Mumbai, 5 December (IANS) The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) inspires and awes, nestled in a green jungle by the scenic Powai lake with misty-grey hills in the background, as it promises to be the final academic destination for many students trying to reach the stars in life.
IIT-B, which was founded in 1958 as the country's second IIT after IIT Kharagpur (IIT-KGP, 1950) and is now one of the country's 23 IITs, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its historic inaugural convocation on December 22, 1962, when roughly 70 wide-eyed young men graduated.
Decades later, in 2012, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the golden jubilee convocation. According to the latest annual report provided by the institute's Director, Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri, the institute will have a little more than 12,005 students in 2021.
The groundwork for the first IIT-KGP was inspired and prepared well before Independence by the late Bengal academician Humayun Kabir, who later served as the Education and Civil Aviation Minister of India.
After the country achieved freedom in 1947, its first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru pushed the idea forward and even laid the foundation stone for IIT-B, according to the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (CIITs).
Nehru wanted science and technology to play a prominent role in modernising the new India and meeting the needs of its growing population and envisioned that the IIT system would, over time, produce scientists and technologists of the highest calibre who would engage in research, design, and development to help build the nation towards self-reliance in her technological needs.
"The institutions were to be designed with the necessary dynamism, flexibility of organisation, and capacity to adapt in the light of expanding knowledge and changes in the socio-economic requirements of a modern society," says the CIIT.
The earliest IITs got the benefit of material assistance and academic cooperation from certain developed countries -- IIT-B from USSR, IIT-Madras from Germany, IIT-Kanpur from the US, and IIT-Delhi from the UK.
Over the years, the IITs have created world-class educational platforms dynamically sustained through internationally recognised research, based on excellent infrastructural facilities.
Compared to the first girl - Tejaswini Saraf (1966 batch) -- who turned heads at IIT-B, being the lone female student among 300 boys, today the situation is different with 20-25 percent female students on the campus.
As the President of the IIT-B Alumni Association (IITBAA), Deepak Patil, says, at IITs, the mind is trained not only academically, but also to think deeply, rationally, to handle any problem, to go to the root and evolve a logical solution.
IITBAA Chairman Girish Nayak says IIT education makes the student sharper and analytical, trains them overall to solve any kind of problems, grapple with any challenges in life without getting surprised or overwhelmed, and this is something that stays with them forever.
The duo feels that the IITs offer an excellent opportunity for personality development, total independence, no family support systems to shield them from any emotional problems, thrown together with total strangers from different parts of the country, and learning to live together.
"It's here that we realise that there are many who are not only as brainy as you, probably more intelligent than you... There would be hot debates of high intellectual levels on practically any topic under the sun, from technology to politics. All of these add to your personality and intellect and yet make you humble," said Patil.
Plus, the students here get the advantages of an outstanding faculty, staff, academic-industry connection, and the rich experiences of the trail-blazer alumni, which result in achievements that make global headlines.
A few of the many notables who have passed out of IIT-B over the past six decades are BSE MD & CEO Ashish Chauhan, Syntel founder Bharat Desai, Infosys Co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Twitter Inc. CEO Parag Agrawal, Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, ex-BMC Commissioner Jairaj Phatak, ex-Union minister Jairam Ramesh, late Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, mathematician Ravindran Kannan, ex-Dean of Harvard Business School Nitin Nohria, economist Ajit Ranade, and ex-President of Bell Labs Arun Netravali, among others