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 IITBAA & IITBHF Washington Chapter

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Raksha Mantri's visit to Washington D.C. 


On December 9th, there was this formal lunch at the US-India Business Council, a division within the US Chamber of Commerce across from the White House and a very influential lobbying body. There was a  fairly high fluted group of attendees including the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, Indian Ambassador Arun Singh, the Deputy Chief of Mission Taranjit Singh Sandhu and a host of senior personnel from the Department of Defense along with generals and admirals from the US defense forces. The Indian contingent was represented by several senior execs cobbled together by FICCI and included folks from L&T, Bharat Forge etc. I was invited as a friend of USIBC and someone known to carry the IIT flag at such events. There was a small reception line to welcome the Defense Minister and as he walked into the room, I got a knowing glance and a smile from Mr. Parrikar and he comes straight up to me, extends his arm and asks “Did you enjoy Goa?” It was a little embarrassing that he chose to inquire about GBF when everyone in that room was looking for some pronouncements on the new US-India defense treaty, India’s plan to modernize its defense forces, major multi-billion dollar procurements or some such earth shaking agreement. A few people wanted to know more about Goa and why it was so important for the minister!



The next day, the Ambassador had arranged a dinner at his home to welcome the Raksha Minister but Mr. Parrikar politely turned down the invitation and asked that he spend a casual dinner with fellow IIT alumni. Thanks to help from fellow alums in New York – Vinay Karle, Ron Mehta in particular – we launched a herculean effort to reserve a floor at a local upscale Indian restaurant, sent out invitations and arranged to stay within the security limits of having no more than 50 persons at the dinner! Thanks also to support from the IITB Heritage Foundation, Capital IIT Alumni Association and the WHEELS Global Foundation for underwriting the event. We had extended the invitation to the Ambassador as well and so he called to make sure it was OK for a non-IITan to attend. We assured him that he would be an honorary alum if he agreed to tolerate old jokes and IIT stories. As the guests arrived, the restaurant was swarmed by secret service folks with ear-phones and looked ominous with their tough personas! The minister immediately announced that he was in no mood for ‘bhasan/vashan’ and that he was simply looking forward to a casual time and cold beer! However, I told him that we had a few prepared remarks for him and he agreed to listen. Manu mingled freely with all the guests and after he and I had briefly reminisced about old profs in Metallurgy department (that was my major as well), it was time for my welcome remarks. After the usual pleasantries and establishing the fact that IIT alumni meetings were great equalizers,  I reminded him that many of us gathered there were from H3 and that we outnumbered those from H4, we asserted that we always won the ‘gaali competition’. I also said that seniors like us always had ragging rights. He took that with his disarming smile and then I said, ‘people who win gaali competition went on to become Presidents of local Alumni Chapters while those who lost became Cabinet Ministers’. Manu immediately stood up and said, he had to now speak and defend himself and went on to give his speech after all! He insisted he had choice gaalis and that H4 always won contrary to my claims! We thanked him and recognized that one can never hold back a politician from speaking.



The Ambassador was having a great time and claimed to have spent a couple of days at IIT Kharagpur at which point we asked whether it was during the time it was a jail or after. All those from IIT Kgp booed at that comment but Manu had his big smile. The ribbing continued till finally we rolled out a birthday cake with sparklers and Ashok, Vinay, Uday, Ron, Pradeep and gang belted an IIT-version of Happy Birthday which brought down the place! We had put together a package of books on IIT (India’s Intellectual Treasures), “Impact of IIT Alumni In USA” and a US Flag that was flown on the Capitol in honor of the IITs in 2005 along with a certificate from the head curator. Manu asked if he was mentioned in any of the books and I told him it was written before he became a minister and a lot will depend on how he finishes his term and when the next edition comes out. He is truly a great sport. His responses to questions at the Chamber event were spot on, laced with humor and direct! It made all of us proud that India was being represented by a brilliant politician and minister. I think, in the end, GBF was a catalyst to forge such ties and comraderies. It achieved its mission to bringing government, academia and industry closer. During the Q&A session at the chamber, Manu announced that he was liberalizing the offset program to allow these obligations to be  used for research and services to be channeled through DRDO and that he expected more R&D activity to support his ministry’s mission to enhance India’s defense capabilities.



True leadership with commitment! All-in-all a very successful visit. Thanks to all the team who made it happen. Last but not least, huge thanks to Bakul for all behind-the-scene support to make sure that RM kept some time for relaxing with fellow alums!


- As reported by Suresh Shenoy


Capital IIT in association with the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's Entrepreneurship Council is pleased to announce a Panel Discussion on:

Technology Education, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Register Now

 When: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: Westwood Country Club, Address: 800 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180. Phone:(703) 938-2593


Cost: Free. (This event is made possible by sponsorships from the Fairfax Economic Development Authority, Merrill Lynch and IMC)

Please register here so that we can plan our events better.

Register early as seating is limited.

  • Dr. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT Bombay
  • Dr. Charlie Steger, President, Virginia Tech
  • Dr. Michael Rau, President, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Dr. Gerry Gordon, President, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
  • Dr. Pramod Khargonekar, IITB Alumnus and Dy. Director NSF – Moderator


We look forward to seeing you at the panel discussion!

Warm Regards,

Suresh Shenoy - IITBHF Washington DC Chapter (washington [at]

San Sengupta - President – Capital IIT

Capital IIT cordially invites you to a Dinner Reception For Director Devang Khakhar and Dean Ravi Sinha from IIT Bombay

October 23, 2013 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Register Now

When: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Where: Diya Restaurant,

Address: 2070 Chain Bridge Rd, Vienna, VA 22182

Phone: (703) 970-7500


Cost: Free

Please click here to register and help us plan our events better.

Prof. Devang Khakkar link.jpg

Director IIT Bombay 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’s research interests include: dynamics of particulate systems, polymerization of rigid molecules and fluid mixing. He has published and 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. 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. Ravi Sinha link.jpg

Prof. Ravi Sinha is the Dean (Alumni & Corporate Relations) of IIT Bombay since 2012. Prof. Sinha did his B.Tech. from IIT Bombay in 1986 and PhD from Northwestern University in 1991. He has been a faculty member of Civil Engineering department at IIT Bombay since 1992. Prof. Sinha’s research work is mainly focused on structural engineering and earthquake engineering. His research interests also include earthquake risk management and disaster management. He is a member of Core Group of the National Disaster Management Authority, which is headed by the Prime Minister of India. He was also the Honorary Advisor on earthquake risk management to Government of Maharashtra.

Prof. Sinha’s many accomplishments include:


We look forward to seeing you at the dinner reception!

Warm Regards,

Suresh Shenoy - IITBHF Washington DC Chapter (washington [at]

San Sengupta - President – Capital IIT


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