On Campus

A tranquil time at IIMB

Vinay Kamath | Updated on March 12, 2018

Learning in the open: IIMB students on campus.


Cocooned from an ever-maddening city, IIMB with its verdant splendour is a splendid place to be

I hail from an old Bangalore family. My grandfather was a doctor who had his practice in the Chickpet area of the old city. My father and his three brothers studied engineering and medicine in various city colleges through the 1950s and ’60s. On one visit to my grandparents’ rambling home in the first block of Jayanagar, on the city’s fringes then, I discovered a trunk-full of thick woollen coats which the siblings used to wear in Bangalore winters — unimaginable today.

IIM of the 80s

In the late 1980s I returned to the city to work for a daily newspaper. It was a time when the city was still not choking and groaning; graceful traffic islands — real, large islands with gardens in them — existed; when it was still a pleasure to walk on gulmohar-lined avenues and get drenched by sudden early evening showers.

One such late afternoon, I recall hopping on to my scooter (a sturdy Bajaj, mind you) and careening away to visit a friend who had joined the IIM Bangalore, located in what we then regarded as a far-flung corner of the city — Bannerghatta road. Beyond a traffic island called Dairy Circle, for a 5-km stretch there was nothing but emptiness and there was the IIM ... a collection of grey block buildings is all I can remember.

I visited IIMB last week, after a gap of 25 years, and entered an oasis of verdant tranquillity, a zone which lives up the city’s appellation of Garden City, and a reason for my preamble of Bangalore of yore. The city sprawl has caught up with the IIMB campus and gone beyond; Bannerghatta road is ruled by chaos and jams. And, then you enter the 100-acre campus and get the feeling of actually entering some resort! It’s a campus also made famous as the venue for the making of Aamir Khan’s smash hit movie 3 Idiots. IIMB, established in the early ’70s as one of the ABC triumvirate functioned from a city campus till 1982, before relocating to Bannerghatta road, 11 km from the city centre known as Majestic, where the railway station is also located. The institute was established to primarily churn out managers for the large base of public sector companies which sprang up in Bangalore but along the way that mandate became broader to include the private sector as well.

Made for CEOs?

In fact, the institute has emerged as a virtual school for CEOs. Many have passed through its portals: R. Chandrasekaran, President, Cognizant; Sonjoy Chatterjee, Chairman, Goldman Sachs India; Saugata Gupta, CEO, Marico; Mayank Pareek, COO, Maruti Suzuki; Rajiv Bakshi, CEO, Metro Cash & Carry; Malavika Harita, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Focus Network, among others. Why, even K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO, in the news now for the Mars mission, is a 1976 graduate of IIMB. And, the Chairman of the Board of Governors is Mukesh Ambani.

With that weighty legacy in mind, I meet up with Prof Devanath Tirupati, the Director-in-Charge of IIMB. Interview done, an official whisks me away to the MDC for a quick lunch. The dining room of the MDC, with a profusion of green all round, only reinforces the feeling I am inside some resort and not in a top B school! I am told there are about 30,000 trees on the 100-acre campus on which approximately 1,600 people function. Though I don’t see many, I am told the campus abounds in a variety of birds — sparrows, koels, fly catchers, kingfishers, mynahs, eagles, kites, owls, parrots and parakeets. Bats too! Raghav Ghosh and Amanpreet Talwar, first-year students, are tasked with showing me around their verdant campus.

For city-bred, pollution-fed people, the green and the quietude can actually hurt! It’s almost like déjà vu to see some of the spots in the B school; you’ve seen it all in 3 Idiots — the B school featured as the Imperial College of Engineering in the movie. So, here you see the courtyard where ‘Virus’ addressed the students first, the water tank on which much spirited conversations took place; the hospital scenes were also shot right across the road in Fortis.

Tranquil campus

The greyness of many of the buildings that I saw on my first trip is now covered in green with creepers enveloping entire walls. The students, of course, tell that it’s lovely to be on this tranquil campus. We take a break at the swank Au Bon Pain café, run by Spencer’s, for a cup of steaming cappuccino. Several of the international students who come for a semester here are hard at work on their laptops, eating a muffin or sipping coffee or just soaking in the peace and quiet. In their careers there will be enough hustle, bustle and angst. I leave the campus reluctantly, my cab nudging its way into the chaotic traffic, shrill horns ringing in my ears; impatience and rudeness all round.

Later, I learn from the IIMB Web site, that I too have a connection with the B-school, distant though. A great-uncle of mine, the late T.A. Pai, was its first Chairman in 1973!

Published on November 10, 2013

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