Monday, October 10, 2011

NJY: The Visionary

Mr. N J Yasaswy, NJY for most of us, passed away on Saturday October 8th, 2011. The founder of ICFAI, was of 62 years.

I had gone on my honeymoon to Srinagar. On our way from Srinagar to Pehalgaon, on a foggy chilly morning, we stopped for tea amidst the mountains. Just next to the tea shop, there was a small office with a board, IFEN (ICFAI Flexi Education). I laughed. And then marveled at the reach and penetration of ICFAI.

True to the vision of NJY, ICFAI reached, touched and penetrated into every conceivable market for Business education in India. I recall NJY telling us in one of the meetings, “Everyone is entitled to education. Isn’t an average student entitled to higher education in the Business domain? Does one have to crack the CAT and be the top 2,000-3,000 in a country where almost 10 lakh graduates want to pursue an MBA every year?” These were not merely words; he actually made a Business education possible for everyone. From 2 years full time MBA, to part-time and distance MBA, to executive MBA, he offered them all under the ICFAI umbrella. He has left behind an empire of 11 ICFAI Universities, 8 Icfai Business Schools, and many more Icfai National Colleges.

I joined ICFAI in 2002 as a Doctoral student. Just a week into the program, before meeting the man himself, accounts of his brilliance reached my years. I was told that he was the all India 1st rank holder for CA, CS and ICWA. And that the ICAI still kept his answer scripts as model answer scripts on their website. Well I never checked it myself. But, I did not need to. Whether he was the 1st rank holder in all three (CA, CS and ICWA) or not and whether ICAI kept his answer scripts as model papers or not, the man was a genius. Being a teacher, I am used to talk more and listen less. But when he spoke, everyone listened. Including me. Out of Respect and Awe. Not Fear.

I had the opportunity to interact with him on numerous occasions. Over the years, I happened to be in various committees and would meet with him in the review meetings very frequently. He used to take a lot of pride in the smallest of achievements of any of the ICFAI constituents. His eyes would twinkle as he would tell us about the Icfai cases appearing in many foreign author books, or ICMR making money through adsense, or ICFAI Tripura being a threat to the local Universities in North East. He had Big Dreams for ICFAI.

Last year when I was leaving IBS Hyderabad, I had met him and chatted with him for more than an hour. I was a bit skeptical at first. I was nervous that he might get angry, or he might not understand my reason for leaving. But I was so very wrong. He was extremely happy for me. He told me that I am doing the right thing. He told me that it was important for me to go outside the Icfai system and prove myself and that I was taking a good decision in concentrating my efforts on research, which also gave me the flexibility to focus on my family. His consent and his approval of my decision meant the world to me. He told me that I was welcome to rejoin IBS after my stint at ISB. For any employee, this would be the greatest compliment, that she is welcome back in the same organization. And NJY, the founder of ICFAI, himself gave me that compliment.

The man is no more. But he has touched the lives of lakhs of people, Icfai alumini, faculty, staff, prospective students and the Indian corporates. We are all grateful to him for his vision and his creation. May his soul rest in peace.

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