The PanIIT Conclave 2010 this week was the meeting ground for India's best minds.
On the beautiful morning of 29 Oct 2010, nearly 3,500 exceptional people gathered at the India Expo Center in Greater Noida. The multitude belonged to an elite club, entry to which is regulated by one of the toughest educational entrance examinations in the world.
However, the club members are better known for their contributions to the global economy and society. It was a celebration of belonging to the Indian Institute of Technology community and being an "Indian" was celebrated the most. The occasion was the PanIIT Conclave 2010 -- an event which brought together alumni from all the 15 IITs and a number of like minded people.
The event kicked off with a recital of the national anthem. President Pratibha Patil addressed the gathering via a video message, and declared the conclave open. The conclave theme was "Sustainable Transformation: Our New India". A number of panel discussions on important issues facing India and the world followed over the next three days.
There were over 100 distinguished speakers from a range of fields including technology, business, government, social activism and journalism. They enlightened the audience about a number of topics including innovation, environment, inclusive growth and climate change. The volume of discussion easily required thousands of pages to record.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigme Y Thinley pointed out that relentless pursuit of GDP growth is destructive and enlightened us about the alternative metric his country has adopted - Gross National Happiness. 'New York Times' columnist and writer Tom Friedman exhorted people of the world to innovate.
Jeff Sachs, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, made us aware of the great weather related risks the world is facing. Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal explained how the government will invest $ 60 billion in improving the education system. RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal shocking insights into how defunct the government's vigilance system is. Also, government representatives from Bhutan, Singapore, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh actively engaged the audience and sought investments, ideas and talent in return for support.
One of the most beautiful undercurrents was the close interaction between the senior members of IIT community and the juniors. Greetings and short conversations led to mentorship, learning, sharing of ideas, business and fun. Even more heart-warming was the engagement with the non-IIT community. Hundreds of guests enjoyed and celebrated with the IITians. It was a great event, efficiently organized by the committee responsible, generously funded by sponsors and well attended by an extremely distinguished audience. Everyone benefited greatly from the event, and went home with this thought etched in mind - "So far so good, but we need to do more!"
(Ali Baqri is an entrepreneur and cartoonist for hindustantimes.com and pluggd.in, Suvomoy Sarkar is Chief Analytics Officer, HT Media, Surojit Ray is a researcher at the Jawaharlal Nehru University)