By Mr Sharad C Sharma (PGP 1971), written on the occasion of Golden Jubilee year of the 1971 batch. The narrative gives details of his sweet memories and experience during the stay at the campus.
ग़र ख़ुदा मुझसे कहे , कुछ माँग ए बंदे मेरे
मैं ये माँगू IIMA के , दो साल फिर दे दे मुझे
If God asks to grant me a wish, I will request to give me once more opportunity to live the two years which I passed at IIMA.
Today, celebrating my golden jubilee of being at IIMA of 1969-71 batch, I recollect the nostalgic golden memories of those two years.
PLANNING AND DILEMMA TO JOIN IIMA The journey started early 1969 when I decided to pursue my management studies after completing B. Tech in Chemical Engineering and two years of work experience in Shriram Fertilizers. The job was in a factory at Kota, which happens to be my home town. It was a small town and during those days, people there were not familiar or impressed with management education. For them having an engineering degree was good enough, particularly when you also have a job in your own home town. There was discouragement from my parents and my seniors. They said it is not wise to leave a secured job as you will not be sure of employment after your studies. Well that was the thinking during those years but somehow I was determined to pursue management studies. After consulting a few friends and knowing that job is virtually assured after PGDBM, applied in IIMA, gave entrance examination, interview and was selected. And my journey began which was to give not only my golden two years on campus but laid a solid foundation on which my life and career were built.
SIR, I WISH TO LEARN THIS NEW KNOWELDGE Before going further, I will like to narrate an interesting conversation during my admission interview. I had cleared the written test, group discussions and my academic record was good being the Gold Medalist from LIT Nagpur. Finally, I appeared for the personal interview. The interviewers asked many questions on economics, politics and world events. Many of them I was unable to answer as during my engineering education I concentrated only on engineering subjects and to achieve my goal of receiving the gold medal. Finally, the committee asked the last question as to why I wish to join IIMA. I replied ‘Sir, you noticed that I have little knowledge of many fields outside my engineering subject. I, therefore, wish to gain all-round knowledge by joining management studies here’. Well, they smiled, I was selected and here I am to continue with the story of my days at IIMA.
WHAT NO RAGGING? We received a letter of admission with details of IIM location. I reached Ahmedabad and was happily surprised to see a ‘welcome board’ at the railway station that was put by our seniors with further guidance to reach campus. Still, the experience of ragging in engineering hostel was fresh in my mind and I thought that this welcome was the calm before the storm. Thus, worried and little frightened, I reached the campus ready to face the music. Lo here! a big surprise was waiting for me. Our seniors warmly received and greeted me, offered tea/coffee, biscuits and helped in settling. That was my first day of starting a journey full of golden memories during stay at the campus.
A NEW DELIGHTFUL EXPERIENCE The studies and classes started. Well, there was no Harvard Steps, no big modern class rooms or the main plaza as it stands today. Few pictures attached by me will give the glimpse of old structures which stood at that time and the new one at present (Sorry during those days we did not have mobiles to click pictures and selfies. In fact, the whole campus had one landline for students).
Basically, there were 3 class rooms, 16 dorms, and few of the houses allotted to us as hostels. But there was a beauty, romance and liveliness in those structures. There was a central lawn where we used to sit in evenings to listen to pleasant music and enjoy the chit chat sessions along with coffee. I wonder if any of my batchmates will forget the lovely music room where we used to listen to songs, ghazals and instrumental music. Unfortunately, smoking was common during those days and ashtrays from the music room used to often disappear and had to be replaced. One day someone got a brilliant idea and painted on ashtray with ‘Stolen from Music Room’ and Lo! the disappearance stopped. The instance is embedded in my memory as a unique idea, a management technique to control pilferage.
Still more pleasant surprises were to come. The major teachings were through case studies method, a novelty for us. While the class discussions were going on, there was a few minutes break and the coffee was served in the class room. Unlike our engineering days, it was a unique experience and I was already imagining myself like managers in a board room. During the days which followed, we used to be invited by professors for tea, coffee with snacks at their houses. It strengthened our bond with them and I hope the practice is being followed presently too. I am also giving you a glimpse of 1972 IIMA newsletter mentioning important news about our Director – Professor Ravi Mathai.
PROFESSOR MOTE & MALYA I can remember almost all the professor’s name and their teaching style even after 50 years. The one which left a lasting impact on me was the team of Prof Mote and Prof Malya. Their method was quite aggressive and Prof Mote will sometimes throw chalks at us, if we had not studied and prepared the case properly. I am sure none of my classmates can forget the relevant cost concept hammered in our mind. Even today sometimes in sleep I get the nightmare of Prof Mote’s missile hitting me.
If I don’t mention one incident my batchmates will not forgive me. Prof Mote used to get angry if he found out that some of us didn’t read or prepare the case. Then he will say ‘Either you leave the class or I will leave the class’. We will meekly go out and next time will be well prepared. We had one classmate ‘Grover’ who was also a unique character. Call him genius, crazy or whatever. One day Prof Mote told him his pet sentence ‘Either you leave or I will leave the class’. Grover coolly told him that he will not leave the class but Prof may leave. We were all stunned and shocked. Prof Mote just waited few minutes and then left the class. Next day Prof Mote came to the class – he smilingly and very sportingly said that we were the first batch who had made him leave the class. Everything was normal following that instance, but we loved and respected Mote & Malya team more after that.
WAC (WRITTEN ANALYSIS AND COMMUNICATION) It has been a half century gap and memories are not that sharp as it used to be. Many of the memorable moments are little hazy in my mind and requiring bit of efforts. Luckily, I am the blessed one and not affected by Alzheimer and can recall the wonderful instances leaving a lasting impact on me. Apart from Mote-Malya courses, another course which helped during my career was WAC by Prof Keshav Prasad. We were given a topic or subject and were asked to write our report/analysis of the same. Prof explained us the details with instructions that report should be precise, without a single unnecessary word or sentence and we should go through it many times before submitting the same. I remember writing, rewriting the report and reading it at least 20 times to trim it, removing extra words etc. Then in class discussion, Prof will tell us how it could be further improved. It was not the time of MS Word or Power Point in those days and our effective communication was the way to impress higher management. Thanks to this training, my report written after South East Asia tour, for exploring the possibilities of putting up a plant, was circulated among top management by the instructions of the Chairman. His comments to senior managers were that “This is how you have to write and present a report”. This incident is 48 years old and I had to thank my IIMA training for the same.
NOW, THE EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD And friends, all this luxury, heavenly experience, single room dorm accommodation etc. at what cost? Well, be prepared for the shock. We had to pay a princely sum of Rs 1630/- for the year. Did I hear someone saying “Is it a joke”? OK, so you don’t believe me. Please see the Annexure I giving details of fees for all three terms. I am sure some of you might be recovering from the shock.
LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST Many of my classmates, as also from the earlier and later batches, including myself, found their soulmates from batchmates or friends at campus visiting during socials, annual function – choosing to become life partners. What could be the better place than this, which laid the foundation of couple’s future life? No wonder they say that marriages are made in heaven.
Friends these are the sweet memories we cherish and remember every day. Our batch still is a very close knit group having continuous interactions and regular annual milans. The bonds formed during those two years are unbreakable. Those were the days and IIMA was considered one of the best management institute not only in India but throughout the world and it still has retained its top position.
No wonder, I pray to God that if he is granting me a wish it should be to give back my two golden years at the IIMA campus.
Acknowledgment – I sincerely wish to thank our batchmate Mr. Kishen Pajethaya for his valuable contribution of old records exhibited in this article.