Sunday, June 24, 2007

IISc in News......

Just have a look at this article that appeared on the front page in a recent edition of TOI....

After IIT of excellence, IISc Age to descend on US

In geek circles in India and the west, it's the lesser known, or neglected, elder brother -- a hoary institution that appears to have been on ice for a century while its flashier half-century old sibling scaled dizzying heights of enterprise and fame.

But watch out, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is stirring and flexing its muscle -- and history. This weekend, the Bangalore-based institution founded by Jamshedji Tata in 1908 will celebrate its first global conference in the heart of Silicon Valley, stomping ground for sibling IITians for more than a decade.

Unlike the Pan-IIT meet, which will have Hillary Clinton as a keynote speaker for its July bash, the IISc global convention will not have marquee political names or heavyweight CEOs.

But it will be high-brow alright, with outgoing President Abdul Kalam inaugurating it via video feed on June 22 in what will likely be his last major address to the community to which he once belonged and to which he will return to shortly. The President, incidentally, never visited the US during his term.

Also among the speakers at the three-day meet is James Morgan, chairman of the board of directors of Applied Materials, Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor of UC Berkeley, and R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor.

IISc alumni in the US are only about 4000, unlike IITians, who numbers in the tens of thousands. But then, IISc is also more rarefied - producing only 33,000 graduates in a century and earning a ranking as the top school in South Asia in a recent ''Academic ranking of world universities'' study conducted by the SJTU, China. It also boasts of something IIT has yet to achieve - India's first Nobel laureate in science, Sir C.V.Raman, who was also its first Indian Director.

Just how old is the IISc saga? The story goes that Tata was inspired to start IISc after a chance meeting with Swami Vivekananda aboard a ship taking them from Japan to the U.S in 1893. The IISc proposal was first examined by Lord Curzon in 1898 and it was approved by Lord Minto in 1909.

Although JN Tata did not visit California (he was scouting steel mills in Ohio and Pennsylvania), the heirs of his vision in Bangalore have now decided that they need to be heard in fecund Bay Area, where the buzz is all about IIT.

"IISc has not been known for its branding," says Vas Srinivasan, vice-president for marketing at Sonasoft and IISc alumnus tasked with building the institute's brand. ''When people here think of Indian engineering and scientific talent, they think of IIT not IISc.''

Srinivasan says IISc's pedigree is not in doubt. The institute boasts of some of the top scientific minds in India, and cutting edge research and collaborations with some 150 multinationals, including Boeing, IBM and other US giants. More recently, Indian firms such as Infosys and Airtel also tying into IISc.


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