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Hillary Clinton to keynote Pan-IIT conference

Last updated on: June 14, 2007 19:05 IST

United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin will keynote the Indian Institute of Technology 2007 Global Alumni Conference titled 'Transforming the World through Technology' in California next month.

The annual event that took place in Mumbai last year and was inaugurated by India's President A P J Abdul Kalam will be held this year in Santa Clara, California, from July 6 to 8. Pan-IIT, the global IIT alumni association, which is organising the event, said it expects to attract at least 4,000 graduates of the IIT system, one of the world's most respected educational institutions.

"The event will showcase the impact of the IITs and its alumni in driving innovation, creating new enterprises, and enabling social transformation in India, the US and throughout the world," said Pan-IIT president Dilip Venkatachari.

"Changing the world through technology is a broad theme and it is appropriate because it reflects the broad nature of the impact that IITians have on the world," Ashu Garg, an IITian and Pan-IIT vice president of marketing, told

"I think the common theme around that impact is -- number one it has really been truly transformational in nature and secondly there is a common thread of technology running through it," he said.

In addition to the keynote speakers, some of the world's most distinguished thinkers, many of whom are IIT alumni, will examine and explore new frontiers of thought and technology, identifying and examining the next trends that will have broad global impact, such as Web 2.0 and Clean Tech.

The list includes Nobel Laureate Arno Allan Penzias, Carnegie Mellon University president Jared L Cohon, McKinsey's Rajat Gupta, Keynote CEO Umang Gupta, leading venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Headstrong CEO Arjun Malhotra, entrepreneur and philanthropist Kanwal Rekhi, and iGATE's Sunil Wadhwani.

One of the sessions on the inaugural day will be on 'Consumer versus Enterprise: A changing scenario' in which speakers from leading consumer and enterprise firms are expected to grapple with questions like who leads the way in technology innovation which has become a two-way street where consumer behavior influences adoption of enterprise technologies across collaboration and communication.

There will also be sessions on social transformation -- how to make a difference through science, technology and human transformation -- on technology

and the future of the media industry as well as entertainment with the focus being on how Bollywood is going mainstream in the US, life beyond technology and culture and identity.

While Vishakha Desai, president of the Asia Society, will address the session on culture and identity, actor Anupam Kher will address a session on life beyond technology.

An exclusive poetry recital and musical concert will be presented by Javed Akhtar, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram and Pandit Vijay Ghate. "Through poetry, light and sound, these maestros will bring out the true meaning of the Tiranga, India's national flag," the organisers said.

"The 2007 conference will build on the very successful IIT 2006 conference in Mumbai," Garg said.

Noting that the Pan-IIT movement is now five years old, Garg said the goal of the organisation is to do three things -- to build a strong community of IITians around the world, to showcase the great work that they are doing, and through that to strengthen the IIT brand, and thirdly to give back to the IITs and to Indian society more broadly.

"That is our focus. We started from a small base and we have been building upon the past. This Santa Clara conference is a major milestone. The first conference in the Bay Area was the starting point after which we went to the DC conference, which gave us a very strong presence in the East Coast. The India conference was pivotal because it really sort of took the IIT alumni presence and reach to different levels," he said.

Asked why Clinton was chosen to keynote the conference dominated by entrepreneurs, Garg said, "Clinton is important. I think given the impact IIT communities have, the aspiration we have to impact across entrepreneurship, business, technology and society, I think engaging and interacting with a community leader like Hillary Clinton is important."

"It is just like having President Abdul Kalam at the India Conference. So it is in the same way here," Garg added, "Hillary Clinton clearly is a great leader in her own right and although we have no political affiliation, we believe that she clearly stands out as a very senior leader and a great statesman. We are excited about having her at our conference."

First published in India Abroad

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York