In Conversation With The Recipient Of The ‘Dr B. C. Roy Memorial Prize’ At IIM Calcutta – Bhushan Gopalani

A B-school has many activities and experiences on the professional front apart from the academics, placements and case competitions. And like in all of these fields, competition is intense everywhere. It is no different when it comes to the year-end awards given by the institute. Apart from the awards given for brilliant academic performance, there are a few given for extracurricular achievements and leadership abilities. A rigorous process is followed, which includes nominations from the student community, followed by them voting for the selected nominations. The winning students are then felicitated by the institute during convocation.

6 awards were given this year. Of which one was the “Dr B. C. Roy Memorial Prize for the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Campus Life”.

The award for this year went to Bhushan Gopalani. Here is his story:

Niranjan: Hi, Bhushan. Could you tell us a bit about your background?

Bhushan: Hi, Niranjan. Born in a small town called “Ulhasnagar” in a family of then 5 people, the initial hardships my family faced made my mother instil the importance of education in our lives. These early lessons did help me a lot during my graduation days when I took up engineering in 2004.

I did my B.E. in EXTC from Mumbai University, 2008, post which I started my career as QA Engineer in the software industry. I had the dream of doing my higher studies in management from one of the Top-3 institutes of the country, which I thought of doing post some work-experience.

Few years into my career, in October 2013, I had a near-fatal accident causing me Spinal Cord Injury. It was probably the biggest setback of my life, as it bound me to a wheelchair. It took me a little while, probably the time I was bed-ridden, to be decisive on what next. I loved playing sports and I still do. I thought that this can be the route to lead a more active life, close-to-normal one. I started actively participating in Sports like Wheelchair Rugby, Swimming and Rifle Shooting. Fortunately, my body responded well and I become more independent with passing days. I represented INDIA, in Wheelchair Rugby, competed for Rifle Shooting and Swimming at district levels.

The independence increased efficiency at work and personal life. In 2016, I decided to pursue my dream of MBA and achieved it at IIM Calcutta.

N: What motivated you to do these activities which are beyond normal curriculum and expectations?

B: Post-injury I was associated with “The Spinal Foundation” wherein first I was the mentee and then the mentor. I learnt how to live independently even with this injury and I started on passing the knowledge I gained. One of my mentors helped me to get settled properly with all the support provided by the IIM Calcutta top management committee and the PGP office. I decided to note down areas which needed improvements across the campus and with the help of PGP office and the Equal Opportunity Cell. The suggestions were taken in and worked upon making life a little simpler for candidates than otherwise.

I made a point to speak to DA candidates and check if there were difficulties they faced while coping with their curriculum and stay at the campus.

N: Which of your achievements do you value the most and why?

B: Personally, I feel my greatest achievement to date will be “My Journey from 2013-2019”. This journey has been with a lot of ups and downs teaching me to get up every time I fell. The October 2013 bike accident left me quadriplegic (paralysed neck down) due to Spinal Cord Injury. A couple of months in the ICU were excruciating and draining. It was then I decided that I need to get up and can’t be lying like this on the bed.

I started taking part in sports to keep myself active. Sports brought in the zeal to win, to live providing a sense of self-satisfaction. It was sports that brought me on from the bed to a wheelchair. I was working simultaneously but I felt I need to do more. I decided to give my CAT and fulfil my dream of becoming an MBA graduate. Clearing CAT was the initial step towards the dream which was realised when I got admitted to IIM-C. To develop the sense of belief that I still could sustain the pressure the MBA brings along was the harder part. But then I took a leap of faith and entered the campus.

The campus taught me a lot at one hand and also gave me an opportunity to give back to the campus on the other. I tried my best to live up to the expectations. Last but not least, I did make some good memories with my friends that I will cherish for life.

During 2018, I believe the implementation of suggestions for accessibility I gave was a huge achievement.  The college was welcoming in accepting the suggestions as well as working on them.

Some of them being:

  • Ramps inside a few classrooms, across libraries, ATMs and at the ground floor of older hostels.
  • Procurement of motorised wheelchairs.
  • Connectivity through ramps from NAB to LVH and NAB to Library.
  • Providing scribes for candidates (whenever required).

N: You have assisted DA candidates at multiple steps – ranging from academics to placements. What are the challenges they face and how can the institute and student body assist?

B: The institute and the student body have been a great support throughout my tenure but they have to be a little more proactive and come forward while helping DA candidates. Most of the students I have seen don’t open up until asked. I understand it is the responsibility of both ends but the pro-activeness can go a long way. I have provided the suggestions and improvements that I could gauge with respect to academics, placements, as well as infrastructure to the concerned authorities and they, did assure they’ll look into all the feasible options. In fact, I have seen some of them being worked on, so probably the subsequent batches might enjoy the fruits of the efforts put in by everyone.

N: How does it feel to win such a distinguished award?

B: I feel honoured to receive such a distinguished award. I am thankful for all the support that I have received from the 3 batches (seniors, my batch and my juniors). The award does motivate me to continue the efforts and I feel can also act as a motivation for the batches to follow.

Niranjan Jha

More than anything else, it is stories that I am captivated by. It could be about cops, animals, Test cricket or Colonial India. Reading, writing or listening to stories livens up my day. I am looking to help people out with their career decisions and MBA options. I am a chemical engineer from IIT Bombay and entered IIM Calcutta immediately after that. I am from Bangalore. I am currently a member of the Student Team at InsideIIM.

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