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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Prof. VN Asopa remembers...

Labdhi and I were neighbors for many years. Our children grew up together and now I do not recall when I stopped calling him Bhandari Sahab and started addressing him Labdhi. We shared a common hedge but part of it was removed for easy accessibility between two families. I remember there were times when we would both be in our respective gardens and chat without feeling the need to cross the hedge. There is a Gulmohar tree which was also our favourite spot for exchanging not only pleasantries but also holding serious professional discussions. 

What I most appreciated in Labdhi was his considerateness. He was always there to help but at the same time he never encroached on the other person's privacy. Once when my daughter's illness took a serious turn, I remember Labdhi rushing out to get the prescribed medicine before my wife could even complete the sentence. He very rarely expressed his feelings but his actions spoke volumes. He was a perfect gentleman and the most extreme criticism that he ever expressed about anyone was "I don't know why he behaves like this." 

Labdhi always held his teachers in high esteem. My brother and his wife taught him at the Jodhpur University. Once when my sister-in-law visited us, Labdhi specially came over to pay his respect to his former teacher. I also recall when Professor RL Sharma was at the Institute. He too was Labdhi's teacher at the Jodhpur University. The respect and courtesies Labdhi showed to him was remarkable. Labdhi was very attached to his family. Whatever time he could find from his busy schedule he would spend with his sons. He loved to play with them, talk to them, and take them out for special treats. 

Our professional interaction was not much - actually it was just about to begin. But from my contacts with industry I know the high esteem he was held there. He was the only man in the Institute who had a broad based contact with the industry, which recognized his intellectual capabilities and appreciated his contribution. To give an example of his standing in the industry, I remember several occasions when board meetings were held in Ahmedabad by various companies to ensure that Labdhi attended them. He strongly believed that the Institute should work towards strengthening its ties with industry. 

*Prof. VN Asopa was a colleague and neighbour of LRB at the IIM Ahmedabad. In 1988, they were on the verge of beginning a collaborating on a project for the Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (APEDA) at the invitation of LRB's friend Kr. Fateh Singh Jasol. This tribute was written some time in 1988. 

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