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The Rediff Interview/K Pandyan, strategic planner, Graphiti
'Getting into IIT was an overpowering inspiration'
December 13, 2006
An interview with Kanakasabapathy Pandyan can never be brief. A multi-faceted person that he is, conversation with him is bound to digress and you would actually hate to drag him to the original point of discussion.
Pandyan sports a spirit of adventure that has spanned over 30 years. This streak started in his days in IIT when he built India's first working hovercraft. He has since been involved in businesses needing concept selling and technology integration. His current interests are in working with businesses in new domains, for high growth, in different capacities. Currently, he is responsible for 'strategic planning for growth' for Graphiti, the animation studio known for world-class content creation.
Identified closely with the development of Internet in India, Pandyan and some similarly interested friends were the first evangelists of the Internet and the power it could bring to India. During mid-nineties, he worked closely with Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the first Indian ISP and the international telecom services provider.
In a long chat with Senior Associate Editor (features) Indrani Roy Mitra, Pandyan dwelt on the forthcoming PanIIT Global Conference to be held in Mumbai in the third week of December.
First of all, IITs teach their students to think independently and spontaneously. However, with IIT entrance examination getting complicated and exhaustive over the years, that spontaneity has taken a backseat -- it's a bit of concern for old IIT-ians like me.
Years in IIT were the best parts of my life. Those were the days when we could think freely and try out any idea that came to our mind. Even in situations where we find a problem, we could voice our opinions. IITs (still) have an excellent aura of frankness and candidness.
'Inspire, Involve and Transform India.' Can you dwell upon the significance of the theme for this year's Pan-IIT global conference?
Inspiration is the key ingredient of IITs, as I told you before. It's time we share our bit of inspiration with the rest of the country. It is time we talked about the wonderful experience of being in the premier institute of the country.
Unless we are involved in the society, we won't be able to bring about a change -- a transformation for the better. Therefore, all three aspects of the theme are interlinked. If as an ex-IIT-ian, I can think objectively, the onus is on me to let that thought percolate to the people around me.
Many IIT-ians have preferred to go abroad rather than work in India. Do you think this trend is changing now? How can India retain its talented people?
I always felt it is not fare to educate people and then send them off. So the responsibility rests on the IIT-ians to make use of their knowledge to try and create a better work environment and create improved pay structure so that skilled people are compelled to stay and work in their country.
What are the challenges that India faces in the new millennium? How can IIT-ians help address these challenge?
Poor environment for youth growth, poor education structure are the toughest challenges. If India can improve on them, other improvements are bound to follow suit.
What would be your advice to people aspiring to join the IITs?
I think I have already answered that.
Should India have more IITs?
Of course, the more the better. Education in India will improve enormously if we have more such premier institutes. But there should be no compromise on quality. Government can also consider upgrading some of the existing engineering colleges.