Techfest : Asia’s Largest Science and Technology Festival

Techfest is IIT Bombay’s annual science and technology festival creating a visual spectacle year after year. It is well established as Asia’s Largest Science and Technology festival patronized by UNESCO and UNICEF. With a footfall of more than 135,000 people comprising mainly of the youth from 2500 colleges across India and over 500 overseas, it is also the most liked College Festival in India on Facebook.

Among the attendees were Nobel Laureates and Past Presidents. Interestingly, the festival this year was also attended by bollywood celebrities Sonakshi Sinha and Arjun Kapoor.

A Lecture Series provided a platform for both the brilliant and the blooming to connect and have an interaction of a lifetime.
Former president, Bharat Ratna Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, also known as Missile Man of India, discussed digitization in rural areas.

Maintaining its legacy of having Nobel Laureates interact with the crowd at Techfest, this year Ada Yonath and Kurt Wuthrich, Nobel Laureates of Chemistry delivered lectures related to Medicine and Chemistry in everyday life. Vint Cerf, known as one of the Fathers of Internet spoke on Internet of things.

Other lecturers were Bjarne Stroustrup, Resul Pookutty, Javed Akhtar, Manjul Bhargava, Ryan Germick, R.A. Mashelkar, Silvio Micali, Paolo Giubellino, Marek Gazdzicki, Subhash Khot, R. Chidambaram, Bedabrata Pain.

Exhibitions provided rare avenues to see and experience a wide spectrum of modern technology with a very unique collection of exhibits from across the world.

InMoov (Life full size humanoid robot):
It is able to perceive sounds and noises to see and move, identify the surrounding environment through micro-camera and recognize the voice commands issued to it
Bionico Hand: A Prosthetic arm designed to assist amputees
Beach Bot: World’s 1st autonomous sand drawing robots
Sepios (Cuttlefish inspired marine robot): The only 4 finned cuttlefished robot in the world

Other exhibits were a 20 ft model of INS Vikranth and Artillery Guns (Exhibits from Indian Army and Navy), Tigers Mannheim (Soccer playing robots),Bio-inspired flying devices, Humanoids, Media Arts from Poland(WRO Art Center)and many more

Technoholix: A perfect blend of science technology with the tinge of entertainment. Every year it presents the world’s most renowned artistes & their awesome work.

Snow Storm (Ice Skating Show): Theatrical ice skating performance
Inner Peace: Shadow Performing Show and World Premiere of their 3D Mapping Show.
Thoughts of darkness :- Khawater Aldalam , Winners of Arab’s Got Talent!

“Technoholix” promises to leave you addicted to technology and entertainment with stunning performances like 1st Project, TRONi, Adlelaida.

Ozone: Lighter side of Techfest kept the festive spirit at Techfest alive and kicking. A potpourri of awesome setups, enchanting international artistes, competitions and funky workshops with a tinge of technology.

Setups :
All Terrain Vehicle:- A fast paced, adrenaline pumping driving adventure
Flying Simulator: gives the experience of Virtual Flying, as if giving you wings
Oculus Rift: the next generation Virtual Gaming experience with the 3D stereoscopic view. In addition there was Laser tag, 3D chess, F1 simulator, Paintball, Bungee Run, Body Zorbing

International Artistes:
Zlwin Chew: A well known Malaysian practitioner of magic and mentalism
Kelvin Kalvus: A contact juggler juggling multiple Fushigi balls at the same time
Edgar Groll: A clown, juggler and musician, in short a complete entertainer
Along with Thomas Li Vigni, Matej Kodes, Andrew Csirmaz, BMX or Bicycle Motocross to thrill you with their awesome performances.

Fun Competitions: Soccer Craft , Scavenger hunt, Junkyard Wars & 4-Way Tug of War.
Fun Workshops: Handwriting analysis, Paper Sculpture

With the fields for competitions this year ranging from sustainability and design to advanced robotics to events based on pure sciences, Techfest had something in store for everyone.

Robowars: a game of style, control, damage and aggression with the robots pitting each other in deadly combat.

International Challenge :-Techfest has launched a totally new segment – International Robotics Challenge, International Conference, Techfest International Coding Challenge & Money Ball

Full Throttle:-gave participants an opportunity to build their own IC car and prove their mettle against other racers on the track at Full Throttle.

Other thrilling & exciting competitions at Techfest, 2015 were Technocalypse, Thinker net, Dimensions, Robotron, Xtreme Machines, Algorhythm, Next Gen Tv.

IMG_1593 IMG_1591 IMG_1590 IMG_1523 IMG_1515 IMG_1513

Acknowledgement: From Mumbai, Anuraj Gupta, Aman Mantry and Ketan Acharya contributed to this article

Aditi Kinkhabwala, daughter of IITB alumnus, is a rare breed of Indian women sports reporters in the US

Aditi Kinkhabwala is a reporter for NFL, covering the Super Bowl. She is the daughter of Minesh and Rita. Minesh is a graduate of IIT Bombay (1970 batch) and Rita is a Professor at Rutgers. Indian reporters (particularly sports reporters) are very rare in the US, and women reporters are even rarer. We are all proud of her accomplishments in a hard-to-break arena.

A story by her:
Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount gashes foes, gushes on ‘brotherhood’


A heart-warming story from the dark days of 9/11

Even during the dark days of 9/11,  the good folks in Gander, Newfoundland in Canada showered remarkable hospitality on the stranded passengers on grounded airliners headed to the US. Do read this heart-warming story.

“On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”
“No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately–no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
“While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.
“We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland to have it checked out.
“We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM! …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.
“There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S. After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.” Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.
“The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the aircrafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.
“Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.
“Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
“We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
“Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. Moreover, they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
“About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.
“After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.
“We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
“Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.
“Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.
“Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometre radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
“ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.” Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometres from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
“Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.
“Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbours. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
“Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully. It was absolutely incredible.
“When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
“And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. However, this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.
“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!
“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.
“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a far away place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”
“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.
“God Bless America …and the Canadians”

This story is sourced from:

An NBC Documentary about the same Gander story on YouTube

Science Struggles at the Science Congress

Murmurs were heard about the Indian Science Congress, an annual meeting of top researchers.  Lately, that has turned into a rumble.  The Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vadhan  told delegates that Pythogorus Theorem was invented in India, but Indians let the Greeks take credit.  Other speakers spoke about the alchemy of cow dung, a process of manufacturing gold from bacteria in cow dung.  Claims of inter planetary travel were also made.  Even Prime Minister Modi has said that plastic surgery technology was perfected thousands of years ago, with Lord Ganesha being proof.

We grew up hearing claims of fantastic discoveries  being made in India.  It always made one feel proud.  Science has its own methods though.  Being able to repeat results, backing of claims with facts, openness to scrutiny, challenge and questioning.

The realities are humbling.  State controlled Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has been stumbling on its fighter jet project.  Government controls, red tape and inefficiency are a norm.  The IIT’s are at not immune from pressures from Ministers.  Not long ago the Director of IIT Delhi resigned.  It seems managing science and politics are different skill sets.

R&D budgets are slipping with implications to long term competitiveness.

Check out this article by Dhiraj Nayyar on Bloomberg  and Rama Lakshmi in The Washington Post.


Startup Project : Clean Drinking Water Plant in Dupally, Telangana

By January 16th, 2015, WHEELS GLOBAL FOUNDATION will be inaugurating its 4th CDWP ( Clean Water Drinking Plant) in Eradindi, Telangana.  All of these have been completed in the last 18 to 20 months.  This is one example of how IITB alums in GNY can team up with our fellow alums in India to help and connect with the rural masses.   This model demonstrates that a few dollars go a long way in India.  The project has a matching contribution from multiple sources.

Typically, the model followed is that of GNY alum donating about 60% to 65% of the total cost of Rs 4 lakhs (about USD 6400), Hyderabad alums (mostly Madhu Reddy) will match 15% to 20% and local villagers 15% of the cost.  The Total project costs Rs 4 lakhs on a turnkey basis, to erect a high quality Reverse Osmosis based drinking water plant delivering 1,000 to 1,200 liters/hour of  pure water. Two more plants are planned for Telangana to start up around April/May 2015 and one plant in Agiya village in Gujarat is starting up around the same time.

Due to bureaucratic reasons related to lack of mission statement and charter for IITBAA, formalities in India with respect to transfer of donated funds from US to India for non academic purposes, donors work with the WHEELS GLOBAL FOUNDATION.  WHEELS GLOBAL FOUNDATION is a Virginia based 501c3 non profit organization where Madhu Reddy and Ron Mehta are co-chairs of the W – Water leg of Wheels.

To learn more about the WHEELS GLOBAL FOUNDATION, and the various legs of the WHEELS, Please click here Wheels Global Foundation.

We would love to hear more about water quality and regional differences across the sub-continent.

Acknowledgement: Ron Mehta contributed the content of this article.



President’s Message – A New Beginning

Ron Mehta

President’s Message – A New Beginning

Ruyintan (Ron) Mehta ’70, H5


Dear Fellow IITians:

The entire new team of IITBAAGNY Chapter comprising of

Kicha Ganapathy ’67, H5 – Vice President

Rajindra (Raj) Singh ’88, H6 – Treasurer

Dinesh (DC) Agrawal ’69, H4 – Trustee

Nivvedan Senthamil Selvan ’14, H5 – Trustee

Wishes you and your families a Prosperous, Happy and Healthy 2015 New Year. Ever since the IITBAA movement started in the US, our GNY alumni chapter has been in the forefront in serving the needs of its alums in the greater New York area. Once again, in keeping with our pioneering spirit of being the first amongst our sister chapters globally, we are proud to publish the first-ever, official Chapter blog on this first day of the year

We have also created a Facebook page and a Twitter account to be ever more in touch. Do like, follow and share them with other members.

To borrow from our area’s prime newspaper – The New York Times’ motto “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, our online publication’s credo shall be “All the News that IITB GNY Alums Find Fit to Print”. This blog is your vehicle to express your views candidly – whether you wish to present, preach or pontificate anything related to your beloved alma mater, yourself, your family and friends, your life experiences or just pure bullshit arguments. All we ask is to use your discretion and good judgment and as a courtesy to your readers, refrain from using abusive, insulting or foul language or “hate speech”. Our goal is not to be a Censor, but to ensure that we maintain a modicum of decorum in our interactions with each other.

I personally belong to the “manual slide rule” era, when the ONLY computer at IITB was the Russian MINSK 2 mainframe! To maintain a lively blog we need a computer savvy and dedicated editor.

We are blessed to have our very own and the youngest Trustee our Chapter has ever had – Nivvedan in our midst, who has kindly agreed to be our Managing Editor. He is a 2014 CSE BTech grad and was an Editor for IITB’s student publication – Insight. He is a graduate student currently at Columbia University pursuing a double Masters in Journalism and Computer Science.

He will be ably assisted by our Treasurer, Raj Singh, a 1988 Mech. Eng. BTech grad and now a very successful Trader. Raj will be the Associate Editor for our blog.

As I mentioned above, without being a Censor, we will monitor the content for unacceptable postings and Editorial Oversight will be provided by our Vice President, Kicha Ganapathy. He is a 1967 EE BTech and a Silver Medalist to boot. He is a successful entrepreneur who started his own color technology company after an illustrious career at Bell Labs. He promises not to be a scold and hopes to rarely use his gavel.

Our Chapter has many dinosaurs like me, who rarely read blogs online. But, some of us old timers still do read all emails. So, every month or every other month, our Editorial team promises to take newsworthy blog items and include them in a GNY Newsletter format that we will post as an attachment on the IITBHF/IITBAA monthly newsletter sent to alumni globally. In addition, we may decide to also email that to all known members of GNY chapter.

Any alumni group is only as good as the interest shown by the alums to volunteer, plan and organize events favored by the membership. We urge you to actively participate so, that we can make the GNY Chapter the most vibrant and active one of all IITB Chapters in the world.

A few weeks ago, several of us met and chalked out an ambitious events schedule for 2015. Please see the attached Schedule of Suggested IITBAAGNY events for the year and add in a few more of your choice. So blog away to your heart’s content and make your voice count.

Unique Chapter Blog and Website Launch Nivvedan & Raj 1/1/2015 In progress
Modify existing Database by adding new names now available IITB UG students, HF,Nivvedan Compl. By April 2015 Work study project for IITB/Cooper U. students
General Survey of Likes and Dislikes Uday & Nivvedan 1st Q 2015 Post on blog & Newsletter
Career Fair Networking Event Vinay and Ron 1st Q 2015 Jointly with Manhattan company -FSS
The Young Entrepreneur Kumar 1st or 2nd Q 2015 Jointly with TiE New York
Retired or Soon to retire persons Seminar Ron, Murali, Gautam, UBS & other 2nd or 3rd Q 2015 Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, UBS sponsors
Freshers Night ????? Late August 2015 Meet & Greet new alums and exchange students
Late Spring/Early Summer Picnic All Late June 2015 Pick spot and reserve by February 2015
Business Plan Competition Brij, Raj, Kumar, Ron, others 2nd or 3rd Q 2015 Possible tie-up with Capital IIT & Boston SINE
Alumni High School Graduate recognition DC to lead, Kicha & Mala, Ron Early June 2015 Follow process developed by AIA-NJ Chapter
Distinguished Alumni Recognition ????? Anytime convenient Who, why & where
Diwali/Holiday Dhamaka and Talent Night Chapter Spouses? Oct. or Dec. 2015 Venue & Event Planning need to be fixed
Women at IITB seminar IITB Women alums Anytime convenient Who would spearhead & develop program
Golf Outing & Dinner ????? Summer 2015 Where to hold outing
Cricket Match between younger & older alums Vinay Summer 2015 Where to hold the match
Book Reading on Health care and Travel Anyone interested Early May 2015 Dr. Sandeep Jauhar(Health) & Krish Krishnan(Travel)
Annual Reunion Event All October 2015 possibly To dovetail with IITB 2015 Roadshow
GnYPoint Magazine All Start early for articles GnY Point Magazine widely read globally by IITB alums
Magazine & Annual reunion Sponsors Anyone interested Start early for Sponsors Most critical need to bulk our funds collection
General Note: This is your Chapter. Please suggest any events or ideas to us and we will gladly include them in our list.

Yours in service
Ron Mehta

Note: This message can also be accessed in PDF format here.