Panel 12: Ravi John Matthai - Leading an Institution
Ravi J. Matthai (1927-1984) was the first fulltime director of the IIMA (1965-1972). He received his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from the University of Oxford. After a stint in a private firm in Kolkata he became professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, before moving to IIMA as director in 1965. Prof. Matthai is credited with laying the foundations of many of the institutional processes that IIMA continues to follow even today.
Many observers have highlighted his strong faith in faculty governance, academic freedom and autonomy tempered with accountability, self-regulation and self-renewal, best captured in this extract from a 1968 speech: "The establishment of an educational institute is an act of faith. The trust we need is the trust required of such an act of faith. This trust is translated into the freedom given us. The freedom to do what we think is appropriate; the freedom to do it the way we think it appropriate; the freedom to experiment and innovate; the freedom to plan and determine the rate and direction of our progress. This is the source of our motivation and creativity."
In 1975 he set up the Jawaja project in a rural block of Rajasthan to apply management principles to rural development-a 'rural university' with which he was associated till his death on February 13, 1984.
The Ravi J. Matthai Centre for Educational Innovation was set up in 1991 to honour his memory. The Institute's auditorium is named after him.