TORONTO: IIT alumni groups from all over the world are set to descend on Kolkata as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) system marks its diamond jubilee in December.
Though the PanIIT – the alumni association of IIT students in India and abroad – has been organizing its annual Global Conferences alternately between India and abroad since 2003, this year’s gathering assumes special significance as the IIT system completes its year-long diamond jubilee celebrations. India’s first IIT started at Kharagpur in 1951.
“Apart from the hundreds of alumni from around the world, we will also have over half a dozen chief ministers, Indian union ministers, the US ambassador in India and others attend the three-day events in Kolkata,’’ according to Pronob Guha who heads the marketing committee for the mega-event and is seen talking to the Markham mayor (left) in the above picture.
Guha, who was in Toronto last week to market the event and invite former IITians and Canadian officials to the conference, said, “It is going to be the most important gathering of IITians ever because it is our diamond jubilee year. Famous IITians such as Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, Lord Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya from Britain, and many others are coming to the event. A record six chief ministers have already confirmed their participation and we are requesting the Indian president to open the event.’’
He said this year’s annual event will be a nostalgic trip for many IITians, particularly those from the first batch (1951-1955).
“That’s why we have chosen Kolkata because it is near to IIT Kharagpur where the first batch started in 1951. In fact, we are felicitating the first batch on this occasion as 20-odd students from the class of 1951 still live in Kolkata. And we are trying to get the rest of them, including Jogendra Singh from Toronto, to Kolkata,’’ Guha said.
He said the first-batch IITians of 1951 will be taken on a nostalgic trip from Kolkata to IIT Kharagpur. “They will travel by a special train called the Technology Express which will take just one hour and forty minutes to reach IIT Kharagpur. They will be introduced to the current students and then spend the whole day in Kharagpur to remember the good old days.’’
There are said to be over 200,000 IITians around the world, with about 40 percent of them in the US alone.
During his Toronto trip, Guha interacted with Markham City mayor Frank Scarpitti, officials and IITians and invited them to the conference.
“The annual PanIIT Global Conference is not all about meetings and dinner. It is a networking event. The IIT system is India’s top brand because of its contribution to nation-building. So our annual meetings basically bring IITians and political and business leaders together in the task of nation-building. IITians are involved in nation-building in India, in the US and wherever they are,’’ said Guha, an IITian himself who spent almost 15 years in Canada before returning to India in 1984.
Currently, the autonomous IIT system has 16 institutions under its control.