The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIM’s Che in Red cubicle

New Delhi, April 7: The mane and the beard are missing; so are the smouldering eyes of a rebel. All the same, a “Che” has come to the CPM.

In contrast with the guerrilla guru from Latin America’s jungles, Chepuri Sri Krishna represents the cream of the corporate world. And he has no lessons to teach the CPM but only to learn.

The student of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, has travelled to Delhi to do his two-month summer internship with India’s largest communist party.

“I have always been fascinated by Left intellectuals. I am here to understand and research public policy issues,” he said.

“Hopefully, I shall be able to add some value to the party, too. I have read Amartya Sen’s work on famines and have always wanted to give back something.”

The idea had come to Chepuri as he listened to Sitaram Yechury at a campus lecture.

“I didn’t personally agree with all that he said. But I wanted to know more about how the CPM — once an outcast for liberalisation backers — is intervening in major policies.”

Some half-a-dozen more students had then told Yechury they would like to do their internship at A.K. Gopalan Bhavan — the CPM national headquarters — and promised to send their CVs.

But only Che landed up in Delhi yesterday.

He has met party boss Prakash Karat and today began his research at 12 Windsor Place, the CPM’s parliamentary office.

For the next eight weeks, the young man will live in a one-room flat in Vithalbhai Patel House where the CPM has its Delhi state party office and where many MPs stay.

The flat has no television set, but Chepuri doesn’t care. “In Ahmedabad, too, I hardly watched TV.”

The IIT Mumbai graduate in aerospace did his master’s at the Ohio state university before joining pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson in the US. Last year, he joined IIM Ahmedabad.

How did he like America' Chepuri’s answer would have pleased the original Che -- Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, who got his nickname from his habit of peppering his speech with the Argentinian interjection “che”, roughly equivalent to “hey”, “pal” or “mate”.

In the US, Chepuri felt like a cog in a wheel. “I have experienced corporate America. It is like working in a bureaucracy.”

But the B-school student has no particular admiration for his great namesake. For all his “fascination” for Left intellectuals, he knows “only a little bit” about Che Guevara. He doesn’t find the global youth icon “much of an inspiration in today’s age”.

This Che rather hopes to nudge the CPM in a more pro-reform direction on at least one issue.

Chepuri wants to provide the party with “some inputs on pension reform” by building mathematical models that show how to best utilise resources and build efficiency.

The pension bill is in limbo because of Left opposition, but Chepuri believes “it’s a good idea to invest the money in the market”.

He has no plans to come to Bengal, the CPM citadel. “My interest lies in policies and I am mainly interested in research,” Chepuri said.

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