Talks at E-Summit 2011

The following are two of the many fundamental talks delivered at the summit:

One of the most practical man the world has seen, Mr Sailesh J Mehta (SJM) spoke at lengths about how he came about to be what he is now. Having done his M.S and PHD in computer science, SJM shifted to banking just because he was tired of competing amongst the best all the time. He argued that banking was like the a,b,c of mathematics and where computer science students discuss about non-integer and dynamic programming, most bankers fret over calculating compound interest on a monthly basis. He laid importance to the fact that one need not start a company just on basis of entrepreneurial spirit. Exemplifying his life, he said that he quit his job and started on his own because he wanted to be his own boss and write his own bonuses.

On being asked about when should one decide that ‘ok I have had enough experience and now is the time to start?’ he explained that no decision is a perfect one since a perfect decision is an oxymoron. Every decision has its own risk and it is up to us to decide which ones we are willing to take and when one decides one needs to have passion and a single minded approach to back it up. One more very important point he shared was that we as IITians are arrogant and poor listeners. We have the nasty habit of conjuring up the answer even before the question is posed. While this may not be a problem inside the institute as all of us think alike, it will certainly be considered a threat outside.

The best part was kept for the last. A talk by none other than Sam Pitroda, chairman of National Innovation Council and advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh. He emphasized magnificently the importance of innovation in all walks of life by giving one example of his own life.
The story goes like this: when Mr Pitroda was 33 yrs old, he invited one of his friends for dinner at his home in Chicago. Having a habit to enter everything in his diary, he jotted down the 7.30 pm dinner appointment and forgot about it. Now that day his friend came in late and dear Sam ate his dinner without a clue about the appointment. So his friend comes in at 8.15 pm and there is no food in the house. Without saying a word Mr Pitroda cooked the food again and had dinner a second time with the obvious effect of an upset stomach. So being an electrical engineer he thought about it and felt that his diary should read out to him when the event time and the actual time matched and the rest part of the story is history.

He patented the electronic diary, came to India and tried out various things. But then as life would have it, nothing worked out in India, he lost his US citizenship and had to return on a tourist visa with absolutely no money. There he found out that his idea was being used by most of the major electronic companies without any royalty to him. He asked them for a just share and when they refused he filed a case in the county court. Obviously, all the companies came to the table at the very first and Mr Pitroda made a few million dollars in the process. He emphasized that this was just one of the instants; it was not luck nor destiny but innovation and said that he has filed many more patents such as the pocket wallet and will be waiting to take his share when the world starts using his technology.

Rushabh Sheth