On a personal level, he was very easily approachable, friendly and there were no airs about him. No one interacting with him on a casual level, without knowing who he was, would have been able to guess that this was one of the most respected management thinkers of our time.
On the professional front, the key thing that always struck me about him was that he was an inveterate optimist. This was even while all around us, and particularly those in India, were always negative about what we perceived about the business environment. He was optimistic bout the India story, and stories of few companies that he had watched grow made for inspiring and motivating talks across the world. Whether it was the case of Aravind Eye Hospital or the sachet revolution of CavinKare, they opened up the world to the Indian opportunity and innovation.
Even if you look at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid approach, while many of us were stuck in theories of how the burgeoning Indian population meant impending doom, he forced MNCs to look at the emerging Indian middle class from the other perspective of untapped opportunity. While he was contributed in many ways to many organisations, and inspired very many individuals and corporate leaders, he will be remembered most for awakening us to 'core competencies' and 'bottom of the pyramid'. Those shall remain etched for long.
To me, someone of his capacity and competence, and someone who commanded so much respect, speaking the India story, at forums of repute around the worlds, was his greatest contribution to our country.
(Ramanujam Sridhar is CEO, brand-comm, and the author of Googly: Branding on Indian Turf.)