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The Rediff Interview/Cdr V K Jaitly, founder member, Pan-IIT board
'IIT-ians have created a global brand'
December 07, 2006
Commander (Retd) V K Jaitly is a B.Tech (Honrs) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in Electronics and Electrical Communications. He did his M.Tech in Satellite Communications and Remote Sensing. His research area for his MBA project was Web Marketing.
He got commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1979 and took premature retirement after serving for 22+ years. He was the commissioning crew of INS Viraat and became actively involved in Computerisation and Networking in the Navy with the installation of First LAN onboard Indian Aircraft carrier, INS Viraat way back in 1987.
He had a short stint of 14 months in the education field as the Founding Dean of Jaypee University of Information Technology, Distt Solan. He is on the expert panel of DOEACC. He is a Member on Pan-IIT India Board.
He is also the founder member of Pan-IIT Board India. In an interview with rediff.com, Commander Jaitly speaks about the Pan-IIT conference, how IIT-ians can contribute to India's growth and why few IIT-ians join the defence forces. Excerpts:
'Inspire, Involve and Transform India.' Can you dwell upon the significance of the theme for this year's Pan-IIT global conference?
We, the IIT-ians received a world class technology education at the expense of the common people of this nation and without which many of us would not be at the positions where we are today.
In earlier years, some of us left for the United States or Europe since adequate opportunities were not available in India and built a successful career abroad. Others remained within India and tried to pay back to the society within the constraints of the system here.
Now it is payback time for all of us. Through these Pan-IIT global conferences, we plan to inspire more and more IIT-ians to get involved actively in the transformation of our great country. And the majority of IIT-ians settled abroad have also realized now that they owe a lot to their motherland.
We all wish to make "Inspire, Involve and Transform India" a movement which shall gather greater and greater momentum with every passing day.
You are in the Indian Navy. Not many IIT-ians join defence forces, do they?
It is no doubt that there are very few IIT-ians in the defence forces. But the contribution of IITs to the defence forces is commendable. At any given time there are more than 100 serving defence officers doing their Masters at the seven IITs.
A good number of projects are undertaken by IITs for the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation).
That is interesting. Can you tell us some prominent IIT-ians at senior positions in the defence services?
There are quite a few of them at senior positions. M Natarajan, the current scientific advisor to defence minister; and Dr B N Suresh, director, VSSC both are B.Tech from IIT Madras.
The head of Indian Naval Ship designing, Rear Admiral M K Badhwar is a B Tech from IIT Kharagpur. Lt Gen Utpal Bhattacharya is another IITian from Kharagpur and there are many more. I can just keep counting.
But the fact is that among young officers you will find negligible number of IIT-ians.
Why is there a lack of interest for the defence forces amongst IIT-ians ?
No, this lack of interest is not specific to IIT-ians. It is a national phenomenon. The attraction towards private sector is so much that defence forces and other government departments are not able to attract engineers even from other good engineering colleges.
IIT-ians are the pride of India. What do you think is the biggest contribution of IIT-ians to India?
IIT-ians have created a global brand. They have enabled every Indian to raise his/her head with esteem all over the world. Graduates from the best schools and universities of the world envy IIT-ians and IIT education system.
Within India, you will find hardly any area where IIT-ians are not contributing. A large number of ex IIT-ians are in the higher education field. A good number of IAS officers are ex IIT-ians.
What are the challenges that India faces in the new millennium? How can IIT-ians help address these challenges?
I think India faces acute shortage of skilled manpower in the manufacturing as well as in the IT sector. There is a requirement of many more good institutes for higher education as well as we need excellent vocational training schools to meet the growing demands of manufacturing sector.
I believe that a few IIT-ians should come forward to open world class engineering and technology colleges/universities. Ex-IIT-ians can also collaborate with existing engineering colleges other than IITs to bring up the standard of teaching, training and research there. This will help bridging the skill set gaps between what is required by the industry and that what is being produced by most of the engineering colleges.
What stops IIT-ians from doing that?
There is nothing which is stopping them from establishing world class colleges in India. We have to inspire some of them so that they get fully involved in the transformation of this country. The only thing they will need is the freedom to operate.
Our systems in India have been liberalised to some extent but we have a long way to go. We need Liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation of education system and you will see how a large number of IIT-ians and others will come forward to bring world class education to India.
How have you contributed to the society, industry, IIT and the Nation?
That is a highly direct question. I think my first decision to join the Indian Navy was itself a step towards paying back to the society and the nation. I feel happy that I contributed to the best of my capability there. I established the first LAN onboard the Navy's Aircraft carrier in 1987 and contributed a lot in the computerization and Networking projects wherever I was posted.
I was instrumental in developing the First Multi Media system in India in the Navy at its establishment INS Valsura, Jamnagar way back in 1990. I motivated hundreds of officers and sailors to devote and dedicate themselves for the service of the Indian Navy.
Now with so much of experience behind me, I focus my energies on basic education in tribal areas, higher education, networking requirements of the defence forces and state governments. And I am committed to bringing all IIT-ians on a single platform with the intention of inspiring them so that they get involved in the transformation of our country.
Please tell us about the forthcoming Pan-IIT meet at Mumbai.
Yes, we are calling it IIT Alumni 2006-Global Conference. This will be held at Bandra Kurla Complex at Mumbai on 23-24-25 Dec 2006. The Web site www.Pan-IIT2006.org has all the details. I will suggest that the interested people can visit this site or send me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
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