Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Book on Ravi Matthai - IIM Ahmedabad

My book on Ravi Matthai- IIM Ahmedabad, published by Rupa Publications, is out (Brick by Red Brick: Ravi Matthai and the Making of IIM Ahmedabad). ET carried a story on it a couple of weeks ago.

The book is timed to coincide with IIMA's golden jubilee and is meant to celebrate the remarkable effort at institution-building in the Institute's formative years. IIMA stands out in the Indian education landscape for one reason: it is that rare institution that has been at the top for most of the five decades for which it has been around. There is an Iron Law that operates in Indian education and that dictates that institutions of higher education, started with great fanfare, must go to seed in about thirty or forty years' time. IIMA is a noteworthy exception.

My book attempts to explain IIMA's success and to answer the questions: what sets IIMA apart in the IIM fraternity? why does it enjoy a premium rating? I also devote a chapter to the governance issues in the IIM system today and make suggestions on how to inject greater accountability into the system.

The answer to the above questions, which I came to grasp only after I had spent some five years at IIMA, lies in the culture and processes that Vikram Sarabhai, its founder, and Ravi Matthai, its first full-time director, put in place. That something, which is intangible but which makes all the difference to an academic institution, has been solid enough to sustain IIMA for five decades now.

When IIMA was founded, Ahmedabad was a small town. The infrastructure at the Institute was very basic, they did not have today's IT and the connectivity it provides, communications were poor. And yet IIMA quickly made an impact on the nation as a centre of excellence. Can you imagine an IIT or IIM being set up in Tirunelveli or Patiala making a similar impact today? That is a measure of the achievement of IIMA's founding fathers.

Matthai was all of 38 years old when Sarabhai and others chose him as the first full-time director. He was not an academic by training, he had been a corporate executive. He achieved what he did in just seven years' time. His appointment as director was not a contractual appointment, and yet at the age of 45, he chose to step down. He spurned numerous lucrative offers and turned his energies towards a novel experiment in rural education in Jawaja, a small block in Rajasthan. It was a story waiting to be told. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to tell it.

PS: The book is expected to reach the market in about a week's time but it can be ordered from flipkart. com or from Rupa's website.

2 comments:

asanandan said...

Nice narration on this book. Have to buy this.

Sandeep said...

Have placed an order for this on Flipkart already - it's on its way...Sandeep