C.K. Prahalad saw India’s fortunes at bottom of pyramid (Obituary)

April 17th, 2010 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Noted management guru Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad who died in San Diego after a brief illness late Friday, was among the best known global thinkers on the subject and author of several bestsellers.
Forever a believer that India will grow into an economic power that the world will go on to eventually admire, Prahalad’s vision on these lines were reflected in his best-seller “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profit”.

A member of India’s National Council on Skill Development, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Prahalad was conferred the Padma Bhushan and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman last year for his accomplishments — among the numerous other global honours.

A die-hard capitalist, his theories form the genesis and practices of many global corporations, including several in India. He himself had started his career in the corporate world with Union Carbide, before moving on to academics.

What appeased him to Indian policymakers, civil society, think tanks and the corporate houses was his vision for his country of birth.

“In today’s changed global scenario, where established institutions are in disrepair, there is an excellent opportunity for India to shape the new world order,” he said in a recent lecture in New Delhi.

“But for that we need to innovate, address issues such as poverty, income inequality and corruption,” he said.

Several of his admirers held that should there have been a Nobel prize for management and public administration, Prahalad would have be a sure winner.

“A brilliant teacher at the University of Michigan, he may well be the most influential thinker on business strategy,” Business Week magazine said in an article on him.

In fact, the company he founded was mainly based on his vision and road ahead towards people’s empowerment. It was named Praja Inc — which in Sanskrit translates into a kingdom’s subjects, common people or citizens.

“CK was one of the foremost lateral thinkers of our times,” said ICICI Bank chairman K.V. Kamath, who was instrumental in roping in Prahalad for outlining India’s vision for skills development.

“He had this uncanny knack of looking into the future as far as business and life around us was concerned,” Kamath added.

After a degree in Physics from the University of Madras, Prahalad went on to get a master’s from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and then went to Havard for doctoral degree in business administration.

He then taught at his alma mater at Ahmedabad and then went to the US as the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Strategy at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

He has also consulted with a host of global companies as AT&T, Cargill, Citicorp, Kodak, Oracle, Philips, Quantum, Revlon, Steelcase and Unilever and served on the boards several others.

Yet, teaching remained his main passion for this revered guru who was born to a family of nine children. He is survived by his wife Gayatri and two children –Murali Krishna and Deepa.

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