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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Prof. Dwijendra Tripathy remembers...

Although I was on the IIM-A faculty when Labdhi joined the Institute's Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in July 1965, I had very little interaction with him as he had not taken my course. However, some of my colleagues, whose courses he had taken and who had known him better, often talked very favourably about his academic capabilities and sophisticated behaviour. I had a chance to get to know him better when he returned to the Institute as a member of the faculty after a stint as an executive with Hindustan Lever. He took very little time to adjust to his new environment and impressed his faculty colleagues as well as his students with his teaching ability.

I had a personal taste of Labdhi's human qualities when I was his guest for a few days at New York in December 1973. He was doing his Ph.D. at Colmbia University with the Institute's sponsorship. I was on a brief visit to the United States as the Institute's Dean --- the position was newly created to assist the Director in discharge of his duties --- to study the process of academic planning in the American universities. Despite the heavy load of studies, Labdhi was very generous with his time and attention during my stay with him. I still have a vivid memory of his gracious hospitality. 

After he returned home with a Columbia Ph.D., he soon established himself as one of the most admired teachers at the Institute. Though somewhat withdrawn from the humdrum of campus life, he won the love and respect of his colleagues and students alike. There was a widespread belief in the Institute community that he would be the next Director. Alas, cruel death denied the Institute this good luck. His smiling face and gracious manners will always be missed by those who came in his contact. 

A day or two after the tragic air crash, I recall that Mudra, Ahmedabad (where a number of IIM-A graduates were working) had put up an advertisement in the Times of India as a tribute to Labdhi. If my memory serves right, it consisted of a lamp or candle, a symbol of light, that had been suddenly extinguished. It was a very touching tribute that summed up what everyone was feeling. 

*Prof. Dwijendra Tripathi was Prof. of Business History at IIM, Ahmedabad and a colleague of LRB.

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