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BITS Pilani Rajasthan Prof V Lakshminarayanan Memorial Lecture 2007 – Curtain Raiser
The first Director of BITS Pilani, Prof V Lakshminarayanan (VLN) was a legendary leader. Born in 1906, he came to Pilani in 1946, served the Institute in various capacities till 1970 and left for his heavenly abode in 1984.
By: Dr BR Natarajan
In 1946, Prof V Lakshminarayanan accepted the offer of post of Vice Principal given by the doyen of Indian Industry Shri. G D Birla and the challenge of developing a Birla Engineering college in a remote rural village in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan which was more easily accessible then by believe it or not camel carts.
The only infrastructure available at that time to start the engineering college was a workshop building which doubled as the main administrative office of the college, a gymnasium, a dispensary, a few houses for the staff, some barracks (the campus had been a military base during the second world war) to be used as class rooms, a guest house, couple of basic hostel buildings for the boys and possibly some abandoned prisoner of war camps.
With these humble beginnings, between 1946 and 1960, Prof VLN by his professional stature, technical competence, tremendous energy and will power, human relation skills, single minded devotion to the cause, established, developed, nurtured and raised the Birla Engineering college serving as the Principal to the status of a National Higher Technological Institute well known in the country. The college started with degree programmes in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Master's programme in Electronics was started in 1955. Degree programmes in Civil and Chemical Engineering were added later.
In 1964, Prof VLN played a stellar role in integrating the erstwhile Birla College of Science, Commerce and Pharmacy, Birla College of Arts and Birla College of Engineering to evolve the Deemed University Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. During the early years of its inception i.e. 1964 to 1970, the Institute with the help of Ford Foundation Grant had the advantage of having collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.
BITS adopted the semester system, modular structure of courses, continuous and internal evaluation, letter grading, etc. BITS also went about creating institutionalized linkages with the industries. Over a period of time, the Institute also developed several flexible educational programmes. All these would not have been possible but for the devoted and dedicated leadership and services of Prof Laksminarayanan during the difficult years.
For the year 2007, Prof V Lakshminarayanan Memorial Lecture titled “Biotechnology and Food Security” will be delivered by none other than Whenever and wherever you see Green in India, you think of him Prof. M. S. Swaminathan on Tuesday 18th September 2007 at 5.00 PM at the Lecture Theatre Complex of BITS Pilani.
Recipient of over 50 Honorary Doctorate Degrees, Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Padma Vibhushan Prof M S Swaminathan who was described by Javier Perez de Cuellar former Secretary General of UN as a living legend is Time Magazine’s one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th Century, President of the Pugwash Convention founded by Albert Einstein & Bertrand Russell, Fellow of Royal Society of London & US National Academy of Sciences and holds the Albert Einstein World Science Award 1986, World Food Prize 1987, Tyler Honda Prize 1991, UNEP Sasakawa Award 1994, Planet and Humanity Medal of the International Geographical Union 2000, The Crop Science Society of America Presidential Award 2005, France Ordre Du Merite Agricole (Commander of the Agricol Merit) 2006.
About BITS Pilani: Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani Rajasthan which has set a bench mark in industry university collaboration is one among the top ranking universities in India today offering degrees in various branches of Engineering, Management, Economics, Pharmacy, Sciences, Engineering Technology, Information Systems, Finance, etc presently at Pilani, Dubai, Goa campuses and in the near future at Hyderabad campus apart from an array of work integrated learning programmes for HRD of a vast spectrum of Indian corporates.