Convocation 2022

57th Annual Convocation

Friday, April 29, 2022 at 4:00 PM
at the Institute's Campus.

Mr. Ashish Chauhan

MD & CEO, BSE
delivered the Convocation Address.

Speech of the Chief Guest

Respected Chairman, Respected Board of Governors, Hon’ble Director, all faculty members, staff members of IIM Calcutta, distinguished Guests, and my young friends. It is a great honour and a privilege to be speaking at the convocation ceremony of the Institute where I studied. I have fond memories of my time here like all my classmates as well as students who studied here before me and after me. I must say that IIMC had a great role in shaping me as an individual and also instilled in me a sense of responsibility to my country and my society for which I will remain eternally grateful. Thank you IIMC for making me what I am today.

Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta is the oldest management institution of higher learning to be set up in the country. Its pioneering and enterprising spirit continues even after IIM-C has transformed itself into a world class institution over the years. Since its inception, IIM Calcutta has developed many linkages and won many accolades. I want to bring to your notice that recently, IIM Calcutta has developed a very intimate relationship with the legacy of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi which many of us are not aware of. Chairman of Board of Governors, Shri Shrikrishna Kulkarni is the real great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Shri Kulkarni is himself a very accomplished person. However, his connection to Mahatma Gandhi is not well known yet. Sir, we are proud to have you as the Chairman of IIM Calcutta Board of Governors. Please give him a round of applause.

My congratulations to the families of all the graduating students also, who, through exemplary hard work, encouragement, and sacrifice, motivated the graduates to first join IIM Calcutta and then supported them through their journey here.

You are lucky to have studied in such a wonderful surrounding. We need to make the facilities even better. World class. My stay over last 12 hours in the campus suggests that a lot is required to make the IIMC campus world class. It needs to keep pace with time. I take this opportunity to appeal to our alumni, from all batches, spread far and wide, across the world to contribute generously towards reviving the infrastructure at IIMC in the way they can. This is our mother institution. We must contribute in whatever way we can including bringing donations from corporates, friends, and anyone else who is socially minded.

Over the last two years, some of the best professors in the world have been teaching you. Many of these professors studied at IIM Calcutta as well as similar institutions, worked in various industries for decades, became world class professionals themselves and came back to teach you. My salute to them and their zeal to give back to the society. I am sure going forward, some of the students who are passing out today will also come back and join this noble profession to guide the next generations.

As you may have studied from history books, our civilization is an old one. In ancient India, we had universities like Nalanda and Takshashila which had established themselves as international centres of educational excellence where students from all over the world came and studied.

Generations after generations, the Indian people have accumulated a rich heritage of traditional knowledge. We have also learnt from other cultures over these Millenniums. I would encourage the graduating students to use both modern and traditional knowledge to arrive at innovative solutions to some of our pressing societal challenges.

Our country can only achieve development through the outstanding contributions of intelligent, well qualified and professionally committed work force, one which looks for opportunities in the face of challenges within a resource limited environment.

As we all know, the world is passing through a great pandemic of covid, which has created issues across the spectrum in most societies. The last couple of years have taught us that certainty is fleeting in a world beset by uncertainty. I am sure when your batch joined the program, many thought Covid-19 would be temporary and we would all be back to the classrooms soon to the familiar in-class interactions. Instead, we experienced different variants of the virus, lockdowns, stiff travel rules, curfews, masks, social distancing, and many other things. Work was at a place called home, interactions were virtual in a place called Zoom or WebEx or a video conference and masks plus vaccinations are what we require to move around. Most of you have spent last year at the campus which is a solace.

India with its very low per capita GDP of US dollar 2,000 per person was not supposed to do well. Despite all the dire predictions by experts from abroad and from within, India has done well as compared to many many other countries including countries with ten or twenty- or thirty-times per capita income. That is not to say that all of us have not suffered troubles. If you look at the number of infections per million or number of deaths per million, India is ranking somewhere close to 120 out of 224 territories being monitored by worldometers.org for covid. Some of the better managed countries or some of the richer countries like US or UK are in the top 20 or top 25 ranks in in number of infections per million and number of fatalities per million. India is in the bottom half and that tells you as a society, we have done well compared to the rest of the world.

In addition, we have also governed ourselves very well during the covid period. In some ways, we have contributed positively to the world during these stressful times. During the same period, we had to also fight a small unnecessary aggression by our neighbour on northeast borders on our own. It is almost forgotten as it sounds so distant now. However, we need to be thankful to our governments for providing us with all the facilities within the limitations they had and providing us the vaccines, the medicines and everything else. Providing free ration to 80 crore people over the duration of covid and even now has been an unbelievably mammoth task which has not been recognised by us or by the world. The free ration distribution was necessitated as many people couldn’t go to work for long periods due to various waves of deadly corona virus. Despite our rapid growth in recent decades, we still have a large number of people who have very little savings which can help them tide over tough times like this. The scheme of free ration known as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna has saved poor Indian citizens from anarchy and misery which we see manifest in other countries like China in recent months. The number of people who have been provided free food for over 2 years is more than the population of European continent or North American continent or all South American countries. In effect, India has been providing free ration to the size of population larger than continents other than Asia and Africa. We should be proud as Indian citizens for this humanitarian aid to our poor brethren. It is true social security to vulnerable irrespective of their region, religion, caste, creed, language and any other seeming divisions that try to pull us apart.

In comparison, the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, UN World Food Program provided assistance to 11.55 crore people, approximately 14% of the people supported by Indian government in 2020, 2021 and also in 2022. Does it mean, Noble peace prize committee will seriously look at the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Indian governments’ humanitarian achievements for awarding Noble Peace Prize 2022? It remains to be seen.

Vaccination drive, automated and free for such huge population of close to 140 crore is another achievement, we now take for granted. Who had even thought this would be possible even in April 2021, the same time last year? More than 100 crore people have been administered at least one dose and more than 85 crore people are fully vaccinated. How did this happen? Automatically or someone worked for it? Should we be thankful to the people who got it done? In my opinion, we must be thankful. Some teams developed the vaccines and manufactured. Other teams planned, negotiated, procured, and delivered to the remotest corners of this beautiful country. Other teams administered. Some other teams automated the process using Cowin. No country seems to have done it the way India has done it. Our vaccines seem to be reasonably effective compared to the ones administered by China, who was the first off the block in vaccine race or the western countries who developed new method of vaccines. Were we plain lucky or something really nice happened by human endeavours?

I would urge the faculty here to write and teach case studies on the free vaccine program, Cowin application, free ration program, how they were achieved and their impact. Of course, India also exported large number of vaccine doses to rest of the world during the same period. Lets celebrate our own achievements and write them down for posterity to remember. When time came, India arose and achieved things beyond what any one in their wildest dream could even think of.

Many a times I say that either West is not as rich as it is made out to be or India is not as poor as we think we are.

We need to be thankful to the politicians and governments at all levels, our Prime Minister - the leadership at states, as well as municipalities, panchayats, and civil society organisations. We have to be grateful to our scientists, our pharma industry our medical fraternity, our sanitation workers, our railway employees, our ration shop staff, our neighbourhood grocers and everyone else who worked tirelessly despite huge personal risk to their own lives. It is because of them that India did well comparatively. More importantly, India’s GDP is now on the rise again, which is a heartening thing.

At the same time India has been able to run the IT and business process systems for some of the largest corporations, governments, and hospitals in the world. After first 70 days of lockdown, not many people expected that India, India’s BPO and India’s software industry would be able to provide uninterrupted services to their customers. Some of the largest banks across the world, their ATMs, some of the largest retailers, takeaway restaurants across the world ran smoothly due to commitment and enterprise of Indian employees. That is where I believe India has scored and India’s importance to the world has come up several notches in the minds of policy makers everywhere. You are also the beneficiary of their achievement in your career.

My heartiest congratulations to the governments, corporates and citizens who have despite all odds have worked hard to keep their enthusiasm alive and ensured that they serve not only India but the rest of the world as well. This is the true concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Having said that - these are perhaps your last few minutes, officially, at IIM Calcutta. More importantly, it’s also a culmination of your hard work and sacrifices put in by you, your parents, your friends, and your family. You are among the top few percentages of graduates in the country in terms of skills, presentation, and intellectual capabilities. This is why you were selected to study here in the first place.

Many of you have been already selected by reputed companies, while others are thinking of studying further or starting on their own. It is a great achievement that all of you at IIM Calcutta have come so far in this COVID period. I would like to thank the chairman, the director, the board, the faculty members, non-teaching staff, contractors, and everyone else associated with IIM Calcutta for their wonderful work during this tough period.

Modern education and modern society put a lot of expectations on students. More importantly, peer pressure makes it even worse. We are all a part of this fiercely competitive environment either knowingly or unknowingly. A few of you have got medals and awards today. All of us know that people who have received these medals or have become class toppers today worked hard for these accolades. My hearty congratulations to all the toppers and medal winners.

I have also been a part of this framework myself. I identify with your anxieties and worries. It is natural to ask questions such as:

  1. what will happen to me?
  2. how will the big bad world treat me?
  3. will I shine or not?
  4. will I make a lot of money?
  5. will I become famous?
  6. will I have a comfortable life?
  7. will I be able to fulfil the expectations of my parents, my family, and my friends?
  8. how will I get into the right company? Or have I got into the right company if I have got a job?
  9. did I select the right specialization; will it continue forever, or do I need to learn newer skills going forward?
  10. have my friends got better job than me? Etc.

Many such questions may come to your mind or will come to your mind in the time to come.

I would like to share with you some guiding principles that I found useful for myself. I hope you will also find them useful.

First, be grateful, it is important that we are grateful to what is happening to us and what has happened to us. You have already come so far, and you are amongst the best in the country today. Going forward also I am sure you are going to shine. However, if you are not grateful, I think you are going to miss out a lot, so continue to be grateful to your bosses, your teachers - the current, and the past, your parents, your families, your friends. They are what you live with and for me being grateful is very important to continue a meaningful life.

The second part is to be responsible. Many times, you might want to be selfish, be less accountable. Being responsible for the things which the company gives us, the society gives us, the family gives us and fulfilling our responsibilities - is very important to make a lasting contribution.

The third aspect is being curious, continually. You have reached here by being curious continually. So don’t leave curiosity here, keep it with you for the rest of your life. Childlike curiosity is what is going to give you a meaning and allow you to explore the world in many many ways. Life has many colours to show you and in some ways that is what you are going to earn out of your experiences. So, continue to explore life and continue to be curious throughout your life.

Being hungry for knowledge, for recognition, for wisdom is again going to be very important for you. Continue to be hungry, don’t get satisfied. Continue to stay dissatisfied across every sphere of life and that’s where you are going to achieve more. Constantly ask yourself what new skills and competencies will be needed. Begin working on them before 'it becomes necessary, and you will have a natural advantage. The greatest benefit of your education lies not only in what you have learnt, but in knowing how to learn. Formal education is the beginning of the journey of learning.

Be courageous. It is a great way to live life. If you are meek, you are going to miss out on some of the important moments of your life. Being courageous at right points at the right time is going to be very important for you. Yes, many of you who try to be entrepreneurs will fail. Nonetheless the failure to try, the failure to take any risk is perhaps the greatest failure of all. On the other hand, if you try to remember the learnings that come from failure, I guarantee you that success will eventually come. With the attitude to learn from failures, your best days will indeed lie ahead of you.

Next - Intelligence is something God has given you. Sincerity, however, is going to take you far. Not many people are sincere across all roles in life, across all the paths of life. Being sincere is something which has helped me throughout my life. I would suggest even if you were extremely intelligent, which you are, trying to be sincere across variety of facets to the extent you can, is going to take you far.

Being humble is again a very important trait of life. Many of the greatest minds I have seen failed in reaching their goals because they were not humble. Being humble indeed adds a lot of value. Hence, I would suggest humility is something, if you don’t have, please develop.

Being ethical is something which is going to differentiate between who you are and what you can be. Always try to be ethically and legally correct. Being ethical is not always sufficient. Being legally correct is equally important. In the modern compliance-oriented world, you must be ethical as well as legal in all areas.

Next - You also need to be kind. You can make a lot of money or attain a good position. Being kind will add a new paradigm to your life, so my request is please consider being kind. Anytime you get an opportunity to help somebody, try doing that. The satisfaction you are going to get out of that is going to be immense.

Be patient. Patience is a virtue. Although you want fast results, many areas will require you to be patient. You are going to probably work for next 40-50 years in your life. You need to plan, you need to execute and more importantly, you will have to learn how to be patient. How to wait for things to happen.

That doesn’t mean you cannot be passionate. Being patient and being passionate can happen together for all of us. Passion for a subject or a cause or for a specific achievement will make the journey more exciting and enjoyable.

You also need to add value every day to yourself or in your work and to your surroundings. If you stop adding value, you may not be able to progress. I have seen, even gold medallists, after 10 or 20 years may lose out on many opportunities if they don’t update themselves consistently.

On the other side, if the last person in the batch keeps adding value to life, learn new things, skills, newer ways of doing the same thing, may bring a lot of additional opportunities for himself/herself in 10, 20 or 30 years during his/her career. So, for me the only way to stay alive is to keep on adding value to yourself.

You also need to keep your mind open to new opportunities. Many of us have ideas about what we want to do, very very solid ideas. That does not mean life may actually happen the way we initially wanted. You need to be flexible; you need to keep your mind, your eyes, your ears open to newer opportunities - you need to be proactive not reactive. Every day you will have to continue to scan things, apply your mind to opportunities around you and you will land large opportunities in fields which you never thought were your calling.

You need to be optimistic. There will be opportunities galore but at the same time, every day there will be reasons to feel bad, disappointed. Don’t get disappointed ever in your life. Be optimistic. Tomorrow will be better than today. 10 years from now is going to be better than today. And that’s what will keep on making you work harder, towards bettering yourself, bettering your situation, your family, your company and for bettering your country.

Be of service to your family. Today many of us have been raised in a situation where we expect a lot from our parents - from our family. So, when the time comes to return, some favours to our family, we might not be able to do that. Please consider service to your family as an important achievement. You will like it; you will have a better life going forward. You also need to be of service to your society. You must do your job for the society when you are being called upon and sometimes you need to volunteer for the same.

Finally, you also need to be of service to your country. As the leaders of tomorrow, give to the country your time, some of your wealth, and the best of yourself. Sometimes you are going to be called upon by your country to deliver those goods. Sometimes those demands are not explicit. You will have to get up like how you did during covid times, you will have to be of service to the society and country going forward and at the same time in this journey you will have to enjoy what you are doing.

As a developing nation with low per capita income, India still has several socio-economic challenges confronting its citizens. Some of these pressing challenges include poverty and illiteracy; poor housing and living conditions; lack of proper food and nutrition; poor water and sanitation; and insufficient healthcare, communication, and transportation services and many other challenges.

One option for us as Indians is to keep worrying about these challenges without attempting to solve them. However, another more promising option in front of us is to become agents of change and apply our gained knowledge related to engineering, sciences, and social sciences to find innovative and cost-effective solutions. Implement them. Teach others to do that. We can bring change, individually and together.

There will be lots of demands and pressures. You may also get confused at times. However, please note that the journey is important, and you need to enjoy the journey. Don’t ever give up. Continue on the path of excellence that you have learnt here at IIM Calcutta.

You must stay in touch with changing reality. Sometimes our assumptions, our models about reality may be incorrect. We need to have that feedback loop into our brains that differentiates and tells us that models and assumptions are not reality. Sometimes reality will run away from our models, and we must learn to change our models to suit new realities and not stick to the models of the past or we may be left behind.

India is going to make huge material progress on the back of young population and rapid technological developments over next 50 years. India’s wealth is expected to go up 1000% over this period. The society expects you to play your part as responsible business leaders to take advantage of this once in a millennium opportunity that has come our way. I am sure, you all will lead India in to a prosperous and glorious nation over next 5 decades.

This convocation is a point that marks an end and a beginning, and a passage for you, from students to alumni. I wish you all the best in your career and in your lives as you step out into a new world. Please accept my congratulations on this achievement and best wishes for your future. Please accept my gratitude for inviting me and listening to me today. Thank You.

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PROGRAMME SCHEDULE
S.No. Description Time
i. Convocation Procession Starts 4:00 PM
ii. Invocation 4:25 PM
iii. Convocation to be declared ‘Open’ by the Chairperson, Board of Governors, Shri Shrikrishna Kulkarni4:29 PM
iv. Introduction of the Chief Guest and Presentation of Annual Report by the Director, Professor Uttam Kumar Sarkar4:30 PM
v. Award of the Degree of Ph.D. to graduating Doctoral students 5:00 PM
vi. Award of Degree to graduating MBA Students 5:10 PM
vii. Award of CEMS Degree to graduating IIMC CEMS-MIM Students 6:00 PM
viii. Award of Degree to graduating MBA for Executives Students 6:05 PM
ix. Announcement by Chairperson, PGPEX-VLM 6:20 PM
x. Announcement by Chairperson, PGDBA 6:25 PM
xi. Award of Prizes by the Chief Guest, Mr. Ashish Chauhan, MD & CEO, BSE6:30 PM
xii. Address by the Chairperson, Board of Governors, Shri Shrikrishna Kulkarni6:50 PM
xiii. Convocation Address by the Chief Guest, Mr. Ashish Chauhan, MD & CEO, BSE7:05 PM
xiv. Vote of Thanks by the Chairperson, MBA Programme & Chairperson, Convocation Committee-2022, Prof. Suren Sista7:35 PM
xv. Convocation to be declared ‘Closed’ by the Chairperson, Board of Governors, Shri Shrikrishna Kulkarni7:43 PM
xvi. National Anthem 7:44 PM
xvii. Return of the Convocation Procession 7:45 PM
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