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News - 2006

IIT Bombay News Archive - 2006
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December 2006

  • The Centre plans to open one of three proposed IITs in the 11th plan period in Bihar. Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh intimated this to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a letter, the state Science and Technology Minister Anil Kumar said today. The letter said the spot selected for setting up the prestigious institute should have approximately 600 acres and be well connected by road, rail and air. link

  • "An Indian in Cowboy Country", a debut novel by Pradeep Anand (BTech '75 MetE/MatSc) of Sugar Land was released on Dec 2 ... the book is about an Asian Indian engineer discovering his personal and professional potential in the heart of Texas and flourishing in the United States. "Pradeep Anand has put together a collection of highly enjoyable stories about the many challenges of being a brown-skinned techie in Texas. Immigrants everywhere will relate to this perceptive and relevant book," says the award-winning author and poet, Chitra Divakaruni. link

  • Rajasthan will soon have an Indian Institute of Technology - as the central government has given its green signal to open such an institute in the state. The state has been demanding an IIT for the last several years. Similar institutes will also be opened in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. 'The central government has approved it. We received the information Tuesday. We will try to start it from the next academic session,' said Vasudev Devnani, state minister for education said Wednesday. link

  • The central government's decision to start an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Andhra Pradesh has been hailed as a dream come true by students, academicians and knowledge-based industries in the state. The announcement to set up an IIT at Isnapur in Medak district, about 40 km from here, was made by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Tuesday. The IIT will benefit hundreds of students from the state aspiring to get seats in the premier institutes. About 660 students from Andhra Pradesh were admitted to seven IITs, which together have 3,980 seats. "The proposed IIT will be only the second in south India after IIT Chennai." link

  • The President inaugurated the PanIIT Global Conference 2006, the largest gathering of the IIT alumni at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in suburban Mumbai. His observations focussed on where the Indian Institutes of Technology lag and how IITians can actually make a difference. He said he first called a Professor of Indian origin in the US who felt that there may be many hidden Ramanujans and Einsteins amongst the vast majority of the students, which the IIT system does not touch. "The greatest challenge for the Pan IITians and the nation is to find a mechanism to identify those needles in the haystack," the President said. He urged the IITians to look for hidden Ramanujans and bring them to the mainstream. link

  • PanIIT coverage on Rediff.com ...

    • IITians do something for Indian education ... Ram Kelkar (BTech '80 EE) link

    • IIT is about fundas ... Pranay Shah (BTech '77 CivE) link

    • Success tip: No idea is too small ... Rajendra Gadgil (BTech '75 ChE) link

    • Let Pan IIT build a bridge of philanthropy ... Mathew Eipe (BTech '75 ChE) link

    • IIT education is a wonderful package ... Kekoo Colah (BTech '76 ME) link

    • IIT-ians must give something back to India ... Satish Kini (BTech '76 ME) link

    • 5 things entrepreneurs must do to succeed ... Uma Ganesh (PhD '04 Mgmt) link

    • IIT-ians can do wonders if they want ... Shailesh Gandhi (BTech '69 CivE) link

    • How IITians aim to transform India  ... Ashank Desai (MTech '74 ME) link

  • Enhancing the fabled Brand IIT will be on everyone's mind as IITians from all over the world arrive in Mumbai for the PanIIT 2006 Global Conference ... the number of patents and citations per IIT faculty member in the 1990s was a tenth of what obtained in leading universities such as Stanford and MIT. IIT Delhi professor Pankaj Jalote, in his article (TOI, Nov 30) rightly observes that "the archaic system of fixed increment-based salary scales with no regular performance evaluation...is guaranteed to lead to mediocrity and lack of competitiveness" ... "every brand ... is vulnerable to decline — because without substance, any credential is worthless". The energies of IITians should be spent on ensuring that their own alma maters have the necessary resources and support to attract and nurture the best and smartest young men and women. If the fundamentals are sound, then nation-building will happen as a matter of course. link

  • Promising startups from Indian research institutes display their tech prowess across IT, communications and biotech sectors ... VCs too are beginning to take note of their achievements. Success stories coming out of IIT Bombay are equally impressive: Herald Logic develops products in enterprise information, rule-based engine; Voyager2 Infotech built a creative ideas portal and was bought out by Purple Yogi in an all-stock deal; Myzus Technologies develops products and services in the areas of wireless gateways and connectivity bridges; eInfinitus develops real-time bandwidth provisioning and specialised router software. link

  • Come January and city’s techno buffs will head for IIT Bombay’s Techfest 2007. And to give the 10-year-old festival a new twist, the students have promised to come up with solutions for problems that hamper infrastructural development in the state. The three-day festival, commencing on January 26 next year, will also attract students from the US, Australia, Sri Lanka and Nepal. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • "Per ardua ad astra" the Latin phrase that translates to "Through adversity to the stars" was the motto of Antonio D’Souza High School, Mumbai, where Avinash Sankholkar BTech '74 ChE) studied ... he found many warm, friendly and intellectual people at IIT Bombay. link

    • Minaxi Gupta (MSc '95 Phys) from the IU School of Informatics was awareded the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award at IU Bloomington. Gupta obtained her master's and doctoral degrees in computer science from Georgia Tech. She earned a master's in physics from IIT in Mumbai (Bombay), India, and her undergraduate degree at Bombay University. link

    • India Infoline interviews Pramod Chaudhari (BTech '71 ME), Chairman & Managing Director, Praj Industries Limited, a technology, engineering and plant and equipment company focused upon Ethanol Plants, Breweries and Wastewater Treatment Systems. link

  • Now you don’t have to go aimlessly knocking on doors for funding. If you have a business idea, but didn’t know how and who to tap to take it forward, then IIT Bombay has the answer: Global Entrepreneurship Network, or GEN, helps you set up your own business enterprise with the help of a team spread across the globe. An online platform, GEN will help provide a support system for the business initiatives of budding entrepreneurs among students and working professionals. "Networking forms an intricate part of any initiative. GEN aims at bringing together individuals at different stages of entrepreneurship on a common platform," explained entrepreneurship cell (IIT-B) manager and GEN project coordinator Abhishek Mohta ... the portal was formally launched on the sidelines of the “Entrepreneurship Summit” at IIT-B. link

  • Call them the new million-dollar babies. Barely out of their teens and IIT campuses, they’re the new richie rich of India — graduate at 21, millionaire by 22. IITians are giving their IIM brethren a run for their money as global financial majors put an extra trust premium on the quantitative analytical skills of BTechs graduating from India’s premier technological institutes ... at IIT Bombay, the US-based Mercer group has offered a salary of $85,000 with a guaranteed bonus of about 20%. link

  • In IIT Bombay, the lime tastes sweet. A BTech (computer science) student of the institute has bagged a whopping $90,000 annual package from the US-based Lime group, a financial services and technology conglomerate. The student is among the four candidates recruited by the Lime group. A UBS Investment Bank placement stood next, with an offer of $85,000 a year. The Lime group is a New York-based conglomerate that has businesses in finance and software and is a regular recruiter from India. link

  • Come January and city’s techno buffs will head for IIT Bombay’s Techfest 2007. And to give the 10-year-old festival a new twist, the students have promised to come up with solutions for problems that hamper infrastructural development in the state. The three-day festival, commencing on January 26 next year, will also attract students from the US, Australia, Sri Lanka and Nepal. link

  • In a move that hints at a big shift in the global pharmaceutical business ... as big drug companies shut down some research facilities in the U.S. and other rich countries, labs in India and China are increasingly picking up the slack. Eli Lilly & Co., Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline PLC all have outsourced chemistry work to Indian firms. Dr. Barbhaiya took early retirement from Bristol-Myers and headed home. Among his first hires was a former colleague at Bristol-Myers, Kasim Mookhtiar (MSc '80 Chem), who became Ranbaxy's head of drug discovery. Looking to run his own show, Dr. Barbhaiya found a backer in the Tata Group ... the result was Advinus Therapeutics, a company whose new-drug research would be powered by Indian scientists returning from the U.S. and other countries. The lab is run by the jocular Dr. Mookhtiar. link

  • Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) is riding Infosys at a global gallop, changing the company as it changes the way the world does business. Nandan Nilekani of Infosys has had a great year. So great that he faces a daunting problem: He has to hire 28,500 workers--in a single year. Oh, and while he's at it, he has to reshape his company's strategy, selling higher-value services to keep ahead of competitors that try to imitate Infosys by hiring low-wage Indian workers. And while doing both, he has to add nearly $1 billion to last year's revenue to keep his word to Wall Street analysts--he promised them Infosys would be a $3 billion company by April. "We have a unique challenge," he says, "and it is a nice challenge to have: How do you at the same time have rapid growth and rapid change?" link

  • The Pune Chapters of IITBAA and TiE are jointly organising an innovation show, 'Innovations 2007' on January 6 for innovators to showcase 'ideas that are already in practice'. The organisers have selected 15 innovations from 145 nominations. The 15 nominations include three from IT and Telecommunications, one in biotech, one in electronics, two in pharma, one in chemical, four in manufacturing and three in mechanical product technology. The day-long event will have Gururaj Deshpande, a technology entrepreneur and Arun Shourie making key note and concluding addresses respectively, the event will also allow the innovators to make six minute presentations to an audience comprising venture capitalists, financial institutions, R&D foundations, scientists, academicians, corporate executives and media professionals. link

  • Rajendra Gadgil (BTech '75 ChE) is the senior vice president of marketing at NOCIL. He is a chemical engineer and has graduated from IIT Bombay. "IIT-ians have made a lot of difference to India by putting in on the technological map of the world. People recognise India as a strong technical country. Look at Sabeer Bhatia, Rajat Gupta and the likes. Today more then 50-60 big companies of the world have Indians at the very top. Also, besides the bigwigs, a lot of IIT-ians have chosen not to go abroad and have made their mark here in India. link

  • Entrepreneurship is fast catching on in college festivals. Techfest (http://www.techfest.org), the annual science and technology festival of Indian Institute of Technology Powai, will introduce a section called Imagineer that will allow students to develop their ideas and get recognition both in the student community and in industry. Techfest, which completes a decade, will be held from 26 January to 28 January 2007. The competitions have been classified under four themes: Overdrive, iBots, Dimensions and Wired Logic. link

  • Memories of the years spent in IIT Bombay still bring a smile on Kekoo Colah's (BTech '76 ME) face. You broach the subject and the high profile executive director of Knight Frank (India) Pvt Ltd just can't help grinning. Colah obtained a BTech. "Things that I learnt in IIT Bombay - the value system, work ethics and the problem solving capability - helped me tremendously in my career ... it's simply a great feeling to be in an IITian." link

  • As head of 21st Century Healthcare Solutions, Satish Kini (BTech '76 ME) is out to transform healthcare with people, processes and technologies. "... the very environment of IIT inculcates a spirit of achievement in them and they take pride in the fact that they are into one of the premier educational institutes of the county." link

  • With IT maps, plans, awards and at least three phone-lines, one can imagine how busy Avinash Sankholkar (BTech '74 ChE), Head, IT and Research & Development at Larsen and Toubro would be. "I ranked 54th in the western region in the joint entrance exam for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT),” he says, remembering the years of his education. He adds that he found many warm, friendly and intellectual people at IIT Bombay. link

  • The IIMs have got competition when it comes to attracting financial companies and consultancies for campus recruitment: the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). IIT Bombay will place its students in companies like Mc Kinsey, Boston Consultancy Group and UBS for the first time. With just three days down into recruitments, IIT Bombay has already placed 120 students with an average pay packet of Rs 10 lakh. link

  • Uma Ganesh (PhD '04 Mgmt) is the CEO and principal consultant, Kalzoom Technologies. She did her Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in 2004. She was earlier CEO of Zee Interactive Learning Systems and vice president at Aptech. She was awarded IT Woman of the Year Award for 2001 and has been actively involved with professional bodies such as Nasscom, CII, NACT and CSI. Uma Ganesh spoke about the Pan-IIT Global Conference to be held in Mumbai from December 23 to December 25, about how IIT-ians have helped transform India, and what young IIT-ians and entrepreneurs must do to succeed. link

  • "IIT-ians think they are God's own creation but the acid test is how much they do for India. Without that, their feeling that they contribute anything is meaningless. And if there are about a lakh of IIT-ians across the world, they can really do wonders. This conference may initiate the important process of change. But the real test of the meet lies in what happens in the post-conference euphoria period." - Shailesh Gandhi (BTech '69 CivE). link

  • Indian Institute of Technology graduate begins prestigious American fellowship ... Manoranjan Sahu (MTech '01 EnvSci) has been named a McDonnell International Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, and he has received a corporate fellowship from Engineering and Environmental Research Group, Inc. (EERG) of Ames, Iowa. link

  • Cyrus Driver (BTech '98 ME) graduated from IIT Bombay, did his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and worked with Chase Manhattan’s venture capital wing for 4 years. But he noticed that working late hours and an unhealthy diet had given him a bloated middle. He looked around for a service that would provide food that was healthy, tasty, had variety and the right quantity ... and since no one could hear his cry, he decided to do something on his own. His answer - Calorie Care, India's "first ever calorie-counted meal delivery service." link

  • Autodesk Inc. has announced the launch of its Global Student Engineering and Design Community portal in India, as part of the firm’s global initiative to educate the student community with latest 3D design technologies and prepare them for careers in engineering and design. India was amongst the five countries beside US, UK, Australia and New Zealand selected for the pilot launch of this portal. Students from four of India’s premier institutes - IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, Sir JJ School of Architecture, Mumbai and School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi - were involved in the initiative.. link

  • PanIIT 2006 coverage on Rediff.com ... link

    • How India can be the global KPO king ... link

    • IIT-ians have the whole world ahead of them ... link

    • First micro credit was from an IITian-led co ... link

    • Pan-IIT alumni against OBC quota ... link

    • Why India can be global knowledge economy leader ... link

    • Nation building, top priority for IIT-ians  ... link

    • Pan IIT mission is to transform India ... link

    • You just cannot do without IIT-ians ... link

    • How IITians aim to transform India ... link

 

November 2006

  • Brace yourself for the attack of the alpha geeks. Between December 23 and 25, more than five thousand of the world’s brightest technologists, engineers, physicists, mathematicians and managers will converge upon the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay campus in Powai to attend the fourth Global IIT Alumni Conference, possibly making Mumbai the world’s brainiest city for that period. Called PanIIT 2006, the event is not your run-of-the-mill alumni gathering. President APJ Abdul Kalam will speak to the IIT graduates in a keynote speech, a tradition begun by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, the keynote speaker at the first conference in California in 2003. The closing address will be given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while spirituality guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is slated to host a session on bringing technology and spirituality. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Chennai Corporation's new Commissioner Rajesh B. Lakhani took charge at the Ripon Buildings on Thursday. Mr. Lakhoni told reporters that he would ensure that the government schemes were implemented successfully. The new Commissioner, an engineer by training, is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. link

    • The Mittal Steel USA plant at Burns Harbor has replaced its manager. Madhukar "Madhu" Ranade (BTech '75 MetE/MatSc) will replace former plant manager Jim Hrusovsky, according to David C. Allen, Mittal Steel spokesman. Ranade has an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and a master's degree in material science and engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. link

    • Nandan Nilekani spent many of his early years in Dharwad and entered the portals of IIT Mumbai in 1973 to do his BTech in Electrical Engineering. "I was from a small town and not at all sophisticated. I was surrounded by all these boys from Cathedral and other up-market schools from Bombay. So learning how to survive and flourish in that environment gave me self confidence." Besides studies, Nilekani was an avid quizzer and also organized IIT Mumbai’s collegiate cultural fest Mood Indigo. link

    • "10 ways to find, retain best tutors at IIMs, IITs" and "9 more ways to find, retain best tutors" by Manoj Kumar (PhD '04 Finance) ... Dr. Kumar is a faculty member in the Finance & Accounting discipline at Indian Institute of Management Lucknow. He has done his PhD in Finance from IIT Bombay. link

  • In classic "born global" tradition, SecLore Technology Pte Ltd opened an overseas presence on its first day. The company set up its headquarters in Singapore to capitalise on the city-state's location and status as a premier business hub, and opened a research and development division in India to benefit from the country's talent pool and cost advantages. Thanks to a timely partnership with SINE, an incubator run by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, SecLore began with two offices at startup: Singapore as the channel to the Asia-Pacific market and India as the R&D centre. link

  • "Romancing with advertising" ... Hindustan Times calls Mahesh Chauhan (BTech '93 MetE/MatSc) one of "the top advertising brains of India." Not yet 40 (37 to be exact), Mahesh is the President of Rediffusion DY&R, India's top advertising company. And though entry into the field was by a fluke, the growth was 'definitely' talent for the guy who gave you the famous 'definitely male' one-liner to Bajaj Pulsar bike. "It was simply a providential interaction with some advertising people that defined the career I would embark upon," recalls Mahesh, who was sure about not pursuing engineering after the years at IIT Mumbai. link

  • Rediffusion DY&R has appointed Mr Mahesh Chauhan (BTech '93 MetE/MatSc), currently President of Everest Brand Solutions, to succeed Mr Preet Bedi, the outgoing President.  Mr Chauhan takes over at Rediffusion after completing a three-year stint at Everest Brand Communications. At Everest, besides winning businesses such as Hitachi, LIC, Kinetic, ING Vyasa, Mirc Electronics and Elder Pharma, Chauhan was responsible for turning around the creative product of the agency during his tenure. link

  • VIDYA, an NGO started 20 years ago in Delhi enters its “5th Founder’s Day” in Mumbai on this 11th Nov. Vidya – Mumbai organized a Founder’s Day celebration in the IIT, Powai campus to commemorate its vision and resolve to impact the local community. Rashmi Misra is the founder and chairperson of VIDYA (Vidya Integrated Development For Youth and Adults) a well known Indian non-profit organization working towards the empowerment of women and children from urban slum areas in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Goa. VIDYA's unique grass-root development programs have proved to be very successful in transforming the lives of many of India's most underprivileged. VIDYA was one of only two New Delhi based social development programs featured during Hillary Clinton's state visit to India in 1995. link

  • Asia's spectacular monument of gratitude ... Air travellers over Mumbai will soon have something spectacular to goggle at: a cloud-high view of the golden Global Pagoda, the world's largest stone monument and the first dome in human history of this size without any supporting pillars. The completed massive main dome of the Global Pagoda, to seat more than 8,000, has been officially inaugurated last Sunday in the presence of many Indian leaders, including possibly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The construction plans were finalized following advice from consultants and research studies, including one by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai." link

  • Hands-free driving, a locket that alerts you of an imminent heart attack, energy from the sun and wind as a petrol substitute and earthquake-resistant buildings. These are only a few innovations that could make our lives that much easier if research scholars at Bombay IIT have their way ... work is continuing on some key innovations, which if completed successfully, could change the paradigm of how we lead our lives in the future. For instance, the silicon locket when worn by an individual, will make it possible to instantly monitor various cardiac parameters to help in quick diagnosis. In the event of the slightest abnormality, the locket is designed to send automatic alerts—including the last few seconds of ECG data— to a central server or the nearest hospital using a mobile phone interface. link

  • Daniel Dias (BTech '76 EE) has just been at the helm of IBM India Research Lab (IRL) for all of two months, but this IIT-Bombay alumnus has already drawn the roadmap for the company's R&D for the next few years. The focus, he says, is on innovation. "We are looking at 20%-25% growth in R&D at IBM India Research Lab. The growth primarily depends on the kind of innovations we do, which again is based on the people we hire," says Dias. link

  • Imagine an 11-foot-tall Ganesh idol, weighing a cool 35 kilograms, made entirely out of newspaper. Surprised! Mumbai was too after this year’s Ganeshotsav celebrations became the first eco-friendly expression of religious fervour ever. Developed and designed by IIT Bombay’s Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, the large papier-mache Ganesh idol was the culmination of years of research ... most idols in this year’s Ganeshotsav celebrations were made of clay and silt from the Powai lake - about 1900 small clay and silt Ganeshas made their way into homes and localities. Navsrujan - a group of amateur environmentalists from IIT Bombay – were the progenitors of this vacuous idea that came to fruition this year. link

October 2006

  • The Tata Technologies building stands tall in the sprawling Hinjewadi IT Park, 20 km from Pune towards the Mumbai-Pune expressway. On the first floor of this building sits Narendra Karmarkar (BTech '78 EE), a globally renowned scientist best known for inventing the Karmarkar Algorithm. He is today associated with a relatively unknown firm, Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a subsidiary of Tata Sons. Mr Karmarkar is leading a team of scientists who are part of an ambitious project to create India’s answer to the newer, faster supercomputer. It’s a race involving many a superpower of the world – the US, Japan and China. Between them they are betting millions of dollars to push up super computing speeds to well over 1,000 tera flops (one peta flop). link

  • How IITians aim to transform India: The Rediff Interview with Ashank Desai, Chairman, Mastek ... It will be payback time for the country's most talented minds -- the stars from Indian Institutes of Technology -- when they meet for three days in Mumbai in December. PanIIT 2006, an umbrella organisation of IITians, has scheduled the annual alumni conference from December 23 to December 25. This time a record 5,000 IITians are expected to participate in the convention, many of them from overseas. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Saicon Consultants Inc. experienced more than 730 percent growth in the last three years. Explosive? Not according to Ramesh Lokre (MSc '84 Math), the Chief Executive Officer for the Overland Park-based company ... Saicon ranked 142nd on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. link

    • Tellabs issued revenue guidance for the fourth-quarter that sent the shares tumbling 6% on the day. But despite short-term investors' disappointment, long-term value players still love the stock. "I would say our stock is undervalued at this point," says CEO Krish Prabhu (MSc '75 Phys). link

    • SecondSpace, a new online services company formed by a team of Internet veterans, today announced two key appointments to its senior management team. Satbir Khanuja (BTech '89 MetE), former Vice President of Amazon.com's Worldwide Traffic Group, will serve as the company's Vice President of Marketing. link

  • The Times Higher Education Supplement’s listing of 100 top technology universities ranked the IITs at #3, just behind MIT and the University of California-Berkeley. The new tech survey "puts IIT ahead of Imperial College, London", which comes in at #4. The survey is a subset of the main data collated by THES for last week’s overall excellence rankings in which the IITs were ranked #57. link

  • Friday afternoons at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai are a time to relax for Ankit Jain, a final-year engineering student. In between his rigorous exam schedule, Ankit takes some time off from competing with his friends in the classroom to compete with them on the basketball courts. Ankit and his friends at the elite institute are considered some of the brightest brains in India. And they have found that they are in hot demand from Indian and foreign businesses. According to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's country head in India, R Sankar, India is facing an imminent talent shortage. "... there just aren't enough skilled graduates in India to fill these jobs." link

  • IITBAA Pune and TiE Pune have announced the launch of Innovations 2007, an annual technology exhibition that aims to become the best forum in India to showcase innovations in practice. Innovations 2007 is an opportunity innovators anywhere on the globe should not miss. Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande is the keynote speaker, and the the event has an intense, single day, single-track format, ending with an Indian perspective given by Arun Shourie. link

  • Did the nuclear test by North Korea on October nine trigger earthquakes in the region? Apparently yes, if geologists are to be believed. The earthquake pattern between October nine and 13 in East Asia, geologists say, was due to a disturbance in natural stress conditions of the subduction zone extending from Kuril Island in the north to Phillipines islands in the south. They said it was apparent that the nuclear explosion did create stress along the trench. In the last two months, such earthquake "clusters" were not observed in the zone, according to geologists from the Department of Earth Sciences in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) here. link

  • Google Inc. has appointed computer scientist Dr. Prasad Bhaarat Ram (BTech '87 CSE) to head engineering and site operations at its R&D center in Bangalore. Dr. Ram, whose appointment is effective immediately, will lead engineering operations and product innovation at the center. Prasad has over 15 years experience in computer science research and engineering, and has worked extensively in software and online industries. Prior to joining Google, Prasad was Chief Technology Office at Yahoo! India Research and Development in Bangalore, India. Prasad started his career as a research scientist at Xerox PARC and has a B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). link

  • The Electrical Engineering Department of IIT Bombay has organised a two-day workshop on the campus on Saturday to encourage and discuss new trends in supercomputing by increasing innovation and participation. Titled ‘Aagomani 2006’, the workshop particularly focusses on high performance computing. On the first day, the significance of supercomputers and how they can combat asteroid hits, tsunamis, terrorist attacks and oil deficits were discussed. link

  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did some plain speaking to top scientists and students inside IIT Bombay, voicing concern that China and South Korea may have "leapfrogged" ahead of the nation in their "mastery over science and technology" ... Singh’s concern extended to the "decline in standards of research in universities and even in the IITs". He emphasised that reverse brain drain must be encouraged in universities and government institutions. link

  • Concerned at the poor quality of scientific research in Indian universities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that his government planned to double allocations for science and technology within the next five years. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Medical help is a click away ... Sandeep Shah (BTech '81 EE) got his start in technology by fixing fuses in his boyhood home. Today, he operates a database that shoots lifesaving information to handheld devices on the battlefield in Iraq. The 46-year-old Northborough resident is the founder and president of Skyscape, a cyberspace clearinghouse of medical data. link

    • For the last three years, Shailesh Gandhi (BTech '69 CivE) has been spreading awareness about Right to Information (RTI) Act across Maharashtra. Gandhi, an IIT Bombay graduate and a successful businessman, has conducted over 2,000 RTI camps and gives around 40 lectures every month on the use of the Act. link

  • India's Looming Talent Shortage ... Graduates from the seven prestigious IITs, Indian Institutes of Technology, hold their own against those from Caltech or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many of the private engineering colleges and other programs that have proliferated in recent years do not reach anywhere close to the standard of the IITs. Prasad Krishna, head of quality assurance at the All India Council for Technical Education, which oversees engineering programs, said his staff had found it difficult to keep up with all the new schools. Currently, India boasts 1,475 approved engineering programs. "There are many institutions running programs not approved by the council," Krishna said. "Some of these fly-by-night operators should be checked." link

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay is among 15 Asian varsities partnering Washington University in launching the McDonnell Academy aimed at fostering international cooperation in education and research to create a worldwide network of top-class scholars, and business and government leaders. The academy would groom leaders who are able to deal with challenges of globalisation in a socially sensitive way. At least nine MNCs, including Boeing and several foundations and individuals are supporting the academy established with an endowment of $10 million committed by retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation John F McDonnell. link

  • The Indian Institute of Technology has joined the premier league of best universities in the world. According to the rankings compiled by the Times Higher Education Supplement , published on Thursday, India’s premier science and technology education centre is ranked No.57 in the global list. American and British universities comprised nearly half of the top 100 universities in the world. United States led the way with 33 universities in the top 100, while Britain ranked second with 15. Australia and the Netherlands were next with seven each, while Switzerland and France followed with five. Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Germany each had three to their credit. China and India, the world's two most populous countries, had two apiece, along with Singapore, New Zealand and Belgium. link

  • The Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is conducting a survey to help understand the career development progression of alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology. In return for completing the survey, respondents will have the option of receiving a report summarizing the findings of the study of the career status of IIT alumni across the globe. link

  • Meet the toppers of IIT Bombay's Class of 2006 ... link

    • Internet connectivity in rural areas at cheap rates? Well, this could be a reality if Srikanth's dream comes true. Meet Srikanth Jagabathula, IIT Bombay's pride, the President of India gold medal winner for 2005-06 ... Srikanth is all set to fly to the United States to pursue his studies at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. link

    • Knowledge is indeed wealth. Who better exemplifies it than Krishnamurthy Rengarajan, IIT-B gold medallist (Dual Degree). Krishnamurthy's story is that of hard work, sheer grit and determination. "I have been selected for the scholarship programme at Stanford University for a PhD in operations research." link

    • Ashwin Limaye, Topper, M Tech dual degree in Computer Science and Engineering ... is simple, unassuming and, of course, intelligent! "The best thing about IIT is that it is not just about academics ... the interaction with professors and students from diverse backgrounds is also an enriching experience." link

September 2006

  • The SBI, Andhra Bank and JK Bank are among the banks that will work with the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) and IIT Mumbai in a pilot project for biometric smart cards, aimed at rural inclusion into the banking system. The rollout will take place in the next six weeks and will initially be confined to the North-East region. link

  • The Indian-American Gen Next ... What lies ahead for the next generation of Indian Americans, even as many in the first generation enjoy the fruits of their hard work and success? "This generation, they just cannot focus the way we could, that is the problem," Sharat was saying. "Everything has come too easy for them. Remember how we worked to get into the IIT ..." said a second friend. They were all IITians and often are nostalgic about the alu parathas in their days at the Kanpur IIT or the chaat outside the gates of the Delhi IIT. link

  • Meet the three Indian American CEOs who preceded Indra Nooyi in the elite Fortune 500 CEO Club ... two of them are IIT Bombay alumni. Ramani Ayer (BTech '69 ChE) is the CEO of Hartford Financial and a business biography mentions how he could "barely afford materials for his classes" since his father was a poorly paid government official. Rajiv L Gupta (BTech '67 ME), CEO of Rohm & Haas, is credited with increasing the company’s R&D growth from 11% in 1997 to 35% in 2003 as well as setting a long-term sales growth of 4% to 6% "to be achieved through new product development, expanded presence in Asia," among other ways and means. link

  • Four undergraduate students from IIT Bombay have bagged the top prize in the Student Design Contest 2006 category at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' (ASME) International, for developing a novel robot. The robot "CATCH PHRASE", had to throw a sand bag weighing 50 gram, which represented a bait, as close as possible to the target set by the judges (between 6 metre to 10 metre) and retrieve it, Prof G Ukadgaonker, Faculty Advisor, ASME Student Section at IIT Bombay said on Friday. The IIT winning team has been invited by ASME International to Chicago in November 2006 to compete with the rest of twelve regions which are in North America (USA, Canada and Mexico), he added. The team led by Rishabh Bhandari included Anand Shah, Apeksha Khandelwal and Rutika Muchhala. link

  • The Joint Entrance Examination 2007 will be held on Sunday, April 8, 2007. And, for those planning to give it a shot, there are a few changes in store ... the 2007 test will be a single-stage objective-type examination consisting of two papers of 3 hours each. Like JEE 2006, the format will still be multiple-choice questions, but the tests now aim to measure analytical and comprehension skills. Thanks to this new pattern, the total examination time should be reduced by 20 per cent if compared to last year's papers. According to Ram Kelkar (BTech '80 EE), Director, IIT Bombay Heritage Fund, the changes are for the better. "... the domination of coaching classes has been rather detrimental ... coaching classes are masterful at reverse engineering the JEE examination but, as a result, their focus is on teaching the rote art of test-taking rather than fundamentals ... the new pattern will ... level the playing field for all youngsters in India." link

  • From the September Campus Diary ... IIT Bombay is the organizing institute for JEE 2007. JEE-2007 will be a single-stage objective-type examination consisting of two papers of three hours duration each to test comprehension and analytical ability of candidates. Both papers will have three separate sections on Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. This is in place of three papers of two hours duration each in JEE-2006. This step has been taken to further reduce stress on the candidates. link

  • Over 400 casual workers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) have alleged that their contractor is exploiting them by delaying regular salaries and not providing basic facilities to them at the workplace. However, a source at the labour commission, said: "The problem of workers with PF and other such benefits arises because they submit incomplete forms and are unaware of the procedures. We have also looked into the matter of irregular payments and papers show that they receive salaries on time." link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. announced that its chairman, president and chief executive officer, Ramani Ayer (BTech '69 ChE), will provide testimony on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. EDT at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on terrorism entitled, "Protecting Americans from Catastrophic Terrorism Risk." link

    • Capgemini ... providers of Consulting, Technology, and Outsourcing services ... has named Salil Parekh (BTech '86 Aero), Chief Executive Officer of the company’s North America Project & Consulting business unit. link

    • A scholarly background, splendid career achievements and touching humility - this is how one describes Dr Kamal K Sharma (BTech - IIT Kanpur / PhD '99 IndMgmt - IIT Bombay) ... MD of Lupin. While working, Sharma ... obtained a PhD in welfare economics from IIT Bombay. link

    • India’s Praj Industries has announced its first cross-border acquisition acquiring 100% of CJ Schneider Engineering for Rs225 million ($5 million). Praj has a 6%-8% share of the global market in the construction of plants that produce ethanol. Its founders are alumni of one of India’s leading engineering schools, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The company's founder and chairman, (is) Pramod Chaudhari (BTech '71 ME). Silicon Valley venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems shares the euphoria on both the ethanol rally and in Praj’s prospects. In April this year, Vinod Khosla was given a preferential allotment of shares and warrants in Praj Industries. link

    • During the Mumbai train blasts in July, when phone lines and mobile networks either jammed or broke down, the BMC, police and hospitals found an unlikely ally in HAM radio stations, which had originally been established to deal with the floods. The brainchild, that ensured smooth communication, was one of several initiatives started by Vinay Somani (BTech '80 ChE), founder of karmayog.com. The free portal is one of its kind in the city, where NGOs, volunteers and service providers have a permanent e-space, which facilitates interactions with government servants, donors, needy people or even companies that feel a tinge of corporate social responsibility. link

    • 'Regulatory potholes' are a hindrance in the country’s exploding information and communication technology (ICT). This is one of the observations found in the Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2005-06 ... the India Chapter of this report, prepared by IIT alumni Madanmohan Rao (BTech '85 CSE), highlights ... the need for continued growth in international bandwidth for India. link

    •  the third in two months- officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepared to admit that Mumbai’s roads were still far from smooth. The court had also appointed three citizen-members to the BMC’s Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). These members, advocate Mihir Desai, activist and theatre personality Gerson D’Cunha and engineer Sudhir Badami (BTech '71/ MTech '74 CivE), have received no intimation yet from the BMC but have anyway chalked out a proactive role for themselves. link

  • Are Indians the Model Immigrants? They have funny accents, occasionally dress in strange outfits, and some wear turbans and grow beards, yet Indians have been able to overcome stereotypes to become the U.S.'s most successful immigrant group. Media reports routinely profile graduates from one Indian college—the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). This is a great school, but most successful Indians I know aren't IIT graduates. Neither are the doctors, journalists, motel owners, or the majority of technology executives. Their education comes from a broad range of colleges in India and the U.S. They believe that education is the best way to rise above poverty and hardship. link

  • The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), India, in a ceremony. The MoU encompasses collaborative research activities as well as undergraduate and graduate student exchange programs. Director Ashok Misra of IITB, says, "This will provide a great opportunity to the faculty and research scholars from both institutes to embark on interdisciplinary research collaborations and to extend intellectual ties beyond national borders." link

  • For someone whose home was a classroom and teaching was a way of life, retirement means very little. Chemical engineering professor S L Narayanamurthy, 65, retired from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay having served for four decades from 1964 till 2003. Felicitated with the lifetime achievement award in 2004, he however keeps returning to his first love and is still associated with the IIT through several education programmes. link

  • "In Spite of the Gods" reviewed by Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) ... "Rising in a Flat World ... When you are asked to review a book on the rise of India written by a foreign correspondent, it is easy to predict the mix. There will be a bit of the license permit raj and the dead hand of India’s bureaucracy ... Ed Luce has all this and much more. As Ed says rightly in the end, quoting Vijay Kelkar, "The twenty-first century is India’s to lose." It is a tale well told and a great read both for those who know India and for those who don’t. link

  • The latest issue of InsIghT is now available and highlights include an interview with Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia where he is quoted saying that "If I had to choose between keeping IITians in India and sending them abroad for 2-3 years, I would choose the latter." Another article titled "New Kids on the Block" is a survey of the freshman class of 2006. The authors report that 30% of the freshies do nothing in particular other than studies, while 47% plan to pursue an MBA after graduating from IIT Bombay. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • IBM has named Dr Daniel M Dias (BTech '76 EE) as the Director of the IBM India Research Lab. Dias will be responsible for leading the research units in India, at Delhi and Bangalore, with a focus on innovation, developing and managing the lab's research agenda. Dr. Dias said, "IRL is the youngest of IBM's eight labs worldwide and at the forefront of driving innovation through research." link

    • An Indian American academic at Harvard is conducting a seminal study of India’s burgeoning fashion industry in a bid to understand what makes it tick. Dr. Mukti Khaire (MM '99 Mgmt), Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, is conducting a study of the estimated $1.7 billion Indian fashion industry. link

  • Mounds of garbage lying unattended in street junctions, is a common sight in many urban areas of the country. Clearly and apparently, such a mass of garbage is both an eye sore and health a hazard. Against this backdrop, the vermin composting technology developed by the Indian Institute of Technology at Mumbai can be profitably utilized to treat urban wastes in an environmentally friendly manner. link

  • The IIT theatre fest will showcase six plays in Hindi and English. All the shows will be held at its P C Saxena Auditorium, IIT Campus, Powai. The IIT Theatre Fest has been organised and mentored by Prof. Raja Mohanty and Ramu Ramanathan. Prof Mohanty states, "It is our intention to promote theatre at the IIT. This is to ensure IIT evolves into a meeting point for our students and faculty, along with artistes, playwrights, directors, media people, others - into a hub-hub of liveliness." link

  • In case you thought that IITians were a houseful of nerds, you're right. In fact now there's even a study to back this. And guess who's conducted the research - the geeks themselves. Students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay carried out a survey among freshers (first-year students) who got into the Powai campus this year to find that most of them did nothing but study ... a whopping 30% ... said, "Nothing particular, just studies."  link

August 2006

  • The Indian government has introduced a controversial affirmative action bill in parliament which aims to increase quotas for lower-caste Indians and other disadvantaged groups in professional colleges. On the streets of Delhi, angry doctors and medical students are protesting against the move. Most of them are elite, upper-class Indians who see the move as a cynical attempt by politicians to gain votes from the influential lower castes who are a dominant force across the country. But those who are supporting the bill - and even in colleges there are many - such as final-year student Raghav Joshi, argue that this is not enough of a reason to deny socially disadvantaged students access to a first-class college education. link

  • Anand and Arya are among the several entrepreneur students of IIT-Powai who have taken to business, while still studying. All thanks to the institute’s Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) that was set up in 2000. But how sustainable are such ventures? Do they fizzle out as students graduate and move on to other things? Myzus provides the answer. Started in 2000 by Roshan D’Silva and Sandeep Srivastava, then final-year students, this company provides content from websites, newspapers, TV and other sources to mobile phones via SMS or WAP. Six years after they won their funding at Eureka!, one of the business plan competitions at IIT, it’s still running successfully and now makes a Rs 3 crore profit annually. link

  • The proposal to introduce 27 per cent OBC quotas in aided institutions and the decision to stagger it over a maximum of three years has no doubt come as a welcome breather, but at IIT Bombay the worries remain - faculty, number of seats, infrastructure being top priorities. Considering the challenges ahead - IIT-B alone will require another 300 teachers - it has already moved various proposals to the government including okaying foreigners on contract as faculty and more campuses to tackle the problem. "IIT Bombay should ideally have a 1:9 teacher-to-student ratio as against the present 1:12. And the implementation of the OBC quota regime will require more professors due to a significant increase in the number of seats," Director Misra said. The IITs, he said, have around 5,544 students which will increase to 8,000 in the new quota regime, amounting to almost a 54 per cent rise. link

  • The next year's Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) would be slightly modified and would consist of two papers of three hours' duration each, Chairman, Joint Admission Board (JAB) Prof Ashok Misra said. "JEE 2007, to be held on April 8 next, will be slightly different from JEE 2006 and will have a single stage objective type examination consisting of two papers, instead of three, of three hours duration each, to test the comprehension and analytical ability of the candidates," he said. Misra said the JAB reviewed JEE-2006 in detail and found that a total of 2,87,564 candidates appeared for the examination, including 25,465 students belonging to SC and 6209 ST candidates. The total number of candidates who qualified in JEE-2006 was 6343, which included 699 SC and 156 ST candidates. link

  • PepsiCo Inc., which last week named Indra Nooyi as its next CEO, isn't the first global corporation to recognize the caliber of Indian executive talent ... most are products of an investment in higher education the country made more than 40 years ago. Those coming of age in the executive suite often were educated at one of two institutions founded in the 1950s and 1960s, the now seven-city IIT and the six-member Indian Institutes of Management. At least eight of the 500 biggest companies in the world are headed by Indians. Ramani Ayer (BTech '69 ChE) is CEO of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., based in Hartford, Connecticut. link

  • A visitor from the Soviet Union ... was shocked to learn that only 1,900 students made use of the sprawling 1,200-acre facility (at IIT Kanpur ... the seven Indian Institutes of Technology, one Indian Institute of Science and the six Indian Institutes of Management have given a big boost to India's growing cachet among investors. Nooyi graduated from one of the IIMs in 1976. For every Indra Nooyi that it is helping create, the top end of the Indian education system is turning away several who must be equally talented. And that is a colossal waste, a much bigger injustice than the one the government is trying to fix with its ill-conceived quota policy. link

  • The country’s toy industry is all set to get a technological facelift. The Toy Association of India (TAI) has tied up with IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay, in an effort to work on common platforms for research and development of educational toys. The collaboration would see the IITs and TAI working on product lines and designs and enable access to the IITs design facilities and infrastructure for TAI. link

  • "Winners are like jugglers," said eminent academician and author of several management books, Dr Nitin Nohria (BTech '84 ChE), who pointed out one such winner, a country which he left way back in 1984. "The real opportunity lies in India," said the senior associate dean and director of faculty development at the Harvard Business School. Nohria, who took his BTech from IIT Bombay and PhD in management from MIT of the US, was also critical of the tendency of companies to develop business modules, emphasising that "a company should have a module only if it is able to define it clearly." link

  • The Union Cabinet cleared the politically sensitive legislation providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government-run higher educational institutions, including AIIMS, IIT and IIMs in a staggered manner. However, the Cabinet decided to keep the creamy layer amongst the OBCs out of the purview of quota. Disappointed by the Cabinet’s decision, the Youth for Equality, which has been agitating for "merit" in higher educational institutions, threatened to launch a stir from tomorrow to protest against this decision. The Bill is expected to be tabled on August 25, the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament and is likely to be referred to the Standing Committee. link

  • A growing crisis in academic recruitment at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) is threatening to disrupt teaching and research, and could put international collaborations in jeopardy. Scientists say that the nation’s seven IITs need about 900 additional faculty members before the next academic session to counteract the shortfall. At IIT Bombay, for example, where the chemistry department has about 125 PhD students and 27 faculty members, the whole institution loses about 10 to 15 faculty members to retirement each year. Ashok Misra, director of IIT-Bombay, says they now need to employ an extra 140 faculty members to make up the deficit. link

  • Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Friday said India must try for a nine to 9.5 per cent growth, so that it hits for sure the targeted GDP growth of 8.5 per cent in the 11th plan period starting next year. However, the growth has to be an "inclusive" one, as the growth requires to be aimed at bringing welfare to one and all, he said while speaking at the 44th convocation of the IIT Mumbai. link

    • Webcast of 44th Convocation of IIT Bombay featuring Director Ashok Misra, Dr. Anil Kakodkar (Chairman of the Board of Governors), and Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia (Planning Commission) ... more. link

  • Inspire IITians to involve and transform India’ will be the theme for the IIT Alumni 2006 Global Conference to be held under the aegis of Pan IIT, the umbrella organization of all IIT alumni. ‘The conference will primarily focus on inspiring IITians to involve in a movement for giving back to the nation and networking with the alumni’ The event was likely to draw around 5,000 participants from across the globe. ‘Earlier conferences have seen more than 2,000 IITians participating, According to a press release, 1,000 alumni have already confirmed their participation. Sessions devoted to various issues like ‘Building India into a knowledge economy’, ‘Getting the governance you want’ and ‘Learning from successful entrepreneurs’ will be organized over the three-day period. link

  • The Maharashtra government has asked the Indian Institute of Technology-Powai to shell out Rs. 120 crore for a plot of land the IIT needs for expansion. Interestingly, the 10-acre plot, at the northeastern boundary of the IIT campus, was earmarked for the institute's expansion in the state's city development plan in 1993 since there was just one approach road to the plot, through the IIT campus. "We wrote back saying that we should be given this land at a nominal rate. We are not builders and we won't require FSI or TDR either. But the state now says that the land is owned by a private company," said an IIT source. link

  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the IITs will double their student intake from 38,500 to 60,600 in five years at a cost of Rs. 5,520 crore. This is being done to comply with the annexure to the interim report of the Veerappa Moily committee on reservation in higher education. The figure for IITs, IIMs, medical colleges and central and agricultural universities put together touches Rs. 16,000 crore. The IITs and IISc have said their total approved intake for 2006-2007 was 12,813, which would increase by 7,390. The report recommends relaxation of retirement of the faculty to 65 years, re-employing retired faculty up to 70 years. link

  • In their efforts to become more fuel-efficient, leading automotive companies such as General Motors, Tata Motors, and Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) have tied up with Indian institutes of technology (IITs) for carrying out research and development (R&D) work. General Motors has taken up a joint research project with IIT Delhi to develop a bio-diesel version of the Chevrolet Tavera. M&M is working with IITs (Kanpur, Chennai, and Mumbai) for alternative energy technology in vehicles. Tata Motors has partnered with leading IITs for various initiatives including new products and fuel-efficient engine development. Ford Motor Company is planning to tie up with IIT Chennai in the areas of safety and emission norms, fuel-efficient engine technology, and software testing and development. Officials at DaimlerChrysler and Honda Siel Cars India said they were open to a tie-up with IITs for mutual benefit. link

  • At a press conference in Mumbai, 1st August , Rajat Gupta, senior partner, McKinsey & Company Worldwide, and Ashank Desai (MTech '74 ME), Chairman, Mastek, announced that the IIT Alumni Global Conference will be held in Mumbai from December 23 to 25, 2006. The attendees will include none other than the President, A P J Abdul Kalam, who has confirmed his presence, and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, who is yet to confirm. The Advisory Board membership list for the upcoming event reads distinguished IITians such as Vindi Banga, R Gopalakrishnan, Shailesh Mehta, Victor Menezes, Nandan Nilekani, Manohar Parrikar, and Jairam Ramesh. link

  • CA has named Dr. Ajei S. Gopal (BTech '82 ME) as senior vice president and general manager of its Enterprise Systems Management (ESM) business unit. Gopal joins CA from Symantec Corp., where as executive vice president and CTO, he was the global technology leader for the company, responsible for strategy, investments in emerging technologies, including the Symantec Research Labs, and the development of the patent portfolio. He also led cross-product shared services, such as localization and usability, and was responsible for managing the company's significant technical and product operations in India and in China. link

July 2006

  • IMAGINE not having to wait half a day for your dahi to settle or shaking up a glass of flavored yogurt in five minutes flat. The Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) is all set to enter the ready-to-consume food market with flavored yogurt powder and an instant dahi mix which will be easy on housewives and snack outlets that serve lassi. However, at present, IIT-KGP has developed the products only on a lab-scale. Commercial production will begin only after the institute has sold the technology to a food company. link

  • IIT Chennai would be setting up a Research Park at a cost of Rs. 100 crores by February 2007, which would at par with international standards. This park would provide space for participating innovations by faculty, students and industry. The Park will be conforming to international standards and would be at par with such ventures in the UK and the US. link

  • The Economist magazine describes a paper by Amar Bhidé (BTech ´77 ChE), which argues that worries about America losing its global lead in technology are overdone, as ¨marvelously contrarian¨. He thinks that good managers may be at least as valuable as science and engineering graduates. The most important part of innovation may be the willingness of consumers, whether individuals or firms, to try new products and services, says Mr. Bhidé. In his view, it is America's venturesome consumers that drive the country's leadership in innovation. The full text of Amar Bides paper is available at http://www.bhide.net/bhide_venturesome_consumption.pdf. link

  • Welcome to the world of nanotechnology-or nano-materials to be precise, in this case. Research is currently under way to explore integrating such fancy value add-ons to consumer products, among other things.And, an initiative that should give fillip to this area of research, is a proposed collaboration between two reputed institutes in the field,Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and University of Waterloo, Canada.“We seek tie-ups where our synergies match, where each of us has different strengths,’’ says Prof Pradipto Banerjee, Dean, international affairs, IIT-B. link

  • 15 member delegation of Youth for Equality ... to carry forward their Samata Yatra which began from Mumbai on 19 July ... and has reached Chandigarh via Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana ... and conclude at Delhi.  Vivek Vijay from IIT Mumbai says, "I feel the greatest success of the movement lies in the fact that it is getting a patient hearing. Though the government has laid out a proposal to exclude benefits for the creamy layer but why at all have any such discrimination for higher education. If benefits are to be given, let them be given at grass-root level." link

  • Guess what’s coming to town next July? Ahmedabad’s very own Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). With this, the city, which already houses premier educational institutes IIM and NID, also gets a renowned engineering institute. The land for the proposed institute will be allocated by September, and construction completed in two years. The initiative for this was taken by Chief Minister Narendra Modi himself last year, as part of his project to develop a knowledge corridor in Gujarat. Talks were held between an IIT delegation led by IIT Powai Director Ashok Misra and Modi here at Gandhinagar in connection with the project that envisages a satellite campus of the prestigious technology institution. link

  • Indian student Vikram Buddhi, who was jailed in US in April for allegedly threatening US president and vice-president on the Internet, was finally granted bail on Tuesday. Hammond district magistrate Andrew Rodovich released Buddhi on a bond of $100,000. But Buddhi was ordered to stay in Indiana with father B K Subbarao who had flown there from Vashi to defend his son. The IIT-Powai alumnus was also refrained from using the Internet. In a short e-mail from the US, Subbarao told TOI he was pleased with the release of his son who, he believed, was innocent. link

  • Seattle has Bill. Bangalore has Nandan (BTech '78 EE), thus begins celebrity columnist Thomas Friedman his Time magazine profile of ‘100 People Who Shape Our World’. Tech legend has it that our man walked one fine day -- after graduating in electrical engineering from IIT Bombay -- into the office of a certain NR Narayana Murthy, then heading the software group at Patni Computer Systems. The journey towards a $2-bn dollar dream called Infosys began somewhere subsequently, and now, as Nandan officially takes over the official reins from Mr Murthy, his task is not as much to build repute, but something more daunting: To further enhance the image - and the bottomline too - of a firm that’s already the most admired company in India. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • ArchPro Design Automation has named Vinay Srinivas (BTech '89 Aero) its new vice president of engineering, responsible for managing the company's global R&D workforce and technical relationships with customers. ArchPro is a leader in the development of EDA products for solving power management design challenges in IC/SoC designs at 90nm and below. link

  • Vikas Joshi (BTech '85 ME), an IIT Mumbai graduate of 1985 came to entrepreneurship fairly quickly. After graduation, Joshi, like several IITians decided to go to the US for his masters, but unlike others, he did not stay back and came back to start his own business. Swati Ketkar ... and Vikas joined hands to start Harbringer Technology to develop software products for companies looking at automating their internal training systems. The company which they established in Pune has, after 16 years, touched revenues of Rs 11 crore, for the year ended March ’06. And is targeting revenues of Rs 18 crore this fiscal. It has more than 180 employees, and plans to add another 100 more over the coming year. link

  • The Red Hat Scholarships Awards 2005-2006, called the Lord of the Code Contest, was evaluated and made public by the Open Source software company Red Hat and Project eKALAVYA of the KReSIT, at the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay. Ankur Badola and Sharad Maloo of IIT-Bombay, the winners of the top prize, worked on a 'P2P DHT for large scale information sharing' project. Their work focussed on building an 'overlay for routing, searching and publish-lookup information sharing'. link

  • The IIT fraternity in North America held its annual North American Regional Conference in Toronto recently. Rabiz Foda (BTech '73 EE), a graduate of IIT Bombay and chairman of the conference, spoke with Gurmukh Singh about the outcome of the two-day event ... over 400 IITians from Canada, the US and India came to discuss the theme 'Knowledge and Skills: Creating Values Beyond Borders'. The theme was chosen in recognition of India's contribution to the knowledge-based economy and with respect to the increasing interconnectedness of nations, economies and individuals. IITians are India's new brand. link

  • Since well before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S., Indians have been learning how to live with bouts of terrorism. The key lesson, say those who have lived through attacks, is that even if markets go down and political temperatures go up, life goes on. By yesterday morning, Mumbai's trains were resuming their routes as lines were cleared of wreckage. Investors defied fears of a sharp selloff, driving the Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensex index up 3%. The resilience emboldened people from juice salesmen to top government officials. "We have seen this in New York, Madrid and London. Lots of countries today are dealing with terrorist attacks," Mr. Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) said in an interview. "The people of Mumbai are especially resilient." link

  • The bomb attacks on Bombay's commuter trains sent shock waves Tuesday through the Bay Area ... Balaji Srinivasan (BTech '93 ChE), 34, of Fremont grew up in Bombay, which he describes as "always bustling, alive, no matter what time of day." "India has a lot of very different cultures, languages and affiliations, and Bombay is one place where they all meet," said Srinivasan, director of software engineering at tech startup Intruguard and president of the local alumni chapter of the Indian Institute of Technology, one of the country's top engineering schools, which has 750 members in the Bay Area. Srinivasan spent hours Tuesday trying to reach his in-laws and extended family. link

  • Red Hat has announced the winners of the Red Hat Scholarships 2005 - 2006 programme, an open source programming competition ... the first prize worth Rs 2 lakh was given to a two-member team from IIT Bombay. The second (RS 1.5 lakh) and third (RS 1 lakh) prizes went to all-women teams from the Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune, and Shri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore, respectively. link

  • For the first time IITs have cancelled the allotment of courses to around 4000 students who came for the institute's second round of counselling. This, because of the wrong information given by the institute on the seats and courses available across IITs. "We have committed a mistake and we will rectify it. It will have a cascading effect on all students ranking above 1600," said Dipan Ghosh, Dy Director at IIT Mumbai. A glitch in the software resulted in students being handed out seats that were shown as unavailable. Those students who had forgone thier seats at the other institutes after they had been alloted courses of their choice at the IITs are now left with a worrisome prospect. link

  • Pan IIT Foundation for Rural Transformation writes to PM, EC ... an organisation of IIT alumni wrote letters to the Election Commission and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding action against Health Minister A Ramadoss for his alleged interference in the functioning of AIIMS. "The entire knowledge community is shocked in the manner in which the health minister has tried to undo the autonomy given to the institute of the eminence of AIIMS," the pan IIT Foundation for Rural Transformation said in a letter to the Prime Minister. link

  • The new Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) pattern has helped the first timers to get through the coveted Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) more than any others. Apart from the first timers, the new entrance pattern has also benefited students hailing from small towns and villages ... the proportion of successful candidates belonging to small towns and villages has increased to 30.67 percent. The year also witnessed a 50 percent increased in the number of students appearing for the examination. A record 2,99,288 candidates registered for the examination, with participation of the girls taking to engineering also taking significant strides. link

  • Motorola Inc. announced that it has signed a MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, to strengthen its research and development (R&D) initiatives in India and support its vision for the emerging markets. This MoU will allow Motorola researchers to work with the Institute's faculty to boost R&D initiatives on application of Next Generation Technologies. Motorola has also established a post-doctoral fellowship through the Motorola Foundation, U.S.A. Firdose Vandrevala, Chairman - Motorola India said, "Motorola and IIT Mumbai are renowned for best-in-class talent and skills and have led technological change in their respective areas." Motorola and IIT Mumbai have also set up a council to enhance/align long-range research between the Institute and Motorola, besides training students of IIT Mumbai. link

  • Gujarat may soon get an Indian Institute of Technology. And this is how: IIT-Bombay (Powai) campus is likely to set foot in Gujarat next year. Seen as an extension of the Powai campus, this proposal could be a fallout of the decision to increase in student intake once the 27 per cent OBC reservation is implemented. A meeting of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and state education department officials with Dr Ashok Misra, director of IIT Bombay, is scheduled to be held in Gandhinagar on July 21. link

  • IIT and IIM alumni associations are increasingly becoming more than just a convenient way of keeping in touch with batchmates. These associations are now serving as platforms, that enable ex-students to contribute to their alma mater and the society as well ... the IIT Bombay Heritage Fund, a non-profit organisation set up by the US-based alumni of IIT-B , has helped raise over $20m over the past 10 years. The IIT Bombay Alumni Association paid for the infrastructure costs of setting up the Village Knowledge Centre near Bangalore which helps empower children and villagers by equipping them with a library, computers ... Citibank offers a zero annual charge IITBAA affinity gold card. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Interest rates may remain benign ... retail banking has been the buzzword for bankers in the past two years ... but it is not the El Dorado that public sector banks think it is, says Professor T. T. Ram Mohan (BTech '79 MetE) of IIM Ahmedabad. Prof Ram Mohan ... graduated in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT Bombay and then went to IIM-Calcutta for his MBA. He did his doctoral programme at the Stern School of Business in New York.

    • Wireless World - June 2006 ... "It is heartening to see success stemming from age-old values with a touch of poetry ... Suvitech is an IT Service company incorporated in Thailand with ... Subin Bhatia (BTech '94 EE), MD and CEO ... is bullish about the Thai market in terms of economic development in general and IT sector in particular.

June 2006

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, has received 60,000 sq.ft of land to develop a new building for bio-technology. The building will house research lab for faculties, central facilites for analytical studies, and a laboratory for bio-chemistry and genetic engineering. Earlier if the institute used to receive only Rs 1 lakh as grant, today the institute receives a grant of Rs 50 lakhs. "Having done a course review, the campus has also introduced new courses like, computational biology for instance, that would instruct students on looking at alternative application of enzymes in human beings," says Krishnamurthy Rao, Professor & Head, School of Biosciences & Bioengineering, IIT Powai. Moreover, the institute has also instituted an advisory committee whereby they have one person from the corporate sector as part of their advisory board. Currently the director of Wockhardt is part of this board. link

  • Letter to the President and Prime Minister of India and posted on http://www.iit.org: "The PanIIT alumni organizations are strongly supportive of affirmative action and creating equal opportunity for all. However, we do not believe a system of reservations is the correct approach to achieve educational reform ...". link

  • IBM ... has joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Powai to write software which will help students to understand new technologies better and give IBM access to highly talented labour. IBM will sponsor students to research on emerging technologies which are beneficial for both. IBM will give technology support to students to complete their research project with chosen faculty.  "This MoU will enable a long-term partnership between IBM and IIT Bombay. We look forward to coming closure through new initiatives of supporting students and recognising our faculty capabilities," said Prof Ashok Misra, director of IIT Bombay. link

  • What's feeding the business and investment boom in India? Since the early 1990s, economic reform and the lowering of trade barriers has gradually led to more foreign investment and trade. India also is becoming a society of middle-class consumers with more spending power than ever before. Each year, the country's engineering and business schools - including the elite Indian Institute of Technology, known as the "MIT of India" - churn out several hundred thousand graduates who help lift India's economy. Plus, the global network of Indian engineers and entrepreneurs here and in India keeps getting stronger. link

  • Despite high marks that India gets in the world media for an educated labor force, its sclerotic institutions of higher education are facing many challenges from globalization. While many extraordinarily successful doctors, businesspeople and scientists are from India, only three Indian institutions rank among the world’s top 500 universities. Since the market for talent has gone global, many of India’s premier institutions fail to attract bright students within their own borders who usually make their way to universities in the US, China and Europe. India’s rigid regulation of education retards the intellectual growth of its institutions, diminishing their ability to compete for global talent. Premier institutions like IIT and the Delhi School of Economics confront faculty shortages up to 40 percent, and their research profile is nowhere commensurate with their possibilities. India has become a net consumer of foreign education – spending to the tune of $3 billion a year to train students abroad.  link

  • The Pune chapter of IIT Bombay Alumni Association organized a unique event to bring entrepreneurs and NGOs face-to-face with top engineers and management experts at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana Club on June 17. link

  • For afflicted farmers, a solution is just a click away ... thanks to aAQUA (almost All Questions Answered), a web portal initiated by Development Informatics Lab at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) in collaboration with Baramati-based Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Pabal-based Vigyan Ashram. The unique initiative was among a collection of entrepreneurs and NGO’s who exhibited their work at the IIT Bombay Alumni Association meeting held on June 17 in Pune, which focused on ‘Science and Technology for the Benefit of Society’. link

  • It is a dotcom that hopes to make money from pictures. Banking on the sentiments of Indians who hold family albums very dear, two techies, both graduates from IIT Bombay, have launched Picsquare, a website which will print and deliver digital photos posted on it anywhere in the country. "Now people can order and forget. We are building our venture as a medium that connects people," Manish Agrawal (BTech '02 ME) told DNA. Agrawal, a Masters in mechanical engineering, teamed up with Kartik Jain (BTech '04 ChE), a chemical engineer, to build the tech startup and invested their savings in the venture. It is now being incubated by the Bangalore chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). link

  • The fourth IIT Alumni Global Conference, 2006, to be held in Mumbai from December 23, was expected to discuss nation building projects that IITians could take up, conference chairman Ashank Desai said ... "These professionals have benefited immensely from studying in IITs and it is their turn now to do something for the nation," Desai told reporters. The theme of the conference is 'Inspire IITians to involve and transform India'. Topics like 'Building India into a knowledge economy' and 'Getting the governance you want' would be deliberated during the three-day meet for which over 500 former IITians are expected to participate, he said. link

  • Consider this. The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) is cashing million-dollar cheques from its alumni for its golden jubilee. Meanwhile, next door, the University of Mumbai has been able to collect only Rs 1.20 lakh from its alumni for its 150-year milestone, to be celebrated on July 18. While IIT-B started raising funds for it’s 50th anniversary - to be held only in 2007-08 - over a year ago, the Mumbai university woke up only in January this year and issued an advertisement appealing to the alumni for contributions. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Aniket Murarka (BTech '99 ME), a PhD candidate at the University of Texas won the Best Student Paper award at Computer and Robot Vision 2006. link

    • Prime Minister Stephen Harper (of Canada) will be among 1,000 people on hand to congratulate 10 achievers being honoured by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce ... At 40, Raj Subramaniam (BTech '87 ChE) is head of Canadian operations for FedEx, the company's youngest ever-regional president. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and native of Trivandrum, India, he was hired in 1991 after finishing an MBA. His rise was meteoric ... link

  • Students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, continue to be polarised on the reservation issue even as the anti-reservation agitation refuses to die down. About 70 students, both from graduate and postgraduate disciplines, have been taking turns at the relay hunger strike since May 22 with support from Youth for Equality (YFE). Around them, posters proclaim their demands — a roll back of the proposed 27 per cent quota for other backward classes (OBCs), and a non-political commission to review the existing reservation policy. While anti-reservation students have been getting their share of fame, it is the quieter demand for reservation that is not being heard. IIT faculty members have been barred from speaking to the media without permission from appropriate authorities. link

  • The Performing Arts Festival (PAF), a vintage confluence of the campusites' cultural and organisational skills is a much awaited and a keenly contested event each year. This year was no exception with four memorable PAFs reflecting the hard work of the participating hostels in their sheer brilliance ... "Asrar" performed by Hostels 2,7,8 cleverly mixed fact and fiction when it showcased a paradoxical historical situation where Emperor Shah Jahan himself orders the killing of his wife Mumtaz to get a pretext to build the Taj Mahal so that he would be remembered for being the eternal lover. Read all about PAF 2006 and other campus news in the May newsletter ... more. link

  • IIT Bombay ranked third in the India Today rankings for Engineering colleges ... IIT Delhi emerged as the topper for the second time in a row. And as always, the IITs managed to corner most of the ranks, with IIT Kanpur - up from No. 4 last year - nudging IIT Mumbai from second to third. link

  • On May 29, the very day the Supreme Court observed that quotas can divide the nation and asked the Government to explain its rationale behind the 27% OBC quotas, HRD Minister Arjun Singh further tightened the quota screws on the higher-education sector, both public and private. In a note prepared that day for the Cabinet, his Ministry has proposed a legislation with provisions that give the Government unprecedented power not only to impose quotas in over 100 "deemed universities" over and above 32 Central institutions but also to regulate their fees, selection procedure - and even take punitive action. link

  • IIT Delhi has now lined up firm measures to prevent the protests from taking on strong political colours. The administration is also learnt to have advised the students to refrain from drastic forms of protest like hunger strikes. The authorities, in a circular, have asked professors and the faculty to stay away from joining the striking students. link

  • According to a rough estimate plan produced by IIT Mumbai for the government’s perusal, the institute will have to up facilities by at least 80 per cent of what exists on the campus currently, if the quota policy has to be implemented. There are around 5,000 students on campus and an increase in 3,000 seats will mean an addition of 8 hostels to the existing 11 for students. link

    Click
    here for more about the MHRD OBC Quota Proposal ...

  • The results of the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) 2006 conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology have been declared. Raghu Mahajan, who gained the top rank stated that he was very happy and would like to pursue either computer engineering from IIT, Bombay, or MSc Physics from IIT Kanpur. "I was expecting a good rank but topping the country was not on my mind." link

  • Born to a poor landless farmer in Maharashtra's drought-prone Jalna district, Deelip Mhaske grew up in a village without electricity ... today the 27-year-old research student from IIT Powai in Mumbai is on his way to Washington as a nominee for the 2006 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights for his research paper. It is a paper on land reform that the Maharashtra government has adopted as policy called Swabhiman Yojna. It's a policy that could benefit nearly 18 lakh landless labourers living below the poverty line in the state by providing 4 acres of land per family. link

  • Microsoft Live Labs has announced 12 winners of its Accelerating Search in Academic Research request for proposals (RFP). Soumen Chakrabarti of IIT Bombay is the only Indian to be selected for this honor. He won based on his proposal titled "Entity and Relation Types in Web Search: Annotation Indexing and Scoring Techniques". link

May 2006

  • The anti-reservation hunger strike by the students of Indian Institute of Technology continued for the third day on Wednesday even as pro-quota agitation was withdrawn after the government announced quota for OBC from June next year. The students said they would continue their protest till the government met their demands, including rolling back of the reservation proposal. link

  • The rift between pro and anti-quota students widened at IIT-Mumbai yesterday, when 22 pro-reservation students started a hunger strike a few metres away from the spot where 600 anti-reservation students are on hunger strike. While the anti-reservation protestors sat in the lawn of the campus, the opposing group sat on the lane across the road. link

  • The President of India in his capacity as the Visitor of the Institute has appointed Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission & Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Atomic Energy as Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Bombay replacing Shri Rahul Bajaj. The term of appointment is for three years, with effect from 12th May 2006. link

  • The students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay formed a human chain on the road outside the campus at Powai to protest the reservations being mulled over in higher education by the Union government. The students first assembled inside the campus, and then marched out on to the road at around 6 pm. Rohit Singh, a final year student said, "The chain is formed to show the IITian support against the reservation policy announced by the government, as well as against the brutal police action on medical students in front of Raj Bhavan on May 13." link

  • A special four member committee has been formed by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, to study on the the issue of reservation in institutions of higher education for other backward classes. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, HRD Minister Arjun Singh, Law and justice Minster HR Bharadwaj and Finance Minister Chidambaram form the members of the committee. link

  • Faced with widespread protests over the volatile Other Backward Castes reservation issue, the government has set in motion an exercise to arrive at a formula to satisfy the other sections of society. An informal group of senior ministers met to thrash out a solution. Sources said the ministers deliberated on ways and means to cushion the effect of implementing the quota by increasing the intake and raising the number of institutions. link

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a fresh notice to the striking resident doctors today, warning them to join work within 24 hours or face action. But the doctors found support in pharmaceutical students from Delhi University and IIT-ians, who joined the hunger strike. Of the 87 doctors on hunger strike for the last four days, 43 have collapsed. link

  • Hot springs, for long believed to have therapeutic benefits, are being sought by scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Setting up a turbine and other gear to generate electricity from hotsprings costs about Rs 4 crore a MW and cost of generation works out to about Rs 4 per unit, says Prof D Chandrasekharam, head of the earth sciences department at IIT Bombay and chairman of Geosyndicate Power, a start-up formed to tap into hotsprings. It has started preparatory work for a 50MW geothermal plant in Puga Valley, Ladakh. link

  • Telelogic ... announced that it has signed an agreement with IIT, Mumbai to equip their Computer Science and Engineering Department, with its sophisticated, state-of-the-art Automated Lifecycle Management Suite Telelogic Lifecycle Solutions. link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • Maybe it's time you started bracing yourself for heftier fuel bills. So expect a huge trickle down effect across sectors. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show the net impact could be an increase in inflation of 1% over the whole year, says Ajit Ranade (BTech '82 EE), Chief Economist of the Aditya Birla group. link

    • Vasudev Bhandarkar (MSc '81 Physics) is our model business developer. Between the time we started interviewing Bhandarkar, vice president for business development at wireless Internet startup Cellmania.com, and the time we completed the interview a week later, he had received and accepted an offer to become the CEO of GrayCell, a company funded by the likes of Draper International, Walden and Exodus Communications cofounder K.B. Chandrashekar. link

    • Flamboyant serial entrepreneur Ramesh Vangal (BTech '77 ME) has gone in for the strongest handshake in the Indian liquordom. His two-year-old start-up spirits company, Mason & Summers, has inked a pact with the yesteryear powerhouse Mohan Meakin for the bottling and distribution rights of the latter’s IMFL business. link

    • Rohm and Haas Company reported record first quarter 2006 sales ... "We delivered another outstanding quarter," said Raj L. Gupta (BTech ME '67), Chairman, President and CEO. link

    • Investors drove The Hartford Financial Services Group's stock up 5.8 percent Friday to its highest ever ... "Both property and casualty, and life operations are executing extremely well," chief executive Ramani Ayer (BTech '69 ChE) told analysts. link

    • Move over Special Economic Zones. It’s the turn of investment regions, modelled on Pudong, Rotterdam and other successful ventures across the world to dot the map of India. The government had been given the blueprint for the programme by a report prepared by an NRI group last year. The taskforce is headed by principal secretary to the Prime Minister, TKA Nair, and includes former Citibank CEO Victor Menezes (BTech '70 EE). link

    • In February, Forbes magazine listed Parag Saxena (BTech '77 ChE) as one of the nation's top 25 deal makers. But at the end of this month, Mr. Saxena will step down as managing partner of Invesco Private Capital ... a rigid hiring structure was among the issues at Invesco, Mr. Saxena said. ''I was losing the ability to attract really good people''. link

    • SportzVillage, a Bangalore-based organisation, focused on sports education and corporate sporting events, and founded by Saumil Majmudar (BTech '93 MetE) has been appointed as an Official Hospitality Agent (OHA) for the International Cricket Council's Cricket World Cup 2007. link

  • The Tata Group is likely to float a new company whose focus will be top-end supercomputers, according to reliable sources in the group. The first initiative of this new venture, in which the Group Chairman, Mr Ratan Tata, is said to have taken personal interest, will be to build a machine based on a parallel supercomputing architecture that Prof Narendra Karmarkar (BTech '78 EE), the well-known Indian computer scientist, has claimed to have developed. The supercomputer project is estimated to cost Rs 400 crore and the group plans to invest about $140 million in the venture. The new company may be located in Pune and, according to sources, will be headed by Prof Karmarkar and Dr Sunil Sherlekar (BTech '78 EE / PhD '88 CSE) of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in Bangalore. Prof Karmarkar and Dr Sherlekar were colleagues at IIT Bombay as students.

  • Unable to cope with the growing demand for technical education, the government may give the private sector a bigger role to play. The Planning Commission has suggested that private companies be allowed to build and run Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the commission, has proposed a policy enabling private companies to obtain land from state governments to set up IITs. These institutions, to be operated with a liberal fee structure, would be part of the Brand IIT. link

  • Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World. Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) ... The Indian at the Center Of the Global Economy by Thomas Friedman. In the past 15 years, India's identity has undergone one of the biggest transformations that any country has ever experienced. It was once synonymous with poverty, snake charmers and the Taj Mahal. But stop someone on the street in the West today and say "India," and the words that come back at you are "brainy," "software engineers,'' "call centers" and "the country most likely to take my job." One of the Indian engineer-entrepreneurs most responsible for creating the new reality that has produced this new Indian image is Nandan Nilekani. Seattle has Bill. Bangalore has Nandan. link

  • Stepping up protests against the Union government's move to increase OBC quotas, students across the country on Tuesday (May 2) marched in rallies and held demonstrations shouting slogans against HRD minister Arjun Singh and burning effigies. In Mumbai's Azad Maidan, it wasn't impoverished workers and displaced labourers voicing grievances. Tuesday saw middle-class 20-somethings from 17 colleges, including IIT-Powai, medical colleges, degree colleges under the banner Youth For Equality, gather to protest increased reservations in professional institutions, raising slogans like "Ek, do teen chaar, Arjun Singh ki hogi haar." link

  • On the campus of the IIT in Bombay sits the Society for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, incubator for the country's global business aspirations ... that's where, it's said, the real new India lies - if you can only find it. SINE is a business incubator where ideas from IIT Bombay students, professors, and alumni can be developed and commercialized. Today there are 15 companies at SINE, all of them hoping to become new India's next big phenomenon. Perhaps the most exciting is called Webaroo. A professor in earth sciences is building India's first geothermal power plant. A company called FEAST Software is writing programs that allow auto-parts makers to test the endurance of their components. And Eisodus Networks makes a low-cost broadband switch. link

  • Rajen Jaswa (BTech '75 EE) is the classic immigrant success story in Silicon Valley ... a graduate of the elite Indian Institute of Technology, Jaswa caught the first big wave of the U.S. technology boom. Jaswa sympathizes with illegal immigrants who have long settled in the USA. "If somebody has been an illegal immigrant ... and has been integrated into the economy and American society, we should find a way by which they can become citizens of this country." Now the high-tech industry's shortage of well-trained computer scientists and engineers makes it critical for Congress to increase the number of visas available and open the borders more, he contends. link

  • New issue of InsIghT: Volume VIII Issue IV link

  • The proposed 'Mandal Model' of seat reservation for backward classes in institutes of higher education in India will 'dilute the level of excellence' and may hamper the image of India as a 'hub of talent', Asian Development Bank's (ADB) chief economist Ifzal Ali has said. 'If India wants to maintain its reputation, there should not be any reservation. The government should rather focus on creating better job opportunities for a huge pool of human capital. Without creating jobs it will not be possible to sustain its growth.' link

  • Alumni in the news ...

    • The Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta announces the appointment of Nikhil Deshpande (MDes '99 IDC) as a professor of interactive design and game development for summer quarter 2006. Deshpande earned a Master of Design degree in visual communication from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India. link

    • Rajen Jaswa (BTech '75 EE) is the classic immigrant success story in Silicon Valley ... a graduate of the elite Indian Institute of Technology. Jaswa sympathizes with illegal immigrants who have long settled in the USA. "If somebody has been an illegal immigrant ... and has been integrated into the economy and American society, we should find a way by which they can become citizens of this country" ... the high-tech industry's shortage of well-trained computer scientists and engineers makes it critical for Congress to increase the number of visas available. link

    • Principal Architect and Managing Director of Ace Group, Bangalore, Dinesh Varma (MDes '83 IDC), received the "Architect of the Year 2005" award from the Mumbai-based “Accommodation Times” ... for the conception, design and execution of the sprawling Indus International School at Sarjapur in Bangalore.

April 2006

  • 34-yr-old son Vikram Buddhi (MSc '94 Math), a prodigious mathematician, is in an unidentified US prison for allegedly posting threatening messages on a Yahoo! message board against President George W. Bush and Vice-president Dick Cheney. Vikram topped his class at IIT, Bombay. He went on to win awards at Purdue University, Indiana, where he’s been pursuing higher math degrees since 1996. link

  • Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source to the enterprise, and IIT Bombay announced that they are working together to support and spread open source programming skills among engineering colleges, MCA programs and other institutions. Red Hat has launched the Red Hat Scholarships 2006-2007 program, which will operate under the eKALAVYA program set up by the Kanwal Rekhi School of IT, IIT Bombay.

  • A gadget being developed by professors at the Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai for telephone company Motorola, promises to usher in a rural revolution. If what is being talked about comes true, sugarcane farmers in villages of UP, and cotton growers in Gujarat, could be reading newspapers on this gadget and find out the market price for the commodities they trade. What’s more. The device could add up as a telephone set, helping access voice and data calls, as well as provide internet connectivity to access mail.

  • For now, India's leaders are at the early stages of a debate about whether they should adopt ... a law, reviled by industry, that would mandate caste quotas in private companies. For now, the proposal is merely to extend the 49.5 percent public-sector quota to some state-funded schools like Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. Two national myths appear to have collided. One is the myth of democratic India, of pulling yourself up by the ballot box; it celebrates the right of a lower-caste majority to legislate equity. The other is the myth of capitalist India, of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

  • How Sharad Got A Life ... as did Amit, Risha, Parag and many like them. Quotas empowered them to take on challenges ... Parag, an electronics graduate from Nagpur ... went on to do an MTech in civil engineering from IIT Bombay. Now a senior technical consultant with software company Geometric in Pune, he feels his community needs reservations as long as discrimination persists in society.

  • In Defence of OBC Reservations ... "Those who oppose affirmative action ... on the ground that it’s anti-merit, are comprehensively wrong in assuming that our society and government run on the basis of merit, as distinct from social status, clan loyalties, wealth, sifarish, political influence, overt bribery, etc. Even the best of our competition examinations don’t accurately assess merit. Take the case of the IITs, where admissions are dominated by candidates from privileged families who can afford to send them to the coaching centres of Kota in Rajasthan for long months at the expense of lakhs of rupees. The IIT entrance examination only partly tests the aptitude or intelligence of a candidate ..." - Praful Bidwai.

  • "Requiem for a River" by Shripad Dharmadhikary (BTech '85 ME) about the Narmada Bachao Andolan in The Hindu - "For over 25 years, it has been on a slow, painful but inexorable march to death. For brief moments, this journey has been stalled, with glimmers of hope. Sometimes, these flickers have even created the illusion of brightness, obliterating the darkness of reality. Yet, death has been overtaking it, slowly but surely. Have you ever seen a river die?

  • "One Man's Folly" ... Let's assume there is some moral justification to the reservations just announced ... all that the government had to do was to increase admission to  ... IITs ... or to set up new IITs. Admittedly, if this was not to lower the standard of education that has made many of these institutions the envy of the world, the government would have had to invest in campuses, buildings, computerised libraries, an increased faculty and, above all, much higher salaries to attract top-class post-graduates and doctorate holders into the teaching profession. But such investment is in any case long overdue. Contrast what we are doing with the policies of China. At this moment, it is inveigling Chinese professors from universities all over the world back to China on salaries that match and even exceed what they were earning in the West. And their single-line directive to the directors of their universities and specialised institutions: make them the best in the world. The difference between us and China: China is a nation, we're just a bunch of people who happen to belong to one country.

  • Memories of the turmoil that followed the Mandal Commission were revived when the honorable minister for human resource development suggested that 49.5 per cent of the total seats in IITs, IIMs and central universities be reserved for OBCs, SCs and STs. The potential impact of the 104th Constitution Amendment bill, which appended Clause 5 to Article 15 of the Constitution, goes beyond the IITs and IIMs, since it brings all private institutions under the purview of the 'Reservations Raj.' This is not a matter of concern just for the IITs or IIMs, since it potentially impacts all educational institutions, whether public or private, and aided or unaided.

  • IITians in the news ...

    • JP Morgan pulled off a coup yesterday (April 11) when it announced it had poached Tarun Mahrotri (BTech '88 ME) from HSBC to head its Asia Pacific (ex Japan) FX and rates, sales and trading business.

    • The Applied Physics Laboratory has named Bharat T. Doshi (BTech '70 ME) to head its Research and Technology Development Center and its Science and Technology Business Area.

    • "Bottom-up, stock-specific and research-oriented" is how Vinay Kulkarni (BTech '88 CivE), Senior Fund Manager - Equities, Deutsche Asset Management Company, describes his investment approach.

  • The University of Ulster has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, on research cooperation in nanotechnology, wireless technology, network communications and modelling of micro-fluidics. The Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Peter Hain MP attended the ceremony in Mumbai. He is leading a visit to India by representatives of 17 Northern Ireland businesses. Mr Hain told a press conference after the signing: "Building strategic alliances at this time will help improve competitiveness and boost our skills base."

  • Vegayan Systems, a start-up founded by Prof. Girish Saraph of the IIT Bombay Business Incubator, jointly won the award of the prestigious India Venture Challenge contest conducted by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). Vegayan systems is engaged in providing networking tools to enhance functionality, performance, and management of core MPLS networks for its service provider and enterprise customers. The Technology Business Incubator at the Institute is managed by the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship set up at IIT Bombay.

  • You can now browse and search the net on your laptop computers and hand-held devices - without an Internet connection ... brand new software developed by a Silicon Valley start-up, co-founded by Indian tech star Rakesh Mathur (BTech '78 ME), makes that possible. What's more, the service comes free. Webaroo, the venture floated by Mathur along with fellow computer hotshots Bradley Husick and Beerud Sheth (BTech '91 CSE), formally launched the "Searchable, Offline Web."

  • Mandal-I generation fought its battle on the streets. Mandal-II is being waged on personal computers and while anti-reservation fervour is evident, there is a new voice in cyberspace - the war has been joined by pro-reservation blogs which are increasing by the day. The issue has bloggers delivering emotive arguments - like Vivek K Singh on Sulekha: "reservation was to give representation to the oppressed and socially weak classes, I support reservation for that reason." Charlie, who completed his PhD at IIT Kanpur and by his own admission interacted with several "reserved quota" students, says: "I do not foresee any remarkable decline in standards at IITs or IIMs."

  • Students at IIT-Powai, who have availed of these seats under quota, feel that such a move will lower the standard of education. "The cutoff in the IIT entrance exam for quota students is generally 10 while for the general category students it is around 30. If the quota is increased to 50 per cent, this cutoff mark will come down further and thus adversely affect the quality of education," says a quota student from IIT Powai, Anil Kumar.  "Quota students are not able to do very well once they get into the IIT. They are not educated properly. They have not been coached well and so they have an inferiority complex," says another quota student, Rajiv Kumar. Surprisingly, even though these students have benefited from reservation, yet they feel that there should be affirmative action rather than restrictive reservations.

  • SUNDAY DEBATE: Should IIT/IIM quotas be increased to 49.5%?

  • As the debate over the new proposal to up the quota for other backward classes (OBC) in the IITs and IIMs rages through India, Mumbai’s students have found a new way to protest. Mumbai IITians are not taking their dissent to the streets, but using technology to voice their opinions. Their online messenger status displays statements that protest the Centre’s new proposal to increase the quota by 27 per cent. "Stop reservation", "Shout out now", "Help save IIT!" are few of the slogans displayed. IITians have even posted the link on the instant messenger chat window of a general petition website (http://www.petitiononline.com/No_Quota/petition.html). The 'no_quota' petition is one of the top 10 petitions listed on the website.

  • Mandal II promises not only to polarise the student community but also pitch the entire industry against the UPA government. "It is not right to divide the country on these lines", Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Group said. "According to me, it is tantamount to taking the country backward," a more forthcoming Rahul Bajaj said while talking to the media after the ISB convocation here. ISB dean M Rammohan Rao felt it was not a cause for concern in the current form as policy applied only to aided colleges. Rahul Bajaj, the Chairman of the governing board of IIT Powai, said the various managements will be meeting on April 21 to discuss the matter and decide the future course of action.

  • N S Ramaswamy, former Professor and a founder director of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, favours the move by the HRD Ministry to provide for quota in central universities, IIMs and IITs, saying it is a "desirable thing".

  • Nearly 150 students protested outside the IIT gate expressing their outrage over the plan to introduce 49 per cent reservation in top professional institutes including the IITs. But Arjun's proposal seems to have gone down well with students in Bihar who want the Government to provide quotas on economic background of students. Bihar colleges have more number of OBC students than in any other colleges in India and they struggle for recognition with the upper caste of the state.

  • The Centre said today 49.5 per cent of the total seats in IITs, IIMs and Central universities, including Delhi University, would be reserved for OBCs, SCs and STs. At present, 22.5 per cent seats are reserved for SCs (15%) and STs (7.5%) in these institutes. He added that "... the Centre has taken a decision to implement reservation for OBCs as per the Mandal formula in all Central educational institutions. We are waiting for the elections to be over." Asked if IITs and IIMs are part of the decision, he replied, "Yes, they are." On a question whether he anticipated trouble like the riots during Mandal Commission, Singh said,"We do not want social strife, we will take adequate measures." "This was the logical conclusion of the passing of the 104th amendment Bill in the winter session," he added.

  • As a proposal to introduce reservation in Central educational institutions and IITs and IIMs has kicked up a row, HRD Minister Arjun Singh today said it was being whipped up. The Government is likely to take a decision on the issue after the coming Assembly elections.

  • That stereotypical thick-rimmed nerd is conspicuous by his absence as a bunch of boys sweat it out at the hockey field at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai. There’s a spring in their step. And there’s a reason for it too: This IIT team made it to the runner-up spot in the Bombay Hockey Association (BHA) third division league. At the end of the city’s hockey season, what started out as a de-stress exercise - two hours, daily - has ended up being much more.

  • Unease and discomfort with the enquiry commissions are the reasons why witnesses turn hostile and lie, says a new book. Also, there is an element of mistrust in these enquiry commissions because of which people tend to lie while submitting before them, says the book "Tremors of Violence-Muslim Survivors of Ethnic Strife in Western India" recounting the experiences of people tormented by violence. "There seems to be, further, among the victims of the violence, a certain mistrust of the capacity of the commissions to deliver the truth," says book by Rowena Robinson, an associate professor in sociology at IIT Mumbai.

  • With over 300,000 students battling for 4,935 seats in the hallowed IITs, more than 60 students will be vying for every seat come April 9, compared to Harvard and MIT, where the ratio is eight students competing for one seat.

  • "Kota undermined the whole purpose of IIT JEE" ... "The performance of students who got thru IIT JEE from Kota turned out to be very bad during the study at IITs." The Kota method "undermined the conceptual understanding of the subjects (PCM)" ... in the new JEE, "a good understanding of PCM coupled with an analytical mind having scientific temper will suffice."

  • The IIT Joint Entrance Exam (IIT-JEE) will now have all objective questions. That will perhaps make the extremely tough test tougher, but the good news is more people will get a chance to write it.  "Everyone thought that with the 60 per cent criteria the number of students attempting the JEE would go down, but the opposite has happened," says Rakesh Lala, Forum for IIT-JEE (FIITJEE).

  • Engineer and inventor Kesh S Narayanan who has five patents under his name is a classic example of what keeps US innovation humming. He is the director of the office of industrial innovation at the National Science Foundation and helps dole out over $100 million to scientists on the brink of big ideas who are still too risky for venture capitalists to support with seed money. He is deeply involved in efforts to ensure the US stays ahead in the innovation race by minting startups as well as by investing in risky research at established small businesses. "When I graduated from IIT, Mumbai in 1967, nearly 80 per cent of the class moved to the US and Canada. Now this is changing. The opportunities thrown up by places like Bangalore did not exist. The climate for graduating engineers is rich in India now,” said Narayanan.

  • The Shailesh J Mehta School of Management at IIT Bombay is holding their second event of the Continuum series - the HR Continuum - on the 9th of April 2006. CONTINUUM, the rolling seminar series, is a regular event at SJMSOM. This event aims to cover the latest trends in management by inviting eminent speakers from business and academia and drawing from their knowledge and experience.

  • The recently-developed 'Silicon Locket' by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is a wearable electrocardiogram monitoring system. IIT Bombay is also working on a Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) project to improve the quality of water in our cities and villages. Nanotechnology has become a key technology in sensor development. Global business (in nanotech) may grow to $1 trillion in the next 10 years, according to Ashok Misra, director, IIT Bombay. The largest growth expected to be in materials at about $340 billion followed by electronics at $300 billion. The others are pharmaceuticals ($180 billion), chemical manufacturing ($100 billion) and aerospace at $70 billion. He concludes that "the future of nanotechnology is bright".

  • In the face of emerging modern technologies, Government has emphasized on the need to upgrade the "outdated" laboratory equipment in the country's premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) which have become role models for engineering research and education. With the development of new technologies, there was a need to modernization and replacement of outdated laboratory equipment in these institutes on large scale, officials in the HRD ministry said.

March 2006

  • This summer, while the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Powai's hostels are empty after final-year students hurry off on their summer placements, there will be another group of students absorbed in meetings and brainstorming sessions. The reason: It won't be exams, assignments, or complex computer codes on their minds — it is going to be their very "own" companies. From this year on, the elite institution has launched the Summer Founders' Programme, an opportunity for students to work on their own start-ups during summer vacations, while still in college. For many students, this means forgoing the traditional summer placement, both safer and more lucrative. But the entrepreneurship bug is fast catching on the campus. Within a couple of weeks, more than 40 students across all batches and disciplines have signed up.

  • Deelip Mhaske of the Department of Humanities and Social Science, IIT Bombay, has been nominated for the 2006 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. The award has been instituted to recognise individuals or institutions, which have committed themselves for betterment of the society. The Association François-Xavier Bagnoud, Doctors of the World, and the Global Health Council are the sponsors of this award.

  • Rakesh Mathur is another one of the co-founders of Junglee, who may still be still be wondering about the shocking proximity he and his other founders came to acquiring Google in its early days. But the real news is that Mathur has returned to Silicon Valley to finally unveil his new start-up, Webaroo. He'd mentioned to us more than a year ago that he was working on something, so this is carefully thought out. The plans are still secret for two more weeks, and the site merely promises a "breakthrough capability to your mobile world."

  • With many young Indian professionals returning home to a country increasingly seen as a land of opportunity, the brain drain from India is being reversed, according to a senior Indian scientist. RA Mashelkar, noted scientist and director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), told the BBC Hindi service that a growing number of young professionals were returning home to be part of India's economic boom. "There was a time when nearly top 70 percent of the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) pass-outs were going abroad, but the latest data shows that the percentage is down to 30. The main reason behind this is now India is being seen as a land of opportunity.

  • After doing a project with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Pune-based BioImagene is taking cancer screening programmes to a different height world-wide, without the traditional use of microscopes and glass slides. BioImagene's cofounder and COO Abhi Gholap (MTech '94 BioMed) told TOI that it had recently tied up with PHC Labs in Hong Kong for its digital pathology solutions for the cervical cancer screening programmes.

  • Thanks to work done by the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Bombay) and its partners, IT-savvy and knowledge-hungry people across rural India now can find relevant, demand-driven farming knowledge on the aAqua.org Web site. So far, the site has been a great way to bring together people such as Prasad Kaledhonkar, who has a clue about what the white patterns emerging on tomato plant leaves are; farmer's daughter Niyatee Nilesh, who wants advice on buying agricultural land; and Shirish, from rural Maharashtra, who wants to learn about using waste water from the school kitchen to irrigate gardens and crops. aAqua stands for "Almost All Questions Answered". Dr. Krithi Ramamritham, IIT-Bombay's head at the Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology, said, "It used to be called Aqua. We added a small 'a' in front of it that stands for 'almost'. We want to be as realistic as possible."

  • India's finest! Nandan Nilekani, the CEO and managing director of Infosys Technologies Limited received the Padma Bhushan from President APJ Abdul Kalam. This Bombay IIT graduate and software engineer started work with Narayana Murthy at Patni Computer Systems. Like his mentor, Nilekani has a passion for excellence and a belief in social work. "My objective in life is to be an object of change," he has said earlier.

  • At the 16th Asian Corporate Summit organised by the Asia Society, the session on Education Reform: India's Path Towards World Class Status was one of the few warning bells. Ashok Mishra, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, agreed that even the elite IITs did not have world class research happening. Most bright students pursuing higher research were doing so abroad, he pointed out But the solution was not more IITs, he said. "Nobody asks England to build more Cambridges," he said. Instead, other institutions must come up to world standards, he added.

  • A Funding Evolution ... Some of India's scientists find research dollars easier than ever to obtain, but inequities remain. "With a good research proposal, it's no longer hard to get research money in India," adds chemist Pradeep Mathur of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Indian scientists are enjoying a vastly improved research funding climate. But India's annual science and technology budget remains smaller than the annual R&D budget of a large multinational pharmaceutical company.

  • IITians at Powai are sad, says a study undertaken among all IITs by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Powai. But they can’t put their finger precisely on what is giving them the blues. The reasons they gave varied from cut-throat competition to unpalatable food. Also on their list of woes were lack of social interaction, job aspirations, grades, stringent policing of students and a ban on motorcycles and cars on campus. Director, Dr Ashok Misra said, "All campuses of IIT have similar complaints. Our students are not more unhappy than others."

  • It is time for young graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IITB) to celebrate. This year IITB has witnessed a steep jump in domestic salaries as against last year's average domestic salary of Rs 3.60 lakh. The average salary this year has jumped to Rs 5.70 lakh. Graduates, however, feel that a management degree can bring them more fortune. "If I realise that to progress in my career, I need a management degree, I will go for it. I have already qualified for four IIMs," said Sharad Maloo, an IITB graduate.

  • India is urgently in need of enhanced scientific manpower for which leading education institutions should revamp their faculty and infrastructure and attract more talent, Dr K Kasturirangan, Director of National Institute of Advanced Research, said here. "India urgently needs ... scientific manpower in the field of advanced technologies of Railways, aeronautics, nuclear power, biotechnology, electronics and nanotechnology," Kasturirangan said while addressing the 47th Foundation day of Indian Institute of Technology (in Mumbai) during the week end.

  • The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the introduction of a Bill to convert the National Institutes of Technology into centres of excellence like IITs and cleared a proposal for spending Rs. 100 crore for upgrading the infrastructure of the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore. Announcing the decisions, Union Minister and Cabinet spokesperson Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said that the legislation with regards to the NITs would be introduced in the current session of Parliament.

  • The brain drain from India is being reversed, according to a senior Indian scientist. R A Mashelkar, noted scientist and director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), told the BBC Hindi service that a growing number of young professionals were returning home to be part of India's economic boom. "There was a time when nearly top 70 percent of the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) pass-outs were going abroad, but the latest data shows that the percentage is down to 30. The main reason behind this is now India is being seen as a land of opportunity."

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay announced a partnership with Australia's Monash University for jointly undertaking scientific research activities. As part of the agreement, an IIT Bombay-Monash research academy will be set up as a centre of excellence in the areas of clean energy, water, biotechnology, mineral exploration and computer simulation.

  • President Musharraf said he had asked President Bush to help Pakistan set up an institution of excellence on the lines of the one set up in India (Indian Institute of Technology). "We already have made arrangements on these lines between our universities and those in France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, South Africa and Italy. President Bush liked the idea, they want to help us."

  • What's behind India's success in the global knowledge economy? The best in India do get a decent education. Aside from the famed Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management, there are about 20 other centers of excellence in science, engineering, medicine and even the liberal arts.

  • Look at India's great success - its private companies. They flourish because of a well-regulated stock market and financial system that has transparency, adjudication and enforcement—all government functions. Or the Indian Institutes of Technology - among the world's best - all government-run ... The Indian-American community has been a bridge between the two cultures. The term often used to describe Indians leaving their country is "brain drain." But it's been more like brain gain, for both sides. Indians abroad have played a crucial role in opening up the mother country.

  • San Jose Mercury News: Bet on India for long term. India ... enjoys many hidden, long-term advantages. Although its literacy rate is much lower than China's, its Indian Institutes of Technology rival MIT and are far better than such schools in China. It is estimated that only 10 percent of Chinese engineers have the skills required to work in a global company, while the comparable number for India is 25 percent. By one count, India's pool of well-qualified professional graduates will be twice as large as China's by 2008.

  • The Mumbai Chapter of the IIT Bombay Alumni Association (IITBAA) has announced elections for four positions on its Executive Committee. Nominations are due by March 15, online voting begins on March 20, ends on March 24, and results will be announced on March 25 ... click here for more information about the elections.

  • Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) was interviewed by Charlie Rose, whose program airs weeknights in the US on the Public Broadcasting Service channel. The interview will also be available on Google Video.

February 2006

  • The IITs are on an expansion spree, making ambitious plans to spread their wings and make their presence felt within the country. Director Ashok Misra is quoted on CNN-IBN saying that "We are also, under an MoU, planning to start an IIT Bombay campus in Goa. Though discussions are on and we have made several visits, nothing concrete has come up so far. The original plan was to have programmes at Masters level or maybe even continuing education programmes at the Goa campus, though we could change this and have even courses at the Bachelors level."

  • Padmasree Warrior, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Motorola, and the driving force behind the company's recent growth and innovative successes, accepted the 2004 National Medal of Technology Award from President George W Bush on behalf of her company at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on February 13. Warrior is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi from where she received her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering.

  • A group of Indianapolis' most experienced new-business-development experts spent a week in Bangalore ... so why did the executives travel more than 8,000 miles to build their newest businesses? Some investors believe Bangalore's own high-tech startups are finally ripe to produce explosive returns. Consider the example of Picsquare. Its founders Manish Agrawal (BTech '02 ME) and Kartik Jain (BTech '04 ChE) want to bring a digital photography service like Shutterfly or Snapfish to India. They met at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai ... the friends ... formed Picsquare in October. By January, they had 450 users and were seeking $250,000 to grow the business. They live together in an apartment for $100 per month. While Picsquare takes root, they believe they can last for at least a year on savings. One day, they hope to be multimillionaires. Until then, they say they're satisfied with more modest gains.

  • Two final year Bachelor of Technology students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, were handed their offer letters on Wednesday-a staggering US $ 80,000 per year, with a $ 10,000 signing bonus by New York-based software group, Lime Group. The pay package, which is on par with that offered to many Indian Institute of Management graduates, is perhaps the highest the elite institute has seen, placement officials said. Computer science students Sharad Maloo and Ritesh Arora have both been described by faculty members as “exceptionally bright’’ . “The best companies tend to come in the beginning so we were taking quite a risk by holding out for Lime,’’ admitted Maloo. Recruiters from Lime Group also interviewed students at IIT Chennai, Kanpur and Delhi.

  • A small setup and growth potential got Sharad Maloo and Ritesh Arora to opt for just one company at this year’s IIT Bombay campus placements. These two 22-year-olds have a lot in common. They’re Computer Science students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, have been living in the same hostel for four years and are total foodies. In October, both will take the same flight to New York, where they will hobnob with engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Stanford and Harvard universities. And once they’ve settled in, both want to explore Manhattan. That shouldn’t be hard. Sharad Maloo and Ritesh Arora have just bagged the highest salary package ever for IIT students—$80,000 (Rs 36 lakh) per annum, with a signing bonus of $10,000 (Rs 4.5 lakh).

  • Students graduating from Bombay IIT have never had it better. Four out of every five have already been recruited by top companies - at top salaries -in the course of just seven weeks of this year’s campus interviews in Powai. Four young engineers have been offered starting salaries of US$ 65,000 a year (Rs 30 lakh) by Capital One for California-based jobs. While that figure is exceptionally high, most of the 120 companies recruiting on campus have hiked entry-level packages by approximately 40 per cent over last year. The highest package for a position in India is Rs 10 lakh, offered by Goldman Sachs.

  • Pramod Chaudhari (BTech '71 ME) and Praj Industries, have together weathered the ups and downs of the past couple of decades. The company grew, diversified, made losses, restructured and finally decided to stick to its knitting: in this case, putting up distilleries and breweries. Having learned things the hard way, both Mr Chaudhari and his over Rs 200-crore company are eyeing "quantum" growth. Now, as a mid-sized Indian multinational, Praj is weighing its entry into Brazil, the global leader in the manufacture of ethanol, which will probably require it to use the acquisition route.

  • All set to expand, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will be "nearly doubling" their present intake, opening new campuses and introducing new courses. IIT Delhi is likely to open a campus in Rajasthan, either in Jaipur or Alwar. IIT Chennai will start a research centre in BHEL at Trichy, keeping the option of developing it into a campus later. IIT Mumbai, which had signed an MoU with the Goa government four years ago, is pursuing the project to start a campus there. It will also upgrade its present campus in Powai. IIT Kanpur too will have a new campus. 

  • LA’s water threat ... That’s the theme of Waterborne, the first film you can watch on your home PC, made available by Google’s recently launched video service. In the post 9/11 thriller, Waterborne, (Shabana) Azmi plays the role of a Sikh mother, managing her Indian grocery store, worrying about her son’s relationship with a white woman, while the city of Los Angeles is under threat as its drinking water may be contaminated. Last month, Waterborne became the first film to be made available on Google’s recently launched video service. Raised in California, Rekhi and Mundra were introduced to each other through their fathers. "Our fathers have known each other since they attended IIT Bombay," Mundra says, from her home in New York. For the record, their fathers are two well-known Indian Americans. Kanwal Rekhi (BTech '67 EE), the Silicon Valley pioneer and the founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs, is Ben’s father. Filmmaker Jag Mundra (BTech '68 EE) is Smriti’s father.

  • Dr. Sampath Kannan of Computer and Information Science has been named Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science effective January 1, 2006. Dr. Kannan began his career at Penn in 1994 after three years on the faculty of the University of Arizona. He received his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, his Masters degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Berkeley.

  • For India to continue getting a 65 percent share of technology services that are moving to developing nations from developed countries, it must find ways to ease a potential shortfall of about 150,000 engineers by 2010, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has estimated. The IITs won't supply the code- writing foot soldiers. Their alumni will, like Nandan Nilekani of Bangalore-based Infosys Technologies Ltd., create and run the companies that write the software. To build up capacity quickly in higher education, India must allow universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge to set up local campuses because the Indian taxpayers' money is more urgently required -- and effectively spent -- in primary education.

  • A recent study by McKinsey, the global management consulting firm, for Nasscom, the association of Indian software and computer service companies, found that while India had one of the biggest talent pools among developing countries, only about 25 percent of its engineering graduates were employable in the information technology and outsourcing industries ... New engineering and business schools are mushrooming across the country, particularly in many smaller towns ... "There has been a tremendous expansion of the higher education system in the country, driven by liberalization and government policy," said Mangesh Koregaonkar, a senior professor at the Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, in the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. "Education today is poised where the business and economy was about 15 years," Koregaonkar said. 

  • There's a new nerd at IIT. His two passions: broadband and books. A hardcore netizen, he likes to play Counter-Strike, a team game that engages players in counter-terrorist ops, and the Age of Empires where players try to build ancient tribes into top civilizations. Both games, you would agree, are team-based, and hence foster community spirit. Yet, these very games have become symbols of a changing IIT. And that transformation is hurting IIT's alumni. Does online gaming kill offline social interaction? Are students getting distracted and missing classes? Is the quality of output declining? Is IIT losing its global edge?

  • Local Investments, Global Results ... Israeli developers know the problem. "If you walk out of your door, and you’re an Israeli tech company, there’s not a market for 1,000 miles," says Jefferies Broadview Chairman Paul Deninger. The solution that evolved came to be known as the Israeli Model - keeping research at home and putting sales and marketing operations in the United States. Indian Wi-Fi security developer AirTight Networks started out in 2002 as Wibhu Technology in Pune, a short hop from Mumbai. It moved its corporate headquarters to Mountain View, California, but co-founders Pravin Bhagwat and Kiran Deshpande (MTech '78 EE) stayed behind with the research arm, building on technology originally developed at the Indian Institute of Technology.

  • "Serial entrepreneur and a thriller" ... Having stepped down from the board of Scandent Solutions - the IT services company that he co-founded and initially led and of which he remains a large shareholder - Ramesh Vangal (BTech '77 ME) ... will go back to the drawing board to give shape to the ambitious plans he has for his personal flagship venture, the Katra group. Though an IIT Mumbai product, Pepsi was his first job in India, as he had gone straight to LSE from Powai and then onto a career in Europe and America with MNCs before landing in India as Pepsi’s chief.

January 2006

  • The induction of Murli Deora and Sushilkumar Shinde and technocrat Jairam Ramesh (BTech '75 ME) as ministers clearly signals Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's desire to give economic reforms a major push and address some of the main irritants to the country's economic growth. The three were among 22 ministers - including seven cabinet ministers - administered the oath of office by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in a ceremony in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace. Named a minister of state without portfolio, Ramesh also has an impressive academic record, having studied mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, public management at the Carnegie Mellon University and technology policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is expected to play the same role he did in 1991 when he not only gave inputs to frame key economic policies but was also the eyes and ears of the prime minister dealing with economic matters.
  • Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE) was among the thirty-six people conferred the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award. A total of 106 Padma awards have been conferred this year. The awards are traditionally announced on the eve of the Republic Day.
  • The "India Everywhere" campaign at the World Economic Forum in Davos aims to project India as a country with strong growth potential and opportunities for foreign investors. Amongst those representing India Inc. are Rahul Bajaj (Chairman of the Board of IIT Bombay) and Nandan Nilekani (BTech '78 EE).
  • Prof. Ashok Misra, Director IIT Bombay was presented the 2005 “Qimpro Platinum Standard Statesman for Quality – Education” Award at function held in Mumbai on 12 January 2006 by the Qimpro Foundation. The Citation presented on the occasions, described Prof. Misra as a senior statesman for education, who has inspired several other Indian Academic institutions to pursue excellence through not only quality of education but also the quality of management of education.
  • Alumni Day and the 25th Reunion of the Class of '80, drew over 344 alumni to the IIT Bombay Campus on December 25, 2005. The highlight of Alumni Day was the on-the spot raising of Rs 1.1 crores by the Class of '80 and the amount was presented to Prof. Ashok Misra, Director IIT Bombay. Prof. Ashok Misra, Director during his address praised the full-hearted spirit and enthusiasm of the Alumni. Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Ashank Desai (MTech '74 Mech) and Rabiz Foda (BTech '73 EE).
  • Mani Ratnam’s Yuva is turning real, with five IITians deciding to join mainstream politics. The party, Paritrana, will be launched in Jodhpur on Friday and its members will then take its message to several cities, including Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. Its core team is made up of Tanmay Rajpurohit (BTech '01 Aero) from IIT Bombay and national president, Ajit Ashwalyan Shukla, a vice-president, Amit Beesen (BTech '01 Mech), vice-president and B Tech (Mechanical) from IIT Bombay and a law graduate, Chandrashekhar, national treasurer and B Tech (Computer Science) from IIT Kanpur, Bharat Sundaram, PRO and B Tech from IIT Kanpur and PhD in electronics from Melbourne. "Giving up handsome pay packages, comfort of family and support of friends wasn’t easy," said Rajpurohit, who has done his M Tech from Georgia Tech and is a double masters in arts.  "We feel politicians today are no longer the voice of the common man. Instead they voice their personal agendas through which they can fetch maximum votes."  
  • Andy Mukherjee writing in Bloomberg news has spotlighted the work done by Dr. Vijay Kelkar and Dr. Ajay Shah (BTech '88 Aero), who spelled out a pragmatic agenda for India in a paper titled "India's Economic Future: Moving Beyond State Capitalism." "This is our last chance,'' Dr. Kelkar said, presenting his paper in October last year at the Gadgil Memorial Lecture. "If we miss this opportunity, then we'll be in the dire straits of being a poor, aging country."

    The entire text of Dr. Kelkar's speech for the Gadgil Memorial Lecture and another related paper are both available on Ajay Shah's blog ... more.

  • Did you know that the rocks on the Red planet are cold and the dust hot? Or that a part of Mars’ surface is covered with sand dunes that help scientists across the world determine wind circulation patterns? One can learn all this and more at Techfest-2006, the ninth edition of Asia’s largest science and technology festival, kicked off on Friday by Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The festival will conclude on January 22. Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel inaugurates TechFest ... more.
  • Alumni in the news ...
    • Nitin Garg (BTech / MTech '99 Mech) has established the International School of Management Excellence in Bangalore. ISME will collaborate with premier management institutes from across the world and work with multinational corporations.
    • Fox Technologies Inc. announced it has broadened its management bench with the addition of two seasoned security and technology executives. As CTO, Subhash Tantry (BTech '75 Mech) will lead product and technology definition and direction of FoxT enterprise controls solutions.
  • The entire batch of the SJ Mehta School of Management (SJSoM) at IIT Bombay was handpicked by corporate bigwigs, offering positions across various functions. The outstanding success in placements has been the result of consistent focus of school on industry interaction and the enhanced course structure, which is in line with the Industry expectations. The school's growing reputation among corporate circles helped the placements to a smooth draw.
  • Microsoft Research is deepening its research foothold in India ... the lab has already tied up with the Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai) on developing a sensor network for landslide warnings.
  • OpEd in The Sunday Express by Sudheendra Kulkarni - "... last month was something special for me. Two of my alma maters had reunions. First, there was the 25th year reunion of the batch that passed out in 1980 from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay ... This year our batch of alumni collected a hefty fund, Rs 1.6 crore, for an ambitious cause: to clean up the Powai Lake, in whose idyllic environs IIT Bombay is situated."
  • Two centres that would focus on nanoelectronics are on the cards this year. A joint proposal made by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB), and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, to establish research and development centres in nanoelectronics at these two institutes has been approved by the Union government. Speaking to Business Standard, R Chidambaram, principal scientific advisor to the Government of India and former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, said, "The joint proposal has been recently approved by the government. Work has commenced and the centres would be ready in two to three years." The centres, to be established at a cost of Rs 100 crore, would deal with the fabrication and characterisation of chips, he said.
  • Suddenly, all of urban India is walking around with a yoga mat these days. The 5,000-year-old yoga discipline has suddenly come into vogue in its homeland. Yoga gurus are raking in fame and fortune. To counter student stress, academic institutes are incorporating yoga in college curricula. Dinesh Kashikar (MTech '98 ChE), a yoga teacher at Bangalore’s Art of Living Centre ... conducts yoga classes at Symbiosis, the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and IIM Bangalore.
  • This multi-faceted individual believes in living life king size, and more importantly, on his own terms. Meet Mathai Baker Fenn (PhD '98 HSS), a professor, who lives life on the edge and has no qualms in accepting his adventurous streak. This professor of organisational behaviour at Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI) strongly advocates the experimental method of education ... “I wanted to know more about people and interact frequently ...” says the self made man who went on to attain his doctorate degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.
  • Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that he was against the reduction of Government aid to the IITs. Finance Minister P Chidambaram may be thinking of ways to tighten the Government's purse strings but his cost cutting plans are not finding favour with Ahluwalia. Chidambaram in a letter has suggested to Ahluwalia that the Commission should weed out ineffective plans ... and any amount saved will be used in financing the flagship programmes.

 

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