Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IIT Kharagpur UC Berkeley Collaboration

Dear Fellow Alums,

Greetings from UC Berkeley!

Raj Shekhar Singh (Kgp B.Tech, 2009, Biotech, RK) spent 8-weeks at UC Berkeley in the summer of 2008. He worked with Dr. Norm Miller, a principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute, on biofuels research. As a result of Raj's experience, Dr. Miller has agreed to collaborate with Dr. Prasanta Sanyal in the Geology/Geophysics department at IIT Kharagpur.

This is an excellent example of how the collaboration is poised to enable IIT Kharagpur students and faculty to work with leading researchers and world-class research infrastructure. The collaboration has the potential of also being a catalyst in accelerating new knowledge creation,
and bringing new discoveries and innovation to the society. 

In this way IIT Kharagpur can further enhance and differentiate its value in India and around the world. Therefore, we believe that UC Berkeley-IIT Kharagpur collaboration is an important part of building IIT Kharagpur for the 21st Century.

The key components of the collaboration include: 
  1. 8-week summer research program for 12-16 IIT Kharagpur undergraduate students at UC Berkeley
  2. Faculty visits from UC Berkeley to IIT Kharagpur and vice-versa 
  3. PhD program at UC Berkeley and IIT Kharagpur
  4. Joint research among faculty at the two institutions 

Raj was one of eleven Kgp students who spent 8-weeks at UC Berkeley in the summer working with leading experts in biofuels, healthcare biotech, physics and geophysics. They had a transformative research and educational experience.

It is the kind of opportunity I wish we had when we were at IIT.

You and I can make this experience available to future IIT Kharagpur students. Your gift will enable students to receive an exceptional research and educational experience, strengthen the UC Berkeley-IIT Kharagpur collaboration and accelerate the possibilities for joint research in areas of strategic importance to the US, India and the global society - energy and healthcare.

In addition, if you are in an energy, biofuels, pharmaceutical, biotech, or medical diagnostics company you could also explore the possibility of your company supporting summer research program students, faculty visits, PhD program students, or research at UC Berkeley or IIT Kharagpur or both.

We are thankful to all the current sponsors of the collaboration - Energy Biosciences Institute, several UC Berkeley faculty members, IIT Foundation, Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, Sunil Gaitonde, Arjun Malhotra, Vasan Raman and Prabha Sinha. You will be pleased to note that Prabha Sinha is also proposing to provide seed funding for a Biofuels Center at IIT Kharagpur! (This is another example of how the collaboration is benefiting IIT Kharagpur)

Buildings are built one brick at a time. Likewise, your contribution, irrespective of the amount, will be a critical brick in building IIT Kharagpur for the 21st Century. You may contribute now by visiting the donation page and choosing "IIT Kharagpur UC Berkeley Collaboration" for your gift.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Wish you and your loved ones a very happy and prosperous 2009! (for more information on the collaboration and the 2008
summer research program please visit:  http://ls.berkeley.edu/?q=node/767 or

Shail Kumar ('87, ME, RK)
Past-President IIT Foundation

Senior Director, External Relations
College of Letters & Science
UC Berkeley

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Impact of IIT

Reproduced from Impacting the nation, published under "Inspire Innovate Transform" in Times of India, Bangalore, 11th Dec, with reference to upcoming Pan IIT Meet on 18-20 Dec in IIT Madras

"There have been many myths associated with IIT," begins B Santhanam. "For instance, people believe that there aren't too many IITians becoming entrepreneurs and some who believe that IITians pursue their careers abroad and never return to India. This study was conducted in partnership with the Indian Brand Equity Fund (IBEF) and Zinnov Management Consulting who helped us in both design and management. Through the IIT Alumni Impact Study, we have cleared such misconceptions and delivered an explicit picture with regard to the IIT’s contribution to the nation and the world at large. Through a global web-based survey, the study attempts to map the impact of IITians on the global economy across impact areas like entrepreneurship, scientific and technological achievement as well as social transformation, research and leadership over the last 50 years. From a total of 4,500 responses across seven IITs, there have been many interesting findings and surprising conclusions. Some of the findings are:

  1. IIT alumni in senior positions in the industry and government sector across the world today have budgetary responsibility for over USD 885 billion, that's close to 90% of India's GDP
  2. Prior to 2001, four out of 10 alumni, were managing top leadership roles in corporations, educational institutions, research labs, politics and as entrepreneurial heads of their companies
  3. IIT alumni contribute over USD 450 billion (close to 50% of India's GDP) to the economy.
  4. Seven out of 10 alumni are currently based in India and two out of 10 alumni return to India after their stint in other parts of the world.
  5. 54% of the top 500 Indian companies currently have at least one IIT alumnus on their Board of Directors. That apart, these companies have a cumulative revenue which is ten times greater than other companies that IITians are not a part of.
  6. One in 10 IIT alumni has started their own company, with over 40% of them being serial entrepreneurs and 42% of the senior alumni are in top leadership roles.. Of these, twothirds of the companies founded are in India which again re-affirms the contribution of IITians towards the nation-building process

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Chhedis in a village like KGP is an institution. Sometimes a lot more than that.

How does one describe it? A quaint version of a tea-stall which does not server much food, but is a source of sustenance for KGPians in a perpetual state of abject penury? Maybe that’s the best description it could get…

Chhedis is a ramshackle establishment just outside the main campus of IIT KGP on the side of the Puri Gate. There are other stalls in this area, mostly serving Bengali food in squalid, depressing surroundings. Most famous among the other ones was Ashok-Da, who served delectable mutton curry on Saturday and Sunday mornings. However, Chhedis was special. The first time you come to Kharagpur, there is a pretty high chance that you would miss it. But the orientation is quick, and soon you are a regular in the establishment. And things are better if you stay in RP Hall, the hostel closest to the institute gates.

Chhedis, in essence, is just a tea-stall. Which serves food. By food, I mean – Maggi (various forms of it – Egg maggi, Plain maggi, Top Ramen Curry which is a spicier version of the normal maggi but pretty nice, Egg Curry), and the ubiquitous Tinku. For the uninitiated, the Tinku is the KGP version of an egg burger, consisting of a bun cut in half, stuffed with a poached egg and splattered with spicy red masala and a few onions. The first time with Tinku is never a great one, and you wouldn’t like it in all probability. But gradually, with decreasing finances and an all-encompassing time-crunch, Tinku becomes a way of life, and you crave for it, ache for it, and finally, there is a time when a day does not pass without the Tinku. Towards the later years of my stay in the village, things improved (some say they worsened) in Chhedis. It got a brand new look, a fan was installed in the main-area, it got tube-lights for a less shady and a little brighter ambience, and Chhedi bhai started making great samosas.

More than the food, Chhedis was important because it was a meeting place – a place for the infamous adda. It is tough to define adda. Some say it’s an inherently Bengali tradition. Put very simply, it is the act of sitting with friends, normally with a glass of tea in one of your hands, and a Wills Navy Cut cigarette in the other, and discussing about anything under the sun. Chhedis was a hotbed of adda and pseudo-intellectual discussions. The term hotbed probably gives the wrong impression about the place but I guess that’s what it was in essence. Anything could be a topic of conversation, starting from the relentless tyranny the professors wreaked on the hapless students to the seeming scarcity of all things modern and human in this village far removed from civilization and any remnants of it. Topics ranged from good food to mess food, admit cards to HMC politics, BC Roy Hall and its chicken curry to Rabindra Sangeet, Bapi-giri to the next ETMS production, and from WTMS with its deep under-currents to recent developments in the political scene. KGP wasn’t a very happening place, and it was discussion and meaningless conversation which kept us a few feet away from insanity and senility. It was this meaninglessness which meant a lot to each one of us, far from worldliness, far from pleasures, in a seemingly bottomless void.

Chunnu was the cigarette-shop guy just adjacent to Chhedis. He was Chhedi bhai’s son and a nice man. Chunnu had the concept of a khata which was very similar to a credit roster, with no interest. Chunnu never refused a cigarette when you were broke and still wanted one, and never refused you money when you were broke and wanted to drink in Park. The khata solved myriad problems in life, and created several others at the end of the month when the bill frequently touched the thousands. This invariably led to tremendous tantrums at home, punctuated by mindless quarrels and unending lectures on the insensitivity of the younger generation towards the important and value of money as an entity.

All said and done, Chhedis and Chunnu were integral parts of our existence in the haven that KGP was. It was a place to hangout, catch up with old acquaintances who had shifted to different hostels, a place to relax and unwind after a harrowing day at school, it was the place for a steaming hot cup of tea to calm your nerves after an all-night binge on a freezing winter night, and most of all, it was a place where you could go and leave your troubles behind. It had a way about it which endeared itself to you, in spite of everything.

This documentary has some info about chhedis and is worth a watch.

Talat sings a Rafi song

by Anandaroop (Goopi)

This is a rare audio clipping where Talat sings a Rafi song. Please note the completely different approach - thi sone is more gentle and sublime with the added murkis which came to Talat so naturally due to the inherent vibrato in his voice.
Here is a little background on this recording (as told by Talat's son Khalid Mehmood)
"During 50's HMV wanted to copy the West (where one hit English song was sung by many singers) and create VERSION RECORDINGS of popular Hindi songs. Since Talat Mahmood was the most popular singer in those days they persuaded him to do the first recording 'Chal ud ja re panchi' which Mohd Rafi had sung for film 'BHABHI'. Similarly, HMV wanted Rafi to sing a Mukesh hit and Hemant Kumar to record a Talat hit. But this idea of singing other singers songs was not going down very well with the singers and they got together to finally decide against going ahead with this VERSION RECORDINGS idea of HMV. Seeing the singers opposition, HMV decided to drop this idea of VERSION RECORDINGS entirely after that. But by this time 'Chal ud ja re panchi' sung by Talat was already in the market..."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Simplicity of Rafi Saab

by Anandaroop Bhattacharya

I was listening to Vividh Bharati last night where they were running an interview with Mala Sinha. I am not sure if it was live or pre-recorded. It was really nice to listen to her talk about her past colleagues and friends. Here's what she had to say about Mohd. Rafi (translating as much as I can remember)

"Rafi-saab was our neighbour in Bandra. I have never seen anyone in my life so "saral". He was just the way you see him in his photos - always smiling. Look at his eyes - do you spot any sort of violence? That's the way he was. I don't think he knew or understood his own worth. I remember once we were trying to raise some funds for our church (Mala Sinhais Christian by faith). Nowadays they speak of crores, but we have neverseen crore. In fact, we could see a lakh only after years of eork andeffort. So, we artists did not have any money to donate. Anyway, I requested Rafi-saab to sing in one of our fund-raising programmes. We were all apprehensive if the number 1 singer in the country would agree to sing for asmall occasion like this. But not only did he sing for 2-3 hours - we didnot even have a proper stage - but did not take a single paisa from us."

Friends, this is what amazes me about Rafi. When you a become a celebrity ofthis stature, you always have some people who would say negative things about you. That's the price of fame you pay. But here is one man, on whom I have never ever read or heard anything negative. Not only that, most people are effusive in praise when they talk about him - not just his calibre but his kindness and humillity. Alu (Sudipto) once told me another story about him on how he helped Bhupen Hazarika during his early days. What an artiste and what a gentleman!!
The only exception probably is an article written by Raju Bharathan recently in Rediff after Mahendra Kapoor's death, and for which he has been bashed up in several forums.

Watch this short video at your leisure - the simplicity and humility of theman is unbelievable!http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTNdPlcCF-Y

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nandan Nilekani at Spring Fest Bangalore 2008 on Dec 12

Dear Alumnus:


Shriram Properties presents "SpringFest Bangalore 2008"; the Annual KGP Bangalore Chapter event is on and it is the biggest of them all.

From "Interacting with Nandan Nilekani" and "giving back to society" to "know more about KGPian start-ups". From InterHall Music competition to Music Concert by our alumni - get set for a fun filled nostalgic get-together.

Event highlights

·         Interacting with Mr Nandan Nilekani co-chariman Infosys. Nandan will be talking to us and taking Q &A while autographing his book "Imagining India - Ideas for the new century" at the event

·         For the first time, as part of the Pan IIT initiative we have invitees from other IITs, namely IIT Bombay Alumni presenting an initiative on Village Knowledge Center (VKC) - to realise Dr Abdul Kalam's vision of every IITian adopting one village!  After all, we need KGP alumni to contribute to nation building.

 ·     Finally we have a grand Alumni Inter Hall Music Competition followed by a Music performance by the Alumni 

Special guest: Prof Amit Patra, Dean of Alumni Affairs and International Relations, IIT Kharagpur

So book your calendar, get your friends and family and relive your days at KGP.

Finer details:

Venue - Seasons Hall Royal Orchid, Old Airport Road Bangalore 

Date and time - 12 Dec 2008, 6 pm onwards

Detailed event schedule - Attached

Charges -

·  Advance Booking - Rs 500 for adult and Rs 400 for children

·  Spot booking - Rs 750 for adult and Rs 400 for children

·  Charges include dinner

·  Liquor will be charged against purchase of coupons


Tickets are available with the following:

Dhananjay Collur '81 - 98450.58595

Ravichandran R '83 - 99018.40840

Kimi '91 - 98454.33372

Priyanka '03 - 99860.10945

For delivery of tickets at an extra charge of Rs 50, please write or call  krishnarajv@gmail.com / rrc_21@yahoo.com /priyanka@hungrybangalore.com along with your phone number.

We look forward to having you!

Warm regards,

TAA, Bangalore Chapter

Special mentions:

Title Sponsor - Shriram Properties

Creatives - Mukesh Ghatiya '02

Logo design - Utkal Mohanty '77

Liquor - Deb Banerjee '82

Publicity - Mutual PR

Long live TMS

Technology Music Society, popularly known as TMS, is the official Band of IIT KGP. It's a students' body created every year by theStudents' Gymkhana, which is the centre of all inter-hostel and inter-college activities that the students of IIT KGP engage in. The responsibility of TMS is borne by the Governors, selected every year by the President of Gymkhana from the various applicants for the post. The members of the TMS are then selected by the Governors either through auditions of aspiring people or popularity and/or credentials of past performances.
TMS is responsible for putting up musical shows, generally twice a year - once in each semester, in IIT KGP. It's entitled to represent IIT KGP in Spring Fest and perform in its inauguration. The various Halls also invite the TMS to play at the respective Hall Days. Apart from all these TMS is also invited to perform at a few organizations and institutions, like Tata Motors in Jamshedpur, outside IIT KGP.
TMS is one of the most popular students' body involved in entertaining the people of IIT KGP, where there's really a dearth of popular sources of entertainment. Though the condition has improved a lot after the advent of internet over the past one decade, still Kharagpur as such lacks most of the interesting and popular sources of entertainment that are otherwise available in big cities and metros. Calcutta, 116 Km away, is the nearest big city from KGP. Hence the popularity of the TMS shows has been always very high. TMS has always strived to present a platter of popular and good music to the people of KGP.
TMS along with TDS, the Technology Dramatics Society, form a very important forum for the students to show their brilliance in cultural aspects. Students' Gymkhana has been always very instrumental in providing an environment for all round development to the students of IIT KGP. Being the first IIT to be established, the idea of Students' Gymkhana and the stress on all round development have been widely accepted in all the other IITs established subsequently over the past five decades. Such a thing would have surely been inspired by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who wanted to create an institute of excellence in technology in the same lines as Tagore's Shantiniketan. There are striking similarities between Shantiniketan and IITs, KGP specially, with regards to the setup, ideologies and format. The Gurukul system of education that Tagore established in his Shantiniketan was followed almost in totality in KGP, where the students and the teachers stay in the same campus and interact very closely in all aspects of living and learning. Even the name of KGP’s annual fest, Spring Fest, has been inspired by Basantotsab, the Spring Festival, of Shantiniketan. The importance of co curricular activities and sports as integral parts education was one of the main aspects of Tagore's idea of education. He always believed in the fullest manifestation of creativity. Perhaps the close relation of Nehru and Dr. B C Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal and a great patron of IIT KGP, with Tagore helped in shaping up the format of IITs, where any student gets ample scope to manifest their creativity and talent in any form or art or literature or sports. The TMS and the TDS play a great role in the manifestation of the skill and talent of many students in the fields of art and culture and literature.
The TMS shows are put up with lot of effort and pain. The academic schedule and pressure in IITs is well known. Despite that the members of TMS spend innumerable nights in practising and putting up thoroughly professional shows. The quality of the shows is also no way amateurish. They always try to make a proper blend of popular and classical or semi classical numbers that cater to the tastes of a wide variety of people in the audience which range from the students to the professors and their families and children. There have been instances where the TMS had attempted fusion music with ten or twelve piece orchestra.
The best part of TMS is perhaps the practice sessions, spanning across a major part of the nights, before the shows. In KGP lingo, the TMS members do several night-outs to put up a show. The jamming, the chit-chat, the mischief and the other things that accompany the practice sessions remain long in the memories of the TMS members, even long after they leave IIT KGP. Going to Chhedis, a popular road-side ramshackle food joint by the railway lines adjoining IIT KGP campus, at the end of the practice at about two or three in the morning, has been a regular thing for the TMS members forever. Whenever a few ex-TMS members assemble at any place after their IIT life, they tend to form a band and take to musical shows. The love for music never dies for the TMS guys. There are instances where TMS members become part of professional musical bands. For example Manu Varghese, B C Roy Gold Medallist of 1996 batch, perhaps one of the most talented members of TMS, now-a-days plays for a Seattle band called Geetanjali (http://www.geetanjali.net), does one or two concerts per year, mostly Tamil songs, with a few Malayalam songs. There's also a local Malayalam music group in Vancouver, which also he sometimes play for, plus he plays the piano or guitar at church. Some of the TMS members during 1995-98 have formed a band called Kohal in Bangalore and perform at various places.
Years have passed by, things have changed, IIT KGP has changed, even the TMS has surely changed a lot over the years. But the essence of TMS, the fun associated with those innumerable night-outs, the snacks at Chhedis in the middle of the night, the excitement of those packed shows in Netaji Auditorium and those millions of anecdotes have stayed back without any change - in its most nascent and primitive form. 

This website is meant to keep the memoirs of TMS alive in all of us who miss it so much ever since we left IIT KGP. Apart from the people directly involved with the TMS officially there have been many others who were just music lovers and spent major part of their KGP life indulging in various forms of music. Many of these people might not have got any chance to spend much time for music, apart from just listening to it in their cars or homes, ever since they left KGP. This site is meant to keep the 'TMS' and the KGP-music alive in us. Let's endeavour to get back the most creative part of our lives!!

Long live TMS and the KGP Music!!