Fr. Casimir Raj has been associated with education and teaching marketing for the past three decades in various institutions including XLRI Jamshedpur; St. Louis University, Missouri; Wheeling Jesuit College, Wheeling and XIM Bhubaneshwar. He was the founder Director of LIBA and Principal of Loyola College, Chennai. He was also Director, XIM Bhubaneshwar., and XLRI Jamshedpur, Goa Institute of Management. A member of the American Marketing Association and a PhD from St. Louis University, (in Missouri, USA), Fr. Casimir is widely regarded to be authority in marketing with numerous publications to his credit.
Rev. Fr. Casimir Raj, S.J., as Principal, made the almost impossible as possible. Co-education was introduced only in his period. He has left his mark on the college particularly by starting LIBA (Loyola Institute for business Administration). It was declared, by a Central Government Commission, the best of its kind in Tamil Nadu.
Consistently ranked among the best business schools in the country, LIBA represents the unflagging zeal for education that is a unique characteristic of the Jesuit Society. LIBA is a Jesuit institution under the aegis of Loyola College Society, Chennai.
Fr. Casimir Raj shares with Marie Banu his efforts to launch LIBA and his passion for Servant Leadership.
Can you share with us about your childhood, family, and education?
I hail from Souryarpatnam Village in Ramnad District, Tamil Nadu. We were only 60 families living here and did not have access to roads, electricity and water. My father was an elementary school teacher while my mother could not read or write. In fact, I tried my best to teach her to sign, but she did not want to learn. She has been a great inspiration and I have learnt a lot from her. My father was a dynamic man and I learnt discipline from him.
In my village, I am the first person to pursue studies beyond tenth standard. I have four brothers and one sister who are now living in different places.
At the age of 18 I joined the Jesuit order. I studied B.Com and M.Com at Loyola College in Chennai. During my entire study period, I did not refer to any guides. Instead, I reflected on what the professors taught me during class and I made my own notes. While pursuing my M.Com, I bought Ramayya’s book on Income Tax and read every case. This gave me better knowledge and it became one of my strengths.
While studying Philosophy and Theology, I became interested in Management studies. My superiors noticed me reading management books and encouraged me to pursue MBA in Santa Clara University, U.S.A.
About your efforts to launch LIBA and what makes this institution different from others?
During my studies, I used to spend my vacation at XLRI, most of the time reading books, and interacting with the professors. My dream was to have an institution like XLRI in South India. While XLRI did not give preference to Catholics, I wanted to make a difference by offering more admissions to Catholics. I also wanted the Chennai institution to be better than XLRI in 20 years’ time.
To tell you very frankly, I am proud of starting LIBA, but am more proud of what I have done later. When I returned as Director in 2001, classes were conducted from 9am to 1pm and it was just like any other College. The day I came, I told the management and students that the classes would be henceforth conducted from 8am to 8pm and in due course this programme would be made residential. I gave full power to the faculty members to set the papers and value them. I even took classes for the faculty on various ways of grading and taught them various models.
It was practically a MadrasUniversity based MBA and nobody knew about it. In 2001, LIBA was ranked 54th and in 2004 it ranked 9th. This was purely my achievement and am proud of that! The teachers and students cooperated with me, and there was no improvement in the infrastructure. From that day, LIBA has taken a different path and is well known across the globe.
What are the ways in which you inculcate values and ethics in your students during their study period?
We teach our students values and ethics and make them experience it as well. During the first year, we have a paper called ‘Government and Society’ where we teach social analysis. We also take the students on a three-day village visit to experience rural life.
I encourage my alumni to sponsor at least one poor village student in a year which would cost only 2500 rupees for a year. I also tell them not to expect anything in return, not even an IT Exemption for the donation they have offered.
Triple bottom line reporting and Social Accounting and Audit will strengthen the reporting systems in corporates for their CSR programme. Will LIBA look at incorporating these in the syllabus?
It is a pity that we are making CSR compulsory for companies. They are making a lot of money and they are now being forced to give two percent for social work. Even now, some companies are claiming from their beneficiary organization tax exemption for the contribution they have made.
We would like to have one course on Good Governance. One of my friends has made a donation to make this happen and we are working on the proposals.
We would also have a course in CSR and certainly Social Accounting and Audit will form part of this.
You have been following the principles of Servant Leadership and have mentioned that marketing concepts should imbibe values from this. Can you please elaborate?
Since the day I joined Loyola in 1975, I was involved in administration. Whatever role was offered to me, I did not consider it as a dominant or powerful position. For me, it was service to the people. When I was the Hostel Warden, I used to spend all my time with the students. I kept all my room windows and doors open and encouraged the students to meet me whenever they wanted to. I was an open book and my students loved me for that.
Whenever I was made a Principal or Director, I used to tell my staff and students that I do not want to be known as a best administrator, but instead as a just and humane person.
For me, marketing was not selling, but rather finding out what the needs of the people are and providing them with it. We need to first listen to their requirements and look from their point of view.
I would say that Priesthood has two roles— prophetic leadership and servant leadership. A Prophet thinks that he gets everything from God directly and passes it on. Whereas, a Servant Leader understands the needs of the people and provides—this is called ‘service to the people’. I may not be a good prophet or a good preacher, but I can do the latter role—Servant Leader—very well.