Archive for the ‘My views on people’ Category

Felicitations to Professor V Rajaraman

November 1, 2009

Indian Institute of Science had organized a Felicitation Ceremony on October 31, 2009 to honor Professor V Rajaraman who served IISc as Professor (and Chair of SERC) from 1982 onwards. Professor Rajaraman turned 75 some time back.

It was nice to see Prof Rajaraman and Mrs Dharma Rajaraman seated in the dais along with IISc Director P Balaram and Associate Director N Balakrishnan

There were a number of his former students (Prof Somnath Biswas and Rajat Moona of IIT Kanpur, Prof Govindarajulu of IIIT Hyderabad, Dr Om Vikas of DoE, for example), colleagues (Prof H Krishnamoorthy, Prof Govindarajan of IISc (SERC) and Prof HN Mahabala of IIIT-B, for example)

I had interacted with Prof Rajaraman briefly during the 3 years we were together at IIT Kanpur. He was of immense help in the early days of IIIT-Bangalore; he was also the first External Member of IIIT-B Senate.

I wish Prof Rajaraman & Dharma many long happy days ahead

US continues to bag a major share of Nobel prizes

October 31, 2009

October is the month for Nobel prize announcements. Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Peace and Economics Nobel prizes announced one after another had 11 out of 13 winners from USA. Isreal in Chemistry Nobel and Germany in Literature Nobel were the only countries outside USA. Of course one of the Chemistry Nobel prize winner (Venky Ramakrishnan) is of Indian origin (in fact from my part of the country!). The surprise this time surely was the Peace Nobel for President Obama when he has not even completed nine full months in his office!

Prof Venky Ramakrishnan of Cambridge gets 2009 Chemistry Nobel

October 7, 2009

Prof Venky Ramakrishnan of Cambridge University gets the Chemistry Nobel for 2009 for the structure and function of Ribosome

He is the fifth India-born scientist to win Nobel Prize. Other than Sir CV Raman who won the Nobel Prize in 1930 for molecular splitting of light and Raman Effect, the other winners are naturalized citizens of USA

  • Prof Hargobind Khorana won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in the year 1968; he was a molecular biologist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison then
  • Prof Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for the theoretical structure and evolution of stars; he was at the University of Chicago then
  • Prof Amartya Sen won Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 for his contribution to welfare economics; he was at Harvard University then

Interestingly, just in the afternoon Prof PK Ghosh (Retd) of IITK gave a talk in IIIT-B about biological molecules and mass spectrometry where he talked about Ribosome (I heard it for the first time!)

Another coincidence; Dr Venky Ramakrishnan happens to be the cousin of Professor SV Sankaran’s wife; Prof Sankaran currently with SAP is an active IEEE Office-bearer in Bangalore; he spent 3 years at IIIT-B!

Jayant Haritsa gets Bhatnagar Award

September 26, 2009

In today’s announcement of 11 Bhatnagar awardees, there is one Computer Science person, Prof Jayant Haritsa of IISc well-known for his key contributions to database research. He does proud to the IT community in India

Kite, Arrow and Memristor: Breakthroughs of 125 Years of IEEE

August 29, 2009

It was heartening to see IEEE President Dr John Vig releasing this book today morning (August 29, 2009) in Bangalore. The book is authored by 7th Grade kid Mr. Anshul Roy of Ahmedabad, India!

Using a simple style of 1-page for every one of the 125 years, the book is tastefully done.

I was so thrilled to see the unassuming author and his proud mother; got the book autographed by the author. Hope to see him as M Tech student ten years from now!

Phatak gets “Water Prize”

August 17, 2009

Dr Bindeshwar Phatak famous for his “Sulabh Movement” and “Sulabh Souchalay” was named the winner of Stockholm Water Prize for the year 2009. The announcement was made today (aug 17, 2009)

Hailing from Patna, Dr Phatak demonstrates the fact that one can innovate even in unusual places like “dirty toilets”

The water efficient Sulabh toilets numbering more than 1.2 million across India truly changed rural sanitation; His 7,500 strong “pay and use” toilets serve nearly 10 million users every year; by using just 1.5 liters in place of 10 liters of water for every flush, Dr Phathak’s toilets save a lot of water too

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Peace Prize 2007

July 26, 2009

On Saturday July 25, 2009, Indian President Pratibha Patil handed over the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace (2007) to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at an impressive ceremony in Delhi.

The prize was received by the  Chairman of the Foundation Mr Bill Gates, the legendary Chairman of the hugely successful Microsoft Corporation. 

Speaking on the occassion, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh mentioned that among the 23 receipients of the Prize, it is the first time a business leader is receiving the prize; he also talked of the transition the visionary leader has undergone –  from a CEO of a hugely profitable company (currently with an annual turnover in excess of $ 60 billion) to a leader with a missionary zeal to wipe out the poverty particularly among under-developed countries; and, the goal of the Foundation – to provide equal opportunities to the children of the under-developed countries at the same level that children in developing countries enjoy – something as futuristic as the vision of Mr Bill Gates way back in 1976 when he co-founded Microsoft – to put a computer in every desktop!

Nandan Nilekani takes charge as Chairman, UID Authority of India

July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009 is a special day. Nandan Nilekani assumed charge on that day. This is truly a transformational project; Nandan is an outstanding “doer” who can get many people to work together.

We all look forward to the unfolding of this exciting project over the years

Interestingly July 20/21, 1969 is the day that Apollo 11 team accomplished the “man landing on the Moon” milestone.

40 years of Moon landing

July 20, 2009

July 21 (IST) we celebrate the 40th year of the the unusual milestone in scientific endeavor – landing on the Moon surface by human being. As part of the Apollo 11 project of NASA, two American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin set their foot on the lunar surface on this day in 1969.

For many of us it is also a special day; we all remember vividly as college students hearing the extra-ordinary Radio broadcast of the famous statement “One small step for man; a giant leap for mankind” live from the Moon that is quarter million kilometers away; at our age when I was just 17, that moment made deep impressions on us.

I went to Purdue University in 1976; Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University; more interestingly, I was at the School of Industrial Engineering that was physically located in Grissom Hall (along with Aeronautical Engineering School) – named after another astronaut Grissom!

I joined IIT Kanpur in 1979; I was pleasantly surprised to find a sample of Moon soil carefully kept and displayed in the IIT Kanpur Library (as part of Indo US scientific exchange)

John Hopcroft on the future of Computer Science

July 15, 2009

It was nice listening to Turing Award (considered as Novel Prize in computing) winner and Cornell Professor John Hopcroft at Infosys today (2:15 – 3:15 PM on July 15, 2009).

The erudite professor well known for his contribution to theory of computing (and the widely used books on Automata Theory) was emphasizing the need for Computer Science researchers to look at the challenging problems of tomorrow i.e., next 30 years and not  remain comfortable with computer science of yesterday, i.e., past 30 years.

As far as the learned professor is concerned, operating systems, programming, networks and databases belong to yesterday’s computer science, while random graphs, giant computer networks, sensor networks are some of the topics of tomorrow’s computer science.

He also talked of the way publishing will change; he cited the example where young researchers refusing to publish in journals that did not allow indexing by search engines (Google & Yahoo) forced the publishers to allow indexing by search engines.

He gave examples of future search options.

It was an enjoyable event; it was nice to see the large hall overflowing with several people sitting on the floor (including me, though after a while Tan Moorthy, Head, E & R, found a seat for me)