Tuesday 25 March 2014

Dr. Surinder Pruthi remembers...

50 years is a long time, especially in the life of someone who has encountered many a student. Some students, however, remain exceptional in thought & memory. Labdhi was one such. 

The first thing I remember is an intense faculty debate that happened at the time of Labdhi’s admission to IIM, Ahmedabad. He was too young, having just turned 17 and Institute policy at that time at any rate did not envisage someone of his age being admissible. But, he was exceptional on all parameters and it was decided that he would be admitted. He went on to vindicate faculty’s choice fully.**

The second thing which I distinctly remember is with regard to summer placement. With the Institute being new, the concept of a summer job did not exist. The institute had, however, sold its product to the top management of various companies via the route of conducting Advance Management Programmes (3TP) etc. Labdhi had multiple options and he chose wisely.*** Being few in number the Faculty had distributed various tasks between itself and summer training was in my charge. I got very positive feedback from LRB’s campus interviews.

On graduation, LRB again had multiple options. Being level headed, he mulled over each one of them with me carefully. He left me with a distinct impression that he wanted to pursue further studies in the USA at some point, which he did after a few years of working in industry. The institute sponsored him for overseas studies and he was unstoppable. We were looking at a future legend. I had left the Institute in the late 60s to join industry and my memory of LRB’s progression from that point on is rather faint but did I hear that LRB had come full circle and joined the Institute as a faculty, fulfilling the dream of an intellectual in him.

My wife on one of her flights from Mumbai to Ahmedabad heard the awful news of his demise in an air crash.

*Prof. S. Pruthi was a founder-professor of IIMA and taught LRB. 

Editor's notes: 

**There is some doubt about this story about LRB's age being an issue at the time of his admission. The chairman of PGP, Prof. Vasant Mote, does not remember any such discussion. On the other hand, we found a condolence letter from Prof. KK Anand, now deceased, who was the Chairman of the Admissions committee. He mentions that he was criticized for admitting LRB.  A member of LRB's family also does remember an age-related issue. 

***A biographical note that LRB wrote during his second year at IIM-A contradicts this point. While LRB was interviewed for pretty much every summer job he applied for, none of them made him an offer, citing his young age. The only offer he received was from a company in South India which had made its offers only on the basis of CVs, without an interview. 

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