Obituary: Mahidhara Davangere
By John Taylor, past president, IFoA
Mahidhara Davangere, an Associate of the IFoA and a member of Council since 2019, sadly died from COVID-19 on 15 May, aged only 39. Mahidhara was a pioneer of actuarial work in wider fields, founding Pramartha, an actuarial risk management firm that was based in Bangalore, India, and had offices around the world.
Mahidhara took his actuarial skills and experience into a range of applications, including data science, finance and investment, providing advice to clients who in other times might not have drawn on actuarial skills – especially in banking and project finance. He was a keen participant in the Banking Members Interest Group and a member of the profession’s Finance and Investment Board.
When IFoA Council wanted to improve representation for India by co-opting a local actuary, Mahidhara was the natural choice, as a bright and articulate young actuary with an obvious passion for India and for modernising the profession. He became the first Indian person to serve on IFoA Council, and was elected in his own right in 2019.
One memory of travelling in India with Mahidhara stays with me in particular. As he and I presented to hundreds of actuarial students, he was asked how the IFoA could support students to find work in a challenging employment market. He turned the question on its head, emphasising the responsibility of individual students to be proactive, to develop the skills needed by the evolving market and to explain their value to employers. Recognising that this might seem a daunting message, he explained how this philosophy had guided him in the development of Pramartha. His inspirational message, delivered with his trademark charisma and passion, brought the entire audience to their feet in applause.
The IFoA benefited greatly from his advice on how to better serve Indian members. And as an enthusiastic proponent of the profession’s growth into wider areas, he supported our initiatives on data science, climate risk and banking. Based in India, he travelled extensively to take part in professional meetings around the world, most recently attending Council in the UK in March 2020, just before the pandemic took hold.
Mahidhara was supportive in promoting actuaries internationally, as a director of Actuaires du Monde and member of the board for Actuaries Without Borders; he also worked on initiatives to support less fortunate actuarial students in India. He once said, in relation to actuaries volunteering, that “even the smallest opportunity is a valuable contribution”. We are all better for the considerable opportunities that he himself took.
WCA: A tour of the City of London’s gardens
July 21 at 5pm-9pm
Liveryman Peter Tompkins will lead a guided walk through the streets of the City, on the theme of City gardens. Known affectionately by the Corporation’s Parks and Gardens team as ‘the City’s little lungs’, we will see some of the lesser-known parts of the City, including the extensive new landscaping along London Wall.
We will gather in Paternoster Square next to Temple Bar for a 5.15pm start and will finish near Moorgate for
some food and drink at approximately 7pm. Attendance is limited to 30.
The cost is £45 per person, which includes food and wine and a donation of £15 to our charitable trust in respect of Peter’s time and effort. Please contact [email protected]
Book: Beauty in Letters: A Selection of Illuminated Addresses
By John Wilson, a senior manager at the Bank of England
Have you tried something new in lockdown? I tried to get a book published, and achieved this at the end of April when Beauty in Letters: A Selection of Illuminated Addresses was published by Unicorn Publishing Group.
The book is a display of illuminated addresses, with a brief description of each one. It is an art and social history book, combining elaborate calligraphy set within colourful, decorative borders, and the stories behind each address.
From the Victorian era to the mid-20th century, illuminated addresses were given to individuals in celebration of, and gratitude for, services rendered. Clergy, mayors, royalty and others would be presented with one as
a thank you on their retirement, often with a gift such as a tea service or silver plate.
The book includes a wide variety of styles. Each example is beautiful and encourages examination of the detailed design and the calligrapher’s skill. They prompt the questions: when, why and to whom was the address presented?
The book briefly answers these questions, with outlines of the recipient, the date and circumstance of the event, and sometimes a side story to add colour. The stories open insights into some diverse aspects of social history, as the addresses represent a variety of people and places.
Actuaries also get a mention. There is reference to Joshua Milne, who established Sun Life Assurance Society in 1810 and published A Treatise on the Valuation of Annuities and Assurances in 1815. Based on his studies, he created new mortality tables using the mortality bills (burial statistics) of Carlisle, and his work was subsequently used by many other life assurance companies. The reference is made within a profile of an illuminated address to Ernest Linnell, who retired as general manager in 1927.
To read the full interview with John, please visit bit.ly/BeautyInLetters
It is with great regret that we announce the death of the following members. We offer our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.
Mr Rene Wood, based in Andorra, gained fellowship in 1954, passed away aged 95
Mr Brian Wilson, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1981, passed away aged 73
Mr Michael Winters, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1956, passed away aged 92
Mr Clifford Gates, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1950, passed away aged 98
Mr Ronald Peet, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1958, passed away aged 95
Mr Nicholas Taylor, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1969, passed away aged 76
Mr Robert Hubbard, based in the UK, gained fellowship in 1971, passed away aged 80
Mr Venkitachala Sesha Ayyar, based in India, gained fellowship in 1954, passed away aged 96
Mr M Radhakrishnan, based in India, qualified as an associate in 1970, passed away aged 93
Image credit | iStock