Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022
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The Best And The Brightest

Near-complete autonomy and a fanatical focus on quality make the IITs the cradle of some of the world's best talent

A radical thought, but worth considering. What was Jawaharlal Nehru’s greatest gift to the nation? His economic policies lie discredited, most of the public sector behemoths he created look like elephants thrashing about in quicksand, our democracy struggles with the dynasty he left us with, the Non-Alignment Movement is a joke, his five-year plan system a travesty, and Kashmir festers. So what is the one unimpeachably visionary, unquestionably positive thing that he left us, something for which we should be grateful to him?

A radical thought, but worth considering: Nehru’s greatest gift to his nation was the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).And the world seems to agree. IITians today head some of the biggest corporations on earth. To name only a few: Rajat Gupta (IIT Delhi) heads the world’s most famous management consultancy, McKinsey & Co; Rono Dutta (Kharagpur) is president of one of the world’s biggest airlines, United Airlines; Dr Arun Netravali (Mumbai) is president of Bell Laboratories, the world’s finest electronic research centre; Vinod Khosla (Delhi) was co-founder of Sun Microsystems and is one of the most powerful men in Silicon Valley; Gururaj Deshpande (Chennai), due to the massive valuation of his start-up Sycamore Networks, is one of the highest-net-worth Indians on the planet. Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest young stars are IITians. When Valley legend Jim Clark (co-founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape) decided to transform the US healthcare system with Healtheon, he had a simple strategy: recruit as many IITians as he could find.

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