By Jacob David
HOUSTON – Over 1750 attendees benefited immensely from the IIT 2013 Global conference held at Houston, Texas between December 6-8.
The theme of the conference is ironically Inspiring Innovation for Tomorrow which fits the IIT acronym well. The conference was kicked off by the Chairman’s Reception which was held at the Asia Society Texas Center at 1370 Southmore Blvd, on Thursday, December 5th, 2013.
The conference opened to a grand gala night with select contemporary dance performances by the Anjali Dance Company, Houston, choreographed by Dr. Rathna Kumar. The programs which hosted a variety of guest speakers lasted for 2 days from December 6 – 8th. The conference focused on five areas – Sustainability, Technology, Education, Energy, and Life Sciences.
Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico, P.Harish, Consul General of India, Suresh and Dr. Renu Khator, President and Chancellor of Houston were among the chief guests for the evening at the Chairman’s Reception. Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri could not make it to the closing ceremony due to bad weather in Dallas. She spoke to the participants in a live telephone conversation from Dallas. Dan Nainan, Comedian; Usha Uthup, Indian Jazz, pop and playback singer; and the FAB 5 Houston Rock band kept the conference lively and going forward.
At the Chairman’s reception, Pratish Kanani the Vice-chair and IIT alumnus, said, “The Indian Institutes of Technology alumni have proved to be strong innovators and highly successful executives and technologists in the corporate world, entrepreneurial ventures, academia and government among many others. In addition to our professional achievements, we feel enormously responsible to give back to our communities and help make the world a better place for current and future generations.”
He then introduced the Conference chair Witty Bindra who originally lived a major part of his life in New Zealand. He is the first Urban Sikh of a Pan IIT Conference.
In his short speech, Chairman Witty Bindra said that the 10th Global Pan IIT conference was for the first time ever being held in the Energy Capital of the world, Houston, Texas. He thanked the volunteers by name for planning this event for the last 12 months. He honored Kashinath Patil the 1st IIT who received his diploma from the then first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. He was a student from the graduating class of 1955 from IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal. He also mentioned Prabodh Bhanvalkar, who got his IIT Certificate in 1962, from IIT Bombay. Kashinath Patil, the senior most member of the IIT alumni in Houston, and Tegh Bindra, the chairman’s son, only 6 old, lit the lamp and started the conference.
Bharat Desai, an IIT Bombay graduate and present Chairman of Syntel, a $3.7 Billion company and Umang Gupta, from IIT Kanpur, serial entrepreneur, the most recent chairman of Keynote Systems, and current Chairman of PAN IIT Global, both distinguished alumni, who spoke on the occasion. Bharat Desai spoke on strengthening the ecosystem, and asked the attendees gathered there to be a Mentor to upcoming graduates, be Investors and even help in formulating strategy and systems to make the world a better place. Umang Gupta spoke on the vital need for carrying on Pan IIT forward. “It is a volunteer run organization.
There are no membership fees. We are supported by sponsorships from the Alumnis.” He thanked Hemant Jha for working hard in getting over1600 attendees to attend the event.
The dance performances by the Anjali School of Dance put on a captivating display of Indian dance traditions at its finest. The performances were to music composed by Anoushka Shankar with vocals by Pandit Rajan and Pandit Sajan Mishra.
The grand finale called the Elemental was a tribute to Lord Shiva the Creator. The dance had rhythmic movements that mimicked and delineated the five elements that are necessary to form life, Water, Fire, Earth, Wind and Space. Oscar Winning music director, A.R. Rahman’s ace percussionist N.K.Kesavan specially composed for this piece using 12 different kinds of drums all of which he played and recorded by himself.
After the program, T.K.Das gave appreciation certificates to the participants and special recognition for Dr. Rathna Kumar.
The two days conference had stellar speakers which included Amartya Sen, Gene Kranz, Andrew Gould, Vicente Fox, Dr. Renu Khator, David Leebron, Blake Irving, P. Harish, Bharat Desai, Partha S Ghosh, among many others.
Great feedback was provided by some of the attendees, some of which were rave reviews.
“Congratulations on organizing such a mammoth event, and successfully so. Every event started and ended on time. From speakers themselves, to their message, each had a significant impact. Thanks again.” – Kalyan Banerjee.
“Houston, we had no problem! A very well planned, well executed, and well delivered conference! Kudos to the conference organization team!” – Akhil Chauhan.
“Very well organized, down to the details! Well done!!” – Deepa Menon.
Catering was provided by Bombay Brasserie and drinks by Capital Beverages.