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Monday, 12 October 2009

Prof. S. Manikutty remembers...

Prof. Labdhi Bhandari (we could call him Labdhi only much later) was our introduction to the Institute. Before the commencement of regular classes, there was (and still is) a session called “Introduction to the Case Method”. Labdhi took that session for our section. He started right away, asking, “So, what should Mr. Shah do?”. One of our class fellows asked him to “say something about yourself”. “My name is Bhandari. I teach here. Anything else you want to know?” That was the end of the conversation. The rest of the class was mostly silence, with an occasional “So?” from Labdhi. He seemed indeed formidable, more than what we bargained for.

We did not see him again until the second term of the second year, when he offered the PPM (Product Policy and Management) course. Most of the class took it, I suppose more to just experience Labdhi than to really learn about product policy or its management. It was not an effort wasted. Such was the clarity of the insights he brought into the class, that almost everyone actually took interest in the course! But he was still formidable. Absolutely a no nonsense type.

It was only when I came to the thesis phase and he agreed to be a member of my thesis committee, that I began to see what a truly wonderful person he was. His brilliant mind cut through a whole lot of cobwebs and got straight to the point. One always came out of meetings with him with an exhilarating sense that something has been truly achieved, truly understood. More than that, as a thesis committee member, he was truly warm in his dealings. As the thesis progressed, he became more and more friendly, always willing to give his time and always helpful with his insights. He was always encouraging, and never once did he say a word that would discourage me. Yet, it was always a clear pointing out of the deficiencies in my thought and argument. 
Shortly after my graduation, I went to Jordan on a posting for an year and there it was that I learned of the shocking news. For quite some time, his smiling but stern face kept haunting me.

*Prof. S. Manikutty was a student of LRB and is now Professor of Business policy at IIM, Ahmedabad.

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