NJY - Unparalleled Visionary

October 30, 2011

An innocuous looking email a few days ago shattered me completely. Sanjeev, my good friend, informed me about the untimely demise of Shri N.J.Yasaswy-the icon that built an institution called ICFAI. He was only 62. In my 23 years career, he was my boss and mentor for 5 years.

He changed many lives, including mine. He challenged conventional wisdom. He displayed and infused confidence. He took wild risks and never feared consequences. He personified knowledge and commanded respect for only this reason. He shared his knowledge constantly. He generously offered his advice. He valued time and was obsessed with punctuality. And he did all of this with a smiling face.

Personally he taught me several important lessons in life. There was the time when we were setting up a new concept and it involved dealing with several institutions. It was then that he said "there is nothing called an institution. Everything boils down to an individual. Identify that individual and talk to him/her and you can get your way". He also said, "if you are looking to recruit someone to assist you, make sure he is smarter than you. This is the only way you can build a great institution"

On another occasion when a colleague said that it would be difficult to do the thing he suggested, he retorted saying "we are here to do difficult things not easy ones". Then when the same gentlemen countered saying it would take time, he retorted again by saying, “a busy man always finds time; only a lazy man complains!" He pushed each one of us all the time and you now see the result- a gigantic institution, ICFAI, built with not a penny of assistance from banks or financial institutions, but with only internal accruals.

The man had a great personal side too. There were many instances where he would exhibit a phenomenal sense of humor ,so much so that on one occasion, i needed to walk out of the room since i could not control my laughter. He was humane and did not fear to show it. While we were traveling for business to Mumbai in Indian Airlines, NJY was sitting on the aisle and diagonally opposite the aisle was a young lady with a toddler. Obviously the toddler was giving the lady a hard time due to which her tea spilt down. The air hostess, instead of trying to be helpful, started reprimanding her for the act. Though we were engrossed in a discussion, NJY did not fail to miss the predicament of the young lady due to the unhelpful air hostess. In a fit of anger, he asked the air hostess to place her tea tray in front of him and said to her "you will not serve tea to any passenger till you apologize to that young lady" -and he meant it! This then brought the inflight cabin manager to the scene to whom he objected her behavior and reminded her that her salary was being paid for by all the passengers. Normal service resumed after an apology by the air hostess to the young lady. We encounter such scenes in our daily lives but largely choose to ignore them- but not NJY.

We shared many dais together and have lectured several programs. I will deeply miss him, as will the huge ICFAI family that he built. May his soul rest in real good peace.

M R Raghu

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