Pi Tech — October 2011
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IIT Alumni Japan & Singapore
Sanjeev Sinha

The evolving role of IIT in Japan

While India and Japan have had friendly relations, there has been little person-to-person contact and business between the countries until fairly recently. However, in the last decade, with the increasing recognition of India as a global economic power, Japan has taken a serious interest in its neighbor. In February 2003, a few IIT alumni in Japan got together and started a group called IIT Japan. While the IIT community in Japan was small, it did not prevent the alumni from taking on a larger agenda of not just promoting IIT but Brand India in Japan.

IIT Japan hosted dinner receptions for leading Indian personalities visiting Japan, such as Arjun Malhotra, Prof. Sanjay Dhande, and Sabeer Bhatia. The group worked closely with the Indian embassy and sponsored delegations from India. As a result, IIT Japan became the point of contact for India-related public activities.

In mid-2006, IIT Japan worked with the largest newspaper in Japan, Asahi, to help author a series of front-page articles on India by connecting them with IITs, PAN IIT, and TiE organizations as well as senior Indian personalities worldwide. IIT Japan also worked closely with NHK, Japan’s leading TV channel, to create prime-time documentaries on India which also covered the PAN IIT conferences in Singapore and Mumbai.

In 2006, under the direction of Prof. Sanjay Dhande, the IIT Japan group organized a major conference to promote India-Japan relations, called “India Japan Partnership: New Global and Strategic Perspectives.” The conference brought together leading Japanese and Indian figures from academia, industry, policy, diplomacy and the arts. The conference greatly raised the profile of India and the IITs in Japan. As a result of the conference, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked IIT Japan to help connect Japan with one of the new IITs, which led to the current collaboration between the Japanese government and IIT Hyderabad. IIT Japan has also helped connect various Japanese universities and corporations to other IITs.

The recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation disasters in March have provided an opportunity for IIT Japan to play a role in helping its host country of Japan. IIT Japan kicked off an initiative called “Global Indian Friends for Japan” with a major event at the Indian Embassy in Japan on July 7, 2011. This is a chance for the global IIT community to come together to help Japan at this time of crises. Any monetary or material support for the disaster victims from India will have a huge symbolic significance in Japan. As Japan rebuilds, India can also play a role in the infrastructural efforts with both personnel and material support.

Singapore: Home away from home

By ManISha Kalra, Chairperson Media & publications, IITaaS

With a history of 15 years in Singapore, the IIT Alumni Association Singapore (IITAAS) is one of the strong binding forces for IITians in the Asia and Pacific region. IITAAS connects more than a thousand alumni in Singapore comprising of various thought leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs spread across industrial sectors.

IITAAS has been instrumental in hosting professional events, including an extremely successful biennial keynote conference, IIT Everywhere, as well as various social events and initiatives such as Diwali, Family Day, Cricket Matches and Golf Lessons for its member base in Singapore. The IIT Alumni in Singapore aims to establish a global reach through its communications platform including its publications, website and social media reaching out to alumni around the world.

IITAAS has established a professional relationship with organizations of strategic importance, including SICCI, SITF, IIM, TiE, CII and SBF. The relationships it has embarked upon with Contact Singapore and MCYS to attract professional talent from India and to encourage student visits and internships is a classic example of IITAAS helping to increase the bonds between India and Singapore. IITAAS also actively engages in various fundraisers to contribute back to the society in Singapore, India and around the globe.

IITAAS has a dedicated cell for the PAN-IIT collaboration which aims at establishing close ties with the global IIT community and contributing to the growth of IITians. IITAAS participated in the Pan- IIT Conclave held at New Delhi, India, in 2010. IITAAS is targeting to host the Pan-IIT Asia Pacific Conclave in Singapore later this year.