurial risks and adequately trained manpower — mind-sets change far more slowly than technology or competition. In countries such as China, Japan and Germany that have very competitive manufacturing sectors, things get done. I went to graduate school in Japan and specialised in control systems, manufacturing automation and robotics. I speak Japanese fluently. I know how the Japanese companies and their government nurture their supplier ecosystem. Their governments intervened through policy actions to support the sector to withstand competition, and all gave special attention to small and medium enterprises (SMEs, MSMEs) to make them competitive drivers of technology. In contrast, India concentrated on reducing the excessive role of the government. The focus has been on overall economic growth, and not particularly on the manufacturing sector. The policy pendulum swung from one extreme of excessive controls by the state to abandonment of the manufacturing sector entirely. Also, in our country, on the other hand, strategies, policies, and plans almost never get implemented or completed on time. The root causes for this possibly are inadequate consensus among stakeholders for policy changes, and very poor planning and coordination among agencies for the timely execution of policies and projects. This unfortunate lack of timeliness is proving costly. We in India cannot afford to continue to miss the bus, not merely in terms of implementing reforms in time, but also in terms of loss of policy space. The competition we have to face therefore becomes harder.
      6. Manufacturing is not only the backbone of an economy, it is also the muscle behind national security. This painful realisation came home to me first time when India faced severe sanctions and import restrictions after the Pokharan II nuclear testing in 1998. The sanctions were almost entirely aimed at crippling our manufacturing capabilities. The second time this painful realization came home to me was during the Kargil operations of 1999.
      7. Increasingly it is becoming evident that a long-term source of competitive advantage, accrues from an ability of agencies and teams of skilled people to collaborate efficiently.
      8. There is no doubt that without a strong manufacturing sector, India's "demographic dividend" may turn into a nightmare of unemployed youth. Manufacturing therefore has the potential to be the lifeblood of the Indian economy, but it direly needs visionary leadership. Leaders who will transform Indian manufacturing to become globally competitive. These leaders will have to navigate through numerous challenges such as (to name a few): Anticipating and leveraging rapid technological innovations and disruptions; Rising customer expectations and an educated individualistic work force. With technology breaking down barriers, their task to build trust and be an effective change agent will become that much more difficult.
    4. Let us for one moment shift gears and look at how the nation looks from the eyes of The Government of India. The GoI is constantly looking at national issues and needing to articulate a vision to resolve these issues. It further needs to convert the Vision → into policy and → policy must be implemented with last mile execution.
      1. Any effort that aims to achieve good through our efforts and not for our efforts is selfless and therefore worthy to be termed as a Vision.
      2. Subsequently policy creation is a messy affair;
      3. And further, executing on policy with last mile implementation is the hardest of all;
      4. The God of success is in the details.
      5. On all the above counts, our government, led by our Honourable Prime Minister and his team have shown exemplary ability and resilience to deliver.
    5. But, the government alone cannot be held responsible – all institutions in India need to deliver.
    6. We at IIM Calcutta are acutely aware, that as an educational institution of eminence, our responsibility is much higher.
      1. It is my proud privilege to share with Dr. Jaishankar that the PGPEX-VLM Program launched by IIM Calcutta, IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras in 2007 under the aegis of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) has been endeavouring to educate and build the pool of visionary leaders for the manufacturing industry in the country.
    7. While we are proud to be a national asset – a crucible where visionary leaders are moulded – we are also aware that a lot more needs to be done!
  4. In closing, I would like to stress that creating jobs is not the domain of the Government of India – because the decisions on jobs and employee hiring is taken in the Board rooms of corporations.
    1. It is the manufacturing sector that will create long-term employment opportunities and sustained high GDP growth – although not at a scale that two generations of Chinese companies enjoyed because automation has eliminated and will continue to eliminate many jobs.
    2. Adequately and appropriately trained manpower will have jobs in manufacturing.
    3. It is the SME and MSMEs that have the potential to be a large scale employer – and this is in the realm of entrepreneurs and therefore our ability to support them with adequate policy interventions to withstand competition.
    4. It is therefore my belief that a key factor in the success of “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”, will be the role played by our entrepreneurs.

Jai Hind, Jai Bharat

Convocation Speech, IIM Calcutta 29th April, 2022

Respected Chief Guest Shri Ashish Chauhan, distinguished and honourable guests, our dear graduating students, their families, Director, Professor Uttam Kumar Sarkar, Deans, Program Chairs, our loved and respected Faculty colleagues, dear Staff members and the IIM Calcutta community.

My pranams to all of you.

Sitting amongst us, and gracing this occasion are our most revered Faculty colleagues. Teachers one and all. Men and women, who consciously chose the most noble of all professions – teaching. It is the hallmark of true teachers that they never seek acknowledgement, but we, who received from them the most valuable gift possible in life – knowledge, we must whole heartedly convey to them our deepest appreciation for this gift and their selfless work. Do please stand up and join me in acknowledging this singular contribution in the life of each and every student and all in the IIM Calcutta community. Thank you, dear teachers.

In late October 2017, the government offered me the chance to be associated with the IIM Calcutta family. I accepted this position as Chairperson of the Board of Governors. Time has flown. This is the fifth Annual Convocation that I have the honour to attend.

My dear graduating class, today you graduate from IIM Calcutta and enter the world of professionals. All your hard-work and toil is being recognized and culminating in you becoming the newest members of the family of the IIM Calcutta alumni – an incredible distinction and a coveted privilege. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration for all of you.

Today, I wish to place before you some critical thoughts for you to reflect upon. These are not all my thoughts. Many are gleaned from books I have read and people I have met. But what is important is that these are significant, in that they will help you ask yourselves deep questions and hopefully unleash insights, and to synthesize disparate ideas into a harmonious whole.

I would like to speak to you about “Leadership”. I asked myself, who am I to advise? And I do not wish be prescriptive. So, today, I will be different and will share with you a list of questions that will help you gain insight on what it means to be a leader. So here goes:

  1. What is leadership?
  2. Can leadership be learnt? Can it be taught? Or is it that either “you have it in you” OR “you don’t have it in you?” OR is it that “leadership is gained by experience?”
  3. What are the core qualities for being considered an effective leader? Example, courage, fearlessness, integrity, transparency, compassion, being consistent, be a giver?
  4. Can leadership be sustained?
  5. What is the impact of “our purpose” on the “quality of our leadership”?
    1. Does the quality of leadership differ as the purpose varies across the selfish spectrum? Let me explain, our purpose can vary from being selfless to selfish in varying degrees.
    2. Example: Should our purpose be doing good through oneself rather than for oneself?
  6. Is leadership dependent upon power, authority and position? And therefore – to be a leader is it essential to have followers – and this leads me to further ask, is “leadership”, the exclusive preserve of charismatic people at the top echelons of organizations?
  7. Is leadership about fighting for a cause or is it how to keep the focus on the cause that is being fought for?
  8. Is therefore leadership more about “what needs to be done”, than “what I can do”?
  9. And this leads to the very important question – what is the distinction between being a leader and exercising leadership?
  10. Just as there is shared responsibility, is there shared leadership?
  11. How important is the ability in a leader to examine their values? Question their assumptions? And use this inquiry to hone our judgement!!
    1. For this it seems that an open mind is necessary – and I wonder, what it means to have an open mind. Is it when our commitment to curiosity is more than our commitment to our prejudices or let me make it harder, is it when our commitment to curiosity is more than our commitment to our convictions.
  12. Is there a concept such as “a complete leader”? One who exercises leadership in all spheres of life? Can this happen if we are less than authentic in the different spheres of our lives? By authentic here, I mean, how much is the overlap between our thoughts, our words and our deeds in each sphere of our life?
  13. Is a true leader one whose absence is felt but his presence is like oxygen – essential but non-invasive?
  14. And finally, is leadership about leading people from the “known”, to the “unknown”?

The questions I have tried to outline are not ordinary and those of you who would want to get their hands on these can download it from the IIMC website – I have been told the text will be shared there.

I know how proud you must feel to be part of this institution that values academic excellence and individual achievement. To this, I would add an aspiration that I have held in my heart – IIMC be an institution that contributes significantly to social good through socially relevant and impactful research. And this leads me to ask the following questions: Is development considered as social good? What is development? Is good governance social good? Is building human capital social good? You will agree that GDP and GNP are ethic neutral, they lack moral content. Illegal and even criminal activity can create economic results. The Gross National Product does not allow for the health of the children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our courage; neither our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

While as a society we still struggle with economic poverty, I wonder if you have ever thought about:

  • Why do we as a society suffer from the poverty of “speaking up” – when your voice is needed?
  • Why do we as a society suffer from the poverty of participation in civic responsibility?

These questions make me wonder if the need is to build human capital in quality and at a scale that it results in building social capital – isn’t this development? And the subsequent question – is there a way we can measure development that is not ethic neutral and which doesn’t lack moral content?

About a 100 years ago, Gandhiji, my great grandfather wrote about the tensions between economic growth and social justice. He did not believe in the state controlling all means of production, yet he was concerned about how capitalism would achieve social justice. He described this challenge in the form of the seven deadly social sins that he hoped the world would rid itself of. They are:

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Science without Humanity
  • Religion without Sacrifice
  • Politics without Principle

These words have even greater resonance today than they had about a century ago. Rapid technological change will challenge our abilities to manage the social pressures that come with it. Let’s think about some of the first words of the seven social sins – knowledge, science, commerce, wealth, and pleasure. These are in many ways the bedrock of economic growth and the keys to human progress. Then think about some of the last words – character, humanity, morality, work, and conscience. These are the social principles and human values that underlie social justice. It is crucial that even as we use knowledge and science to power the engines of commerce to create wealth and pleasure, we exercise restraint by not taking unfair advantage of our knowledge, by acting ethically, by being aware of the privileges we enjoy that others do not, and by reflecting on the consequences of our actions on our societies.

My great grandfather often worried about the hardness of the heart of the educated. We all have a streak of generosity within us but somehow in the busy lives we lead we forget this essential truth. We are taught by our parents, as I was by mine, that in the ultimate analysis, a life well-lived is measured not by what one does for oneself but by what one does for others.

The tremendous improvements in information and communication technologies and the digitization and automation had other unexpected effects. Of all the wealth created in the world over the last 20 years, a large percentage of it has gone to the top 1% of the population. The bottom 50% has hardly benefited. This is not surprising given the economies of scale and network effects of automation and digitization technologies. Economies of scale simply means that as companies get bigger the cost of providing services decreases. Network effects means that a company’s services are more valuable the more the people who use that service. Whereas in the past, growth increased both wages of workers and shareholder returns, most of the rewards in the new economy have gone to shareholders.

As my teacher, Prof. Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School reminds us:
“The policy ideas that can address the above problem will not happen without the most successful individuals engaging with these societal challenges. In this effort, entrepreneurs, managers and management education will have to play a big role. We will need to marshal several of the knowing, doing, and being skills that he wrote about in Rethinking the MBA – leadership, innovation, creative, and integrative thinking, understanding the role, responsibilities, and purpose of business, and issues surrounding risk, regulation, and restraint. If we can get this right as I am hopeful we will, perhaps the new economy will help us achieve the lofty vision of inclusive growth. If we do not, the tensions and tribulations it will create will test the very fabric of our societies. It is our choice to make.”

What I am going to now say, is what I shared with the graduating students in the Convocation of 2021. But I believe that fundamentally important matters can be and should be repeated:

Let me share with you my observations and I should not claim that they are wholly correct. Please use them if you feel attracted and motivated to explore them:
In your professional as also personal life, you will encounter many battles. They are all, in one way or the other, leadership battles – the most crucial will be those, which are the “unequal battles” – unequal assets, unequal power, unequal influence etc. In such battles, in my experience, the two most important qualities that helped me progress are: be brave, fearless (शौर्य) and be patient (धैर्य). Most such battles are lost due to impatience. Your own strength (of character) and intelligence (विवेक) will give you the “Will power” that is needed to endure such battles. And finally, you will need to have on your side, “Truth (सत्य), humility and modesty (शील, विनम्रता), selflessness (निःस्वार्थ). But here I will use the unusual meaning of selflessness which is “doing good for others” (पर्हित).

To make these qualities, your own, requires (साधना) – which can be loosely translated in English as – deep, introspective, disciplined, relentless long duration study. If you have these qualities, there is a very high probability that you will not lose these unequal battles. Battles which are between साधना versus साधन (assets, power, influence etc.).

As you set forth, and progressively take leadership positions you will need to wrestle with the changing nature and scope of your responsibilities. I urge you to always introspect and consider ways in which you will inspire yourselves to rise to the challenges of responsible, accountable leadership, to behave wisely, especially in the face of powerful pressures to do otherwise, and to develop a clear set of moral commitments, personal values, and ethical principles to guide your actions.

It is my desire that IIMC nurtures all the above qualities among its students – to be humble, to have the courage to do what is right, and to gain the trust of society. I desire for IIM Calcutta to make integrity, ethics, and values a central part of their curriculum for all programs. It is my dream that one day IIM Calcutta graduates must be known to be more empathetic, better able to balance human and business aspects, people-oriented, able to understand human processes and circumstances, and socially responsible. I wish for our alumni to say that IIM Calcutta made them a better person and human being, and taught them to respect others and to care about how others’ live.

Life flows like a river – Kawa no nagare no youni – 川の流れのように
It is a famous Japanese song sung by the famous singer Misora Hibari. Its lyrics are almost spiritual. Some of you may want to listen to the song, so here I share the URL:

There will be difficulties – adversity builds character OR what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Again as the Japanese say it:
雨降って地固まる (ame futte chi katamaru)

I am optimistic about the future. We have adaptive institutions, thoughtful citizens, and are a resilient society that has outlasted every other known civilization. We have the potential to create the most wealth and the highest welfare of any other society. Guided by the goals of economic growth and social justice and the qualities of humility, courage, and trust, the choice is ours to dream and make.

Before I end, I would like to share a very important news with all those who are connected with us today (in person and virtually). IIM Calcutta has successfully registered a Sec 8 Company, called the IIM Calcutta Foundation. This will be managed and run by the alumni of IIMC with participation by key officers of IIM Calcutta (Director and Deans). This organization will be at the forefront of raising resources from alumni and CSR funds for the important and long pending development of our Institutes key infrastructure which includes the physical infrastructure as also the digital infrastructure. Standing in front of you, with folded hands I request each and every one of the alumni community to consider “giving back”, to mother IIM Calcutta.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your celebrations and all the very, very best.
Jai Hind

Knowledge partnership between Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) and Capacity Building Commission, Government of India (CBC)

It is my privilege to share with you about the knowledge partnership between Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) and Capacity Building Commission, Government of India (CBC). This is indeed a strong step in the direction of “atma-nirbhar Bharat”. My congratulations to Prof. Uttam Kumar Sarkar, Director IIMC and Shri Hemang Jani, Secretary, CBC, for having signed a ‘Statement of Intent’ on 17th February 2022 at New Delhi. The Government of India constituted the CBC through a notification in the Gazette of India in April 2021. The vision of CBC is to enhance the execution capacity of the Indian states by radically improving the government’s human resource management practices and significantly augmenting the capacity of India’s 25 million civil servants. As the custodian of the civil services capacity building ecosystem, CBC’s mandate is to ensure and enable lifelong learning for all. It aims to create optimal learning opportunities for each civil servant with the objective to build an agile and future ready public service force. As a knowledge partner to CBC, IIMC (as the first IIM to have signed an agreement with CBC) has a momentous opportunity to leverage its knowledge capital and expertise towards this important national endeavour. Within this framework of understanding, IIMC may do the following:

  1. Customise leadership training programmes and deliver them through face to face and/or virtual mode of instruction.
  2. Create instructional content in a wide range of activity areas which fall under the purview of the CBC.
  3. Conduct evaluation impact studies.
  4. Provide knowledge support to CBC in terms of case writing and case teaching.

It gives me a deep sense of reassurance and a feeling of happiness that IIM Calcutta will have a role (atma-nirbhar Bharat) in significantly contributing to the governance practices at different levels. This partnership will be yet another occasion for IIMC to demonstrate its collective (its family of teachers and alumni) expertise in leadership training and other areas of management for the benefit of the nation. As the first IIM in India, IIMC is once again the first in stepping forward for such an important national initiative, thus reinforcing its standing as an eminent public institution of management education in the country.

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

Fresher's Welcome address, IIM Calcutta
Jun 19th, 2021

Chairperson Shrikrishna Kulkarni, addressing the MBA 58th batch students during the Fresher's Welcome 2021.

Convocation Speech, IIM Calcutta
May 15th, 2021

All our teachers are here and it is appropriate that I start by invoking and prostrating before the Supreme teacher, the "teacher of teachers".

ब्रह्मानन्दं परमसुखदं केवलं ज्ञानमूर्तिं
द्वन्द्वातीतं गगनसदृशं तत्त्वमस्यादिलक्ष्यम्
एकं नित्यं विमलमचलं सव॔धीसाक्षिभूतं
भावातीतं त्रिगुणरहितं सद्गुरूं तं नमामि

In English the rough translation is:

  • The one who is Bliss of Brahman, the one who is supreme happiness and who is knowledge absolute;
  • The one who has no duality, who is expansive like the sky and is the goal indicated in great Mahavakyas of the Mandukya Upanishad like "Tat Twam Asi";
  • The only one – pure, unchanging who is the witness of all
  • The one who embodies the 3 gunas of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
  • To that Supreme entity, I prostrate myself and bow down;

Respected Chief Guest Shri Krishnamurthy Subramanian, distinguished and honourable guests, our dear graduating students, their families, Director in-charge, Professor Subir Bhattacharya, Deans, Program Chairs, our loved and respected Faculty colleagues, dear Staff members and the IIM Calcutta community.

My pranams to all of you.

My dear graduating class, today you graduate from IIM Calcutta and enter the world of professionals. All your hard-work and toil is being recognized and culminating in you becoming the newest members of the family of the IIM Calcutta alumni – an incredible distinction and a coveted privilege. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration for all of you.

You are the best of the best of this nation, and today is your day. Ideally, we all should have been at our beautiful campus in Joka celebrating your happiness together – in person.

This ongoing pandemic is unprecedented. This 2nd wave is testing our resolve even more fiercely. By now hopefully it should be clear to all of us that each one of us, you and me, is the frontline defense against this pandemic. It is "our", individual and collective responsibility to keep our community safe by exercising civic responsibility and social discipline through exercising self-discipline. It was in keeping with this spirit that this convocation is being held in the virtual non-physical format. I must convey my gratitude to all of you, for accepting this.

My thoughts and reflections that I wish to share with you today, are nothing new. These thoughts continue to add much needed perspective to my life. It is in the belief that these thoughts may also add perspective to your lives and that good things must be shared, and therefore can be repeated, that I allow myself the privilege to speak my heart.

This pandemic is having immense immediate implications for economies and businesses. And so I allowed myself to contemplate on the future?

  1. What is it doing to "economic inequality? Has it opened our heart? Do we feel it?"
  2. I wondered what kind of resources would be required if every human being in this world was to claim the average living standard of a citizen of the developed nations?
  3. Is this possible in a finite world?

Today we have with us, one of our own, an IIM Calcutta alumnus, Prof. Krishnamurthy Subramanian. He is presently at the helm of Economic Affairs of our nation as the Chief Economic Advisor.

Thank you Prof. Krishnamurthy for accepting my invitation to be our Chief Guest today.

It is his presence that encourages me to wonder:

  1. What role does "human greed", play in economic, financial and social problems?
  2. Is this focus and our need for perpetual growth of GDP driven by "human greed"?
  3. In the garb of globalization, has there been unbridled individualism – GDP of nations being fueled by consumerism to support a "lifestyle", as against "a life"?
  4. Can our demand be less greedy and the supply be more broad based with a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources over the entire supporting business ecosystem?
  5. With Technology and the networked world breaking down "silos" in society, will organizations be forced to "collaborate" and not just "compete"?
  6. And therefore closing the loop on my own thoughts by asking the fundamental question – "is competition driven by greed?"

These are difficult questions and in your lifetime they will probably take on critical dimensions.

I wondered if you would be happy by my just posing questions. But quickly reminded myself that as Chairperson of the Board I am traditionally expected to say something.

Therefore, it would be correct to admit, that at best I can share some of my own experience based learnings with you – which you may accept or discount at a discount rate of your choice:

  1. In this new networked world, beyond the functions and domains of my own specialization, I progressively felt the need to equip myself with some very important skills:
    1. To be effective I felt the need to have the ability to create new networks of partnerships for my organizations, so that they may be sustainable, scalable and most importantly survive disruptions and failures;
    2. I had to be comfortable in comprehending the impact of data, artificial intelligence, cyber-security etc.;
    3. Culturally I learnt to accept multi-stakeholder networks and have a mindset for collaboration. This is the only way I could hope to overcome the complexity and interconnectedness across sectors;
    4. Ability to respect diversity and display empathy were key to building personal credibility. Personal credibility is now a non-negotiable attribute to lead people;
  2. So, what can you do with what you have learnt?
    1. While knowing is important – all knowledge refers to what we have learnt, stored in our memory and can access it at our will. By definition knowledge is always of the past and hence it relies heavily on facts and theoretical frameworks. It is humanly impossible to know everything?
    2. Is therefore "Leadership" about successfully managing unfamiliar situations? I think it is.
    3. Ask yourself, why do different leaders see the same problem in different ways? Why do some succeed and some fail miserably?
  3. Let me share with you my observations and I should not claim that they are wholly correct. Please use them if you feel attracted and motivated to explore them:
    1. In your professional as also personal life, you will encounter many battles. They are all, in one way or the other, leadership battles – the most crucial will be those, which are the "unequal battles" – unequal assets, unequal power, unequal influence etc. In such battles, in my experience:
      - The two most important qualities that help me progress are: be brave, fearless (शौय॔) and be patient (धैय॔) Most such battles are lost due to impatience;
      - Your own strength (of character) and intelligence (विवेक) will give you the "Will power" that is needed to endure such battles;
      - And finally, you will need to have on your side, "Truth (सत्य), humility and modesty (शील, विनम्रता), selflessness (निःस्वार्थ). But here I will use the unusual meaning of selflessness which is "doing good for others" (पहि॔त).
  4. To make these qualities, your own, requires (साधना) – which can be loosely translated in English as – deep, introspective, disciplined, relentless long duration study. If you have these qualities, there is a very high probability that you will not lose these unequal battles. Battles which are between साधना versus साधन(assets, power, influence etc.).
  5. Remember this powerful Sanskrit shloka:
    • अमंगलम् अक्षरं नास्ति नास्ति मूलमनौषधम् ।
      अयोग्यः पुरुषो नास्ति योजकस्तत्र दुल॔भः॥
    • There is no letter which is not auspicious, there is no root which doesn’t have medicinal property;

There is no person who is thoroughly useless, but rare is the one who knows how to properly use/manage them.

If you are with me till now, then I am going to go ahead and take the risk of requesting you all that from this point on in life pay attention to the development of the most important management skills – of humanity, which I shared briefly. It is these skills that will equip you to work in the "gap" between what you know and what your environment will expect from you.

But for this to happen, you must have a vision for your life. Not just "goals for your life". What is the difference?

  • Your actions that do good "through you", and not "for you", would be what I would define as a vision for your life.
  • In the pursuit of such a vision – have the courage to make mistakes. A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.

Let me change gears a little bit here. Very quickly, you all will be leaders of your own families. But today, I want to share with you my thoughts on our parents. A parent child relationship is Divine – at any age in your life it is Divine – they gave us life! They therefore deserve that stature throughout our lives.

Over the past few years, I have had the luxury to spend time with my aged parents (93+ and 91+). And so I probably tilt towards a wisdom that all elders uncannily exhibit – something unequivocally makes them realize how little we know – or putting it more bluntly, "that the universe doesn't need the sanction of our beliefs to function". It is as if they were acknowledging the limitations of human knowledge?

As my parents see the end of the runway coming closer, I notice their wisdom expand beyond the realms of logic and thought. As I serve them, the arrogance of my logical brain questions their approach. But astonishingly I am now acutely aware of how limiting are both human logic and thought. Both tend to narrow our existence down to "our individual self". But I also notice that as the physical body starts surrendering the (elders) operate more and more from their hearts. It is this "operating from the heart", that allows their existence to expand so far beyond the puny limits of their own physical selves.

This makes me wonder – are they being prepared to merge with the infinite, the awareness that permeates everything. This then makes me wonder – can the finite me, ever comprehend the infinite? Is it possible? After all I am a finite product severely limited by what I perceive through my 5 senses – which as I have come to realise from studying science – cannot be trusted. Example we "see" the sun set and rise – but it's not how the reality is. So, what is "real"? Is there such a thing as "reality? Therefore, does, anything that is unchanging deserve to be defined as real, as "the reality"? Such an unchanging reality is probably:

  • Not a "thing"
  • "Nothing"
  • "No thing"!!

We are the only species that has in its arrogance (of our logic and our knowledge), forgotten our place as just another inhabitant of nature. Please invest your time to be in closer connection with nature.

Finally, before I stop, the world will celebrate your razor sharp intelligence, your being global citizens, your being tech savvy etc etc etc.

The world may celebrate you by putting you on a list of the "most powerful persons", OR the "most influential persons", but, I would feel deep satisfaction, if you strive and expand your heart – and learn to operate also from your heart and as a result the world celebrates you by recognizing you among the "most loved and respected" persons.

Prayers for the good health and safety of your loved ones and you, always – every one of you.

Have a beautiful life – every one of you.

Jai Hind.

Summary of speech by Shrikrishna Kulkarni November 14th, 2019

IIM Calcutta is the first IIM set up in India.

I see IIMC as an Institute of Management – a public institution, which is a nodal agency to bring about a revolution in management practice. To my mind, IIM Calcutta has a significant role in nation building and for providing educational inputs for that purpose, to all sectors of the Indian economy and polity.

The limits of a country’s greatness are seldom set by its physical resources, but usually by the capability and integrity of its leaders. This then begs the question – where are the leaders of tomorrow? I believe that IIM Calcutta with its committed faculty; dedicated support staff; its exceptional students and supremely successful alumni have a role in building our nation. We at IIMC should be that educational institution which aims at generating excellence, and which continues to produce “movers of people, mobilizers of opinion” – integrated personalities whose minds, hearts and character have been developed in the noble traditions of our invaluable heritage.

Just as the accumulation of capital stock is an indication of the success of a corporation, similarly, one must also assess the ‘human capital’ to gauge the development of a nation. To this context, civic sense and civic responsibility are fundamental to the growth of a nation’s human capital asset. This human capital asset is fundamental to a nation’s Gross Domestic Character.Technology will force and disrupt management practices from shareholder wealth maximization to “equitable distribution of wealth”. 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.

Growing Gross Domestic Character requires a set of different fundamental efforts than what is required for growing GDP. But, both are essential. Leaders of tomorrow will need to have a high level of “human capital”.

Convocation Speech, IIM Calcutta, April 6th, 2019 Shrikrishna Kulkarni

Most respected Shri Narayan Murthy, distinguished and honourable guests, our dear graduating students, their families, Director Professor Anju Seth, Deans, Program Chairs, our loved and respected Faculty colleagues, dear Staff members and the IIM Calcutta community. Namaskar.

Before I start speaking to you, my fellow students – and I call you fellow students because I wish to remain a student. I wish to continue to learn and I hope that I have not yet stopped learning.

Last year at the IIMC convocation, my Guru Prof. Srikant Datar made us all pause a moment and reflect. He made us look into our hearts and acknowledge the contributions of our parents. This act of his, I believe was so sublime that I would wish for it to become a “pratha”, a “tradition” at every convocation of IIM Calcutta. Real treasures, must be visited again and again and again. There is only gain in doing so. So, as he did last year, this year too, and I quote, “I would like for us to take a moment to recognize the parents who are gathered here to celebrate in your achievements and distinctions. It is the many sacrifices that they have made and their desire that you have a better life than them that has brought you to where you are today. I know the pride and joy they feel. It makes what you have accomplished that much more worthwhile. In honouring you today, we are also honouring them and of course, your teachers, who gave you one of the most precious gifts anyone can give – their knowledge”. Today, I would like all of us here to pay our tribute to the teachers and professors, not just here at IIMC, but across our nation, who spend their life in the most significant, but unadvertised work. They form the bedrock on which a nation develops. Their dedication bears witness to the selflessness of the human spirit. Could I request you to please rise and join me in thanking them.

My dear graduating class, today is your day. Today you graduate from IIM Calcutta and enter the world of professionals. In your time as a student at IIM Calcutta, this probably will remain the single most important day on campus. All the hard-work and toil is being recognized and culminating in you becoming the newest members of the family of the IIM Calcutta alumni – an incredible distinction and a coveted privilege. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration for all of you. You will now become full independent earning members of “mother IIM Calcutta’s family”.

Here, I wish for you all to pause a moment and think of those of your colleagues who are not here today – not celebrating. Not graduating. Delve in your hearts and ask – what could you all have done to help them, so that they too could have been here today. Keep them in your hearts and remain friends. Help each other. Life is long, very long and the balance sheet of life is only balanced at the end of the journey. So recognize early on, what of your actions will become assets on that “balance sheet”.

Last year, on January 31st, 2018, the IIM Act came into force. Under the provisions of this Act, The Board of Governors is now responsible for the general superintendence, direction and control of the affairs of the Institute and has the power to frame or amend or modify or rescind the regulations governing the affairs of the Institute to achieve the Vision and the Mission of the Institute.

As Chairman of the Board of Governors, and on behalf of the BoG, I had promised you, that we will strive to the best of our abilities to serve the best interest of IIM Calcutta. We will strive to extend IIMC’s eminence, not only nationally, but also globally. I recall saying – “True eminence will be ours, the day our best students will start wanting to come back to IIM Calcutta to take up the mantle to teach the next generations”. It is my privilege and honour to share with you that, we have succeeded in taking the first step in this direction. One from among our many distinguished alumni, Prof. Anju Seth, agreed to come back and lead IIMC. Thank you Prof. Seth for accepting the offer of the BoG to be Director. You agreed to lead IIMC in these first few crucial years post the IIM Act. We are confident that you will help IIMC benchmark itself to global standards and truly extend its eminence. We on the BoG and the faculty will support you fully in this journey. Just this morning the BoG approved a very generous and gracious offer by one of our alum, to endow the Institute with a Chair – named after two other of our alumni. The “Krishnan and Meena Ganesh” Chair. The BoG has offered Prof. Seth this Chair Professorship. This is in recognition of the excellence that Prof. Seth has achieved in her long career as a teacher.

believe that you, the graduating students of IIMC, are the elite among the elite. You are among the most privileged and gifted sons and daughters of “Bhaarat mata”. After considerable deliberation, I decided that it is best to speak to you on thoughts that often arise in my heart now-a-days. I wish to share with you, my thoughts on two inter-related topics:

  • Nation building and
  • Nationalism

Nation building and nationalism are very vast topics. As you are among the privileged best sons and daughters of this nation, it is therefore also your first duty to explore and understand what nation building and nationalism mean to you. This is a topic that is close to my heart, but I must confess that I have never held a public office nor have I had work experience to support my views. But I will take the liberty of sharing with you my views on “nation building and nationalism and what they mean to me”.

At the beginning I admit that as a man, my thoughts on various subjects are largely coloured by what I believe, and what I believe is largely coloured by what I have experienced. My parents (who by the way are here sitting amongst you), are people of exceptionally strong character. It is they who instilled in me the love of my country. It is they who allowed me to nurture courage in my convictions.

What constitutes a nation? Are we a nation? What is nation building? What is nationalism? I struggled with these questions in my youth and till very recently. Then I met the teacher of my life – and I received from him the chance of many life times. A chance to walk with him, across this great nation, from Kanyakumari to Srinagar – on foot. Over the 476 days that I walked with him, I got my own insights, and answers to these vexing questions and my doubts melted away. I realized that these answers addressed the core of my own existence. They helped me address my role with all aspects of my life. They help me define my role in not just building a family, an organization, but at its widest, also in nation building. Hence, today, I don’t come to you with any prescriptions. Rather, I would like to share with you my own experiences. I hope to make each of you think, question and seek your own answers. It is my hope that what took me 30+ years to conceptualize, you all should in a much shorter span. Is that being very ambitious – I think NOT! This sharing of knowledge selflessly is in my experience the most important first step in “nation building”.

Now that I shared with you the first factor critical to nation building – “sharing of knowledge and experiences selflessly”, let me go further.

It is the courage of my convictions and the desire to seek “root causes” of the problems and issues that life makes me experience, which has aided me in my life. And if my ordinary life can benefit from these qualities (gunas in Hindi), I am convinced that so can yours. A nation is its people. A people who have the ability to conceptualize positive learning from their lives are an asset. A nation which has more and more of such people is blessed. So, getting to the root causes of problems fearlessly is another factor that is critical to nation building.

So let me repeat: “sharing knowledge and experience selflessly” and “seeking root causes of problems fearlessly” – they are critical factors that go into building a nation. Once we imbibe in our lives these two critical aspects we need to explore what next. In my own experience, I believe that our collective ability to ask HONEST questions and equally importantly, our ability to seek HONEST answers will determine the quality of the nation we wish to forge. So dear graduating class, have the courage to ask “honest questions” and seek “honest answers” – NOT convenient answers. This requires courage – so be fearless. This also requires an ability to seek root causes. And finally you will require to practice. Relentless practice. Practice with every situation life throws at you. With sufficient practice you will find yourself thinking “clearly” and “independently”. You will then have not only the courage but also the emotional stamina to take on what at first glance will seem as impossible problems.

Let me now touch upon some very basic thoughts. I stress – these are not my thoughts; these are not new thoughts, but I believe you MUST be made aware of these thoughts.

Nation building is important if we think of ourselves as one nation? So what makes us one nation? Bhaarat, is unlike other modern nations. Modern nations are based on language; religion; race; ethnicity or even to some extent ideology. Essentially it is the sameness of people that goes into making a modern nation. But we, as Bharaatvarsh, have never defined our existence on “sameness”. If you ever walk this nation, like I did, you will notice that every 300 km or so, things change – people; clothes; the dialect of a language; food; customs etc. So I asked, what makes us one nation? It is not language, it is not race, it is not religion – yes, this nation even predates religion. In my experience, I found that this is a land whose foundation is the “universal law” – “sanatan dharma”. While I don’t claim to have read the Vedas, the Upanishads or the Bhagawat Geeta – I will be surprised if anyone can find the word Hindu in them. But one does find the word “dharma”. While most other nations are made up of believers, the people of this land have always been essentially “seekers”. Seekers of “truth”, “liberation”, “moksha” – call it by what name you want. And this “seeking”, is not something that was invented. It is the nature of all human intelligence. Any human being whose basic needs have been satisfied wants to know; realize and liberate himself. No matter how conditioned they are by science, technology or any ideology. And in this seeking we found ONENESS.

This then is a nation seekers. And seekers can seek in infinite ways – they are never aligned to any one particular thing. So in my experience, here-in lies the root cause of our plural nature. It was during the 476 days of the Walk, that I realized that “being inclusive”, is our nature. This is a land where thousands of years ago, our ancestors proclaimed – “sarve bhavantu sukhinah” and “loka samasta sukhino bhavantu”. They taught us to seek happiness for entire “srishti” – “all of creation”. This understanding liberated me of most of my confusions about my roots. And I hope you too will understand this very clearly. While the 42nd amendment of our Constitution stresses that we are a Socialist Secular republic – let me reassure you, that our secular nature has been in existence much before the 42nd amendment to our Constitution. It is in our DNA. Always remember this. For me, during my Walk, I experienced this spiritual heritage of ours. “Sanatana dharma” – the heritage that makes us seekers of truth and liberation. I believe it is this that binds us as one nation. This is the life breath of Bhaarat mata. Don’t ever allow this life breath to cease.

You may want to now ask, why is nationhood important? Why cannot we think of the whole world? This is exactly the line my inquiry took. In the spiritual world, there is no concept of nations – there is only all of creation – all of humanity included. But in reality, a nation is today the largest piece of humanity that you and I can commit ourselves to. So being committed to a nation is expanding the scope of one’s passions, involvement and concerns beyond the narrow likes and dislikes of our own self. Isn’t this a leap forward – a great step? When you have such emotions – this is nationalism.

We all cherish our diversity, and our national boast is – unity in diversity (said in Hindi, it is vividhata mein ekta). But, when I see the problems our nation has, and when I delve into my heart and fearlessly seek the root causes, I notice that at the least, since the 42nd amendment, if not since independence, our leaders have focused on “diversity” to a point where we have forgotten that the key operative word in our boast should be “unity”, “ekta”. Without unity, there is only weakness. Without unity, there is weakness even in homogeneity. Therefore, in my view another key factor that goes into defining nationalism is – “unity”.

Actions and utterances by each one of us, individually or collectively that strengthen our unity should be considered as nationalism that aids national development. Conversely, those actions and/or utterances that strike at our unity and try to tear our social fabric must be scrutinized; questioned and discarded with all our combined strength.

I wish to now distinguish between 3 distinct concepts, which have wholly different connotations. As a practicing manager understanding the difference in them helped clear my conscience and allowed me to seek root causes to issues and implement initiatives fearlessly. It may help you also.

The ill-informed are often confused about: equality; equality before law and equal opportunity. Now equality before law is the very foundation of a nation. This isn’t very difficult to understand. Most developed nations therefore have a Uniform Code of law for both civil and criminal matters. Just as companies and institutions have uniform rules and regulations and codes of conduct. Equal opportunity on the other hand is the very foundation of “social justice”. Hence, dynastic succession or entitlements due to birth undermine equal opportunity and strike at the very roots of social justice. If allowed to perpetuate, they will hollow out institutions that are pillars of a nation. Only people with a sense of entitlement tend to write out cheques that you and I the citizens have to help pay up. So, it is our duty to be alert and beware. My great grandfather Gandhiji advocated “shram daan”, or “bread labour”. You work and you earn. This was followed strictly even in his ashram. There were no free lunches. Our Chief Guest today, Shri Narayan Murthy embodies everything that Gandhiji was. Contrast his approach, where his desire for equitable distribution of wealth became the policy of the company he founded. He became the change he wished to see. He set the benchmark for Corporate India. He is a living example of what is true humanity. Now a word on equality. Given equality before law and equal opportunity, different people will attain different positions in life, depending on their intelligence; their character; their capacity to work hard and their capacity to take risks. Therefore it is my experience that in progressive nation’s equality among all people is unachievable even where equality before law and equal opportunity exist.

Soon you all will be leaders of men and women. In organizations or even at the national level. So let me share with you my experiences:

  • Any organization or a nation is its people – human resources are the true asset. You would be well advised not to take your eye of making investments to increase the human capital – via investing in nutrition; health; education and training. This is in contradistinction to investment in physical assets such as infrastructure and factories.
  • You will have control over men and women – so let me give you the first of the two talismans that have served me in my life, so remember this, apply this and you will succeed:
    o The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first always and every time.
    o The honour and safety of the men you command come next
    o Your own safety, honour and welfare come last always and every time
  • Our nation’s security is very important. It is only in peace that there is scope for development. And the muscle behind national security is manufacturing. So I urge you to support initiatives that encourage local manufacturing. For the many engineers among you, do consider careers in manufacturing also as I did.
  • Similarly a nation as big as ours needs serious depth of talent to manage infrastructure. Do consider career options in management of infrastructure also.
  • All growth depends on energetic activity. There can be no development without work. An honest day’s work is in my view the only instrument for national advancement. It would not be an exaggeration to say that “the country direly needs dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds” – think about it.
  • Just as we aspire and dream for our children, so also must we dream for a nation. Our national dreams and aspirations must be lofty. “Failure is not a crime, aiming low is”. So please “continue to strive and continue to have a dream”. Never stop. Nation building is not a part time job. It is complex “social engineering”. It takes time. It takes effort. And it takes love and dedication for the nation. Don’t ever stop.
  • In my career, I discovered that problems are solved by wiping tears and joining hearts. Of this I am convinced. I pray that each of you discovers this soonest. This will enrich and ennoble your lives.
  • As I wrap up, let me share the second talisman that has served me unfailingly. This is a talisman which my great grandfather Gandhiji urged us to use – and I quote:
    o Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man (woman) whom you may have seen and ask yourself this, “if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him (her). Will he (she) gain anything by it? Will it restore him (her) to a control over his (her) own life? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melt away.
  • I have used this talisman often, Yes in corporate situations also – and truth be told, I lost nothing, not even money – certainly not my soul.

In ending, I believe that our nation – Bhaarat is not just a nation, it is the “world inside a nation”. Never forget this.

May the Divine enshrine in each one of you “fearlessness” and “courage of conviction”.

Keep in touch this is your Institute.

Thank you for listening to me patiently. My best wishes to all of you, always,

Jai Hind

Chairperson's Messages in the Annual report

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