Around 4000 alumni of myriad IITs from all over the world came together at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California from July 6-8 to participate in the pan-IIT Alumni Global Conference.
Though interesting and thought-provoking Keynote addresses and panel discussions on varied topics covering the vast spectrum of business, social, entertainment, education and other aspects were informative and inspiring and attracted the attendees in large numbers, yet, the most important aspect of the gathering were the informal meetings and greetings by old pals and class mates in a mammoth networking event of sorts.
In his welcome Keynote, Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, the company with the unique distinction of having the most IITians on its rolls, said: "We are investing in industries concerned about solving the issues of scarcity. Besides innovative healthcare and education initiatives, he expressed investment interest in players in energy efficiency conservation, fuel diversity, next generation nuclear power, cleaner technologies, renewable energy, hybrid technologies and eco-driven products."
"We have been able to redeploy $6 billion by simplifying out inquiry to order workflow and we are investing around a billion dollars in companies in China and India. Opinionating about India's economy, he optimistically said: "Indian economy has reached a point that no Indian government can screw it up."
Expressing his views about US partnership with other economies, Immelt opined: "Any nation that can figure out the mutual win-win equation between US and its own economy will be the long term winner."
The same thought though in a stronger political lingo was expressed in the evening closing keynote by Senator Hillary Clinton who addressed the gathering via a direct satellite feed and said that it is interesting that in a conference with the theme of transforming a world through technology, she is reaching the attendees via the medium of technology.
While applauding the IITs for their quality of higher education and the ability of the attendees to think big, she challenged the attendees to work towards keeping and creating key jobs in US and emphasized the need of treating US not just as a market but as an economy that also needs to sustain its health and grow. She reiterated her commitment to the H1-B visa programme but lucidly expressed the need for companies and governments to rethink strategies that promote shared and multilateral gains."
On a lighter note, in a panel titled Bollywood goes main stream in the US, Shekhar Kapur, one of the speakers said: "Unlike Chinese, Korean or Japanese movies, Bollywood has not gone global. We seem to be too satisfied with ourselves. The need is to compete globally and embrace global realities."
He added that entertainment business because of the viewer demographics is moving towards Asia and new delivery mediums like the internet are democratising the film delivery process. He added that India has a rich culture of tales and Indians are great story tellers and thus have great potential to deliver world class movies with universal themes and mass global appeal.
Later in another session on culture and identity, he emphasized the need for Indian techies to look beyond traditional careers for their children by supporting their choices of alternative professions in cinema, sports, art, and others. Consul BS Prakash in the same session also reiterated the need for the Diaspora to integrate with the main stream and enhance their political standing in the US.
In another "off the beaten" track panel on Social Transformation, SN Subba Rao, Founder of the National Youth project, said: "Community work is a great integrating force unifies people, communities and nations.
The diversity of the panels from core business subjects like Is an MBA Required to Succeed in Business and From Engineer to Leader to Clean Energy-Life Beyond Fossil Fuels and Social Entrepreneurship-The New Face of Entrepreneurship were very well represented by the various leaders in their arenas and incited the audience to not only look at personal economic and career goals but at larger societal good.
Several members of the audience posed interesting questions and queries and expressed interest in giving back to their nation of birth and alma maters.
Some of the top Indo-American corporate and academic honchos like Vinod Khosla, Kanwal Reikhi, Rajat Gupta and others also addressed the gatherings and presented interesting insights on myriad topics. Some of the top global corporate players like Google and Yahoo with State Bank of India were the main sponsors of the mega event.