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News & Press: Aug 2011

Giving back to BITS and the tradition of Guru Dakshina

Thursday, August 18, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sukanya Vijayakumar
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Imagine the scenario that we now present to you.... You've had a successful career and you are at its peak, and contemplating retirement or semi-retirement. You have grown-up children and you are an empty nester. You realize it's high time to give back – to society, to the people who made you what you are. What do you do?

The BITS batch of 1970-75 determined that they'd give back to the place where it all started for them. BITS was where they met each other, where they learned the skills of the trade and of life. And the BITS-75 Trust was born.

The BITS-75 Trust started with a noble mission of paying back the debt (even partially) and expressing deep gratitude to their Gurus - professors who taught them at BITS during 1970-75. Guru Dakshina, after all, is the highest form of gratitude. 

The first Guru felicitated was Prof. (retd.) Dr. B. D. Deshpande at the 35th Coral Jubilee Reunion of BITS 70-75 alumni in Oct 2009 at Pilani. Prof Deshpande, was the Chief Warden at the time that this batch was at Pilani – the no-nonsense warden who everyone looked at in awe and who elicited nothing more than whispers from those in his vicinity. He was deeply touched by the gesture, and came to Pilani from Baroda with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren to accept the felicitation plaque and Guru Dakshina at the ripe age of 84. Around 150 families of the batch-mates had gathered for the occasion. But word of Prof. Deshpande’s coming had spread, and people from BITS, CEERI and Pilani town came to meet him in a candid display of affection. Prof Deshpande passed away within 1.5 yrs of this event – thankfully the gesture was extremely timely. 

The tradition continued with felicitations of Prof. (retd.) I. J. Nagrath, Prof. (retd.) Dr. S. K. Sharma, and Prof. (retd.) Dr. R. Roy at the BITSAA Global Meet in January 2011 in New Delhi. Guru Dakshinas are typically Rs. 1 lakh for each professor along with a plaque that is imprinted for posterity with thanks from the batch. 

In the same spirit, when the BITS-75 Trust realized that one of the professors who taught the now-alumni group at Pilani needed urgent financial help for medical care, the group immediately sprang into action. Rapidly communicating via its Yahoo! group and making dozens of phone calls, they raised close to Rs 2.5 lakh in a matter of two weeks to assist Prof. Vaishwanar (mechanical engineering professor, retired in Jaipur) for his heart treatment and urgent medical care.

The BITS-75 Trust was formally registered in India in April 2008 after conceptualization in October 2006. It acquired 80-G tax exemption status in 2010. With relentless fund raising effort by the trustees and its operational team members, the Trust has so far collected approx. Rs. 35 lakh from over 50 members of the BITS 70-75 class that will be used for Guru Dakshinas, supporting BITS students' entrepreneurial efforts ,and many other projects that will give back to BITS and make deep impact. 

More than anything else, the BITS-75 Trust effort is a model for all other batches and groups to follow. We've forged some of our most long-lasting relationships at BITS – why not solidify them in a meaningful way? For information on how to form a trust or for ideas on how you can give back as a batch, contact the Chief Trustee of the BITS-75 Trust (see below).

Hanuman Bengani (Chief Trustee) is currently working as Vice President at BOC India Ltd., a member of The Linde Group and heading Project Engineering Business in India. He received B.E. (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering from BITS, Pilani in 1976. Hanuman is a founding member of the BITS-75 Charitable Trust.
Jagdish Acharya (Trustee) is currently working as Vice President at Truetzschler, India in Ahmedabad, India. He received B.E. (Hons.) in Electronics from BITS, Pilani in 1975, and MBA in Finance from Univ. of Bangalore.
Suresh Sharma (Trustee) is the CEO of Hydro Phi Technologies (www.hydrophi.com) in Atlanta, GA, USA. The company replaces oil and gas with water-based clean energy solutions through innovative and affordable zero-carbon solutions. He received M.S. from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA. (1994), Management of Technology Courses with British Aerospace, PLC, U.K. (1983), and BE (Hons.) in Mechanical Engineering from BITS, Pilani, in 1975.
Vijay Chandru (Trustee) serves as Chairman & CEO of Strand Life Sciences at Bangalore, and is the honorary president of ABLE, the apex body of Indian biotechnology industry. He received PhD from MIT in 1983, MS from UCLA in 1979, and B.E. (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering from BITS, Pilani in 1975.

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