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Vishwanath’s First Century and a Kick start to my...       It is amazing how a small incident can make a crucial difference to your life and career. This was what Vishwanath’s test debut did to me. I was a relatively junior official in...

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Meeting Satyajit Ray......and into Ashani Sanket     (Satyajit Ray and I have had very little in common, personally and certainly not professionally. Most mornings I drove past Ray's house on Bishop Lefroy  Road and parked my car close...

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AMRITABHASHINI and its Fading Footprints In the Wikipedia pages on Kottakkal, there is a mention of Amrutabhashini . I quote ,” The development activities of women included modern publications such as Amritha Bhashini and Bala Chandrika, published...

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Another Family Reunion Family Reunion-May 11, 2014 The Kizhakke Covilagam family reunion I attended in 2010 was my first experience of attending the annual family meet, started ten years ago. I attended it a second time...

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Medical Education: Is Ethics part of it ?   July 31, 2014 diagnostic tests It is high time that a formal course in ethics is made an integral part of medical education. An administrator of a leading hospital in Mumbai, herself a doctor,...

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Vishwanath’s First Century and a Kick start to my career

Category : Non Profits




It is amazing how a small incident can make a crucial difference to your life and career. This was what Vishwanath’s test debut did to me. I was a relatively junior official in my company. I knew I was being trained to take over the Market Research Division. But that would have depended on my success in one or two difficult assignments . There was no dearth of competitors!


One such assignment came up in 1969- a survey on a new type of decorative closures. The liquor companies were the principal prospects. There were only three major groups and I could therefore approach each of them to conduct personal interviews.


I was to take charge of the entire project, right from design and the research proposal to the questionnaire, interviews, tabulation, analysis and final report writing. Of course I had a boss who would discuss the whole project with me, approve the methodology, check progress and finally temper the report, particularly the recommendations.


As part of the study, I had to interview the leading liquor manufacturer in the country. I chose to interview first the Zonal Manager who sat in an impressive office in Calcutta’s Alipore, not very far from my office. The Manager was a retired army colonel, a heavy figure with large eyebrows and a hefty moustache, which with blood shot eyes gave his face a forbidding appearance.


The Colonel asked me to come in sharp at 11.30 in the morning and as Colonels normally are, I took him to be very time conscious. I reached ten minutes earlier and his Secretary immediately showed me into a large hall, which resembled a conference room in a five star hotel. I took several nervous steps towards the Colonel’s end of the rom before he noticed me. He was reclining in his chair listening to a voice from his transistor. I tried to introduce myself but he quickly put a finger on his lips to signal “Ssh, Shut up”. He pointed towards a chair and motioned to me to iat down.


What did I see there? A huge table on which was placed a small transistor radio. Television had not come into India. The voice was the running commentary on the cricket test in Kanpur ; it was the last day of the second test between India and Australia, the test in which Vishwanath made his debut. He had got out for 0 in the first innings. And now in the second innings he was batting at 75 against a very strong Australian side led by Ian Chappell. Our Colonel was totally engrossed with the match.


A four by Vishwanath! The hefty moustache leaned forward and the right hand thumped the table in sheer ecstasy. He did this every time a four was scored. The thumping became more frequent and an Ah and a mild thumping were now greeting even the two’s singles. Vishwanath at 86! He seemed to take more time than the Colonel expected and I wanted him to. As Vishwanath progressed towards 90, I saw on the Colonel’s face an unspoken anxiety, an unbearable tension not normally associated with army personnel.


I was equally tense. Perhaps more so. By now the Colonel had forgotten all about me. I had to sit till Vishwanath got his century. And if he didn’t? By the look of the colonel, I was certain that I would be thrown out. It would be disastrous to this critical interview and indeed the whole project which could give a different turn to my career.


I started praying. At every turn of the bowler and as he came running I prayed, thanked God for every run given to Viswhanath. Vishwanath was now on 94. And 98! The colonel closed his eyes. Was he too praying? No market research interview had given me such I had seldom experienced such excruciating agony, such sense of uncertainty. The colonel’s heart and mine were now pounding much faster, for Vishwanath.



Vishwanath made a tentative defence to the first ball of the next over. I closed my eyes. And then I heard a loud cry of delight from the Colonel and the equally excited description of Vishwanath’s square cut to go past 100.

The Colonel was in raptures. Soon it was the lunch break for Vishwanath and the Colonel’s time was all mine.


He was a different man now. He would answer all my questions and give me information that he would otherwise have held back as ‘classified’. At the end of the interview, he even offered to fix an appointment for me with senior personnel in his Head Office.


The most important liquor manufacturer indicated an interest in the product and agreed to accept our samples for testing. He was cooperating with me in every way this survey! I was thrilled. The project was completed in three weeks and was one of the few studies in which we had given a concrete basis for positive action. Our recommendations were accepted which meant The Managing Director had read my report.


Soon after, I had an opportunity to ghost write a speech for the Managing Director, an Englishman who had come over a year ago and to meet him for the first time in my life. That assured me of a big promotion in April!


Years later, I thought of how Vishwanath’s career in cricket was closely linked to mine in the corporate world. He had a glorious career. I didn’t but I had some unexpected successes. By the time luck deserted him, I had had a rebirth-in management education.



(I had however decided that I would never again subject myself to such excruciating tension for the sake of Indian cricket. My blood pressure has nothing to do with cricket. I watch replays and that too only when india wins.)


Meeting Satyajit Ray……and into Ashani Sanket

Category : Miscellany



(Satyajit Ray and I have had very little in common, personally and certainly not professionally. Most mornings I drove past Ray’s house on Bishop Lefroy  Road and parked my car close by. I had, however never thought of meeting Ray, let alone, discussing his films. Yet I did meet him once…)



I had seen most of Satyajit Ray’s films, many without subtitles, in Calcutta’s theatres and had just started going to the Sunday morning shows of a film society. The film society movement owed its existence to Ray; it was pretty active in the 1970’s and 80’s and had   produced renowned directors like Basu Chatterjee, Kantilal Rathod and Shyam Benegal. I had heard something about Ray’s shooting style and schedules from my colleague in Metal Box, Dhritiman Chatterjee, who had an offer for the principal role in Ray’s film Pratidhwandhi and had just finished shooting. Dhritiman was a management trainee and it took a great deal of pleading and the intervention of a Director, for the British company to bend its rules and let him take two months off for shooting.

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AMRITABHASHINI and its Fading Footprints

Category : Non Profits

In the Wikipedia pages on Kottakkal, there is a mention of Amrutabhashini . I quote ,” The development activities of women included modern publications such as Amritha Bhashini and Bala Chandrika, published by Kovilakam”. I do not know about Balachandrika but I have gained, while going through my mother’s papers, two volumes of Amritabhashini. (I am trying to digitize them)

These two volumes were produced by the Thampurattis of Kizhakke Covilagam more than 70 years ago. The fading pages of the handwritten journal are the fading footprints of a laudable literary effort!

Few in Kottakkal or indeed in our own family, would know much about Amrutabhashini. I do, because as a child of eight, I saw it shaping up at the hands of the original enthusiasts, often in our room with the active involvement of my mother. The two volumes I have are Vol 1 Book 1 of 1116 Thulam (Oct-Nov 1940) and Vol 2 Book 1 of year 1116 (Feb- March 1941). In these two volumes I see among the contributors the names of K C Anujathy Thampuratty, K C Kunhi Anujathy Thampuratty, K C Kunhi Thampatty, K C Cherimpatty and K C Kuttympatty. Some of these names I can make out, like Kunhi Anujathy Thampuratty, who had deep literary and artistic interests including music, dance and kathakali which she persuaded her children to pursue. And Kunhi Thampatty and Kutty Thampatty, sisters of the present Zamorin.

Although the prime movers were the ladies of our family, the circle widened to include others in and outside the Covilagam. Among the contributors were P V Krishna Warrier, Sharma, the Sanskrit teacher at the High School, Mrs. P K Warrier, Sankara Warrier who used to teach Sanskrit at the Covilagam and C T M Nambudiri, I think Mangaat Nambudiri, a respected Sanskrit scholar. K C Kuttunny Raja who taught at the High School wrote for the journal and of course, K C U Raja wrote three articles in Hindi- two on Tagore. He was my mentor while I was in Kottakkal, an excellent teacher and for a long time the Head Master of the High School.

The first volume had 12 articles and the second 15 and these showed the primary concerns of the founders. Writings focused on the freedom movement, on Gandhiji and Tagore, on women’s status and disabilities (an admirable awareness) and a strong protest against animal sacrifice ostensibly to please the gods. There is a poem on Gandhi jayanti ( P V Krishna Warrier) and a write up in Sanskrit on Kalidasa ( Sharma of the High School). I reproduce thefront page of Vol 1.


Apparently Amritabhashini celebrated an anniversary, perhaps the first, in 1940, which suggests that it was founded 75 years ago. , Amrithabhashini Varshikotsavam, as they termed it. The presidential speech given in Sanskrit by my mother, K C Mahadevi Thampuratty ,is reproduced in Vol 2.

Standing tall among the contributors was one person, the best Sanskrit scholar in the Covilagam during that period. She is Kunhanujathy, the senior most among the contributors, Valiamma to me and to Cheriakunhunny Ettan, the present Valia Thampuran ( his mother’s eldest sister.) A short four line verse of hers adorned the front page of every issue. I think it is legible in the reproduction I have given in these pages.

Amritabhashini  continued its work for some years. How long Amritabhashini lasted and why it called it a day we do not know. Sadly, none of the founders or even contributors is alive to tell the story. Perhaps, after the partition of the Covilagam, members were spread far and wide and were too involved in sorting out personal issues. Perhaps, the initial enthusiasm could not be sustained. We only know that a very laudable effort by a young group of Kottakkalites led by our own ladies faded away without leaving a lasting imprint on the shifting sands of time.

Amritabhashini lit a candle , but was snuffed out by time and circumstance, unsung, unnoticed and unrecognized. Nevertheless, we are proud that it happened.

Another Family Reunion

Category : Miscellany

Family Reunion-May 11, 2014

The Kizhakke Covilagam family reunion I attended in 2010 was my first experience of attending the annual family meet, started ten years ago. I attended it a second time the following year and then again this year. For the first time a Zamorin was present. → Continue

Medical Education: Is Ethics part of it ?

Category : Non Profits


July 31, 2014 diagnostic tests
It is high time that a formal course in ethics is made an integral part of medical education.

An administrator of a leading hospital in Mumbai, herself a doctor, told me once that the general practitioner was on his way out. I asked her how much a practitioner would be earning in Mumbai. Rs 20,000 a month, Rs 25000? Her reply was stunning! An average general practitioner would, she said, be lucky if he earns Rs 10000 from consultations. Many , she added, are packing up and looking for alternative avenues of employment. My own doctor packed his bags two years ago and shifted to his home town.

Others I know have found innovative ways of revenue generation. One doctor whom my family often consulted has rented part  of the premises for yoga classes and presumably, is a partner in the venture- she has lent voice to a CD on yoga. Another has invested in a pharmacy to which he directs all his patients. A third has gone into medical insurance and yet another, into health care administration.

A tempting route to higher earnings is referrals which fetch good commissions- primarily referrals to labs for diagnostic tests. The patient often wonders whether a whole array of tests recommended by the doctor is really nexessary. But then when you go to your doctor, yo go with full confidence in him and his is the last word. Of course, in defence of the doctor it can be said that diagnostic tests are highly sophisticated today to permit doctors treat you on the basis of a detailed and precise diagnosis of the disease. But the temptation to make money through this route is strong enough to make doctors recommend tests even when they are unnecessary.

Unfortunately, even specialists and hospitals fall prey to this temptation. They are accountable to the management for returns, the ultimate bottom line and having installed costly equipment, have to see that they well utilised. The patient therefore moves from Xray to CT scan and MRI without being fully convinced the are required. A friend told me that in one hospital targets had been fixed for specialists and bonuses were given when the target was exceeded.

Where does one draw the line between ethical behaviour and greed, between judgemental error and exploitation? After all, the patient is helpless and solely dependent on the doctor, unless out of sheer exasperation, he looks for a second opinion.

Sometimes, the second opinion helps, as it happened to me. I got operated for my right knee in a leading hospital and after a successful operation by a very helpful ortho surgeon but then developed prostatic  problems. I was referred to a urologist and was kept going on tests for two months. Finally I decided to go to another equally good hospital and was given prompt attention including a prostate surgery at costs which were much lower.

When we talk of ethics in business, we cannot ignore the fact that medical practice is also ” business”. As in all businesses , ethics counts and pays in the long run.

Swami Vivekananda and John Rockefeller- The Sanyasin and the Billionaire

Category : Non Profits

Swami Vivekananda’s  meeting with John Rockefeller is one of the lesser known facts about his stay in Chicago . The meeting has been documented although neither Vivekananda nor Rockefeller has written or apparently spoken , at least in public,  about it.  The impact of that meeting can only be inferred from subsequent actions.

It is  said that opposites attract each other and that  pairs of opposites produce great results. One could not have imagined a pair more unlike each other   than Swami Vivekananda  and John  and Rockefeller in temperament, life style and social and cultural backgrounds. Rockefeller had brought up Standard Oil and  was considered the  richest man in the world and had all the  material comforts he could have wished for. Vivekananada, on the other hand, was a penniless sanyasin  who had renounced all material comfort  but was in a position to give  great   spiritual  energy  to anyone who met or heard him. → Continue

Address of Shri C. B. Garware, Garware Foundation, at the First Abasaheb Garware Memorial Lecture, on 8th December, 2004, in the Convocation Hall, University of Mumbai.

Category : Non Profits

[ This is a speech I have preserved because it reminds me of my good old days at the Garware Institute and of the educational adventure the institute is in. I reproduce it in full below.]


This year the UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI’S GARWARE INSTITUTE FOR CAREER EDUCATION & DEVELOPMENT has attained the ripe age of twenty years, and we as a family and the GARWARE FOUNDATION take great pride in this achievement and the fact that our Late father Dr. Abasaheb Garware would have completed 100 years of his life. Unfortunately he is not here to share this proud day, but as his second son I would like to remember his dreams and his vision in establishing this Institute devoted strictly for vocational/skill-based education.


The Late Abbasaheb, as he was popularly called, came to Mumbai to seek his fortunes in this “City of Gold”, but, as he did not have any formal education failed to secure a job with the then Imperial Bank, today’s State Bank of India. He thus went on to start his business in a small way. At the outbreak of the 2nd World War he saw an opportunity in trading in second-hand cars and ventured to contract the same in Europe for the Maharajas and the rich in India. Thus he established ‘GARWARE MOTORS’ and became a large importer of automobiles manufactured in the United Kingdom. Chance brought him to manufacturing Casein(the oldest plastic) buttons for the British Army, and from there his dreams for newer materials made him venture into the manufacture of a variety of plastics. His was the largest Plastic extrusion factory, the first Nylon Spinning Plant, and the first Polypropelene Rope Plant! His pride and joy was to have been a Director of the State Bank of India for 13 long years, and to retire as the Vice Chairman of its Western Region Board – a Bank that had refused him a job as a clerk!

He did not have the academic qualifications, but he had acquired the skills and the knowledge to be invited to Chair the Maharshtra State Financial Corporation as well. And the University of Pune bestowed him with an Honorary D.Litt. in recognition of his achievements. → Continue

Category : Non Profits

Introducing the Garware Institute of Career Education  at the  First Abasaheb Garware Memorial Lecture in University Convocation Hall, Mumbai on 8 December 2004. The memorial lecture was delivered by Dr Arun Nigvekar, Chairman, University Grants Commission.

 I am indeed honored to be asked to welcome you on behalf of the Advisory Committee, the students, faculty and staff of the institute today to the First Abasaheb Garware Memorial lecture. I remember at the first anniversary of the institute in 1985 we had the then Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, Dr Madhuriben Shah as the Chief Guest. Abasaheb was with us then and was on the dais to grace the occasion. It would gladden his heart immeasurably to know, from where he is that today we have Dr Nigavekar not only to be the Chief Guest but deliver the first annual lecture named after him. On your behalf I should like to welcome Dr Nigavekar in our midst.

As the first Director of this Institute, I had the rare privilege of participating in its growth in its formative years. I would like to refer briefly to the guiding principles that helped us through a difficult period of infancy.

It is said that all things are created twice- once in the mind of the creator and then in objective reality. This institute was conceived and created in the minds of its founders as a model in career education in a university –the first of its kind in India.  I should d like to dwell briefly on five distinctive characteristics of this model.

First, the courses, as one would expect, are  designed to meet clearly identified needs of skilled manpower in manufacturing and service industries. They are   entirely skills based, diploma courses of the university and certificate courses of the institute where career specific competencies are accompanied by the theory that underlies them. These are  , alternatives to traditional undergraduate and post graduate courses. Some of these courses, like the courses in tourism, paint application technology and customs clearance and freight forwarding were  designed, developed and run  were introduced for the first time in this institute.

Second, flowing from this, all training needs were identified and courses designed and delivered with the intimate involvement of industry.  We have gradually moved from a state of industry support to one of industry alliance and are now trying to move into a phase of  industry partnership –may I add, a partnership of equals where they would be involved not only in   course design, selection of students, training including on site training and final placement.  In return, they got persons who could  be put on the job straight away  or after  training of a few weeks. Only last week at a seminar a guest speaker from industry said that he found the students of our course in Pollution Control Technology were given just two days orientation in his organization before being put on the job. The savings to industry by way of shortening the training period and avoidance of costly mistakes on the production line were enormous.


Third, this model assumes that we have to depend on industry practitioners for teaching our students. We have no permanent faculty-we have course co-coordinators and faculty is drawn from outside- a combination of academicians and industry professionals.. Most of them have been with us ever since the inception of the course. Indeed they have been our main stay and have ensured both continuity and change at the institute.

Fourth, running through all our courses are certain common elements like information technology and its impact on the workplace, human relations skills, communication, quality and personal development. These career courses therfore  help the student to look beyond the narrow confines of essential skills requirements. In his lecture at the inauguration of the institute Abasaheb had said that true education should correct flaws in character, sharpen the wit and bring out the best inthe student  as a skilful cutter turns a rough diamond into a dazzling gem.

Fifth, while many of our courses are seemingly unrelated to each other- like paint application and medical radiography, or interior design and insurance management,  strong synergies have developed and are helping us to look forward to some kind of concentric diversification. Several combinations suggest themselves as new courses which can be offered to working persons; Tourism and Journalism leading to a course in Travel writing:  Health Care and Insurance to a course in Health insurance; environment and Foreign Trade to trade related environment management issues, as the Secretary of the Maharashtra Pollution control board pointed out to us the other day.

We have offered our courses at fees much lower than those charged by reputed private institutions and yet earn a reasonable surplus.  For three good reasons: we have not invested in permanent faculty: we have not invested in expensive equipment as students are trained on equipment during on site training in the factory: and we work with a very lean staff. The staff to student ratio must be one of the lowest for an educational institution. During the last four years while the number of students enrolled has risen by over 200% the staff strength has gone up by 10%. This, of course, is not an unmixed blessing . We now have to seriously review the administrative load, consider more effective methods of work flow using modern methods of office communication, train the staff  and improve overall administrative efficiency. Perhaps a course for administrative staff in educational institutions would not be out of place.

Indeed, based on this model, we have tended to believe that the institute’s core capability is not so much the routine administrative or academic capability of a college but a managerial capability to spot new opportunities, harness resources to make use of them, design appropriate programmes, develop suitable delivery systems and market the institute to ensure client satisfaction. It is a task of strategic management –clarifying our mission, and setting and reviewing goals, programmes, priorities and results. We need an academic audit in the same way as a management audit is conducted in a business organization.


Looking at strategic growth perspectives we  see for ourselves three lines of advance:


Deepening our base in existing courses and fully exploiting the synergies between them.


ii  Strategic space in  the fast growing services sector: we already have courses in hospital Management, Insurance, and IT. We are now moving into a relatively new area for training: Retailing.  Organised retailing accounts for only 25 of total retail trade in India but with the entry of big industrial houses like Tatas, ITC, RPG , Piramals and real estate developers like Rahejas this sector is expected to grow by anywhere between 25% and 40% in the next five yeas. The malls and supermarkets in Mumbai city had a growth of over 30% last year. According to one recent estimate the modern retail sector has the potential to create 2 million jobs in the next 6 years. Quality retail education will therefore be in demand for creating a pool of trained professionals to meet the challenges of this highly competitive industry.

iii  Widen our reach. We intend doing this through extension centres- one was started this year- and by offering our courses, wherever feasible, through the distance mode.


Finally, I come back to the basic mission of this institute.

Our institute brochure has always had on its first page a quotation from Swami Vivekananda which says education is man making, building character. After all, the development of human personality and of  the human spirit, the blossoming  of all the faculties that we possess is the true purpose of existence. In our brand of career education, we are aware of the need for preparing our students not only for a living but  for a life that is worth living. That will lift them and us to a higher level of destiny. In our march towards that destiny we seek your blessing and the  support of the community that we are privileged to serve.

Cricket:Enough is Enough

Category : Non Profits

Disastrous defeats on the home turf against Pakistan and England have been hard to bear. Particularly since they came after the humiliation  we had in England and Australia last year. Where do we turn ?

Commentators have been quick to call for several half measures. Sacking of Dhoni, Sehwag, replacing this person with that etc., quick fixes that, they hope will bring some improvement in performance.

Amidst all this, the BCCI has maintained an unusual calm, pretending that nothing serious has happened. Like the Bourbons, BCCI seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. As one foreign player remarked,they seem to be obsessed with cash more than with cricket. After all the next IPL season is not far away. That  is where cash is and they must get ready for the big carnival.

The beginning of wisdom is said to be a salutary shock. Even a salutary shock , it seems, cannot make BCCI any wiser than it is. May be it will need a rude shock ! That shock will , by some divine intervention, have to be the scrapping of IPL ! But who will kill the golden goose?

IPL will no doubt make the present generation of Indian cricketers and retired foreign cricketers richer by the year and Indian cricket all the poorer, but bring about the end of all serious cricket in India.

We have sadly seen many IPL casualties. Take Rohit Sharma who started his career as a highly promising test cricketer. One remembers his entry into test cricket and the series against Australia in Australia when Australian cricketers and commentators were so impressed with his talent, technique and temperament that they talked of him as a future Tendulkar. Technique, temperament and to some talent were precisely the casualties when he got fully immersed in IPL. Result: he is not even sure of his place in the team today.

Ishant Sharma is another case in point. One remembers the awe inspiring spell he bowled to Ponting in one of the matches in that series. Australians feared and respected him and referred to him as one of the best finds India has had for a long, long time. Is he sure of his place in test cricket today?

IPL will continue to flourish because everyone stands to gain- the players, organisers, commentators, cheer leaders, media, advertising agencies, sponsoring companies,foreign cricketers and travel agencies who get to make a fast buck. I think it was Mathew Hayden who said in one interview that the Indians were throwing large sums of money at the foreign players and asked why they should not accept it.This, he felt, was only the tip of the iceberg.All gained  except the large number of cricketer lovers and probably, the government.

If IPL is here to stay, can we at least think of a grand strategy for resurrecting Indian cricket ? A strategic action plan that looks at both the long term and the short, identifies and nurtures talent and protects it from the ravages of IPL-like fixtures that tamper with their technique even before it is fully developed , a plan that spells out execution measures that are free  from regional bias and personal whims. Perhaps that plan could focus on improving the quality of domestic cricket,  on strong international exposure for the under19s and  on selection committees, well paid, but willing to devote more time and energy to the task of observing and evaluating talent at all levels.

Can 2013 bring in something new?

Address of K C R Raja on the Kalyan Banerjee Leadership Lecture series

Category : Non Profits

This was during the inaugural function on  24 December 2011 at the Jamnabai Narsee auditorium, Vile Parle West, Mumbai. Dr R A Mashelkar inaugurated the series with a lecture on Reinventing India

Two decades ago, in a hall not far from here, an Indian R I President inaugurated one of Bombay West’s most prestigious projects- a Chair in Management of Non profit Organisations at a leading management institute in India. Today, twenty years after, we have another RI President, an Indian R I President-and I take the liberty of saying our own- President Kalyan Banerjee not to inaugurate but to  witness the launch of a  program in his name – the Kalyan Banerjee Leadership Lecture series. The Chair in Management was a momentous steo and has helped produce scores of young social entrepreneurs. It is our belief that today’s launch of the annual lecture series will prove equally auspicious and will have a significant social impact.

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