Dr. Jahar Saha, a statistician by training, joined the Institute in 1966 as a research associate, at the age of 22. In 1971, he was sent to Case Western Reserve University for his doctoral studies. He returned in 1975, joining the Production and Quantitative Methods Area. He took over as director from Dr. P. M. Shingi who was Acting Director from September 1, 1996 to April 8, 1997. The latest additions to the Old Campus, the Ravi J. Matthai Auditorium and office complex had been inaugurated in January 1997, but a portion of the land allotted to IIMA, where the new campus was planned, was under litigation. With the help of the then Dean, Dr. Saha persuaded the political leadership to settle this issue. A masterplan, which included the present underpass, was prepared for the new campus. Municipal approvals were obtained; but construction had to be delayed because of a court order.
The process of internationalization continued under Dr. Saha. The two exchange programs with ESCP and ESSEC expanded to include ESADE, Barcelona and WHU Koblenz; by 2000 there were partnerships with 15 schools, with about four to five of these schools participating in a given year. In 1997-98, for the first time, placements saw overseas companies recruiting students for immediate foreign placements, and in 1998-99, for the first time, three postgraduate students spent a term abroad, with financial help arranged by the French Ambassador to India and air tickets from Air France. Management Development Programmes in foreign countries continued with programmes in Sri Lanka and Kenya. Though a student had gone abroad for summer internship in the late-1960s, foreign summer internships picked up around this time, with SWATCH, Switzerland taking the lead.
Faculty governance mechanisms continued to hold their place at the Institute, with the late-1990s seeing a Committee for Future Directions. Alumni reunions became a regular feature, and in 1997 student activities took a new turn with CHAOS-97, which would grow into a major event. In June 2000 the specialization package in agriculture was replaced by a 15-month program titled Agribusiness Management, to reflect the shift in focus post-liberalization. In 1998, a few faculty members initiated discussions on an ‘incubator’; this would later, in 2001, lead to the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship.
Dr. Saha’s time also saw the final resolution of the union problem after a tough stand with the union and the suspension of a group of employees, led to a loss of faith in the leadership of the union.
Dr. Saha’s tenure was marked by two major disturbances. The earthquake of January 26, 2001 caused significant damage to some buildings—the structures atop the stairwells of most of the dorms collapsed—but fortunately only minor injuries to one student. Classes were suspended for one week and arrangements made for the students to go home—the management development programmes, however, continued. To ensure the safety of the dorms expertise was brought in from BITS Pilani and firms in Bengaluru. Once this was done, and the unsafe portions demolished, the debris—more than 500 tonnes—was cleared. IIMA faculty and staff members rose to the occasion. Some went to areas affected elsewhere in Gujarat. A group of faculty formed IIMACORE, a temporary relief organization—headquartered in CR 324 which served as office-cum-godown. An MIS was developed within a day and a major link between the donors and the affected was established. The second event was the February 2002 communal conflagration in Ahmedabad which led to postponement of the placements and disturbed the Institute’s schedules. Once again, the Institute community responded well to ensure that nothing happened inside the campus.
Dr. Saha finished his term in April 2002, but was given an extension of three months. He superannuated in December 2005. After his retirement, he has mentored and guided a number of institutions, including the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.