IIT alumni from all over the world are set to descend on Kolkata as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) system marks its diamond jubilee in December.
Though the PanIIT, the alumni association of IIT students in India and abroad, has been organizing its annual PanIIT Global Conferences - alternately between India and abroad - since 2003, this year's gathering assumes special significance as the IIT system completes its 60 years.
The three-day diamond jubilee celebrations will be held at Kolkata's Science City Auditorium from December 7.
"Apart from thousands of alumni from around the world, we will have over half a dozen chief ministers, Indian union ministers, the US ambassador in India and others attend the three-day events in Kolkata," said Pronob Guha who heads the marketing committee for the mega-event.
Guha, who was in Toronto last week to market the event and invite former IITians and Canadian officials to the conference, said, "It is going to be the most important gathering of IITians ever because it is our diamond jubilee year. Famous IITians such as Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, Lord Sushanta Kumar Bhattacharyya from Britain, and many other top IITians are coming. A record six chief ministers have already confirmed their participation and we are requesting the Indian president to open the event."
He said this year's annual event will be a nostalgic trip for many IITians, particularly those from the first batch (1951-1955).
"That's why have chosen Kolkata because it is near to IIT Kharagpur, where the first batch started in 1951. In fact, we are felicitating the first batch on this occasion as 20-odd students from the class of 1951 still live in Kolkata. And we are trying to get the rest of them, including Jogindra Singh from Toronto, to Kolkata," Guha said.
He said the first-batch IITians will be taken on a nostalgic trip from Kolkata to IIT Kharagpur. "They will be taken on a special train called the Technology Express which will take just one hour and forty minutes to reach IIT Kharagpur. The first-batch students will be introduced to the current students. They will spend the whole day in Kharagpur to remember the good old days."
There are an estimated 200,000 IITians around the world, with about 40 percent of them in the United States alone.
During his Toronto trip, Guha interacted with Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti and IITians and invited them to the conference.
"The annual PanIIT Global Conference is not all about meetings and dinner. It is a networking event. The IIT system is India's top brand because of its contribution to nation-building. So this annual gathering is basically to bring IITians and political business leaders to come together and join hands in nation-building. IITians are involved in nation-building in India, in the US and wherever they are," said Guha, an IITian himself who spent almost 15 years in Canada before returning to India in 1984.
Currently, the autonomous IIT system has 16 institutions under its control.