Trip to IIM Ahmedabad

Last weekend I made a trip to my alma mater – IIM Ahmedabad. Prof. Arvind Sahay who teaches Marketing and is the Chairman of the PGP X program, invited all the entrepreneurs from my batch (and his). Ten entrepreneurs from PGP 89 came to campus and participated in various classes, panel discussions and presentations. It was great fun. With hugely successful entrepreneurs like Sanjeev Bikhchandani (, R. Subramanian (Subhikhsa) and Rahul Bhasin (Barings Pvt. Equity) in the class, the students got a massive dose of ‘from the horse’s mouth’.

The night before we went to an old favourite gujju thali joint called Vishala. The bull session back at the Institute went on till 3am.

A few things I learnt over the trip –

  • Indian businesses have started postponing hiring. The credit squeeze is hurting business. In export sectors, the hardening rupee and the interest rates are like a double whammy. Mr. Chidambaram, enough already.
  • In a country like India where real estate is expensive and labour is cheap, a small format grocery retail chain like Subhiksha is far more competitive that a large format, push-your-cart-through-the-aisle one. In case you missed the Info Edge or IPOs, here’s your chance to buy into the ‘futures’ of PGP 89 – watch out for the Subhiksha IPO.
  • Ahmedabad has the best infrastructure in India. Broad, double carriageway roads. A massive airport. Sufficient power. They are doing things the right way over there. If we were to ever build another office outside of Mumbai, Ahmedabad would be a top choice.

A tragic event occurred last month. Prof. M N Vora, our Marketing professor at IIM, passed away. He was 73. He was a great teacher – much loved and somewhat feared by those of us who would occasionally land up in class not having read the case. He taught generations of IIM A grads who went on to do great marketing in leading Indian consumer product companies. He also did a lot of work with local Ahmedabad small businesses. He will be missed. I reproduce his obituary below which is on our alumni site but behind a user id/password wall.

It is with profound sadness I write that Prof. M.N.Vora who taught many of us while were students of IIMA passed away today morning due to a massive cardiac failure. He was 73 years of age. Even after his retirement from IIMA, he used to teach here as a Visiting Faculty.

Prof. Vora was one of the pioneers of marketing education in India. The first set of Indian case studies on marketing issues were written by him. He was an outstanding teacher and perhaps the most dedicated teacher that I have come across in my professional life. He never looked for personal glory in what ever he did; but always focused on helping his students learn better. Till the last days, he was active.

He came from a very modest background. Being a bright student, he pursued his education after 10th standard with the support of elders from his village. While studying, he has worked as a news paper distribution person and has taken tuition for school students to meet the study expenses. Be completed his B.Com from Gujarat University with first rank. He immediately joined H.L. College of Commerce as an instructor and while working, he completed his M.Com and Cost Accounting qualifications. He then went to the Wharton School for his MBA. On his return, he joined IIM Calcutta as one of the first faculty members. He joined IIM Ahmedabad as soon as the Institute started. He then went to Harvard for his DBA.

I, as his student, pray to the Almighty to give his family (his wife and daughter & her family) the courage to bear this loss.

Vora sir, rest in peace.


  1. Anand says:

    Hi Basab,
    Good to hear some news from IIMA. I am also an alumni ( PGP97) and was saddened by the death of Professor Vora. We lost a great teacher and a great human being.
    And Yes, Ahmedabad does have great infrastructure, though the city is largely underrated when it comes to IT.


  2. Shefaly says:

    Hi Basab, those are some interesting trends.

    For some reason, the name Subhiksha (translation: good alms?) remains an enigma for Hindi-speakers, I think.

    Having somehow managed to get an ‘A’ in a Marketing IP, (previously unheard of, especially coming from Professor AK Jain), I could be forgiven for being a tad proud But even now the thought of Professor Vora (RIP) and Professor Jain, and Modern Bakery, immediately brings to mind these simple yet profound questions:
    Does anybody remember bread is a perishable?
    What IS this animal called need?

    I did not realise though that Arvind Sahay was exploring tech entrepreneurship now (or have I read that wrong?). When he was at LBS, we did some research together on mobile business models, and part of our work appeared in Gita Piramal’s Smart Manager magazine.

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Basab says:


    I googled it and according to Subra, it means “giver of good things in life” as per an article here

    Arvind teaches Marketing but is also Chairman of the PGPX program (IIM A’s exec MBA program). Most of the sessions were with PGPX, except a LEM class with the PGPs.


  4. Krishna says:

    Great job, Basab. I wish successful people like you should occasionally visit your Junior/Senior School too to stimulate those young minds. They need conviction more than anything else. By doing that we’ll have less and less to carp about India in future. Keep up the good work.

    Talking of Subhiksha’s IPO ? To get a primary allotment in any retail IPO will be a pipe dream for sometime – after Vishal Retail got listed yesterday at Rs.752 (178% premium over listing price of Rs.270). Vishal IPO was oversubscribed a massive 81 times (Retail 59.7x, HNI-370x, QIB-54x). The hangover will last for a while.

    Subhiksha IPO should get even better response… has a unique format. All of its stores are non-air conditioned with no frills and simple ambience. To keep costs low, many of its stores, in fact, are situated on higher levels than ground floor. That explains why it didn’t have to face the ire of local street vendors as did Reliance `Fresh’ stores elsewhere.

    Subbu is a smart guy…


  5. Shefaly says:

    Hi Basab, thanks for clarifying on Subhiksha.

    For us, LEM meant Sunil Handa (mostly) and some other local entrepreneurs with whom we had to do real-life ‘consulting’ projects. It is interesting to see the scope and flavour has changed so much.

    I should really get in touch with Arvind again. Thanks.


  6. Anurag Kedia says:

    Hi Basab,
    Have been a regular reader, but leaving a comment for the first time. I am from the IIMA, batch of 2004, and had gone to the campus to attend a LEM workshop and learn from the experiences of entrepreneurs, having taken the plunge recently. Did not know you were at the campus as well, else would have loved to say a hello to you – anyways, some other time!


  7. K Srinivasan says:

    Hi Basab
    It was sad to note the suddent demise of Prof.Vora. I am sure all who went the the rigour mortis would remember him and the things he did to the student. At IIMs as usual it is not what you know , it is always what you do not know.


  8. Vaibhav Soni says:

    Hi ,
    I agree that Prof Sunil Handa is very inspiring.We recently had the honour of having him in BITS Pilani(his undergrad alma matter) and he was a phenomenon will be an understatement!


  9. Richa says:

    can someone provide me d email address of Prof sunil Handa. I met him twice but cudnt take his contact details. I need it urgently. I need some help for my startup. thanks in anticipation.


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