BGM ’11 : This Simply Spectacular event marked a glorious beginning of this new decade
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Posted by: BITSAA Newsletter
At the start of this year, over thirty three 33 media agencies all over the country - top mainlines, vernaculars and electronic channels - all buzzed with the headline, ‘BITSians to Welcome the New Year with a Bang.” The event being referred to was the first ever BITSAA Global Meet, a three-day alumni extravaganza held at Epicenter in Gurgaon. "Over 1200 alumni”, in the words of Mr. CS Goel, CEO of BGM’11 and Gen. Sec. BITSAA Delhi Chapter, "welcomed a new era wherein the world alumni will meet together every year to give back to the alma mater and contribute in transforming the world in an innovative BITSian way.”
The three-day BGM ‘11 kicked off on January 7, 2011, after almost a year of intense planning and huge organizational efforts by alumni, students and various volunteer groups. The meet bore witness to many power-packed discussions and talks centered on the overall theme of the meet: ‘Transforming Society, Enterprises and Academics through Innovation’. Many among the world’s most illustrious BITSians were present contributing their opinions and views on the theme, proving once again how strong their bond to their alma mater is by showing their hearty support throughout the three days of the meet. Some of the eminent alumni who embraced the occasion included Professor S. P. Kothari (MIT Sloan), Mr. Rajesh Hukku(I-FLEX Solutions), Mr. Baba Kalyani(Bharat Forge) , Mr. Prithiviraj Chavan(Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra), Mr. Sunit Rikhi(Intel), Mr. Ashok Pandey(Film Producer-Phas Gaye Re Obama), Mr. Raju Reddy(Sierra Atlantic), Mr. Gulu Mirchandani(Onida), Mr. Harish Bhat(Titan), Professor Rajendra Sisodia(Bentley College), Dr. Ashok Malhotra(Ninash foundation), Mr. Rakesh Verma(Map My India) and many more. Mr. Sam Pitroda graced the occasion as a keynote speaker.
Professor B. R. Natarajan (Dean Nattu), Pro Vice Chancellor of Shridhar University, Pilani definitely had the last word as he said, "We alumni cannot change the latitude and longitude of Pilani but we can keep increasing the altitude of Pilani with our achievements.”
As the topic of discussions were brought a little closer to home, Dr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group and Chancellor of BITS Pilani, in his message to BITS Global Alumni, proclaimed, "We are committed to raising the standard of the BITS Pilani to an Ivy League institute by 2020.”
The most integral aspect of BGM ’11 was definitely the numerous speakers – a mixture of alumnus and various other luminaries who came from all over the world to share their ideas on transforming society, enterprises and academics through innovation. The sessions also included several inspirational talks by students, alumni interactions with the Vice Chancellor, Campus Directors and faculty. Speakers also shared interesting life experiences and anecdotes, making the entire event enjoyable and stimulating.
We put forward the moments in the words of the speakers:
"Together we can transform the very way we solve today’s problems.” – Hon’ble Chief Minister(Maharashtra), Prithviraj Chavan
Dr. K.M. BIRLA
The Host for BGM 2011, Dr. K.M. Birla addressed the gathered and welcomed them on the very first day of the Meet. He assured everyone of his unwavering support to promoting excellence in BITS Pilani. He also talked about how he feels that BITS will reach Ivy League standards by 2020.
The most famous BITSian in national politics, Prithviraj Chavan needs no introduction. He has held five portfolios, the most in the UPA government and has become one of the most well known faces in the country ever since he became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra last year. After graduating from BITS, Pilani, he obtained his Masters degree from the University of California. Interestingly, Chavan has been credited with research in introduction of computerisation of Indian languages.
Mr. Chavan's speech at the BGM was enlightening to say the least. He started off reminiscing about his BITSian days ("I.J. Nagrath Sir was my first warden, a strict disciplinarian.”) and went on to talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur. He shared the story of how he got into politics, and the rather sudden portfolio of Chief Minister of Maharashtra. ("I got a call from Janpath at midnight, and I knew that it was settled.”)
"It was truly a great experience to hear him speak,” said one particularly enthused student. "And most of all to see this famous politician interact freely with current students, alumnus and dignitaries alike.”
About BGM and future global meets, Minister Chavan said that "BITS Pilani always imparted best in class education with emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. This is an opportunity not just to return to my Alma Mater, but to society itself. The global alumni meet is a platform where all of us can come forward and help in nation building through innovative mechanisms. Together we can transform the very way we solve today’s problems."
Sam Pitroda, head of National Innovation Council (NIC), widely considered the father of India’s communication revolution was a keynote speaker of BGM ’11. A telecom engineer and an entrepreneur, he has several patents and a wireless payment start-up (C-SAM) to his credit. The Padma Bhushan award in 2009 heads the long list of awards and honours conferred on Pitroda.
With a personage such as Pitroda, a passionate believer in the potential of technology in societal transformation, speaking at the BGM, its theme, "Transforming Society, Enterprises & Academics through Innovation” received a truly apt tribute.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister, made a poignant point as he said, "The top brains of the country are busy solving problems of the rich, who have no problems, whereas problems of people who really need help go unattended. If we want things like literacy and education to make sense, we need to reach the grassroots and reach out to people below the poverty line."
PROF. B.N. JAIN
Vice Chancellor Professor B.N. Jain addressed the gathered participants numerous times over the three days of the BGM – as part of the Panel Discussions or an independent address. He shared with the audience a truly inspiring vision for the institute and how the alumni can be a part of making the same a reality. He announced on the second day of BGM ‘11 that BITS Pilani will invest Rs.100 crores in next six years for primarily four initiatives, namely - Chairing professorships, Under Graduate Freeships, Towards improvement of ‘life on campus’ for students, (including sports facilities) and a signature building at Pilani to house research labs – ‘Centres for Excellence’. His vision was truly heart-warming and the audience clung onto his every word with rapt attention.
In addition, the music, dance and mime performances by over five decades of BITSians provided a perfect atmosphere at the action packed event to relax and reminisce. The ultimate quizzing event – Battle of Brain of BITS ensured that there was something for everybody at BGM. The trip to the Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon added to the magical voyage, allowing alumni to ‘bond’ BITSian-style and network on a more informal level. Finally, the meet wound up with the perfect touch – a real "trip down memory lane” to Pilani, where all the stories began so many years ago. The massively successful BGM ’11 achieved exactly what it set out to do – provide a platform where the best minds of India could meet, relive a little of their history and discuss issues that will change the world. On behalf of the BITSAA network, and all the alumni of BITS, Pilani, we hope this will be the first of many such global meets.
BGM ’11 was definitely, in the words of Mr. CS Goel, CEO of BITSAA Global Meet 2011 and General Secretary of BITSAA Delhi Chapter, "a defining moment for over 30,000 alumni of BITS Pilani, Dubai and Goa campuses who are spread across 80 countries.”
(Special thanks to EPC, BITS - Pilani for their contributions to this article.)