Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An evening with prominent IRMA alumni

IRMA is in the midst of a "revisioning" exercise. So prominent personalities were called in for their views and opinion regarding the same. Mr.Vivekanandan of SIFFS and Mr.Sivakumar, CEO of ITC-ABD were the alumni who were part of this exercise.
Prof.Abhijeet Sen, member of the Planning Commission was also invited to this excerise.Some of the guys here were also talking about Vijay Mahajan being there.
The biggest name was Rahul Gandhi who quietly came and left without much fanfare.
Since two of the most famous alumni were present on campus, it was a wonderful opportunity to interact with them.
The more famous of the two is of course Mr.Sivakumar. He is the man behind ITC's e-choupal, a much celebrated business model of procuring agricultural produce (mainly soyabean) directly from farmers through choupals set up in villages.
This business model found itself as a case study in C.K.Prahalad's famous book "Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid". Mr.Sivakumar himself felt that "Fortune for the bottom of the pyramid" is more important than "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid".
Both of them spoke about life after IRMA, strengths and weaknesses of IRMAns and choices we would have to make when we step out of this institution. Mr.Sivakumar spoke about having a "larger purpose" in life which is essential in achieving success in life. This large purpose must go beyond salary, perks, and the like.
Mr.Vivekanadan too spoke about the changed environment in the last 30 years since he passed out of IRMA. He also spoke at length about his involvement with fishermen community in Kutch and their movement against the Adani group which was building the Mundhra port that had affected the fishermens' livelihoods.
Overall it was a nice interaction with some of the earliest IRMAns. I think such interaction with alumni should be made a regular feature as it only enriches one's understanding on the challenges faced by rural managers in the field

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