Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning commission, addressed students from Great Lakes during his visit to Chennai on January 8, 2009. Prof Bala V Balachandran, our founder and honorary Dean (fondly called Uncle Bala) set many tongues wagging by introducing Dr. Ahluwalia as the future finance minister of the country!!! In his welcome address, Uncle Bala recalled his close association with Dr. Ahluwalia dating back to the days when they both worked to set up the executive program at MDI, Gurgaon.
Mr. T.N Seshan, the former chief election commissioner and currently a full time faculty at Great Lakes, was delighted to play host to his old colleague and was as eager as the students to listen to the Oxford educated bureaucrat.
Dr. Ahluwalia after paying glowing tributes to Mr. Seshan and his culinary skills ( Dr. Ahluwalia broke the news that Mr. Seshan is a great cook!!), delivered an eloquent and a succinct lecture on the Indian economy, the global credit crunch, the efforts taken by the government to mitigate the crisis and his thoughts on overcoming this tough period. Dr. Ahluwalia strongly felt that investment in infrastructure and agriculture are extremely crucial for the long term competitiveness of the Indian economy.
When the floor was opened for questions, Dr. Ahluwalia handled the volley of questions from students with panache. It took all of Mr. Seshan’s efforts to slightly rattle Dr. Ahluwalia with a couple of incisive questions. The national media that covered the event lapped up the lively exchanges and captured every moment of it on their cameras. In just over 40 minutes, Dr. Ahluwalia was done and the media converged for an impromptu press meet.
I found the press meet to be simply fascinating. This was the first time I was physically present at a press meet and I must add that the vibrancy of the journalists was contagious. The entire battery of media persons wanted to grab a sound byte on the Satyam saga, but , much to their disappointment, Dr. Ahluwalia cautiously ducked all questions (the story was still emerging and the full details weren’t known at that point in time)
I left the venue star struck picking up lessons not only in economics but also on how to handle a super charged media!!
– Muralidhar S
Class of 2009