By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Dec 5 (IANS) Ever since a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), Parag Agrawal, created waves by becoming the new CEO of Twitter Inc. last week, the focus is back on the renowned 63-year-old institution, its education strategies and the jewels in its crown.
One such IIT-B alumnus is the unassuming but powerful Shankar Jadhav, the Managing Director of BSE Investments, the holding arm of BSE, and Head of Strategy at the 146-year-old Bombay Stock Exchange, Asia’s first and now among the biggest in the world.
After his SSC from St. Mary’s High School, Mazagaon, and later the St. Xaviers College, Jadhav passed out as a B.Tech (electrical engineering) from IIT-B in 1989, and later joined the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, for his MBA in finance and marketing, passing out in 1991.
Over three decades later, the 52-year-old corporate honcho has many fond memories of his days, his academics, seniors, professors and staff at the IIT-B.
Like most new entrants, Jadhav also came to IIT-B with just a bedsheet and a 2-in-1 Fisher music player, and initially, spent his nights on a hard wooden bed on loan from a co-inmate, but took it in his stride, having been a hard worker and a capper all through his academic career.
He smiles as to how getting into IITs is still considered a big deal by the people, with their whole families feeling puffed-up of the “IIT-ian whizkid” in the clan!
“After entering IIT-B, one realises that there are ‘brains or geniuses’ from various parts of the country, either in college, university, district or state level. Its like a topper in a pond jumping into an ocean of toppers! This truly has a sobering effect on you as you get down to making the ‘mark’ in one of the most prestigious institutions in the world,” Jadhav told IANS.
On the apprehensions that IITs are stern, ‘crack-the-whip’ style of educational institutions where all students are dull, bookworms, unsporting and sporting thick spectacles, Jadhav smiled and said it is actually quite different from the general perception.
“Here we got well-rounded education… During my electrical engineering course, I also learnt prose and poetry, sociology, psychology, along with discipline and humane aspects, plus a lot of extracurriculars like kungfu, sports and games on the campus,” he pointed out.
The most striking aspect of the teachers and professors was that “they helped you to love the subject”, which enabled the students to grasp things easily and also brought out their performance, explained Jadhav.
“I was among the fortunate few in 1989, who worked on the CRAY Supercomputer at IIT-B — at that point of time, just one of the two in the world (the other in the US) – soon after late PM Rajiv Gandhi ushered in the ‘computer revolution’ in India. That’s the kind of encouragement students get from their professors and staff,” said Jadhav with a tinge of gratitude.
He said even the senior students — once reputed to be notorious for merciless ‘ragging’ of their juniors — managed to teach the greenhorns a lot during their raw years on the 550-acre forested campus at Powai, north-east Mumbai, with leopards prowling around.
“There was ragging by seniors in those days, but it was of the decent and fun kind. It was a learning, bonding experience, which helped us in our academics and even later in our professional lives,” Jadhav recalled.
However, after certain tragedies and social concerns, ragging is now banned in all campuses in India and even at most institutions abroad.
Upon completing the rigours of IIT-B education, Jadhav said “one steps out in the world a shade above the rest, but very humble and down-to-earth”.
“Yes, we are very equipped to face the world confidently, are veritable ‘problem-solvers’, environment-conscious, socially-oriented, yet remain extremely modest… Most IIT-ians chose to fly abroad, especially in those days,” he said.
The IIT-B reputation precedes them wherever they land, especially in the US, where “once you say you hail from IIT-B, no further questions are asked”, and offered great remunerative packages too.
A recall of the blockbuster ‘3 Idiots’ (2009), where the happy-go-lucky protagonist (Aamir Khan) harps on ‘Kaabil Bano, Kaamyabi Peechhe Daudegi’!
Jadhav lives in Mumbai with his wife Urmila, who’s engaged with child welfare, son Aditya – an IITB and IIM-Trichy graduate working with ICICI Bank – and collegian daughter Akanksha.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)