The last day of a PanIIT Meet is usually time to wind down, stop & smell a few roses, settle some accounts (financial & personal), wave good bye to batchmates.... but not in PanIIT 2008! We saved the best for last, and, ultimately, it made perfect "Sen"se...

Ashank Desai speaking on the last day of the conference
A tinge of regret was already in the air as SAC filled up slowly on Dec 21. The Arjun Malhotra-moderated "Knowledge Capture" session was sparsely attended in the beginning, but was beginning to fill up with audience towards the end. By the time the new conscripts to the PanIIT EC were introduced, there was a sizable gathering to cheer them on. The appreciation expressed for Ashank's continued dedication to the cause in the face of personal tragedy was genuine and spontaneous; the groundswell of approbation for Sathanam's stewardship of PanIIT 2008 was quite overwhelming.

Orkut Buyukkokten, Product Manager at Google interacted with students on social networking via live video link
While weather wreaked havoc on Prof. Amatya Sen's flight schedule, nothing fazed Google's link-up of Orkut Buyukkokten via video link-up from the US of A. While the much-awaited two-way live interaction with school kids never transpired due to travel advisories, Orkut's views were still well-received by the net-savvy youngsters in the audience. By the end of the telecast, anticipation was building for Stephen Cohen's encore, and Kishore Mahbubani's maiden appearance on stage. The two entered to rapturous applause, and engaged in lively banter for more than an hour. Kishore pointed out that conventional wars between nations were virtually extinct, while Stephen emphasized the need for think-tanks, including that proposed for PanIIT, to be global in outlook. While Stephen was more cerebral, Kishore was more verbally-daring-a combination that worked to perfection.

Prof. Amartya Sen delivered the valedictory keynote on how IITs, IITians and PanIIT can inspire, innovate, and transform India into a global superpower
As Prof. Sen's delayed entry was awaited, mementos were distributed to PanIIT 2008 Committee Chairs and co-Chairs; a few remaining ones were distributed to tables and foot-stools as well. Ajit Ranade's introduction of Prof. Sen was rambunctious; his quips about Prof. Sen's illustrious Sardarji classmate and about his short-reply to a query regarding what he would do first if he were to be asked to become PM, were quite infectious in their merriment. SAC was filled to the rafters during Prof. Amartya Sen's valedictory address, and during the Q & A that followed. The curtain that was raised on the 18th was finally brought down on the 21st, with thoughts already turning lightly to Chicago in October (venue and timing for PanIIT 2009). For those who hadn't had their fill of campus events, there was the L-RAMP Annual Innovation Awards function at 2 pm in CLT, with Kris Gopalakrishnan as Chief Guest and Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala as Keynote Speaker. As the erudite and handsome (if prematurely balding) Principal Coordinator of L-RAMP pointed out, such programs are the best manifestations of the PanIIT 2008 spirit-they Inspire Innovators to Transform India.

Audience at SAC for TATA CEO's meet
And so, PanIIT 2008 draws to a close. Post-mortems will begin; learnings will be documented. Among the delegates, however, one can sense a feeling of content, that they had shared a wonderful experience. The sporadic frowns were slowly turning upside-down into "What-me-worry" grins as remembrance started to cast a golden hue even to mundane proceedings. Hopefully, these memories will tide us over until our next global gathering. In the meantime, champion a PanIIT cause, as beseeched by Ashank, and become a cause célèbre...
© 2008, Pan IIT 2008 Action Group   
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