CONTENTS gnY gnY-POINT | OCTOBER 2009 2009 ____________________________________________________________________________ 4
ALL IN THE IIT FAMILY
INTROSPECTIONS OF AN IITIAN
ENGINEERING FOR CHANGE
BRINGING PEACE IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
IIT CAMPUS, MONASTERY, SANCTUARY, OR LABORATORY
COMPUTERS FOR YOUTH
THE SAGE OF Y-POINT
FIRST OFF, PLEASE DON’T CALL ME PROF. CONTRACTOR…
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Today’s Program 12.00 pm - 12.50 pm
Registration, Networking, Drinks & Hors d' oeuvres
12.50 pm - 1.00 pm
Welcome Remarks, Chapter News
1.00 pm - 1.15 pm
Remarks from Dr. A. M. Gondane, Dy. Consul General
1.15 pm - 1.30 pm
Beyond the Local Chapter - Suresh Shenoy
1.30 pm - 2.30 pm
Lunch & Networking
2.30 pm - 3.15 pm
Keynote Speaker - Mohnish Pabrai
3.15 pm - 3.30 pm
3.30 pm - 4.00 pm
4:00 pm – 4:10 pm
Wrap-up & Closing
GURNANI & GURNANI Attorneys At Law PPrraaccttiiccee LLiim miitteedd ttoo IIm mm miiggrraattiioonn && N Naattuurraalliizzaattiioonn LLaaw w
Proud to support the IIT Alumni Association 2009 Annual Reunion Banquet ANITA GURNANI
Attorney at Law LL.B., J.D.
Attorney at Law MBA, CPA, J.D., B.Tech. (IIT-B, ’75)
505 Thornall Street, Suite #204, Metropark, Edison, New Jersey 08837 Tel: (732) 494-8900 • Fax: (732) 494 4848 Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association
Admitted in N.J., N.Y. & India • Weekend & evening appointments available
FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK On behalf of the entire volunteer team of IIT Bombay Alumni Association (IITBAA) – GNY Chapter, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to the 2009 Annual Reunion. I would also like to extend a special welcome to the Campus team, led by the Director of IIT Bombay, Professor Devang Khakhar, who is visiting the GNY alumni for the first time in his new capacity. The Annual Reunion is the flagship event of our chapter and is a forum for IIT Bombay alumni and friends to commemorate the achievements both of our alumni in business and industry, and of IIT Bombay in the field of higher education and research. I am delighted to report that the GNY Chapter continues to be the most vibrant and active Chapter, vis-à-vis engaging local IIT alumni, supporting the IIT Bombay Heritage Fund (IITBHF) activities and providing a forum for our alumni to stay in touch both with the campus and with each other. Hosting IIT Bombay’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations last year in a premier, world-class Times Square location, with over a thousand people in attendance is a testament to our alumni strength in the New York/Tri-State region and to their active participation. The Chapter’s continued success is, in no small part, due to the countless hours the founding members of the Chapter spent in putting an effective structure in place, the sheer volunteer energy which the Chapter has always had in plenty and the continued financial support, year-after-year, from our generous and reliable alumni Sponsors. Our Mission Statement focuses on three objectives – to provide alumni services that promote the advancement of alumni, to contribute to the growth of our alma mater IIT Bombay and, to facilitate alumni participation in the local communities. All three objectives are inter-related and complement each other. While the Networking Happy Hours, the Annual Picnics and other Speaker Events seek to serve the alumni, they also serve as a medium for alumni to stay in touch with the campus, to contribute monetarily through IITBHF or be involved with the campus in some other fashion. In addition to providing an avenue for Tri-State alumni to serve the local community, IITBAA-GNY’s tie-up with Computers for Youth (CFY), also enhances the image of Brand-IIT. More initiatives are in the pipeline. Forums to promote products and services offered by IITians, an alumni Job Board and a support system to lend a helping hand to alumni and their families in times of difficulty are just a few examples. Streamlining our Events Management Process, establishing more meaningful, longterm relationships with our Sponsors - both individual and organizational - and exploring new avenues for community participation are some of the initiatives being actively considered. Much of this has happened and will continue to happen only with your active participation. Our membership is close to a thousand in number and will continue to grow as more graduates make the Greater New York area their home. We look forward to increased participation of younger alumni in the Chapter activities. Once again, we welcome you to enjoy, participate, be entertained and informed. We are thrilled to have you here today. Warm Regards, Sreedhar Reddy Kona President, IITBAA – GNY Chapter (On behalf of the entire GNY Volunteer Team)
IIT BOMBAY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION GREATER NEW YORK CHAPTER October 4, 2009| www.iitbombay.org
PRESIDENT SREEDHAR REDDY KONA ‘97 VICE PRESIDENT HIMANSHU TRIPATHI ‘01 TREASURER SUHASINI SABNIS ‘82 TRUSTEES GAUTAM ADVANI ‘71 BRIJ AGARWAL ‘85 ADVISORY BOARD AVI NASH '75 NOORALI SONAWALLA '77 RAVI APTE '70 WEBMASTER SUMIT MONDAIYKA ‘97 VOLUNTEERS ANUSHREE AGRAHARI’02 UDAY NADKARNI ‘78 TARAK GORADIA ‘84 JUDE NETTO ‘66 ROHIT AGGARWAL ‘04 SHERU CHOWDHURY ‘96 SUSHIL BHATIA ‘66 VIKAS TIPNIS ‘74 VINAY KARLE ‘96 GAURANG MASTER ‘66 MORAL SUPPORT IITBHF OFFICERS SPOUSES, CO-WORKERS OUR INTREPID ALUMNI
gnYgnY-POINT EDITORS HIMANSHU TRIPATHI ‘01 SREEDHAR REDDY KONA ‘97 COVER PAGE DESIGN ANUSHREE AGRAHARI ’02 DESIGN MEGHNA TRIPATHI
Mohnish Pabrai Founder & Catalyst Dakshana Foundation Managing Partner Pabrai Funds Author of “The Dhando Investor"
Mohnish Pabrai with wife Harina Kapoor
ohnish Pabrai is the Managing Partner of the Pabrai Investment Funds. Since inception in 1999 with $1Million in assets under management, the Pabrai Funds has grown to about $350 Million in assets under management in 2009. The funds invest in public equities utilizing the Munger/Buffett Focused Value investing approach. Pabrai was the Founder/CEO of TransTech, Inc. - an IT Consulting and Systems Integration company. Founded in his home in 1990, Pabrai bootstrapped the company to over $20 Million in revenue when it was sold in 2000. TransTech was recognized as an Inc. 500 company in 1996. Pabrai has been profiled by Forbes and Barron’s and appeared on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, PBS, and Bloomberg Radio. He has been featured by various leading newspapers including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, and The Times of India. He is the author of two books on value investing. Pabrai is the winner of the 1999 KPMG Illinois High Tech Entrepreneur award given by KPMG, The State of Illinois, and The City of Chicago. He is an active Member of the Young President's Organization (YPO) and a charter member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). He and his wife, Harina Kapoor founded The Dakshana Foundation. Dakshana's mission is to focus on investing in the delivery of world-class education opportunities for exceptionally gifted children from impoverished rural backgrounds in India. Mohnish and Harina presently focus on preparing students for IIT-JEE and other Engineering Entrance examinations and exclusively target brilliant but economically and socially underprivileged rural and semiurban students. There is presently no alternative natural source of funding available for these deserving students to pursue their dreams. The Dakshana Foundation was pleased to announce that its first batch of JNV Dakshana Scholars came through with flying colors and did exceeding well in the IIT-JEE 2009. A total of 350 Dakshana Scholars were prepped by Dakshana for 1-2 years. Of these 75 qualified in the IIT-JEE merit list. In addition, 154scholars made it to the Extended Merit List of the IIT-JEE, which makes them eligible to join some of India’s most elite science and technology institutes. Mohnish strongly believes in a balanced life between work, family, and personal time. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Harina and children, Monsoon (14) and Momachi (12). He loves reading, playing duplicate bridge and analyzing businesses using Munger’s Latticework of Mental Models and the Buffett’s special situations and “moatbased” investment approach. He lives in Irvine, California.
Prof. Devang Khakkar Director, IIT Bombay
presented over 150 papers, including papers in Nature and Science. For his research achievements Prof Khakhar has been accorded several prestigious awards, which include the Bhatnagar Prize (1997) and the Swarnajayanti Fellowship (1998). He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian National Science Academy, and the Indian Academy of Sciences.
rof. Devang Khakhar is currently Director of IIT Bombay. He assumed office from January 01, 2009. Prof. Khakhar did his B.Tech. from IIT Delhi in 1981 and his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1986. He joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Bombay in January 1987, and has been with the institute since then.
Prof. Khakhar is also a recipient of IIT Bombay's “Excellence in Teaching Award” and the “Mathur Award for Research Excellence”. He has served as Professor-in-Charge of IIT Bombay’s Continuing Education Program from 2001-02, as Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering from 2002-04, and has been the Dean of Faculty Affairs since 2005.
Prof. Khakhar’s research interests include: dynamics of particulate systems, polymerization of rigid molecules and fluid mixing. He has published and
Dr. A. M. Gondane Deputy Consul General Consulate General of India, New York
.M. Gondane, Ph.D., joined Indian Foreign
Service in 1985. He has worked in Indian Embassies in Damascus, Baghdad, Vienna and Ankara in various positions. He was Director of West Asia and South Asian Cooperation (SAARC) Divisions in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. He also served as Joint Secretary at the Foreign Service Institute and was Joint Coordinator for the 14th SAARC Summit held in April 2007 in New Delhi.
was a Visiting Fellow at the Henry L Stimson Centre, Washington, DC in 2006. Mr. Gondane has edited two books on social development issues. His book “The Arrival” was published in 2006.
He also worked as Officer on Special Duty to the Deputy Speaker of Indian Parliament. Mr. Gondane
All in the IIT Family Perspectives from an IITian Spouse & Sibling Lakshmi Jagannathan
ong before it was fashionable, circa 1983, my brother, Anand, shocked the family by quitting his cushy job in Data General to start a company with his boss and another co-worker. The office they sublet, in the famous Route 128 corridor in Westborough Massachusetts, was the same one where Jonathan Sachs had recently developed the Lotus 1-2-3 electronic spreadsheet. My earliest memories are of their first task – to find a name for their company. Thanks to my brother’s Desi heritage, “Banyan Systems” was born - a networking company named after as my brother put it – “Nature’s distributed systems”. If memory serves me right, I think they even had a product called “Vines.” Banyan was an instant success story, which was probably not such a great thing because it transformed my brother into what I call “a serial entrepreneur.”
My brother’s entrepreneurial saga began with IIT, a name I first heard when I was a little kid in Calcutta (it wasn’t Kolkata then). He had just graduated from a Pre-University program at Loyola College in Madras (Okay, fine, Chennai), and was trying to decide between the local Marine Engineering College and IIT Kanpur. At that time, I had a lot of friends whose fathers worked for the shipping industry, so I remember marine engineering sounded a lot more impressive. The proximity to our home made my parents also think it would be a better choice. Anyway, something made him choose IIT, and I don’t think he has regretted that decision ever since. The only engineers we had in the family until then were two greatgrandfathers, one of whom was supposed to have been involved with the construction of the Kaveri Bridge. Apparently, my great-grandmother would joke in Tamil when asked what her husband did – “Ingi-neer or Sukku–neer, Who knows?” (Ingi, meaning fresh ginger and Sukku, dried ginger used for sweet preparations). After a long hiatus, we were finally getting an “Ingi-neer” so the whole family considered him a hero. My brother was a few years older than me, so in a sense, we were not really contemporaries. But through a haze of childhood filled with Algebra, nightmarish battles with Hindi, and long, drawn-out Carnatic music lessons that my mother insisted upon, I vicariously enjoyed the college life my brother had in Kanpur.
Anand was the tennis captain and on the table tennis team, so he traveled a lot for the games. He would be off to places like Rai Bareilly or Kharagpur, or even to a town actually called Kurukshetra, and once he surprised us by joining us in Naini Tal where we were on holiday. In those days, before cell phones and emails, letters were the only means of communication and we received quite a few with stories about his life in college. One time, he took part in a cycle rally from Kanpur to Lucknow, and my mother suddenly found herself hosting an entire team of cyclists in our home. We had other visitors from campus at various times, students who would suddenly show up for a weekend, and even a professor who came home for dinner. He was an American, so my mother tried to cook him a “Western” meal to make him feel at home. In retrospect, her repertoire must have looked limited, because what she served him was macaroni and cheese with strawberry jello for dessert. Perhaps the most significant memory I have is of someone who impersonated my brother. Since my Dad was a Railway official, there were a lot of perks when it came to travel. However, due to the Gandhian austerity of my father, these privileges were rarely used. Not until one fine day, when a fellow claiming to be my brother hitched rides from Kanpur to Kolkata, demanding all kinds of treats from the Railway officials. One smart employee finally got suspicious and smacked the man around, Indian style, until he confessed
the truth. “Sir, no son of yours could have behaved like that,” he told my father. Thanks to him, my brother’s honor was saved and my father’s stellar reputation preserved in Railway circles. Perhaps the high point of our lives was the call we received when my brother announced that he got a scholarship to attend Rice University for graduate school. “I”ve got a schol, I’ve got a schol, from Rice” he yelled through the phone, and none of us understood what he was talking about. Rice? Squall? It didn’t make sense until he
Ten years after my brother left home, I married another IITian. His story was different. My husband studied at Bombay IIT, but because his parents lived there, he was more of a commuter student who went home on weekends to do his laundry. Still, I’ve heard many stories of his IIT days like the one about having to work with electrical engineering lab equipment that only had manuals in Russian. His brother also followed him there and went on to Stanford University. Recently, while an uncle of mine was reminiscing about his IIT days I
famous by the Dilbert comic strip, even received acknowledgement during the elections when former Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed alumni at a conference in California through satellite. For my brother, however, studying at IIT was simply an amazing college experience. It was a life filled with academics no doubt, but also the camaraderie of fellowstudents (some who have become life-long friends), fun and adventure. I have had glimpses of the IIT experience through various
“I’ve got a school, I’ve got a school, from Rice” he yelled through the phone, and none of us understood what he was talking about. Rice? Squall? explained, and it didn’t make sense even afterwards. In those days (we are talking 1974) no one left home for a foreign country. To have someone actually pay you to study was unheard of and the words “going abroad” were usually uttered in hushed tones to a reverent audience. Of course, since then, we’ve all discovered as John Keats said in his poem “A song about myself” that in other countries also “the ground was as hard, that a yard was as long, that a song was as merry…” as in your own, but in those days it was a novelty.
made the mistake of asking him which IIT he attended. “What do you mean?” he asked indignantly. “The most important IIT, of course,” he said. In his time there was only one institute – the first one in Kharagpur. Little did my family realize then the significance of these government-subsidized institutions that were established soon after India’s independence. Nobody could have guessed the impact they would have in the world of today by producing so many technology leaders and innovators. These schools, made
relatives, though I must confess, I have yet to visit a campus. I see some common traits in those who have been through the rigorous IIT mill. They think outside the box, are willing to take risks, and seem to be imbued with a spirit of adventure. Maybe for this they should thank their alma mater. As Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
______________________________________________________________________________________ Lakshmi Jagannathan is a former agricultural scientist who is now a writer in the Northwest trying to live by this quote she saw in Facebook: "Be yourself, everyone else is taken."
Introspections of an IITian Tarak Goradia ‘84
ust the thought of 25 years’ reunion is enough to open up the flood-gates of emotions and memories. It is very refreshing to take walks down the memory lane with wing-mates, hostelmates and batch-mates on various IIT yahoo groups. The relationships that we built during our IIT years are deep and free of façades; the memories of those days are exhilarating and rejuvenating. What makes them so special? Most residential college alumni would have similar relationships and memories. This begs the question: what is unique about being an IITian? The quest that began with this question went into many uncharted territories, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Without any pretence, or fear of flames, I candidly penned down the revelations. While these are personal, as fellow IITians, I am sure you’ll appreciate them irrespective of whether you relate to specific ones.
trying the Fundaman stunt in Chemistry or HSS, but Physics and Linear Algebra seemed like a distinct possibility. With an assumed air of confidence, I gave it a shot. While Linear Algebra was a resounding success, Physics was a dismal failure. In order to apply Newton’s laws, you needed to understand the physical situations … there was no way of understanding various arrangements of pulleys, planes, chutes, etc. without practicing representative problems from Resnick and Halliday!
Inflation I felt like a giant peacock strutting, as my high school friends puffed me up on making it to the top 100 ranks on the JEE. Overnight, there was this invisible aura that separated me from the rest. It seemed like the culmination of a long journey from the kindergarten, one plume at a time. Having grown up in a lower middle class family, it was probably the very first time I felt that I belonged to the elite.
I had been so addicted to the “topper” plume throughout my school years, that it was hard to give up the addiction. The target was 9+ GPA, and if that needed a muggu label, so be it! I did manage to graduate with the “topper” plume, which turned out to be the most useless asset I acquired at IIT.
IQ vs. EQ
The first few hours and days in IIT were quite adequate to deflate most of the air from the peacock. The fancy plumes seemed to transform into ugly broom-sticks. The seniors helped: Moron, you don’t know how many holes there are? How the heck did you make it to the top 100? Humiliating as it was, some of the ragging sessions were eye-openers in more than one ways. Besides forcing down a dose of self-awareness, I became intimately mindful of the choices in front of me and the associated role models in our hostel.
At IIT, with average intelligence level being quite high, we tend to evaluate everything logically. In the company of high IQ students without adequate real life experience, our rational views get a boost, sometimes treading into arrogance. Often we take a very simplistic view of the world so as to fit things in our limited rational model, and ignore the softer emotional variables. For example, during my marriage, I steadfastly opposed certain rituals, which my wife had been looking forward to, since her childhood. In my early work-life, there have been many instances where perfectly rational decisions or choices fell completely flat because they didn’t take into account real-life emotional aspects. Fortunately, while IQ is largely innate, EQ can be acquired by meticulous practice. May be we should arrange for EQ
Muggu vs. Fundaman He is a Fundaman; he can crack Homo’s end-sem without mugging! How could I turn down the Fundaman challenge? I figured, there was no point
tests for graduating students to help them build the emotional awareness required to survive in the world where EQ is often more important than IQ.
of the box”, life often requires you to execute meticulously with both feet firmly on the ground at all times.
Off the Beaten Path
Many of us like to travel off the beaten path; we take special pride in doing something unusual, no matter how silly it is. I remember one of the hostels got an elephant in the campus to get brownie points for their entertainment program. After my M.S, while the rest of the gang headed to sunny California, I chose a job in freezing Minnesota. After returning to Bangalore in 2000 and spending seven fulfilling years in India while raising two kids, I supported my wife to pursue her clinical doctorate in the U.S., even though it meant a second, major, temporary relocation for the entire family. When we returned to the U.S., we got rid of the flippingchannels disease by avoiding the cable television altogether. May be this is my own eccentricity and has nothing to do with being an IITian. Humor apart, I am truly impressed by the IITians who have indeed
As a useful by-product of the lazy habit of avoiding ghodagiri, our fundas became totally clear on the intrinsic values of things. We are quite good at seeing through hypes and facades. We realize that a food joint at YP is far better than a restaurant at Taj, to have fun with your close friends. We are able to observe how the multi-billion dollar lawn industry creates more problems than it solves, or how the sex industry successfully adds hype and sizzle to leverage a couple trivial biological and psychological facts. Little did I know that this skill of assessing intrinsic values would come in handy later in my life. Professionally, I find myself at ease working in New York City as well as in Chennai, which are worlds apart in every sense. It is hard to go wrong when you are focused on creating an impact on the fundamentals of the business. In my personal life, my family is quite
I did manage to graduate with the “topper” plume, which turned out to be the most useless asset I acquired at IIT. travelled off the beaten path in pursuit of making a major impact on the society by championing various environmental or social causes.
comfortable living in New Jersey and in Bangalore, and has learned to enjoy the best of both places. I believe it is the skill of intrinsic value assessment that helps in cutting through the superficial annoyances that come in the way of enjoying the things, a place has to offer.
Elite hate Ghodagiri No self-respecting IITian would admit indulging in ghodagiri, especially in academics. The IIT culture had many unwritten rules. One of them was: thou shall get by with minimum amount of ghodagiri. It felt stupid to do anything without resorting to shortcuts. That meant cogging assignments, mani (manipulate) the observations/results in the lab, and so on. Circumventing the system seemed like a smart thing to do and many a times, we succumbed to this misguided notion. Today, I find it extremely hard to admit this to my kids, especially when I intend to play a role model for the ‘2% inspiration, 98% perspiration’ maxim. Time and again, I have witnessed mockery of IITians when it comes to execution. In one of my early jobs, since I was able to impress everyone by only a few hours of work, I wasted the remaining time in mindless pursuits of vanities. I had to consciously retrain myself and pull back up from the slippery slope. While it is wonderful to be able to “fly high in the blue sky” and “think out
Volunteering Lazy IITians turn into efficient machines while organizing events -- be it a hostel treasure hunt, or the inter-hostel entertainment program competition, or the mood indigo festival. I have to admit that it is a bit surprising to see the scarcity of volunteers in organizing the alumni events. I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from every event that I took part in during my IIT years, and wish, I had participated more. Volunteering is a national passion in the United States, and is fundamental to building solid foundations of a democratic society. Slowly, but surely, I see myself embracing this passion.
Inspiring Speakers Inspiring leaders often need to be inspiring speakers. I have heard many inspiring speakers, and hardly any of
them have IIT pedigree. When we look for speakers for alumni events, very few IITians seem to make it. As I look back throughout my IIT years, I remember only one public speaking activity that petered out very quickly. While I revere IIT profs, directors, and distinguished alumni, I can hardly recollect a speech delivered by a faculty or alumni which was truly inspiring. To get better at this skill, I am actively involved with the Princeton Toastmasters club. I sincerely hope that public speaking becomes an integral part of the extra-curricular scene at IIT.
IIT, and a conviction-laden voice. When that happens, as IITians, it is almost our obligation to give a concrete life to the spirit. In my case, I have taken up the challenge of mastering the mind, experiencing the inner-workings of the mind and ways of changing its habit patterns. Wish me luck!
Managing Entropy Entropy increases over time. The second law of thermodynamics was often a good justification for the entropy in our hostel rooms or life in general. For some reason, understanding the entropy around us has become my major past time since the IIT days. As the number of intrusive communication devices increase in our daily life, the entropy multiplies correspondingly. Without being a social outcast, how do we manage this entropy? The answer is surprisingly simple: it is your reaction to the intrusions that generates the entropy, not the intrusions themselves. Managing your reactions is the key to managing the entropy in your life. I should thank my IIT friend, Bharat Trivedi, for guiding me to books that brought home this realization.
Conquering the Invincible The spirit of conquering the invincible is what most IITians live and breathe. I believe it is this spirit more than anything else that distinguishes us as a group. We take pride in meeting every technical or business challenge head-on and are usually able to work out feasible solutions fairly quickly. (I intentionally left out family or social challenges.â˜ş). We often seek out challenges, and get bored when none exists. Some of us convert routine, mundane tasks into challenging ones just for the heck of it. For those who have seemingly settled down in their comfortable corporate grooves, the spirit may lie dormant, but it can be easily stirred up. It is hard to miss the symptoms when this spirit is stirred up: lighting up of the eyes, dropping of the accent and social norms acquired post-
A New Online Tool Links Engineers to Development Challenges Worldwide Shekhar Chandrashekhar ‘80
Roughly 2 billion people live on less than $2 per day, according to the 2005 United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report. They make up the broad base of the pyramid that development efforts usually target, Chandrashekhar said. If those low-income earners are the focus, “then we need a whole new way of thinking,” he said. “And the hope is that this Web site – Engineering for Change – becomes one of the key enablers.”
ommunities and organizations working in developing regions may have the materials and the muscle to build but sometimes they lack guidance with technical training to show them the way. Engineering for Change is a small and growing network of engineers who are online to respond. By linking the expertise, creativity and financial power of a worldwide community of experts to the thinkers and heavy lifters on the ground, Engineering for Change hopes to seed development. It offers the chance to organizations on the ground to recruit experts that they might not have been able to find otherwise.
Chandrashekhar has seen small-scale and simple technologies put to work in communities in India. Small power generators, for example burn fuel like dried dung or agricultural waste to produce electricity; and he has seen native plants used to filter pollutants from lake water. The challenge, in his view, is to spread the techniques and share the expertise.
The Web site, Engineering.org, is the project's hub. There, experts and solution seekers swap ideas and solve problems through forums, personal messages, photos, files and videos. Users can post challenges and search for solutions, manage projects, keep calendars and make appointments. Through the site, engineers in Bombay can share tips with plumbers in Ecuador's Amazon, for example, or swap stories with their colleagues in New York City.
“Creating these solutions involves a lot of thought,” he said. “It needs some thought leaders to engage with the community and then provide a platform for exchanging the ideas. That's where Engineering for Change comes in. It creates a new way of thinking and creates a new way of doing business.”
A whole new way of thinking The project's directors hope to build a community of think tanks; professors and students such as those at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; NGOs; financial service companies and consulting companies. “If you can build a community you can solve a problem,” said Shekhar Chandrashekhar, the portfolio management director at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and also an IITB’80 alumnus.
Why hasn't this been done before? Noha El-Ghobashy, who heads this project as ASME's technical programming and development director, has met with engineers and students who can provide their expertise, corporations that can fund projects, and NGOs and communities seeking solutions around the world. NGO leaders have told her that they would like share the solutions they create to help others. They also need access to technical experts but they don't know where to turn. Engineering students would like
to engage with others but they don't have time to travel abroad. Corporate leaders told her that getting involved would promote corporate social responsibility and give their employees an outlet for community involvement. “This concept appeals to so many kinds of people. That excitement is so gratifying and it's validation that we're on to something here,” she said. The work engineers can do through the site could allow them to solve problems that they might not encounter in their careers, she added.
A call to action The project's directors have enlisted the help of students and professionals from institutions such as the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Northeastern University, as well as the non-profit engineering consultancy firm Catapult Design, among a dozen others. They have begun testing the site and making recommendations for improvements. Already there are challenges listed, and many of them are in need of expert aid. The site will remain in a testing period until its official launch in April 2010, and its developers are seeking recommendations from talented engineers to help improve it. Users can sign in, create profiles, seek out challenges and solutions and interact with the growing online community right now.
“I think many people are saying 'Wow, why hasn't this been done before?'” she said. “It resonates particularly with the early-career engineers who want to give back and participate, and it resonates with the notion of how engineers can make an impact on societal issues.” Through the site, she believes, solutions could proliferate, affecting as many people as possible for the greatest impact.
For those interested in becoming involved, contact Noha El-Ghobashy at firstname.lastname@example.org
______________________________________________________________________________________ Engineering for Change (E4C) is a Web site that enables engineers and humanitarian organizations to recruit, collaborate, share information, and manage humanitarian projects throughout the world. It is led by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for the entire engineering community and will be free for anyone to use. You can sign up for the E4C e-newsletter at www.engineering.org
Bringing peace in Indian Subcontinent Sushil Bhatia ’66
s it my age or is it my mindset, I do not know. But lately I have been thinking “What good is our education if it is not applied to betterment of our society?” It is with this background that an idea on how we can bring peace in Kashmir popped up in my mind. I do not have any political connections; all my observations are based on newspaper reports from India and Pakistan and my own observations on human behavior. The basic concept is to make such a lucrative offer to Kashmiris that they find it difficult to refuse. An offer that average Kashmiris find that they are better off taking, rather than rejecting it. And as part of this offer Kashmir will have to be an integral part of India. There will be no force, no coercion, they will have to decide for themselves if it is good for them and if it is, then they will willingly participate in it.
The basic idea is that India can offer to build IT based high-tech industry in Kashmir that will provide high paying jobs to local population. This can be accomplished by setting up a new IIT or an IIIT in Kashmir and offering incentives to software companies to set up offices there. Every state in India vies for an IIT and for IT industry. Indian government can offer to setup an IIT in Kashmir provided it becomes an integral part of India and revokes its special status. It can also offer incentives to private IT firms to setup offices in Kashmir. This is similar in concept to what
Ireland had done few decades back when they were offering $10 thousand to industry for every person employed there. India could offer, say 25% of every employee’s salary as an incentive to the industry for say a period of 5 to 10 years. This will encourage more industry to setup offices in Kashmir; create more of high paying jobs for the youth that will entice them to favor this type of proposal. From what I have read in newspapers, there is very high unemployment for youth which leads them to the path of ISI sponsored violence. Creating high paying jobs for local youth will lead them away from the path of violence and create a positive image for them and for India. Will this proposal find immediate acceptance? I really do not think so. We all have our own opinion of the world and this does not change overnight. We need to analyze who will be the losers in this scheme and analyze their objections. Pakistan, or should we say ISI of Pakistan will be the biggest loser. Once people get taste of power they do not want to willingly relinquish it and this will be no exception. My conversations with few Pakistani friends indicate that no one will believe this offer to be genuine. This can be countered by implementing it in stages, letting people see the benefit before committing to the complete solution. A start could be made by inviting students to visit IIT campuses and see for themselves the life in a campus and visit IT
companies and interact with recent graduates employed there. This will give them a taste of what a good education can provide. Similar goodwill tours could be arranged for leaders of all political parties to expose them to the educated mindset, or should we say a different life style, different than the path of violence. At later stages students could be given admission in local colleges and teachers invited for train the trainer programs so they may go back and start training programs in Kashmir by themselves. How long will it take to accomplish this? This is not going to be an overnight success. It could easily take10, 15, 25 years. But so what? A beginning has to be made and the sooner it is made, the better it is. This is by no means the only way. My purpose in writing these thoughts is to initiate a dialog within our community so a well thought out plan can emerge in which all parties take part in shaping it so that everyone is a winner.
IIT Bombay Alumni pledge $7 million at golden jubilee conference in New York! Pradeep Anand ‘78 organized and executed by volunteers—IIT Bombay alumni drawn from across North America. This team operated with synchronized precision, producing an outstanding conference and gala.” he added.
Distinguished alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, Romesh Wadhwani, gifted his alma mater $5 million at the IIT Bombay Golden Jubilee Conference 2008, held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel Times Square in New York City last weekend. These funds will be utilized to set up a bioscience center at IIT Bombay.
Victor Menezes, Retired Senior Vice Chairman of Citigroup and co-chairman of this event said, “The conference theme was Looking Ahead: The Next Fifty Years. Ideas and perspectives from more than 55 insightful speakers—Jamie Dimon (CEO, JP Morgan Chase), Ronen Sen (Ambassador of India to the United States), Frank Wisner (Vice Chairman, AIG, and former US Ambassador to India), David Leebron (President, Rice University), and others—made the conference intense and thoughtprovoking.”
“I owe my success in life to the superior education I received from IIT Bombay, and this is my way of saying thank you,” said Romesh Wadhwani Anil Kshirsagar, President of the IIT Bombay Heritage Fund, said, “Mr. Wadhwani’s generosity is another example our alumni’s consistent commitment to give back to IIT Bombay.”
During the latter part of each day, the tenor changed to that of a celebratory gala, with a delightful variety of cuisines, an energetic and slick Indian classical dance program by Natraj School, a colorful fashion show by Alia Khan, and dancing to music by IIT Bombay alumnus “Ouch” Awalegaonkar and the Bollywood Rockers.
Spurred by Mr. Wadhwani’s inspiration, several alumni, individually and in groups, initiated efforts to raise an additional $2 Million for the benefit of their school and its students.
“I owe my success in life to the superior education I received from IIT Bombay, and this is my way of saying thank you,” said Romesh Wadhwani.
A thousand people—friends and alumni of IIT Bombay— came together last weekend to celebrate 50 years of IIT Bombay. It was the largest alumni event for an Indian university, outside India.
“In addition to the fascinating panel discussions and speeches about the next fifty years, alumni also took the time to celebrate their golden jubilee reunion and enjoyed the company of their friends and classmates,” said Uday Nadkarni, President of the Greater New York Chapter.
“We had set lofty and ambitious goals for ourselves and we far exceeded these expectations, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors!” said an elated Suresh Shenoy, the chairman of the conference. “This event was
Priceless Bhaskar Mitra â€˜02 remotely close to capturing it. For me, it was not a different state of mind, only one that was more alive and vibrant. It was not a feeling of intoxication, in the sense we party-hard IITians are aware of. It was as if I had been myopic all my life and somebody had just given me spectacles. Life was still the same, but suddenly it was brighter and more vibrant and alive.
I still remember that day vividly. I was taking a break from lab work, and was curiously drawn towards a gaggle of people congregating around the EE seminar hall. A long haired guy in a white kurta (who I later found out was an alumnus) was talking about meditation. I had always wanted to do meditation, had even tried doing it by myself without any guidance, but never really had done it properly. After the presentation and ensuing discussion, this alumnus who was also a meditation teacher led a guided meditation. I was glad that he made us practice, because none of what he said made any sense to me. If you had never eaten a mango, words cannot describe what it is really tastes like.
A seed was sown that day. It was not until my second year at Michigan that I was able to find the time to do the art of living course. Ever since that day, meditation has been a wonderful part of my life. It has brought millions of small changes to my life, and they add up to make life more joyful. It brings so much life and energy to my day, that it is hard to imagine what life would have been without it. That is the road not taken, and I will never know. But what I do know is that I have found a deep sense of joy that stays with me regardless of my circumstances. And that is PRICELESS.
I was not prepared for what happened next. One hears so much about what meditation is, how it is a different state of mind, etc. etc., but no description can come even
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“First off, please don’t call me Professor Contractor …” Vikas Tipnis ‘74 I happened to be sitting across from Professor Ali Q. Contractor, our new Dean of Alumni & Corporate Relations, in his office on campus last month when he said this to me. Rajeev Deshpande ’77, currently Chief Development Officer at IIT-B, had been kind enough to walk me over there and introduce us. By the time this admonition came up in conversation, we had established that Prof. Contractor and I had been on campus at about the same time in the early 1970s, he in Hostel 9, and me in Hostel 5. We had brought up the probability that we had even traded galis at each other in the typical across-the-lawns, interHostel hubris of the day. I was sure I had fired Diwali rockets at his wing from my 2nd-floor lastwing perch. So by several counts, the stage was set for us to be on first-name bases. But I demurred …
mouth shut nevertheless. Now I was face-to face with my own inevitabilities. What shall my etiquette be? Prof. Contractor and I, regardless of our common age-group, were sitting across a table of a different ilk at this juncture. He was two up on me. One, he had dedicated his life to teaching. A service as noble as it gets, and thereby worthy of accord and respect in its own right -- and fitting salutation. Two, showing him respect was according respect to IIT-B, an institution, my alma mater, which I hold in unhesitatingly high regard. That made up my mind. Addressing him -- indeed all IIT faculty -- with propriety was the proper thing to do. Are there exceptions to this protocol, ever? Possibly. If I were already on first-name bases with one of these glitterati from a bonding beyond or outside the Institute itself, like being friends, or classmates, even hostel wing-mates, then that close association would give me that license. Within close professional circuits, colleagues too are accorded these licenses with each other. But only just; for even here, when referring to their exalted colleagues in public, good taste and courtesy dictates, nay demands that they use the formal titles. Do these exceptions absolve my HF or GNY Chapter buddies? They must decide for themselves. For me, it shall be Professor Contractor!
This was a somewhat ponderous visit back to campus for me. At thirty-five years past my graduation, I found myself for the first time, older than just about every single faculty member at IIT-B. Several of these stalwarts had indeed been my juniors on campus! When some of my colleagues at the GNY Chapter addressed Prof. Misra, our last-Diro, by his first name, I had found it improper and disconcerting. But right or wrong, I decided those were their values not mine. When some of our card-carrying, younger whipper-snappers from the Heritage Fund took these liberties with Misra and other IIT-B faculty members, I found it pretentious and disrespectful, but kept my
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IIT Campus-Monastery, Sanctuary or Laboratory? Prof. Milind Sohoni ‘86 http://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/~sohoni/
Ficuses, Palas, Amaltas, and many, many more. There were also some rare trees such as the Macaranga peltata, which stood where the current CSE building is. Overall, the campus with its meadows, hills and lakes and its proximity - both to the sea and the hills – offered an immense variety of wildlife. Such riches could not but affect the psyche of the residents.
was our Silver Jubilee year, and coincidentally the year when I first came to this campus as a UG student. Hostel 4 was then a small hostel with small rooms. It was situated in a beautiful corner of the campus, the closest hostel to the wonderful Vihar lake. Ceiling fans had been installed recently and we were charged a princely sum of Rs. 20 per month as fan charges (the tuition fee was Rs. 45 per month). The department was a 15 minute walk via Hostel 2, situated under the Gulmohar tree at the Swimming Pool. If you had more time, you could walk across the grassy meadow adjoining the Gymkhana ground, then cross the naalah behind the Hobbies Club building to reach Staff Club. There was, of course, the leafy route via Hostel 5 and then the climb at the Convocation Hall slope.
To the lay person (i.e., not a wildlife freak) too, the campus offered intimacy and vivacity. There were always the long runs along the pipelines to get a glimmering view of Vihar Lake. Or one could count the empty glasses at the NCC Café while watching the rains lash Gymkhana ground. There were the wide, open stretches on the Hillside, or one could visit the Devi-temple or the Powai Lake and its crocodiles. And so it was, a throbbing sub-text of courses, grades, inter-hostels, treasure-hunts, all-night chais, and of course, the longing for another Mood-I to a quiet and still main text. The academics were an integral part of this stillness. Courses were timeless or should I say, time-proof. Only that which was 50 years old and yet (barely) alive, could be taught to students, thereby ensuring that it would remain so for the next 50 years. Then there was the mythology of the really, really tough courses and the legendary ‘fundaman’, who would crack them. Some said that these ‘fundamen’ (who looked scruffy and inscrutable) could actually imagine four dimensions or EM-waves. I too, privately, gave it a try without success.
What struck me as a freshie was (i) the witty, alert and multi-faceted student body, (ii) the back-drop of a beautiful and somewhat rustic campus and finally (iii) the stillness and quietude. All three facets were intimately and organically connected. I later learnt how rich the campus really was in wildlife. The IITB bird-list had more than a hundred spots to find the rare birds, and the butterfly-list was close to 60, excluding the bugs and snails, snakes and cows. A typical Sunday morning bird-watching session would easily touch to catching a glimpse of close to 50 birds. Koldongri (the area abutting Powai Lake after Hostel 7) itself would give you about 30 birds in an hour. Some regular sightings were: Hoopoes, Pipits and Wagtails around Gymkhana grounds, White-eyes and Ioras in the Gulmohar trees at the pool, Cuckooshrikes, Fly-catchers behind the Convocation Hall, and so on. Occasional sightings included the Goldenbacked woodpecker, the Open-billed stork, the Grey Hornbill, Shikras, and so on. The campus was rich with many indigenous trees, which included the Palms, Teewar, Sterculius, Pangara, Ratan-Gunj, the
The professors also played to the script. None wore sunglasses (then called goggles) and few had cars. All cars, if at all, were from the Raj days. The professors played bridge or chess at the Faculty Club which had old cane armchairs and magazines (never the latest issue) in old leather folders. Central Area (where they stayed) was most of the time unusually still. Perhaps some contemplation was in progress (history of the Wheatstone bridge? The ideal question paper?). By the way, the Director’s Bungalow was called Chintan.
Complex were rising. The vanvaas had ended. Actually, both of these were two different wavefronts of the same original disturbance called the Big Game (a.k.a.globalisation, Maya, market forces, Leela, etc.) but they hit us at the same time.
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This new knowledge brought in a new thinking. A new postgraduate education paradigm was established and PG strengths started rising. Research and its infrastructure dominated our thinking about the campus. New constructions in this era include the Hillside C-types, Tulsi, Hostel 11, DRDO quarters, Tansa, QIP quarters, White House, New B-type Multi-storey, SAC, CAD Centre and more. Many department buildings were renovated and many laboratories were created. The Age of Rubble had begun. In fact, those who are archeologically inclined would find it rewarding should they explore (dig) areas behind Hostel 5 and Staff Canteen. The Age of Floods had also begun. This was the time when we started seeing days with 500 mm rainfall every monsoon. The river-linking canals that we had built were suddenly useful.
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On our vanvaas, it had all but disappeared. The main road (Adi Shankaracharya Marg) was suddenly crowded. The legendary traffic jams of Saki Naka were already in place. Besides Radha-Krishna, new entrants such as Vadilal, Sujata Palace, Akshaya, Monginis (and further away, Chakra) unshackled the students from the tyranny of the hostel messes. The rise of Hiranandani had a more profound but subtle effect on the faculty and staff and their families. It was as if a parallel world had suddenly come into existence and was shown to us in the form of gaudy flip-books. Comparisons were inevitable, and they helped define our expectations from the campus which literally paved the way for Phase II. The administration was largely silent on the vanvaas front, since things were generally outside their purview or control. But yes, the entrance of Cable TV was hotly discussed and finally permitted. E-mail’s entry was quiet.
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And so it would go on, monsoon after monsoon. The campus WAS actually a monastery. Knowledge was all that was permanent and invariant. And nature was where it breathed. It was all there, in the ether. Well, to be honest, not all was monastic. There was the odd Old Monk, the scandals, the MI Organisers, Schlumbergers, the GREs and so on. All at the same, the campus could well have been a monastery and knowledge could well have been ... you get the idea. The possibility did exist.
Phase II began roughly in 1995. Its defining paradigm may now be called ‘Endless Research’, i.e., a devotion to the ‘means’, ‘techniques’ or ‘technologies’ of research and the meta-issues of ethodology and measurement, rather than to the specific ‘ends’. Pursuing the right means rather than the ends has always been recommended (of course, only if done at one’s own expense). This new research could not be done sitting on a chatai (or satranj in Marathi). It needed new and sophisticated instruments, trained manpower, highly professional researchers and above all, an access to the
After having spent three years outside the campus, my second inning began in 1989 as a Ph.D. student, after having spent three years outside it. Many things had changed (mainly me). Firstly, a new knowledge had come to me. As opposed to permanence and invariance, this new knowledge was actually evanescent and needed intense professional pursuit called research. Next, shimmering across the Powai Lake, the first few buildings of the Hiranandani
many ways. Its residents generally took pride in being a part of the vibrant Powai community, with fine dining, fine shopping and tolerable schooling within easy reach. The campus itself was kid, pet and car friendly, with great access to sports and cultural facilities. As far as the students were concerned, hostel accommodation was tight but for no fault of the administration. In general, though, the city was close by and had a lot to offer. Gymkhana facilities were good and getting better.
technologies of the world. ‘Access’ was to be an important word. The dual-degree programs were started. Various new specializations were founded. The second phase of constructions had now begun. This includes practically everything that you see presently. CSE, SOM, KreSIT, Gulmohar, Van Vihar, CSE, all the labs behind the bay area, numerous extensions to EE, Hostel 12 to Hostel 13, culminating with the Ananta Towers. One may note the ‘extra-mural’ quality of the new constructions, for they were previously serving a different and somewhat ideological purpose.
How had nature fared? Well, its role was frequently that of a nuisance, floods and the movement of leopards being the biggest offenders. Half the birds had left the campus. Koldongri was a fraction of what it was. Sonaribag (the area between Convocation Hall and Hostel 8, on the lake) was highly disturbed. Nature itself had stopped being a source of inspiration to most of the campusites. All the same by 2007, on the eve of our Golden Jubilee, barring some growing pains the campus was at peace, both materially and philosophically. The tryst was with excellence and the sanctuary was in place.
This was also accompanied by a very suburban aesthetic of community development. Roads were widened, concrete footpaths were laid, parking lots were designed, faculty housing received fences and so did the Academic Area. A children’s park was built, a Crèche was founded and so was an internal bus system. ACs and cars became endemic. The residential and hostel network came into existence. Interiors of houses were refurbished with modular kitchens, aluminum siding windows; houses were generally brought up-to-date.
But by now, two unforeseen events happened: (i) the economy (supposedly) had tanked, and (ii) MHRD bought our monastery story, late by twenty-five
years. The first has caused a lot of hand-wringing at the global top table and will definitely percolate downwards. The paradigm of ‘endless research’ may well prove to be ‘sub-prime’ and funding agencies may well lose appetite for it. On the other hand, MHRD has asked us to do substantially more of rather’ end-full’ teaching which cuts across our stated mission and our current tastes. Thus the ‘sanctuary’ paradigm for our campus may well come under some stress.
In short, the Institute did everything within its means to create within our campus, a sanctuary for researchers and their families. In 2005, we came up with a Master Plan which marked exactly what had been achieved and what lay in the near horizon. It offered three insights: (i) the academic area needed expansion, (ii) the space beyond the pipeline must be brought in and (iii) nature needed allocation. Growth had finally been trajectorised. The campus had metamorphosed in
Materially speaking, the first response is to dust off the designs. These modifications would include putting the land beyond the pipeline into use, expanding Academic Area and creating huge lecture hall complexes and 1000-seater hostels. But there is a danger: just as Soviet equipment lay unused in our campus till the buildings around them crumbled, it is possible that some of our fancy new gadgets or our old un-re-invented departments will have the same fate. Moreover, if the increase in the teaching role for IIT is not sterilised quickly, then not just the demographics but the ‘type’ (a game-theoretic term to indicate privately-held information) of people may also change with time.
the Master Plan, extend it and then modify some of structure could link the demand, the design and the execution together. Actually, there is nothing novel in our circumstances or in what is being proposed here. All American universities of comparable size have a separate office for vision, policy and strategy, and another one for planning which looks at campus-wide implications of the designed strategy (e.g., Harvard). There is a role for both ideology and for stakeholder input. The second point of this narrative is that the shape of the campus affects (and is affected by) how we define our primary activity, i.e., research and teaching, and what we believe that the campus should provide for our welfare. Whence, a ‘collective’ approach to the campus will also require some amount of collective understanding of what motivates us to be in IITB, as individuals. Perhaps we should treat the double-event (i.e., the crumbling economy and the new teaching load) as a cross-road from which lead two paths. The first is the survival-ist or destiny-ist path, a path which follows the semester to semester approach, i.e.,
In any case, we will be dealing with a larger student, faculty and staff body. It is not clear whether the current, rather informal mechanisms of governance (i.e., formulating rules and enforcing them, developing plans and executing them) will continue to work. For example, evolving a rule about use of campus lawns for social functions will mean defining what is private, what is the institute’s and what is
The history of an Institute is always a fractal of the national history. As like other institutes, this institute too serves (and ought to serve) as an important guinea-pig for the nation. the status quo. Or we follow the second path of intelligent design. Actually, the first path is welltrodden not only by us, but by our country as a whole (defense analysts and wonks call us a ‘status quo’ country, meaning one having no ‘intelligent designs’). So let us now become a laboratory and take the other path.
parainstitute (such as conferences), and enforcing a rule which no one will want to break, even occasionally. Master Plans or Vision documents, if they are to make a difference, will create unexpected ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, all of which has to be foreseen. They must start with a community consensus building exercise. This will need a widespectrum, transparent information and decision system – an ASC covering all aspects of the campus. Just imagine how systematic and efficient the scenario would be if the Estate Office had a transparent mechanism, wherein each project would list its champion, its design, the contract, the bids, the award, periodic inspection reports, the measurement sheet, bills and clearances, remarks and finally payments (compare this with the current www.iitb.ac.in/tenders/). The champion is the ideological owner of the project; it could be ‘Master Plan 2006’ or ‘Head, CSE’ or even ‘Area representative, Lakeside’. Thus the information
The history of an Institute is always a fractal of the national history. As like other institutes, this institute too serves (and ought to serve) as an important guinea-pig for the nation. Besides of course, our mandate and our trajectory of growth, its inclusiveness and the governance structures that we evolve all constitute this one pig called IIT Bombay. How we grapple with our new reality will be keenly watched, for it will provide a clue to the future of this wonderful experiment called India. In the end, of course, all of us and the pig are dead. It is the interim which is also of immense interest.
________________________________________________ This article has been reproduced, mostly verbatim, from campus magazine, Raintree.
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The leadership of IIT Greater New York continues to be primarily focused on alumni services. The most notable contribution to IIT alumni in the NY area was the launch of the second round of our signature Mentoring Program (the only one in the country) in partnership with TIE-NY. In spite of attracting more Mentors, the response far exceeds the capacity and some alums have to be denied the one on one interaction they seek. We continue to look for more Mentors (mid level management and higher) and would encourage more to volunteer. For further information please go to: http://www.mentorscircle.org/
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We continue to seek new volunteers to assist in our efforts. Please contact your chapter head or the undersigned.
Computers for Youth Or, How I ate some humble pie one recent Spring morning! Vikas Tipnis ‘74
t was an unseasonably warm early Spring morning on Saturday April 4th, this year, as I made my way to Oliver Wendell Holmes School in Long Island City, Queens. The previous night I had agonized over whether to drive, look for parking in this unfamiliar, even seedy-looking (on Google Maps street views) section of Queens, and perhaps risk losing my radio or the car itself. I had decided to go by train, with a change of trains at NY Penn Station, and leave home around 6:30 am to boot – I was feeling rather smug about making this supreme sacrifice in the name of social work!
apply to CFY, which evaluates the school and community’s preparedness, then sets a computer donation and training event date. The parents and students must for their part, commit to staying for the entire duration of the half-day training session; in other words, not just show up to pick up a computer. My late arrival deprived me of the donuts part of the breakfast brought in by CFY for the staff and us volunteers; but there was enough coffee to wake up my faculties. CFY staff was in the middle of an orientation talk. We would be assisting their teachertrainers, two-each of us to a classroom. Classrooms were divided into English- and Spanish-speaking groups. Our job would be to walk around the classroom during the exercises parts of the training, and help the trainees through their difficulties, if any. During the first half of the morning, the trainees would be walked through the basics of their PC’s hardware and workings. In the second half of the morning, the bi-lingual, CFY-trained, and experienced trainers would take the trainees systematically through the use of specially developed CFY math software, as well as introduce the attendees to the internet via carefully selected education sites. At the conclusion of the session, around noon, we would assist the families pack up their computers and take them to the curbside, if needed.
My trepidation about that Queens neighborhood turned out to be unfounded. As I got off the N train at 36th Avenue, I lost my bearings and ended up taking the long way to the School. I was the last amongst our IIT-B volunteers to arrive at the school around 8:30 am – all my compatriots had in fact, driven up in their far-more expensive-than-mine cars! My walk gave me a good look at the surroundings. To be sure, this part of the US of A is economically a bit underprivileged. But for all intents and purposes, this looked like a neighborhood of hard-working immigrants and minorities. I was to find out in due course, that the community consists of parents, educators and social workers all very committed to their children’s future. In short, I was to eat plenty of humble pie.
My walk gave me a good look at the surroundings. To be sure, this part of the US of A is economically a bit underprivileged. It was gratifying to see that both the 8th graders and their parents were getting trained, were excited about the prospect of taking home a computer, and indeed quite avid about the CFY course-work. The CFY instructors were superb; they had evidently not only done this before, but were energetic and enthusiastic about their work. I chatted with a few after our session and discovered that they were well aware of the fabulous value of their morning’s work! Throughout the nearly three-hour session, several members of the CFY staff shuttled in and out of the classroom helping out with practiced ease and familiarity, with issues inevitable to pre-tested but
CFY’s (Computers for Youth) mission is indeed specifically aimed at underprivileged-neighborhoods such as the one in which I found myself. This nonprofit organization invites, through a largely volunteer outreach program, used PCs from corporations and individuals – they do specify a lowwater mark for system specifications and age. They then prepare the machines for a defined target audience, namely, schools with 8th graders and respective parents who are interested enough in acquiring a computer, to invest half a weekend in a session like the one I had volunteered assist. Schools
used equipment: an occasionally bad-monitor here, a failing keyboard or mouse there, and so on. Compared to the CFY staff’s hard work, what I had to do that morning was miniscule. Indeed the entire event was beyond painless; it was actually very satisfying and enjoyable.
Suniti, and their mom; Sheru Chowdhury, Ravindra Rathi, Bobby, Rohit and Pooja Aggarwal. We are indeed all enriched by the efforts and mission of organizations such as CFY. A few hours of time on an odd Saturday morning, once or twice a year is surely small potatoes compared what these folks do, and have achieved. Folks, the next time you see an NY Chapter invitation to volunteer, do step up; I know I will -- and to be sure, far more willingly and humbly this time around! But long before that please visit the CFY website and learn of their mission (here’s a link to their approach page: http://www.cfy.org/our-approach.php). Equally importantly, if you or your firms have PCs that you are about to retire, but still meet CFY’s minimal requirements, please donate them to these folks. You will have the satisfaction of opening doors for an underprivileged child’s life-long success. In the meantime the equipment will serve out its remaining useful life rather than ending up in a landfill. And one more thing: arrive early if you don’t want to miss out on the donuts. ☺
After the attendees had left, all of us IIT-B volunteers that morning, had a chance to chat with Cindy MenzErb, the Director of the CFY’s NYC Council, and the master-of-ceremonies at that day’s event. Cindy was profusely thankful for our time and help; she explained that our presence there was not only materially helpful in the day’s proceedings, but also a reinforcement of the value of CFY’s mission. For my part I voiced commendations and kudos on her and the organizations selfless work. Cindy was gracious and interested enough to listen attentively to some feedback and comments we offered. Many thanks to these IIT-B volunteers for taking time out from their weekend, too: Vinay Karle the prime motivator behind our partnering with CFY, his sister
On April 23, 2009, a Cocktail and Networking Happy Hour focused on Investment Banking/Asset Management was hosted at K-Lounge in Mid-town Manhattan. Experienced professionals ranging from a senior VP at Deutsche Bank Leverage Finance to a Managing Director at a well known Hedge Fund, Paulson & Co. were in attendance as Subject Matter Experts (SME) or as mentors to the younger professionals. There were about 120 people from all the IIT campuses and the event was a great success.
etworking Happy Hours with a focus and a theme have proven to be some of the most well attended IIT events in the New York area. For the past two years, we have found that these Happy Hours have been able to muster over 100+ people. About a couple of years ago, we started experimenting with the concept of hosting these networking events around a particular focus area or a theme. The idea is to choose a prime location where professionals in that industry tend to congregate towards the end of the day, invite mid-level professionals in that industry and facilitate an informal interaction between these professionals and the attendees.
Improvising upon the success of the past Finance focused events, a Happy Hour with a Management Consulting focus was hosted on July 30, 2009. The event was anchored around a very senior professional from one of the Management Consulting firms. Manoj Singh (IITK, ’74), Global Managing Partner at Deloitte was invited as the Chief Guest and a Partner or an Associate Partner level person from every major consulting firm was asked to join as an SME. Manoj delivered introductory remarks on the future of the consulting industry and it was followed by a minute of introductions from the SMEs. Rest of the evening was filled with animated conversations, exchange of ideas, expert advice and a gala good time. Attendance easily topped 100. Future happy hours with a focus on Pharma, Hi-Tech or Entrepreneurship are under consideration.
In the past 2 years, for the most part, these events focused around themes like Investment Banking, Investment Management and other Financial Services. This year, we were able to add Management Consulting to those focus areas. So far in 2009, we have had an opportunity to host two such happy hours – one in April on Investment Banking/Asset Management and another one in July on Management Consulting. Both the events were hosted under the auspices of IITGNY organization as they cater to most IITians in early years of their career.
THE SAGE OF Y-POINT Dr. Veeravalli Raghavan (from STUDENTS GYMKHANA Magazine, 11 January 1978)
calm is the cabbage! How unflinching in his acceptance of all that fate flings at him!
The sage of Y-Point sat on the culvert, cross-legged, gaze calm and concentrated on the milkmaid buying vegetables yards off. Immediately in front sat the disciple, worshipful, deferential, and respectful.
You cut him, boil him, and eat him. And what does he do?”
A passing crow relieved itself on the sage’s left shoulder. He gave it a look of rage and scorn and frowned at the disciple.
The disciple said – “But the wicked cabbages, O swami, what about ‘em? Eat them unknowingly after cutting ‘em and mincing ‘em. They give you diarrhea.”
“The vicissitudes of fortune, O Vyasa,” he began “are truly tormenting. We are all misplaced. We’re misfits. Verily, to be sitting on this culvert at the exact moment that black emissary of the devil acted, is a real misfortune. But so it was willed & so it happened. Philosophy and resignation, these are the keys to salvation.
“Silence! It is your greed, Vyasa that compels you to eat more cabbage than prescribed. The right amount of cabbage never did anyone any harm. Greed, greed! Remove greed and you shall become one with the One.” “But father, does not the wicked cabbage offer its soft and succulent body and tempt the beholder into sinning? Poor mortal that I am, how can I ever resist that wonderful seductress of the vegetable kingdom?”
” At the post office an urchin hurled a stone at a dog, missed, and fetched the disciple a whopping blow just below the trunk. “Aaah! Philosophy and resignation, O master! May I not rise and impress upon that young fellow the wickedness of his action? In fact, O holy one, excuse me one moment.”
“O deluded idiot! You have changed the gender of the cabbage inside a sentence and brought Woman into the picture. Woman, the source of all illusion, temptation, the repository of all wickedness in the world. Woman, the temptress”.
The disciple sprinted after the urchin, cuffed him soundly and came back panting. He composed himself, his face tranquil and solemn, and said: “Philosophy and resignation, salvation. How illuminating mahatma! What would the philosophy and resignation? afterworld! Continue, swami!”
Y-point unfolded his legs and stepped off the culvert. The milkmaid was returning with the vegetables; she passed and Y-point stretched.
the twin keys to thine wisdom, O world do without The keys to the
“Let us follow this path and see where it leads. Do not mind that milkmaid before us. She is a test. Ah, vanity!” Speaking thus, his gaze calm and concentrated on the milkmaid’s behind, the sage ambled along.
Y-point resumed – “Serenity, calmness, an unflinching acceptance of all that fate flings at us. As capsuled in the words of that immortal salesman Dale Carnegie – Cooperate with the inevitable. I have sometimes admired the poise of the cabbage. How
One step behind came the disciple, silent, respectful, Deferential.
IIT BOMBAY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Greater New York
Mission To promote the professional advancement of its members, to contribute to the growth, quality and image of IIT Bombay, and to facilitate community service and philanthropy. Your Alumni Association is all about You. It exists for you, is run by you and is made possible entirely by your support.
Thank you! We have lots of events planned for 2009-2010 Holiday Party * Business Seminars * Networking Events * Mentoring Events * * Community Participation * Picnic * More…
Would you like to help run the Alumni Association? We need your ideas, your energy, your time and your enthu. Talk to one of the volunteers today about how you can join.
Anushree Agrahari ’02, Brij Agarwal ’85, Gaurang Master ‘66, Gautam Advani ‘71, Himanshu Tripathi ’01, Jude Netto ’66, Kumar Shah ‘70, Meghna Tripathi, Nita Advani, Odie Netto, Rajeev Deshpande ’77, Rohit Aggarwal ’04, Sheru Chowdhry ’96, Shweta Bhandari ’02, Sreedhar Reddy Kona '97, Sushil Bhatia ‘66, Suhasini Sabnis ‘82, Tarak Goradia ’84, Uday Nadkarni ‘78, Vikas Tipnis ‘74, Vinay Karle ‘96
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit us: http://www.iitbombay.org/newyork