Panel 7: The Founders of IIMA - Envisioning an Institution
Vikram Sarabhai . Kasturbhai Lalbhai . Jivraj Mehta
The illustrious physicist Dr. Vikram A. Sarabhai (1919-1971) was the honorary, part-time director of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad during the initial years of the Institute. Born in a family of industrialists, he received his Ph.D. in 1947 from the University of Cambridge. On his return to India, he founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) and the Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association (ATIRA) in 1947. Later, he was appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India and is considered to be the father of India's space programme. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1966, and the Padma Vibhushan, posthumously, in 1972. In early 1972, the Institute named the IIMA Library after Vikram Sarabhai. In 1976, a bronze bust of Dr. Sarabhai was installed in the library.
Kasturbhai Lalbhai (1894-1980) was one of India's pioneering twentieth-century industrialists who played an active role in public policy and institution building. He served on the Board of Governors of IIMA for several years and played an important role in key decisions made during the founding years of the Institute. Crucially he served on the Buildings Committee, and his vision for top-class architecture brought several eminent architects to Ahmedabad, including Louis Kahn, to design educational institutions.
IIMA continues to honour him by hosting the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Chair Professorship in Entrepreneurship and having the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Management Development Centre (KLMDC).
Dr. Jivraj N. Mehta (1887-1978) was a renowned physician, freedom fighter, administrator and the first Chief Minister of Gujarat. As the first Chairperson of the IIMA Board of Governors, he played an important role in supporting IIMA in the initial years, facilitating the transfer of land for IIMA's campus.
"A leader, if one chooses to identify one, has to be a cultivator rather than a manufacturer. He has to provide the soil and the overall climate and the environment in which the seed can grow. One wants permissive individuals who do not have a compelling need to reassure themselves that they are leaders through issuing instructions to others; rather they set an example through their own creativity, love of nature and dedication to what one may call the 'Scientific method'."
Vikram A. Sarabhai, Leadership in Science, Talk on all India Radio, August 4, 1965.