It seems the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) are slowly emerging as a hub for Swades or Rang De Basanti-style social engineering, with young members of the formidable global community eager to do their bit for the country. A recent global e-survey conducted by PanIIT — a group of IIT-ians with a national mission — showed that 59 per cent of IIT-ians polled had a keen interest in taking nation-building initiatives.
This included forming teams to take up small projects, building think-tanks to influence policy-making, influencing bureaucrats and politicians through active dialogue and inspiring and involving the general public around the national cause. Incidentally, this year's global IIT meet in Mumbai has innovation and involvement in nation-building emerging as one of the biggest themes.
IIT blogs also reflect the mood, with most IIT-ians wanting an action-packed programme. So, alongside producing corporate personalities like Infosys head honcho Nandan Nilekani or entrepreneur Kanwal Rekhi, one could witness a new crop of IIT-ians contributing in the social or even political field.
“While IIT-ians have served the world's best in most global multi-national corporations, it is time to give something back to India. This is the second largest growing market in the world and with our experience we can enable the government, academia and businesses to come together to build a more equitable society," Rajat Gupta, senior partner at McKinsey and IIT-Delhi alumnus, told HT.
Significantly, the PanIIT credo is "Aao Bharat mahan banaye" (let us make India great). The highest number of responses came from Kanpur IIT-ians- 223 out of 980 -followed closely by Chennai.
"We are looking to address issues that involve bureaucrats, politicians, academia and industry executives, so that India can b ready for the next level of challenges," said Ashank Desai, chairman of Mastek and alumnus of IIT-Mumbai.
In the survey, leveraging technology to find solutions to India's problems emerged as a priority with most respondents (48.7 per cent). The younger lot was keen on entrepreneurship (47 per cent) while the more seniors in the group were in favour of introducing professionalism and integrity in business and government (40.2 per cent). Significantly, rural India was the focus of a fifth of IIT-ians under 30 years.