The 50th Year GOLDEN Reunion
Class of 1960-1964
We were having one of those IITB get-together lunches in a San Francisco restaurant, attended by several of our batch-mates who reside in the Bay Area when someone mentioned that it would be 50 years in December 2013 since we graduated from IIT Bombay. We decided right then and there that we should organize a special Golden Reunion and that it should be at the IIT Bombay campus. We have always considered ourselves as the “unique" IIT alumni batch for two reasons: first, we were the very first ones to clear the 2-day, 4-paper JEE (called the "common entrance exam" in those days) without notes, guides and tutorial classes; second, we are the only batch to complete the five-year integrated undergraduate program in three and a half years!
After an initial email poll of our batch mates, we decided to have the reunion in the latter half of January 2014, so that it does not clash with Alumni Reunion Day of any other alumni batch. We felt that a separate reunion just for us would give us exclusivity, easy guest-house accommodation and, of course, allow us to meet in a relaxed mode after a lapse of 50 years. The Dean of Alumni Affairs, Dr. Ravi Sinha, was very supportive and agreed to it despite the fact that arranging a separate reunion soon after the December Jamboree would be an added strain and effort for the staff. The Director of IIT-B, Dr. Khakhar, also provided enthusiastic support from the start. The CEO of the Alumni Foundation, Ms. Damyanthi Battacharya, as well as the Alumni Staff for provided unstinting support in organizing and handling all the details associated with the reunion.
The reunion itself was held over three days, with Registration and Assembling on Jan 15, Reunion on Jan 16, and Post Reunion and Campus Tour on Jan 17. Our volunteer organizing team was headed by K.Venkateswaran, with Y. Suresh from the US , and Dilip Dahanukar and N.Venkataramani from Mumbai. The latter three had also helped organize an earlier 45th Reunion in 2009.
Given that we are all past the age of 70 and that this could well be our last formal Reunion, our primary goal was to try to reach each and every one of our batch mates, inform them about the reunion, and nudge them to attend. A lapse of 50 years with no internet in the early years made it difficult to track many of the batch mates. Over the last few years Y.Suresh painstakingly had compiled email IDs of batch mates and that gave us the starting point. Despite phone calls, emails, pigeon and snail mails, we still could not contact some of them. We also tried to reach out to the spouses of our departed batch-mates by inviting them to attend and share the day with us. Many helped in creating the then faculty list who had taught us and Arun Kumar helped in getting us the contact informations to invite them to the Golden Reunion.
The Golden Reunion started on Wednesday January 15 as out of town/country guests started arriving and registering at the Guest House. A full length banner welcomed the Golden Reunion guests. The guests were put up either at the Van Vihar or at the Jal Vihar Guest houses next to Gul Mohur Alumni and Placement Center. At 4:30 PM the guests started assembling at the 3rd floor of the Gul Mohur Banquet House. As people started to walk in, it was initially a wild and exciting guessing game, but within minutes the right name was called out there was hugging and back slapping followed by excited reminiscences and happy conversation. The gap of 50 years did not seem to matter at all! It was nice to see the old friends from all parts of the world - Krishna Mehendale from UK, Pradeep Soneja from UAR, Mike Lobo, Uday Hattiagandi from Huston, K.Venkateswaran and V.V.Krishnan from California, Vasant Kaujalgi from Bangalore, Hari Sahsrabudhhe from Poona, Venkatramani, Manjeet Singh and Sunil Puri from Mumbai, Pradeep Goel from Fort Lauderdale, Raghu from Ahmedabad. Mulk Arora from Huntsville, Dilip Limaye from Philadelphia, Bansi Bharwani from Virginia, Sajjan Jain from Delhi, Madhura Babu from Hyderabad. Age was apparent, but everyone appeared to be in good shape. We were all glad to see that many of the spouses who came were also having a good time, introducing themselves and pretending to enjoy the same jokes all over again.
The Golden Reunion on January 16 started with breakfast in the 3rd floor Banquet Hall in Gulmohur Building starting at 8:30 AM. At registration all attendees received a individualized White Canvas Tote bags with the inscription “VI-IV The Class of 1964, IIT Bombay”. The bag contained a glass carafe, made especially for this reunion, with the inscription “VI-IV The Class of 1964, IIT Bombay Golden Reunion 16th January 2014, a individualized ceramic mug with the name of the recipient and with the text “IIT Bombay Batch 64, Felicitated at Golden Reunion, Prof Devang Khakkhar, 16th January 2014” inscribed, individualized diary and note book, IIT-Bombay Note Book and the latest Fundamatics magazine from IIT Bombay.
We were fortunate that the Chairman of IIT Board, Padma Vibushan Dr. Anil Kakodar accepted our last minute Invitation and attend the Golden Reunion. Director Devang Khakhar was expected to attend the event but was unable to attend due to a last minute meeting in Delhi; he was represented by Deputy Director Prof H.S. Pandalai.
The Golden reunion officially started with a welcome speech by Dean Dr. Sinha. He extended a special welcome to the 1964 batch and guests, and spoke about the important role of Alumni to the institution. Venkateswaran from Electrical Batch, started the official Golden Reunion by welcoming Chairman of Board Padma Vibushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Deputy Director Prof H.S. Pandalai, Dean Dr.Ravi Sinha, CEO Alumni Office Ms. Damyanthi Bhattacharya 1964, Professors Srivastava, R.Chaterjee, Khemchandani and Madhavan, and all the batch mates and their spouse/guests. This was followed by an invocation song by Gopika Dahanukar, daughter of Dilip Dahnukar. Following Invocation was the observance of two-minute silence in memory of our eleven departed batch mates, Sudhir Deshmukh, Himanshu Vakil, Prabudha Mukerjee, Shyam Nasta, Hari Padwal, Shankar Raman, Sashikant Jamkhandi, Sadisivan Venkatraman, Mohan Pidke, Satish Muranjan and Suman Singh. May their souls rest in peace!
Dr. Pandalai, in his address mentioned the important role of Alumni to the Institution. He informed that IITB has grown by leaps and bounds; with student population increasing to over 8000 and that the number of Post Graduates now exceeds the number of Undergraduates. This has resulted in a unhealthy Student to Faculty ratio and that it would take a few years to reach the target ratio of 10:1. Another consequence of the rapid growth is that the infra-structure has not able to keep up with the growth and that the hostels are being overcrowded.
Venkateswaran told the audience that the Batch of 64 wanted to implement two special commemorative items at this Reunion so as to leave the imprint of Batch of 1964. The first was to create a Yearbook (or eBook). This Yearbook will chronicle the Batch 0f 1964 – all of us - our stay at IIT, our professional careers, our families, and our other charitable and community work. He thanked Pradeep Goel for taking on the task of creating the Year Book and also mentioned that the Year Book will include photos and details from this reunion in the final version. The second item was to create a legacy Scholarship Fund that will be awarding scholarships starting this academic year. Dilip Dahanukar mentioned that often poorer rural students are in dire need of scholarships to buy Laptops and related software and that at present there are no such scholarship schemes at IIT to fulfill these needs. As a mark of their Golden Jubilee, the 1964 batch announced the inception of a scholarship, "FundasClear Scholarship Fund", under which needy and meritorious students of IIT-B will be provided a one-time aid of up to Rs. 50,000 to buy a computer, software or any other equipment they may require during their study at the institute. On approval from all and on behalf of Class of 1964 graduates, Venkateswaran and Dilip Dhanukar signed two copies of FundasClear Memorandum of Understanding, also signed by Director Devang Khakhar.
Venkateswraan then introduced Padma Vibushan Dr Anil Kakodkar and requested him to address the attendees. Dr Kakodkar mentioned that he also passed out his Inter Science in 1960 like the rest of us. He said he chose to join VJTI instead of IIT joking that, in those days, the "smarter" ones joined VJTI and finished Engineering in three years instead of four! Dr. Kakodkar then elaborated on theme of the rapid growth of IIT in the last few years and the challenges in keeping the infrastructure facilities in line with the growth while maintaining the standards. Dr. Kakodkar thanked Batch of 64 for creating the FundasClear Scholarship and said that such initiatives help promote higher education among the less privileged. He also touched on the role of Alumni and appreciated the fact that the Batch of 64 allowed the IITB scholarship committee the flexibility of managing the operation of fund.
Dr Pandalai then presented individually to all the batch mates a Certificate of Felicitation signed by the Director. The Certificate reads “Indian Institute of Technology, NAME, of batch of 1964, Felicitated at Golden Jubilee Reunion on 16/01/2014, Signed Director, IIT Bombay” . Former faculty members from our era, Prof. C.M.Srivastava, Prof. R.Chatterjee, Prof. M. V.Khemchandani, and Prof. K.P.Madhavan, were then introduced by Venkatramani and were honored by Dr Kakodkar with a shawl and a memento. On behalf of batch of 64 Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Prof. H.S.Pandalai, Dr Ravi Sinha and other guests were then presented with mementos.
Dr Ravi Sinha, in his concluding address, mentioned that the early batches of the institute played an important role in establishing the reputation of IIT Bombay through their career performance. Today, IIT Bombay is gaining recognition as a world-class research institution and we have to thank the early batches for the strong foundation they have built for us.
The Golden Reunion morning program broke then for refreshments followed by group photograph and lunch. In addition to the batchmates mentioned earlier, the following alumni also attended Golden Reunion presentations: Ashok Kotwal, Anil Wagle, Vasant Bhirud, C.V.Ravi, Kiran Bhatt, Arvind Paranjpe, Prasant Patnaik, Prabhat Argal and Shymakant Kulkarni.
In the evening Dilip Dahanukar hosted a dinner at his residence at Dahanukar House, Dahanukar road, Mumbai for all attending alumni and their guests. . The setting was perfect, with nice weather and a full Bar and constant feeding of khababs and other fancy appetizers. Ram Iyengar who was not at the morning events also joined the party. Dilip and his daughter Gopika were wonderful hosts attending to the guests and joining the conversations. A fancy dinner of Indian, Italian and Gourmet food followed with fresh Jalebi and Rabbdi and other desserts. As always, all good things have to come to an end and the grand Golden Reunion Day of Jan 16 came to an end as Batch Members who were staying at IIT guest house boarded the bus around 10:30 PM for the journey back to the IIT campus.
The final day of the three day Golden Reunion was a relaxing one as people slowly came in for the specially arranged breakfast once again in 3rd floor Gulmohur Banquest Hall. The Campus Tour started around 10:15 AM with designated stops at the various Hostel and Department buildings. The first stop was the impressive Hostel 12, 13, and14. They have a unique architecture with a common underground Dining Hall serving over 800 students. This hostel is right on the edge of Powaii Lake with a serene atmosphere. The bus stopped at Hostels 5, 3, 2 and 1 where everyone got down, walked the hallways, peeped into the student rooms, inspected the kitchens and dining rooms, and chatted about our times and experiences at IIT. What is different now is the beautiful campus with lush vegetation and gardens but, unfortunately, the hostels and buildings need maintenance they remain the same otherwise.
The Golden Reunion ended with hugging, handshakes and fond farewells, and hopes that perhaps we will be lucky enough to meet again for the Diamond Reunion, ten years from now!!!