[The photo at right is from last year’s 2nd Alumni meet.]
This New Year brought together the alumni of the Institute again for the third time to IIT Kharagpur in the form of 3rd Annual Alumni Meet 2006 held during 7th - 8th January 2006.
The inaugural programme of the Alumni Meet commenced at 9.30 a.m. in the Netaji Auditorium on 7th January 2006. Prof. S. Chattopadhyay, Secretary (TAA) conducted the programme.
Prof. Madhu Chakraborty, Dean Alumni Affairs & International Relations extended a hearty welcome to the alumni and the dignitaries to the Alumni Meet. In his speech Prof. Chakraborty informed that the Annual Alumni Meet is scheduled in the first weekend of January every year and that the Meet is dedicated to those who have completed silver jubilee and golden jubilee of their graduation from the Institute. He requested the alumni to go round the campus to see the changes that have taken place in the past years. Prof. Chakraborty then briefly narrated the state-of-the art developments in research and other academic programmes of the Institute. He specially mentioned the active and inspirational support from Prof. Dube and Prof. Sanyal throughout for closer interaction with the alumni. He also stated about the interaction of IIT Kharagpur Alumni Foundation (India), IIT Foundation, Australia and the IIT Foundation, USA. He urged upon the alumni for their active support and suggestions for the developments of the Alumni Foundations in particular and the Institute in general in the national and international scenario. Prof. Chakraborty reminded that the Institute has launched a website http://www.alumni.iitkgp.ernet.in and invited all alumni to register. He also reminded that the Institute provides a lifelong e-mail address to all its registered alumni.
Mr. Arindam Mukherjee, on behalf of the student community of the campus, extended a warm welcome to the alumni for coming down to join the 3rd Alumni Meet. He described the Meet as a homecoming of the alumni and reminded them some of their memories during their stay in the IIT Kharagpur campus. He said, "Whenever you are locked in a jam, you must be thinking of the Puri Gate; when you celebrate Diwali, the word illu comes readily to your mind….". He called for an increased student-alumni interaction. Mr. Mukherjee, in conclusion, announced the overall Men’s Championship of IIT Student Team in the Inter IIT Sports Meet held at IIT Roorkee in December 2005.
With a New Year wish to everybody Prof. S. K. Dube delivered the inaugural address. He firstly welcomed all the alumni and others to the 3rd Alumni Meet, which he feels is a chance to pay tribute to them for their dedicated and steadfast support to IIT Kharagpur. He addressed the alumni as leaders in innovation, research and student-centered learning, sharing the vision of the Institute. He also stated that he has witnessed the remarkable contributions of the alumni for making IIT a world-class institution renowned for its student-centered approach and unique research-intensive learning environment.
Addressing Prof. G. S. Sanyal (former director of IIT Kharagpur), Prof. Dube said that apart from being an excellent teacher, Prof. Sanyal has been a source of encouragement to all the faculty, students and staff of the Institute. He also acknowledged Prof. Sanyal’s generosity and contribution to the Institute and the advice on important issues received from him time to time.
Prof. Dube expressed his thanks to Prof. M. Chakraborty and his team for organizing the Alumni Meet. He also thanked Prof. Chakraborty for his outstanding work and commitment to the alumni affairs, which is appreciated by everyone today and by all at IIT Kharagpur.
In his speech, Prof. Dube presented a summary of priority areas of the Institute as
- Strong focus on the mission projects
- High quality education for IIT students
- Increase in student strength
- Improvement in infrastructure
- Planning for the future
He then focused on the three broad goals of the Institute that define what and who ‘The IIT Kharagpur of the future’ will be and how we will move towards our goals as an Institute and as a community. The goals are:
- To provide an innovative and stimulating learning environment where students can prepare themselves to excel in life – Attract and retain highly qualified faculty.
- To achieve the next level in research results and reputation by building on existing and emerging areas of excellence.
- To build a community with a shared purpose.
Prof. Dube concluded with thanks to each and everyone for helping to make IIT Kharagpur all that it is today and all that the Institute aspires to become in the future.
Following the inaugural address by Professor Dube, Prof. G. S. Sanyal was requested to kindly bless the gathering. He wished a Happy New Year to everyone and welcomed the alumni to the Alumni Meet. While addressing the gathering, he recollected his early days in IIT Kharagpur since 1954 and mentioned that his old age has not been an obstacle to him. Prof. Sanyal acknowledged the generous support and vast contribution of the IIT alumni, which has helped the Institute ranking seventh/eighth in the world amongst the institutions working with technology. He expressed with confidence that IIT Kharagpur has been excelling in innovative research and its students and scholars have been earning worldwide fame for the Institute. He urged upon the faculty and students to be involved in social activities. He also reminded the audience about the scope of NSS programme.
Following the blessings of Prof. Sanyal, Professor Madhu Chakraborty requested Prof. S. K. Dube to receive a cheque of Rs. 2,00,000/- from Mr. R. N. Khanna, CEO & MD, Controls & Switchgear Group and an alumnus of IIT, Kharagpur (1962 EE RP) on behalf of IIT, Kharagpur Alumni Foundation (India).
Prof. S. Sengupta proposed vote of thanks to the alumni who have come a long way to attend the Alumni Meet. He also thanked their spouses who have come to share with in spite of their busy engagements. He thanked Prof. Dube for his initiative and support without which organizing the Alumni Meet would have not been possible. Prof. Sengupta expressed his reverence to Prof. G. S. Sanyal as his teacher and thanked him for coming to attend the meet and thanked Mr. Arindam Mukherjee for his help in every stage of Alumni Meet. He thanked all concerned with the Netaji Auditorium, Audio-visual Cell, Deans’ Office and others who have done day-to-day job for making the programme a success.
The Panel Discussion on “Who do the IITs Serve?” was held during 10:30-12:30 hrs in Netaji Auditorium. The following alumni were requested to be the members of the panel while Prof. U. K. Chatterjee acted as the Moderator:
- Dr. A. R. Upadhya, Director, NAL, Bangalore
- Dr. J. N. D. Gupta, University of Alabama, Huntsville, USA
- Mr. R. N. Khanna, CEO & MD, Controls & Switchgear Group.
Prof. U. K. Chatterjee, in his brief introductory speech, stated that the IIT system has come a long way since its inception in 1951 to be recognized as an effective system for human resources development in science and technology. A recent survey has placed IITs in the third rank among all the universities in the world imparting technological education. A cursory survey of the areas of activities of the IIT alumni presents an interesting study. While the majority remain stuck to their original areas of academic training be it in industry, R&D sector, education or entrepreneurship, a sizable number seek a change. There are quite a few examples of technologists having converted themselves to hardcore managers including finance, bureaucrats, police officers, journalists, realtors, ministers and even full-time social workers. The question naturally arises – Does it reflect the proper utilization of the effort and expenditure on the professional training rendered at IITs? To take a stock of the performance of IITs this panel discussion session has been arranged.
Prof. Chatterjee then introduced the panel members focusing their academic and professional background. Mr. R. N. Khanna did his B. Tech (Electrical Engineering) in 1962 and was a resident of RP Hall. He is the Founder, CEO & MD, Controls & Switchgear Group. Mr. J. N. D. Gupta did his M. Tech (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) in 1967 and was a resident of JCB Hall. He completed his Ph. D from Texas University in 1969. He has served in many government organizations and currently a Professor in University of Alabama, Huntsville USA. Dr. A. R. Upadhya did his B. Tech (Aerospace Engineering) in 1972 and was a resident of Patel Hall. He did his M. Tech from IISc, Bangalore and Ph. D from U.K. He is currently the Director of NAL, Bangalore. Prof. U.K. Chatterjee invited the panel members to take part in the discussion on the theme:
Mr. Khanna suggested that the IITs should focus more to keep in position worldwide and should enlarge the scope of their syllabi. He reminded that the IITs have great faculty, brilliant students and tremendous base and are the leading institutions in the world. He further said that India is passing through an industrial growth and the economy and market are uprising, this is the time when IITs can share their engineering and technological brilliance to fulfill the dream of the country.
Dr. J. N. D. Gupta opined that the main role of an academic institution should be knowledge sharing, knowledge creation and knowledge management. IITs have done knowledge creation and management through their R&D activities. Particularly IIT Kharagpur has done extremely well in that. Dr. Gupta suggested the need to change our framework in our education system. He cited examples of technological developments that are taking place in China. The IITs can play a larger role towards the development of the country.
Dr. Upadhya mentioned that IITs are unique in the sense that they mould one’s life. IIT Kharagpur is like a family bond to him. IITs are supposed to be the cream of the nation. So the answer of the question ‘Who do the IITs serve’ is ‘IITs are dedicated to the service of the Nation’. He then read out the excerpts from an government interim report regarding setting up of different IITs and their need to meet India’s industrial need after independence. He also mentioned some quotes from some websites, which state that one-third of the top positions are occupied by the IITians since its inception in 1951. The New York Times quotes, "Thank you India, thank you the IITians. Friends you are from India, you are the smartest people, the graduates of IITs. The Microsoft Founder, Mr. Bill Gates, needs India’s higher education system and calls India a country of super power of talents. Mr. Jayram Ramesh, M.P. (and himself an IITian) quotes, " IITs have made opportunities as job creators instead of job seekers."
Dr. Upadhya stressed upon the need of national importance of technical education and urged that the IITs have to tie up with the industries to build a better network for technology transfer and knowledge transfer.
Addressing the alumni abroad he said, "This is the time to come back from USA to help India for transferring knowledge and technology in India".
Mr. Vijay Kumar Mohanty, (M.Sc., 1956, GG) said that by virtue of his profession he used to spend time with the tribal half-naked, in the jungle. He requested the IITians to stay with the villagers and understand their problem and take vow to serve them.
Prof. G.S. Sanyal mentioned that IIT Kharagpur has taken up 13 Mission Projects and one of them is "Technology travels to the villages". He also mentioned about NSS Programme, Loan for village entrepreneurs etc of the Institute.
Mr. S. Muralidharan, (B.Tech, 1981,ME), made a proposal if IIT Kharagpur could make Midnapore as a model district with full literacy. Ms. Hansa Nandi, an alumna informed that she is already running a school for the poor children in this region.
Prof. U. K. Chatterjee, Moderator, concluded the session with overall view of the panelists that IITs are dedicated to the service of the Nation.
Prof. M. Chakraborty requested Prof. G.S. Sanyal to kindly hand over the mementos to the panelists and the moderator.
Student - Alumni Interactions
Following the Panel Discussion, students-alumni exchanged their views. The interactive session in which students of the campus and the alumni of IIT Kharagpur came together on the same platform to discuss issues of importance proved to be quite constructive. The premier problem addressed was “how to increase the interaction between the students and the alumni”. Mr. M. Balachandran (1970 Batch), Head of the Mumbai Alumni Chapter urged the students to build up an updated database of alumni contacts. Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharya (1981 Batch) reiterated the fact that having a portal wherein the alumni and students can interact freely via a message board could go a long way in building a strong bond between the alums and the campus students. The alumni reassured the students that they were always willing to help the students in whatever way possible and this assurance is sure to help the students build up a strong student-alumni relationship.
Another topic that was put up for discussion was “how to go about becoming an entrepreneur”. Almost all the alumni present suggested that it would be better to gain some valuable work experience before venturing into building an enterprise of one’s own. A presentation was made by the members of Kshitij (the techno-management fest committee) and Technology Incubation and Entrepreneurship Training Society to apprise the alumni of the latest buzz in the campus activities.
Various sports events were organized in the TATA Sports Complex on January 7, 2006 at 12:30 hrs. A number of alumni took part in games like cricket, badminton etc.
Alumni General Meeting
The post-lunch session was organized in the Gargi Hall of the Vikramshila Complex at 3pm. Prof. M. Chakraborty read out the messages from Mr. Roy da Silva, President, IIT Foundation, USA and Mr. B. K. Syngal President, IIT Kharagpur Alumni Foundation (India).
Prof. Chakraborty then made a presentation on the updates on IIT Kharagpur at the Alumni Program covering the achievements, ongoing activities and future plan of IIT Kharagpur. He pointed out the changes that have taken place at IIT, Kharagpur in the past years. He presented proposals for enhancement of infrastructure at IIT Kharagpur. While acknowledging alumni support of an amount of 14 M US $, he stressed on continuous alumni support on the major areas such as:
- Improving quality of student life
- Improving gymkhana facilities
- Physical access to IIT Kharagpur – construction of flyover
- Building a guesthouse/convention center
- Development of centers/schools of excellence
In course of discussions on the presentation by Professor Chakraborty, the following suggestions were made:
- Possibility of changing the lifelong email address from “ernet” to “ac” account so that the length of the address is reduced.
- Overall maintenance of the Institute and the hostels in particular.
- Involvement of Alumni in handling some of the problems faced by the Institute
- Alumni can form a committee or a forum, which can make suggestions to the Institute Authorities.
Address by Mr. Bhim Chandra Mandal, The Very First PGM
Mr. Bhim Chandra Mondal, the first President Gold Medallist of the IIT system and a reputed social worker was requested to address the alumni. Mr. Mondal had served the country since his graduation in various positions such as Director, MECON India Limited, Ranchi; Director NIFFT Ranchi and as member of various Advisory Boards of various organizations. He is the founder President of Sri Sarada Seva Sangha and Millennium Rural Health Services in Midnapore. Prior to his address, Prof. Prof. S.K. Dube presented him a memento in recognition of his services to the nation in various capacities.
Mr. Mondal presented some old photographs of the IIT New Building under construction taken in 1955 and that of the Old Building taken in 1951 from his box camera to Dean Alumni Affairs & International Relations. He had preserved these photographs for many years that show his attachment with his alma mater.
Mr. Mondal, while addressing the gathering, was emotional and philosophical. While addressing the gathering he quoted excerpts from Upanishad, Mahabharat, Swami Vivekananda and Rabindra Nath Tagore. In his speech he pointed out that we need to feel passionately for the sufferings of the millions and IITians have a great role to play in making the world a better place of living.
Prof. S. Chattopadhyay, Secretary TAA proposed a vote of thanks to the Director for his constant support and encouragement to carry forward the programme. He thanked each and everyone who have rendered help for making the programme a success. He also requested the alumni to come back year after year to make the programme colourful.
Spouses were taken to a tour of the campus and sight seeing on both the days. They enjoyed the visit thoroughly.
In the evening of 7th January 2006 a Cultural Programme was organized at the Netaji Auditorium at 6pm. Eastern Technology Music Society (ETMS) and some alumni performed at the programme and it was a thoroughly enjoyed by all. A folk song troop called “LOKOSARASWATI” performed their songs first time in the Institute. Siddhartha Logistics Pvt. Ltd organized this programme in order to promote the folk songs of eastern India. In a very joyful environment, in the midst of exhilarating music, all present enjoyed in unison.
Reunion in the Halls of Residences
After the cultural programme, the alumni with their spouses visited their respective halls to reminisce days in IIT Kharagpur. Students made presentations regarding the changes/modernizations in the halls. All were informed that there are scopes for further improvement in quality of student life in the halls of residences. Modernize kitchen, toilets, widening approach roads, enlarging parking area, enhancing facilities for music, sports etc. are some of the possibilities and these need alumni support. They all became nostalgic and enjoyed every moment of their stay in Halls.
Visits to departments/Centres
A visit to the Departments was organized on January 8, 2006 to have an interaction with faculty and the students. The visiting alumni had an opportunity to experience the changes the Departments/Centres have undergone in the past years. The alumni were also updated on the plans and programmes of the Departments/Centres in terms of new courses and research programmes. The interaction is expected to help the Departments/Centres in the years to come.
This event enhanced the relationship among the alumni and enabled them to discuss on various issues. The alumni and the organizer reaffirmed to strengthen the bond between the alumni and their alma mater. The robust support that the Institute has received from the alumni like Mr. Siddhartha Sen (T-Shirt), Mr. Pradip Datta (High-Tea) and others for the advertisement in the souvenir, "Yearning of Yore, Vol. III" will go a long way in building the alumni-alma matter relation.
Report written by Prof. Madhu Chakraborty