» Business » 'Pan IIT mission is to transform India'

'Pan IIT mission is to transform India'

November 09, 2006 18:44 IST
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Ashank Desai, founder and chairman and the chief architect of catapulting Mastek into the top 10 software companies in India, spelt out the vision of the Pan IIT 2006 Global Conference to be held in Mumbai from December 23 to December 25 during a chat with on Thursday.

Desai is the Event Chairman of the coming IIT conference. Following is the chat transcript:

Ashank Desai says, 
Hi Everybody Let us chat

Mohan asked, Does India have the proper R&D infrastructure? What should be done to promote it?
Ashank Desai answers, Yes but not adequate. We need to spend more money on R&D as a percentage of GDP. Ours is quite low compared to other countries. We need to have more investement oriented mentality.
Priya asked, We (I am an IIT-ian myself) have long been accused of leaving India after we compelte our studies and not returning because of the 'good life' abroad. I, for one, don't exactly subscribe to this view. What are your thoughts on it, Sir?
Ashank Desai answers, I agree with you. All of us, whether in India and abroad, have a role to play to pay back the nation. So long as we are doing our bit, it does not matter where we are located.
qazi asked, Sir, in spite of all the hype we see very little R&D work being done here. Yet these IITians go to the US and are known to contribute incredibly to that country's science and technology. Why is this happening
Ashank Desai answers, As repiled earlier, we need to commit more inevestment to R&D. Beyond this, it is of course about having high level of professionalism which creates an environment suitable for attracting and retaining the talented scientists. The importance of a 'Mega vision' should not be under emphasised.
kiri asked, What are your expectations from Pan-IIT meet?
Ashank Desai answers, Our mission is to Inspire to Involve and Transform India (IIT). This is our re-definition of IIT. We are, therefore, expecting 5,000 people to join us at the event who will get inspired and start a movement of transforming India.
Mukesh asked, Dear Mr Desai, what is this Pan IIT meeting all about. Can I participate in it? I am not an IIT-ian though.
Ashank Desai answers, I have talked about the event already earlier. Please read my interview on a few weeks back. As this is an IIT alumnievent, we are focusing on IIT-ians.
Ashank Desai answers, We have a unique format at the event. We are inviting leading speakers from various fields like poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship, knowledge economy etc to inspire IIT-ians. After this, we are also showcasing IIT-ians who have done exemplary work in these areas to get inspired and involve other IIT-ians in this crusade. After this, we would have sessions with politicians and bureaucrats who could help us in our crusade and thus help us transform the country. Also, we would have the President of India inaugurating the event to inspire us. The Prime Minister is invited to help us make this transformation happen.
Suresh asked, hello sir, i'm myself iitian i doesn't see much job opportunities ( Technical job) although there is much hype because of entry of many financial i banking and consultancy firm, is it right for students of prominent technological institute of India to take such jobs after learning so much technology
Ashank Desai answers, Of course, we need to leverage what we have already learnt. After all, our country is investing substantial sum in this. However, if someone finds himself more suitable for a different job and has a pssion for the same, then I would strongly argue that he should do that. One excels in any field, provided one has love and passion for it.
Ashank Desai answers, Please go through my reply to Suresh's query.
catt asked, WIth Indian economy doing well, I feel that fewer IIT-ians are going abroad. However, we in India are yet to come up with some kilelr app or great product that could shake up the world? Why do you think this is the case? Why do Indians come up with great products only when they are abroad?
Ashank Desai answers, The answer to do this question is bound to be lengthy. However, to put it briefly, it is not about intellectual ability that is the missing element. It is about the total eco-system that is needed to make products happen. It is about large domestic market, large venture capital availability and social environment nurturing risk taking with no stigma attached to failure. This last one is particularly important as in the software product area, there are few large successes and many, many failures. One needs an ability to rise out of ashes.
Sam asked, Mr Desai, please elaborate on this 'Mega Vision'.
Ashank Desai answers, The Mega Vision is about India being a centre to build 'knowledge' for the whole world.
Indian asked, Hello Mr.Desai..We are glad to have a world class institution like IIT. How come there is not single Noble laureate from IIT? Even though many IITians have gone abroad.
Ashank Desai answers, Difficult question I guess! As I understand, Noble Prizes are given in the area of 'science' rather than 'technology'. We need more focus on research and science instead of UG and PG education.
sushil asked, how can we make indian engineers, coming out of colleges,more competive?
Ashank Desai answers, I feel Indian engineers are very competitive as they have come out through a system which encourages the same, including admission at IITs. So I do not have concern in this regard.
chaty asked, What do you think are IITians' biggest contribution to India?
Ashank Desai answers, Creating a class of professionals who could excel in any area of endeavour they take up and thus making India proud.
Amalraj asked, Good day, Mr Desai. We are proud of IIT and the glory it has attracted abroad. But one does not hear much about what IIT-ians have done within India to help the poor. I am sure they must have... could you tell us something on this, please?
Ashank Desai answers, This is the myth we are trying to break at the Pan IIT 2006 event in Mumbai on December 23-25. We are showcasing more than 40 IIT-ians who have done substantial work in nation building and we have not been able to showcase every one.
Ravi asked, What is the purpose of PAN-IIT? What does it hope to achieve..
Ashank Desai answers, The purpose of PAN-IIT is to leverage power of 7-IIT alumni coming together which is few orders higher than an individual IIT effort. So it is about the power of 7. Following our broad objectives: 1. Nation building 2. Global brand building for IIT 3. Networking amongst alumni 4. Advocacy
Kashyap asked, Mr Desai, what must India do to be able to retain its best talent? What made you stay back in India, even though I am sure the West must have offered you good opportunities?
Ashank Desai answers, India needs to create an environment which inspires, nurtures and motivates professionals to excel in whatever they do. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I found my colleagues in IIM-A and so we decide to immediately start a company as soon as we were out of the institute. So there was no question of my going abroad!
ABC asked, I hear that Mastek is becoming a strong player in the financial services domain, especially in the insurance sector. What are the plans for growth - to provide customised solutions to each insurance player or come out with a suite of products that can be used across regions?
Ashank Desai answers, Mastek's focus is to build solutions in the insurance sector which can be customised to the needs of global insurance companies.
Brinda asked, What is it about IITs that helps produce excellent professionals? Where do other educational institutes go wrong?
Ashank Desai answers, It is about having the best infrastructure and faculty which in turn attracts best of the talent to be a student at IIT.
IITGUY asked, IIT-IT is the success story in most of the cases. Why IITians are ignoring big Manufacturing sector?
Ashank Desai answers, I do not agree with you on this. I know many IIT-ians who have done extremely well. For example, I am personally aware of three or four MDs in the Tata group of manufacturing companies who are IIT-ians.
raju asked, How many IITs are having inter desiplines like Polymer+Electronic, Medicine+Chemistry and when I visted IIT-C i didn't find nothing more advanced when compared to ordinary institutes
Ashank Desai answers, I don't know which IIT you are mentioning here. I am on the Senate of IIT Bombay and quite tuned in to their curriculum. I know that most of the IITs offer inter-disciplinary courses.
Kiran asked, Hi Ashank, it sounds very good to discuss ideas and then talk to politicians and bureaucrats to help transform India? Do you think the govt guys will ever help us? ALl progress that we have made has been possible mostly because of govt non-intervention. The moment we include the govt into any plan it is likely to fail. What do you think?
Ashank Desai answers, It would be unfair to put all the blame on the government. After all, the IITs were started by the government! So is the case with many software technology parks. We cannot make the country grow unless all the stake holders and specifically government is supportive. We need to be work in partnership with the government and not fight with them.
rohan asked, what do you feel about the shortage of IITians in Govt and the armed forces? what can they do to attract the IITians?
Ashank Desai answers, We need to create a vision of a career which inspires them to join these services. This should be based on professionalism and contribution to the country.
PR asked, Hi sir,what is the future in retail industry for mechanical engineers
Ashank Desai answers, I would prefer to answer questions on IIT in this chat.
Ted asked, What would be you advice to people aspiring to join the IITs and the IT sector?
Ashank Desai answers, Have a vision to make India a centre to build knowledge for the world.
Ambuj asked, Sir, President Kalam had recently announced his Vision 2020, which if implemented could catapult india into a developed nations bracket? Is the IIT effort complementary to this? How?
Ashank Desai answers, Preseident Kalam is an inspiration to all IIT-ians. As I told you earlier, he would inaugurate our event and would inspire us in the moment of nation building. We would definitely like to have our efforts directed towards areas which he has identified as priority areas.
aks asked, sir everything u say sounds perfect,i would like to know if there would be any such event of such calibre for young ones,the ones in our country desperately need to be inspired so they can utilise their potential...if not,why not have one soon?
Ashank Desai answers, If you want to get Inspired to Involve and Transform India, then this is the event of the year.
shail asked, sir right now i am working in your company i.e Mastek and currently at Oxford.Why there are very few recruits in Mastek from IIT's.
Ashank Desai answers, Hi Shail, we have quite a fe IIT-ians in senior positions in senior positions (even excluding me!) in Mastek. We would definitely like to have more IIT-ians.
himadri asked, Hello Mr. Desai, Are you happy as to the way this IT industry in general and your company, in specific, has shaped up .
Ashank Desai answers, Definitely, yes. Eighteen years ago, India's IT exports were just $50 million. We now do this much export in less than half a day!
vinayak asked, Sir, mastek comes under top ten sw company. Whats your focus to make it as #1 company in India??
Ashank Desai answers, I would like to focus on questions on IIT as this is a discussion on the PAN-IIT global event 2006.
Jyoti asked, Hi Mr Desai. I liked your interview on rediff some days ago... However, i could not quite understand how will the PanIIT meet help in Inspiring, Involving and Transforming India? Will you hold workshops to apprise IIT-ians of India's needs? Or will you take the summary of these discussions to govt people to get the ideas implemented? Please could you elaborate?
Ashank Desai answers, I have already answered this question earlier on how we will Inspire through experts, Involve by showcasing IITians and making Transformation happen by involving all the stakeholders, including bureaucrats and politicianc. I agree with what you have sai: We will have workshops as well as presentations to the Prime Minister to get his support.
shivabv asked, Sir, will the IITs loose their sheen if more IITs come up?
Ashank Desai answers, I don't think so.
Ranjita asked, Will teh Pan IIT meet also discuss ways to bring IT to the rural India? What do you think can IIT-ians do to help bridge the digital divide in Idnia? ANd what kind of help do you think should the goet provide for this?
Ashank Desai answers, We would be discussing the issues of rural India and digital divide at our event.
Anish asked, Should India have more IITs?...Or should we improve the infrastructure at other engg colleges to global standard...I mean what's in a name?...even though I agree IIT is a brand...
Ashank Desai answers, We definitely need many more institutes like the IITs which would indeed mean improving the infrastructure in other engineering colleges. I agree it is not just about name.
Prashant asked, Sir, don't you feel we need IITans to be more closely involved in the decision making process of India, so decision making does not get restrcited in the hands of politicians who at times have displayed complete lack of vision? Infra.development Banglore is a case point.
Ashank Desai answers, I agree with you. We are hoping to make this happen by organising this PAN IIT 2006 event.
Ashank Desai says, Hi guys! Thanks for chatting with me. We had a very interesting discussionand answered some very challenging questions. All IIT-ians here are requested to register for the event by logging on to

Participate in the PanIIT 2006 Global Conference! Click here to register now!

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