Supporting Development and Honouring a Friendship
The tradition of Alumni support for the mission of IDRC has been greatly enhanced with the establishment of the David and Ruth Hopper & Ramesh and Pilar Bhatia Canada Fund. Thanks to the generosity of Ramesh and Pilar, and paired with the existing Rachel DesRosiers Fund, this initiative will provide a tangible means of expressing that support well into the future.
A tripartite agreement between the Bhatias, the Centre and the Alumni provides for a series of awards averaging around $15,000: one award alternating annually between young Canadian and Indian researchers; one annually to a young Filipino researcher; and, one annually to another developing regional researcher. The contribution to the program by Ramesh and Pilar will total $115,000 by the end of 2017, of which $100,000 is as a one-time capital contribution for the said fund. Subsequent contributions starting in 2018 are set at $15,000 per year for the remainder of Ramesh’s lifetime and, after Ramesh, contributions of $6,000 per annum will be continued by Pilar for her lifetime. The Centre will also make substantial contributions to the Fund.
Ramesh and Pilar are both well-known to Centre staff from the early days. Following eight years of service with the Rockefeller Foundation in India, Ramesh joined the Centre shortly after one of his superiors from India, David Hopper, was named as President. Working in a variety of administrative roles over the next eleven years at head office and in the field, Ramesh reached the position of Associate Director of Administration. He oversaw everything from general services to office space, field support, procurement, shipping, and travel. He also met Pilar! who worked initially in Administration and subsequently in Communications.
In 1982 Ramesh accepted a position with the Asian Development Bank in Manila. First as Executive Officer in Administrative Services, he worked up to supervisory and line responsibility for all areas of the Benefits function for both professional (expatriate) and supporting (local) staff. Meantime, Pilar had become a full-time mother who later earned a Master’s degree from the Asian Institute of Management. Pilar became involved in a small cottage industry business and other profit-making small ventures.
In 1986, the family began thinking long term about the education of their children and returned to North America – this time to Washington, DC, where Pilar was offered a consultancy at the World Bank headquarters. This consultancy and subsequent regular staff appointments in the Asia Region led to other interesting assignments, travel and learning opportunities in South and East Asia in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal. By the time she concluded her service in 2007 Pilar was the Senior Resource Manager for the Operations Evaluations Vice-Presidency.
Ramesh joined the World Bank headquarters staff in October 1989 with the Corporate Planning and Budgeting Vice Presidency and held numerous Washington-based positions including Program Coordinator (Principal Financial Manager) and Senior Projects Manager for day-to-day functioning of the World Bank Group’s core front-line operations both at HQ and in the field – visiting over 30 country offices in Eastern Europe, Middle East, South and East Asia, aside from other overseas travel. Following his retirement from the Bank in January 2001, he worked as Senior Projects Officer in the Facilities Management Division of the International Monetary Fund for three years and, subsequently, as a consultant with the World Bank till the latter half of 2005.
Ramesh and Pilar are now happily retired in Manila, though their two children are Canadian residents. Amar is an Assistant Professor at Osgoode Law School and Maya is engaged in post-doctoral studies at UBC and will join the University of Alberta’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department as an Assistant Professor this autumn. They have four grandchildren.
Throughout their long careers, Ramesh and Pilar never forgot the pleasure and excitement of working at IDRC nor their warm friendship with David and Ruth Hopper. A number of tributes by the Bhatias to them are footnoted for further reading. The establishment of this Fund honours that much cherished friendship and expresses the values both couples maintained throughout their professional careers.
For the Alumni Association, it has been a great pleasure to work with Ramesh, Pilar and IDRC in taking this big step to further enhance the co-operation between the Centre and the people who helped to make it special. Look for periodic reports in the Bulletin in the years to come on the difference the Fund is making in people’s careers and lives.
Ramesh remembers: “Davidji was a caring man of bold vision — he inspired those around him to high goals and help built the bridges needed to achieve them as well. As you all well know, he was a man possessing high intellect, compassion and caring – always employing his energies to improve the lives of the poor people around the globe.”
Pilar remembers: “A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, in my view, is most appropriate in describing my own experiences while working for Dr. Hopper over the years at the World Bank as well as the IDRC.”
“Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.” This is so true of Dr. Hopper as, I feel, he built not one monument but many in his lifetime – monuments of great achievements in several fields and, above all, a monument of love and friendship with his own family and countless friends around the globe.”
Dr. Hopper was remembered in the IDRC Alumni Bulletin No 26 December 2011.
The Hopper Bahtia Fund was inaugurated in June 2017. For more information on admissibility and scheduling is found here on the IDRC website.