I finished my B.Tech and passed out of IIT M in 1967, when the communication channels were not as good and swift as they are now and, therefore, frequent connects with the Campus or other students and alumni were not really possible.
Our batch of 67 and a few friends from the batch of 68, however, maintained contact and met occasionally whenever it was possible. Since several of my batch mates had gone to USA for further studies and continued to work there, I had made it a point to meet them whenever I traveled there.
The thought of a Delhi Chapter of the Alumni association came up in late 1991 or early 1992. I must give the entire credit for this to Sameer Sharma of the 1990 batch, who contacted me over the phone, with this idea. By 1990 the IITM Alumni Association was strong enough to have regional chapters formed, and all the recently passed alumni knew. The batch of 67 remained oblivious for a long time.
My involvement in my business at that time would not have permitted me much time but Sameer assured that he was willing to do the spade work, and just required assistance and backing to set up this Chapter in Delhi. So I agreed to help its creation.
Some friends from the batch of 67, most importantly my close friend and neighbour Harish Seth, joined in and we registered the Delhi Chapter after getting some names and addresses from the Institute to start communication. We also put up a small advertisement in the leading daily newspapers for our first meeting which took place on 13th March, 1992 at my house. Ramesh Vaswani from the batch of 1965, was chosen as its first President and Sameer Sharma was the obvious Hon. General Secretary. It was a great success. I do not have the exact numbers, but I recall that 80 to 100 alumni attended, which reaffirmed our belief and faith in having made the effort. All former students look forward to get together occasionally to refresh their memories of the wonderful time spent in the campus, and this was very obvious at the meeting.
Subsequently, annual functions were held and Sameer, who was extremely good at computers and had started a business of his own in software, managed to compile all the data, names and addresses and kept updating the same. He does that even now!
As a matter of habit, I take pleasure in making people succeed, and was never ambitious to be the President or an office bearer, and hence became and remained a mere member of the Managing Committee and have been helping Sameer each year, to organize these functions. Several Presidents have come since then and brought in different flavours.
Last year the Managing Committee members, who are all past Presidents and some others who have been actively engaged in the Delhi Chapter right from the beginning, and who are all dear friends, pushed me into taking up responsibility of being the President!
There is not much to be done, truly speaking. We have tried in the past to put together talks and meetings during the Delhi visits of the IITM Director. But it never proved to be a huge success. We realized some years ago that it is best for an association like ours to meet only annually at a get together to bring back and relish our memories of what we have in common – the days spent at IITM. There is always a pressure to make this annual get together a success and to push people and to remind them constantly about the date set to ensure that we have an attendance of about a 100 people. Thus far, each get together has been an occasion to remember. We have always had these get togethers at lunch or dinner at a nice place in Delhi with drinks and fine food so that our spouses can also enjoy the time spent together and befriend our friends and their spouses.
The effort has been worthwhile, which is a driving force and keeps me going. The 9th of February this year, we will be holding the 23rd annual get together. I must admire the present Director, Mr Bhaskar Ramamurthi and the Dean, International and Alumni Relations, Prof R Nagarajan as well as the officer in charge, Mr Suresh who have made it a point, for the second year in continuation, to attend our annual get together. The President of the Alumni Association at Chennai, Mr V Gopinathan has also been a constant support and has attended the functions. In fact, the institute has been generous in bringing gifts for the attendees, in the form of calendars and carry bags which we all relish very much.
I have no doubt that the Delhi Chapter will continue to flourish because a number of youngsters have come up, who are showing keen interest, and the leading ones amongst them are Prashant Pitti – Batch 2005 and Anjali Bhide – Batch 2007. There are others from IITM who have a good network and assist in making calls and sending messages to spread word of our annual event which include Nitish Garg, Jithin Sam Varghese and Bhavya Bala. One thing which ensures that this system of annual get togethers will continue is the keen interest of the younger lot, and the pleasure to meet each other at such occasions.
– Ashok Khanna, is the Co-Founder and now the Vice Chairman C&S Electric Ltd. (formerly Controls & Switchgear Co. Ltd. & Group Companies). He graduated from IIT Madras in 1967 with a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering.