Dr. Narayan R. Sheth (1931-2018) was born on November 26, 1931, and was known as a pioneering industrial sociologist. His doctoral thesis at MS University Baroda, Social Framework of an Indian Factory, was published by University of Manchester Press and triggered academic interest in labour relations and factory settings in India. He joined the Institute in 1969. As director, his tenure was marked by a consolidation of the long-term programmes of the Institute and the near-completion of the original master plan for the 62.8 acre Old Campus. In 1984, the flagship executive education programme, the 3-TP, was conducted for the first time at the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Management Development Centre on the campus. The focus of the 1980s on public sector enterprises, driven to a large extent by the environment at that time, was strengthened during Dr. Sheth’s tenure. For instance, the Institute collaborated closely with the Bureau of Public Enterprises and conducted a few Advanced Management Programmes; programmes for cooperatives, social development organizations, government officers, and discussion on the ‘priority sectors’ created a strong public sector training narrative. For instance, during 1985-86, after 25 years of the Institute’s existence, the management development programmes trained 487 participants from the private sector and 588 from the public and nongovernmental sectors. These participants were from 401 private sector organizations and a significant 390 in the non-private sector. The next year there was a 3-week program on MIS for senior government functionaries of China.
Dr. Sheth encouraged the strengthening of the computing networks at the Institute with significant additions to the infrastructure; the first phase of the computerization of the Vikram Sarabhai Library was completed in 1991. The Institute’s silver jubilee celebrations also provided an opportunity for refocussing on alumni-institute relationships. In 1987, after a visit to the US by Dr. Sheth, an association, the ‘Friends of IIMA’ was formed in the US with Peter Geitner who was at the Ford Foundation in India in the early 1960s as Chairperson and Dr. Samuel Paul, the second full-time director who was at the World Bank, as President. This initiative, meant to support the Institute, did not survive many years. The silver jubilees of the 3-TP and the convocation (1990) were marked by Alumni Seminar Reunions. The Institute also decided to have batch-wise reunions and in February 1991, the 1967, 1977 and 1987 were called for a reunion. Dr. Sheth also encouraged the doctoral students, who brought out the first-ever FPM Research Bulletin, called Cipher-M, in March 1990.
The union unrest that had surfaced during Dr. Samuel Paul’s tenure was perhaps at its peak in the 1980s. The Institute had become very staff-heavy. Around the time of its silver jubilee, in 1986-87, the Institute’s student strength was 368 in both years of its postgraduate programme (including agriculture) and 44 in the FPM; there were 86 full-time faculty and four visiting faculty, and 64 research associates. In contrast, there were 579 staff. The latter number would decline in later years. Dr. Sheth was able to patiently address a number of staff problems and a number of out-of-court settlements were also initiated. He was highly respected for his simplicity and firmness in standing up for what was in the Institute’s interests. After his term ended, Dr. Sheth continued as a faculty member till he superannuated on November 30, 1992. He passed away on September 19, 2018.