Sailing down the river of time, we find it befitting every now and then to slow down and study the distance traveled thus far. To observe how events have unfolded and look at patterns that have emerged. We gather the achievements and highlight them, sieve out defining occasions and commemorate them, seek both grand and unnoticed tales and recite them. We develop a feeling of there being a special quality in the passage of time and decide to mark it; we make arrangements, send out invitations and lay out plans to celebrate it. Jubilees then, in a sense, are crystallizing in a mine over the years, slowly acquiring the characteristics that one day make them desirable enough for us to dig deep and extract them. These we regard as the ornaments of time.As IIT Kharagpur with its undoubtedly long history and significant status welcomes the Diamond Jubilee, a spectacle on a large scale is assured. Close on the heels of the inauguration, the bamboo framework that will support a renovated TOAT’s cloak for the convocation is visible and there’s a buzz about the PM visiting Kgp. Many renowned voices will speak on the impact of IITKgp, and making the best of this time will also involve stepping out of the trees to look at the wood. Important questions such as what the future course of action could be, both at the institute and the personal level, can be asked by the administration and individuals. This is an interesting time to be around.
The Scholars’ Avenue wondered what the previous jubilee celebrations were like: what their memorable features were, which personalities made an appearance and so on. We did a bit of our own mining and came across some valuable nuggets we’d like to share.
Good as GoldWe obtained pictures and documents belonging to the Golden Jubilee celebrations held in 2001 from Prof. Sadananda Sahu of IEM, who coordinated the inauguration and convocation that year. A reading of the calendar revealed that conferences, workshops conducted by various departments and alumni meets were the order of the year. Nobel Laureates delivered Golden Jubilee Lectures.
Murli Manohar Joshi, the then Union Minister for Human Resource Development and then West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee were amongst those present for the inauguration. The Centre’s decision at that time to include astrology in university curriculum was criticised by the CM. Joshi, citing recent Government expenditure on a telescope in Ladakh, retorted that they were “not mixing up astronomy with astrology”, a comment that shot to local fame. The Chief Guest of the 47th convocation was C. Rangarajan, Governor of AP. In his address he discussed technology innovation and diffusion considering an open economy and the important role of the Government and universities alongside private industries.
A number of aspects that have become an integral part of the lifestyle here today were initiated around that time. The SBI ATM, for example. But more importantly, the institute LAN! It was then that the massive project was carried out with help from the IIT Foundation. Academic projects undertaken by the institute included the beginning of the Medical Science and Technology Course and setting up the Ramanujan Complex. Similar to this year, Kgp played host to the inter-IIT in 2001. While Spring Fest was around, the technology fest was an Ideon in place of Kshitij.
The Silver LiningIn a throwback to Nehru visiting Kgp in 1951, PM Indira Gandhi, with her own silver lining of hair, was Chief Guest of the convocation in 1976, the year of the Silver Jubilee celebrations. We found considerably less archives from this period though. One was Director C. S. Jha’s convocation address. The image presented is that of a younger institute, where some of the most remarkable achievements were in experimenting with academics and curriculum. IIT Kgp set up basic science departments, pioneered post-graduate courses and started short-term courses. “Courses have been proliferating, the student population has gone up ten times and the faculty position a little less than so; with the physical facilities trying to keep pace with this tremendous surge forward, the Indian Institute of Technology can certainly be said to have come of age,” he said.
Like a Diamond in the SkyWhat’s it going to take to give you that ‘I was there!’ feeling when you think back to being in Kgp in 2011-12? For starters, the Curtain Raiser will be held on 21st evening in the Tata Sports Complex, where the world’s largest calendar is planned to be unveiled. “The idea is to honour our predecessors and demonstrate our unity,” says Prof. B.K. Mathur. Consider additionally, an eminent line-up of guest lectures throughout the year, including the likes of a few Nobel Laureates, and this could be a very enjoyable experience. Here’s wishing this is cut out to be one brilliant gem of a year.