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Rimcollians lead beyond the Armed Forces

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RIMC’s Centennial Founder’s Day

By Chiranjit Banerjee
It has been a matter of immense pride for Dehradun and Uttarakhand to have played host to a school that has produced four Indian Army Chiefs and two of the Air Force since our independence, together with another 300 odd alumni (of the close to 3100 boys who have attended RIMC since 1947 that makes for a very efficient throughput) who have reached star ranks in the armed forces. In case you have you not guessed it yet, we are talking about one of India’s best kept secrets, the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) that is celebrating its centenary on 13th March. It is only expected of India’s oldest military institution (that predates our independence by 25 years) to have groomed cadets on a pan India basis for generalship, but their products have gone far beyond.
Even as Generals KS Thimmaya, GG Bewoor, VN Sharma, S Padmanabhan and Air Chief Marshals NC Suri and BS (Tony) Dhanoa occupy center-stage in the hallowed archives of the verdant 138 acre campus of RIMC on the fringes of Gahri Cantt, there is a progressively large number of Old Boys of RIMC (popularly known as Rimcollians) who have been acing JEE, CAT, GRE and GMAT, too. At last count, more than 120 Rimcollians would have graduated from IITs, IIMs and Ivy League institutions in the US and Europe.

Chief Guest: Lt-General Gurmit Singh (Retd), His Excellency the Governor of Uttarakhand

They were set on their way by Kailash Nath Pal (the first engineering graduate among Rimcollians) in the late ‘50s and followed by IIT–KGP alumnus, Arjun Israni, who rose to be a leader in the US semiconductor industry and has flown down to RIMC to be part of the ongoing celebrations. The earliest movers in the direction of the IIMs were Col Raj Bangari (a faculty at IIMB) and Alok Raturi (a seasoned banker). Among those who were the earliest to beat the path to marquee US & UK institutions were Harvard (Gaurav Yadav and Kunal Rai), Wharton (Pawan Kapur) and Oxford (Brajendu Bhaskar and the Swarup siblings). An IIT professor who has had Rimcollians in his class observes, “RIMC alumni usually have high EQ along with a rare cross-cultural sensitivity that makes them stand out in a crowd.”

Colonel Ajay Kumar Commandant, Rashtriya Indian Military College

Global consulting major, Mckinsey could almost have fielded a cricket team of Rimcollians what with nine of their Old Boys having worked for the highly admired consulting firm over the last fifteen years.
I had once asked our legendary school master and a former Vice Principal, the late Mr RC Singhal (who later led Cambrian Hall) what he might like to attribute to the traction of Rimcollians across disciplines and geographies. His astute response was, “Adaptability and mental agility. RIMC offers such a range of dynamic situations (generally outside the classroom) to its students that they learn to deal with ambiguity at a very young age. Rimcollians hardly take anything for granted. They can also survive on boot straps.”
An investment banker friend who has had occasion to raise early-stage funds for a couple of Rimcollian promoted IT related ventures has his own granular take on what makes the Rimcollian entrepreneur stand apart, “You guys know how to chase a dream, rather than the money. That’s a refreshingly different approach compared to the cookie cutter engineering grad followed by B school grads.”
Rather fittingly, the late Manohar Parikkar (the former Defence Minister) had articulated during his last visit to RIMC, “Why should RIMC restrict itself to producing leaders for the military?” A military, after all, is as strong or as weak as a nation’s economy unless of course it’s a rogue state. As Rimcollians march on to seize leadership opportunities across a much broader spectrum of businesses and professions, Parikkar’s thoughts resonate even louder.

(Chiranjit Banerjee is a Bangalore based alumnus of RIMC (1968-72). He has been a senior banker as well as a frequent guest columnist for several national dailies.)