In Memoriam

What’s in a name? – A tribute to S Vaidyanathan by Sunil Nair

Mr. S Vaidyanathan, the recipient of DAA 2018, passed away on 13th May 2021. He succumbed to covid. We would like to express our heartfelt condolences on behalf of the entire IIMB community and wish that his family will be able to cope up with this loss.

It was always kiddo, one of only two people in this world who still addressed me as kiddo (Godfy being the only other).  It didn’t matter if I turned 50, in the man’s eyes I was always the 20-year-old kid he met who could do with some help. There was the obvious conundrum when I had children of my own, who have now grown up to be older than when he met me. But he solved it by calling them kiddos, in the plural. I was kiddo and they were kiddos.  How are you kiddo? How are the kiddos? The solution was simplicity itself.

Implicit in calling me kiddo was Vaidy assuming that it was his job to give me advice and it could be on anything from the importance of cross ventilation to ward off Covid, to who I should read, the benefits of stretching to why Subbalaxmi’s concert in Russia was the best ever. There was nothing I could do that would not benefit from some unsolicited help. I ran multiple marathons, even with respectable times but that never stopped him from telling me how I should train. From anybody else it would have been pretentious, but what do you do when the sentence starts with a “kiddo, you should”? Unconsciously you are suddenly the 20 year old child all over again whose only assigned job is to listen.  This parenting extended to nearly everything. Once while visiting Chennai he asked me for my plans and then told me who I could meet (an ex-colleague recovering from chemo) and who I couldn’t (all the rest basically).  And just like that, he had taken over and I did not stir out of Valasaravakkam without him in tow.

I don’t know who first gave me that name, but he refused to let it go. And so to my ears, there is no more endearing a name than kiddo. To this day if I like somebody enough they will graduate to be addressed as Kiddo themselves. I am always trying to replicate the example of the greatest love I have known – his love for me- by calling them what he called me.

Vaidy was opinionated even when he had no basis to be. His dogmatic defense of Amarnath over Gavaskar was comical. It was based on an opinion he probably picked up from reading an article by R Mohan in The Hindu. He read and listened to CLR James or Arnott and figured he knew as much about cricket as he needed, to bullshit to the rest of us. He was so enthusiastic about cricket while remaining incompetent at the game that the only workable compromise was to make him the manager/selector of the DQ team.

Besides cricket, he was serious about his singing and worked very hard on it. He sang during the Cacophonix not to get a laugh, but because he wanted to prove everybody wrong. While looking around our cafeteria  that night to fix his nervous gaze, he finally found mine and I kept eye contact with him all through as he sang:

Ek pyar ka nagma hai, Maujon ki rawaani hai

Zindagi aur kuchh bhi nahi, Teri meri kahaani hai

I was a brother to Vaidy for most of my conscious life and nearly all of my adult life. I told him when we were in IIMB that we will do something together. Implicit in that conversation was a promise that I will always have his back, in fact more than just have his back. And like every truant brother I changed the definition of what “having somebody’s back” meant to suit my purpose. This was probably true for almost all of us from G-Top/DQ to varying degrees. Some like Elango kept that promise better than others across 30 years, some of us hung around for a year or few to only then get caught up with our lives letting him bravely bear his cross. I waited for him to ask and responded just often enough to soothe my troubled conscience, for having reneged on my original promise.

The measure of a man is not how high he soars or how much trouble he faces or how hard he falls, it is always how he gets up after his fall and what he does after he has dusted himself off. By that reckoning Vaidy was a giant among us; and by his example a daily reminder that how often, at least I, did not rise up for the lack of nothing more than a little courage and perspective.  

I admired Vaidy for his resolve but was not inspired by him.  We can only prove we are inspired by our subsequent actions. If there are none to show, how do we distinguish between inspiration and plain old indifference?

Of all the songs he could sing, of the many thousands, he chose “Zindagi aur kuchh bhi nahi , Teri meri kahaani hai” and then went on to keep his side of the promise of living out a heroic story. That …

I am ultimately angry for how he had to spend his final three weeks; and I am really sorry for all the trouble he went through doing things just to get by this last three decades. But most of all, after all these years, I am once again feeling sad, unbearably sad at his walking off the page.

He was a role model in how he made gin and tonic out of the lemons he was served; but a part of me has never reconciled to why so many lemons had to be delivered to his doorstep in the first place.  While I understand the causes, the reasons have eluded me. Since I don’t understand life’s allegedly mysterious ways, I will let it be.  What do I know? I am after all just a kiddo. But for his sake, I hope that the force that guided him through storms most severe all these years, has also kindly guided him home.

From ‘Telco’ to Michelin Mohan – In memory of Mohan Kumar

We regret to inform you about the sad demise of G Mohan Kumar, PGP 1993, on 10th May 2020. He succumbed to covid. We pray for the departed soul. Our condolence to his family in this moment of grief.

Mohan Kumar, head of Michelin India, who lost the battle to Covid was a friend and mentor to many.

Fifty-three-year-old Mohan Kumar, Head of Michelin India, passed away on May 10 of Covid. His whole family was infected and while his wife and mother recovered, tragically his father too passed away soon after him. He had joined Michelin after stints elsewhere as head of the passenger car tyre sales and rose to head the company he was devoted to.

A mechanical engineering graduate of NIT (then REC), Tiruchi, he had a two-year stint with then Telco and joined IIMB for his MBA– 1991-93 batch. A classmate recalls that there were so many Mohans in class that they gave him the moniker ‘Telco’ Mohan, which a friend says, he changed to Michelin Mohan, as he would always be in a Michelin t-shirt. 

Gregarious and good at sports such as badminton and cricket, Mohan loved his role as a marketer and even did a stint with badminton major Yonex’s distributor in Delhi. “He was a balanced, fun-loving guy,” recalls his IIMB classmate. 

He was very ethical and process-oriented and jelled well in the Michelin ethos and also served two years at the company HQ in South Carolina. A former employee, who worked closely with him, recalls him as a very inclusive manager and was a visionary in terms of the needs of the current market and the Indian auto industry. He had a vision of Michelin being number one in the digital space and offered them the best-in-class digital platforms. His dealers looked up to him as a friend and mentor. 

A batchmate, S. Prakash, recalls that sometime in 2007-8, he was planning to change tyres of his four-year-old Honda City and checked with Mohan where he should go. “He said to go to Siremull’s tyrestore in Chennai. I have changed tyres two more times at the same store,” he says. 

“I called the owner to find out whether he knows Mohan passed away. It was a stupid question. The father who runs the shop, has been in the trade for 50 years. He says, “I have seen many people in my time. Company officials come and go. Mohan was different. He made a real impact on our business. He kept in touch and found ways for us to be better. This is a terrible loss not only to us but to the community. Even now, many people are calling…Mohan approved our new store and service centre recently,” says Prakash. 

A Michelin employee is quite emotional when he says, “The passion and dedication that Mohan had for Michelin and for all of us, can never be matched by anyone. The entire Michelin team is extremely heart-broken and I have been calling so many of our team members to share their pain. Quite a few of the sales reps kept mentioning that Mohan was like a father figure to them and the loss felt no less. In the last one year I spent so much time with Mohan that the days seem totally empty now.” 

Mohan was gearing up to shift the Michelin HQ to Pune from NOIDA, when tragedy struck. His two sons, one who has started to work and other studying in the US will miss him dearly. A close friend quotes Ajinkya, Mohan’s elder son saying, “Michelin as a company also is like papa, ethical, responsible, value long-term relationships and that’s why papa chose to work for it.” Mohan clearly. as a friend says, was a tyre man who never tired. He never failed to elevate the mood of any group he would join, recalls Siva Padmanabhan, another IIMB batchmate. 

Source: The Hindu

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of our alum, Mr Mahesh Gahane, PGP 2012 on 18th May 2021 due to Covid-19. He worked at Mahindra Lifespaces, leading branding & consumer insights for Mahindra Happinest, their affordable housing brand.

He was deeply loved by all he worked with and shared enormous love for IIMB. He is survived by his wife. He lived in Thane, where he breathed his last at a private hospital. We pray for the departed soul. Our condolence to the family in this moment of grief.

It is with sorrow we would like o inform you about the sad demise of alumni Mr. Kenchappa L R, PGPPM 2019 batch. He was admitted in hospital for Covid treatment and passed away on 27th May 2021.

Mr. Kenchappa worked at the Hinudtsan Aeronautics Ltd as Chief Manager in Helicopter Division.

We would like to express heartfelt condolences on behalf of the entire IIMB community. We pray for the departed soul. Our condolence to his family in this moment of grief.

We deeply regret to inform the sad demise of our alum Jayavardhan Nayak, EPGP 2019 on 20th May 2021 due to covid. He worked as a Chief Manager at Sterlite Power.

May his soul rest in peace. Our heartfelt condolences to the family.

We regret to inform you that Ms. Lakshmikantha , PGPEM 2021 Alumni breathed her last on the morning of 8th May 2021 after two weeks of hospitalization.

Our PGPEM 21 batch were very supportive to the Family. May she rest in peace. Our heartfelt condolences to the family.