"In 1980, we started a school in advertising. In 1992, we started another”. That was the blurb in the MICA launch ad created by Mudra. In 1992, Mudra Communications Pvt. Ltd., the advertising agency started by Mr. A G Krishnamurthy, under the aegis of the Reliance group, set up what they termed as a ‘a new school of thought’ . That was how the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad or quite simply, MICA was born.
I was then working with Mudra as an internal auditor, and for me MICA was something beyond the realms of my existence, a far-away, distant place, knowing that it existed somewhere, but not quite sure where that somewhere was. It was only, 10 years later, in 2002, that an official work sent me frantically searching for MICA.
There are 2 approaches to MICA. One is from the Bopal side, a small bustling township on the outskirts of Ahmedabad which leads to a small narrow track that meanders past green fields, a placid lake and village dwellings. This is a more picturesque route, offering instant tranquillity to frayed nerves as one comes in from the concrete jungles of the city. But then, navigating the 3 km stretch from the Ghuma bus stand to MICA is not always a cake walk. A joke among students is that if you are a fresher, autos take you for a ride, since you yourself said ‘Ghuma ke le jaao ‘! More frequently than not, one has to find ways and means to overtake hordes of buffaloes on the way, which appear oblivious to the loudest of your horns and are least bothered by your efforts to force their pace or make them give way. In the meantime, as you crawl along, you can take in the sight of seagulls flying over lush green swaying farms, women washing clothes in the lake, half a dozen tiny temples on the wayside housing statues of gods and village youth, blissfully whiling away their time .Finally, slowly but surely, after, you have negotiated the dung-laden muddy paths and crossed the Narmada canal, you will suddenly come upon MICA.
If you prefer a less scenic route, then the highway road that connects Ahmedabad to Sanand, a sleepy mofussil town that has been rudely awakened from its stupor by the blaring horns of the Nano car factory, is the one for you. After moving past countless trucks and other heavy motor vehicles, most of them not charitable enough to permit you with immediate passage, you come upon a signage that indicates that you turn right to reach MICA. The 1.5 km road or rather an apology for a road has more craters than those seen on the moon and you need the dexterity of a mountain goat, if you are to circumvent them.
Despite, MICA hosting illustrious guests, in recent years, like the country’s ex-President and the Governor of the state, the road continues to suffer due to the callous apathy of the local city administration. Perhaps, MICA needs to play host to someone more powerful, for the road to get a fresh tar of life. Thankfully, the rickety ride ends and the road strangely evens out, maybe by design or divine intervention, as MICA appears , almost out of nowhere, with a number of signage, some in metal, and some in stone announcing its existence. You observe the MICA logo which juxtaposes 2 triangles, one dull grey in color, the other in bright white and later learn that it signifies the honing and polishing of skills that students undergo at MICA during their post-graduate period of 2 years, here.
A closed metal gate and an old, grim looking guard do not present the perfect welcome to the School of Ideas, as MICA calls itself. After checking your credentials and peering deep into the inner recesses of your car, you are permitted to go in. The moment you drive in, the lush green ambience of MICA sucks you in. There are over 3000 odd trees at MICA and an equal number of plants, bushes and saplings (on last count, done some years back) spread over the 19 acre land. As you alight from your vehicle, you muse over the irony, how students here, are constantly striving to find their rightful place under the Sun, in such shady environs! The peaceful, monastery-like feeling you get as you walk in is an indication that ‘every student is in class and learning well’! The red-brick structures look nondescript at first glance, but the moment you enter them, MICA springs to life, full of vibrancy and buzz.
There is something about MICA - that draws graduates from all over the country , from streams as varied as applied sciences, medicine, commerce, finance , all of which are a far cry from humanity disciplines like fine arts and mass communications , to cater to which, MICA was set up , exclusively, in the first place. There is something about MICA - that its last 2 directors, are renowned academics who came all the way from the West, to India, and in India to Ahmedabad and in Ahmedabad to MICA – just following their inner calling in their search for their station in life. There is something about MICA - that its 20-odd in-house faculty keep perfecting, the MICA pedagogy on a perpetual basis, so as to keep pace with their 20-something pupils. There is something about MICA that, illustrious stalwarts from industry visit it every year to deliver guest lectures and share their wisdom with the MICA students. There is something about MICA that, it boasts of having a unique yet stringent, home-grown admission test quite naturally called MICAT and a hundred percent placement record.
As you move around the hallowed precincts, you take in the various blocks which house the administrative offices, the class rooms, the seminar halls, the faculty cubicles. You notice the hostels in the background, displaying their names, derived from botany, with graffiti adorning its walls and clothes drying by the sides , an indication of student life on campus , operating far away from homes, the marked playing fields, the cacophonic dining hall, , an open air theatre right in the middle of the campus, the spacious auditorium dotted with florescent-colored cushions exuding a laid-back , relaxed culture, the legendary chotta canteen, a high- octane student afterhours hub, promiscuously nestled in the woods, the community radio station , the mosaic stone benches , the cobbled pathways , the library which prides itself as a knowledge exchange centre and you realise why, for the 300 odd students living and studying here, if ever heaven is a place on earth, it’s at MICA. You smile, when someone observes, that MICA sounds similar to the hindi word ‘maikey’ and in the process conjures up pleasant memories, for its alumni just as it does to a newly-wed bride.
As you prepare to depart from MICA, you sense a feeling of belonging, a sense of leaving something that looks snug and secure, serene and significant, laid-back yet lively, stirring yet soothing.
This is how I found it, when I first came here, way back in 2002, searching for MICA. I guess, in the process, I found not just MICA, but a part of myself! Yes, there definitely is something about MICA!
Strategic Information Manager