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Message from Prof. Ajit Kolar on the 55th Anniversary and 56th Inauguration Day of IIT Madras (July 31, 2014)

Dear Alumnus/ Alumna,

As a salute to 2014 being the “golden anniversary” of the 1st batch of graduating students, here’s an excerpt from an e-mail circulated by our resident historian, Prof. AjitKolar, on July 31:

Dear Friends,

Suprabhaath !I am happy to inform you that today, 31 July 2014, is the  55thAnniversary and 56th INAUGURATION DAY of our Institute!!                        

On this joyous occasion, please accept my greetings and join me in wishing Many Happy Returns of the Day to our Alma Mater !

On this day 55 years ago (Friday, 31 July 1959), Prof. Humayun Kabir, Minister of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs, Govt. of India, formally unveiled the “inauguration stone” of IIT Madras in a “function held in a spacious and decorated pandal in Guindy attended by a large and distinguished gathering”, thus formally “founding and inaugurating ” our Institute. This function was held in the space between the CLRI and the AC College, probably in the vicinity of the present day traffic signal at the head of the Kotturpuram High Road. This stone was located for a long time in front of the HSB and is presently in the IITM Heritage Centre. There is a replica of the stone in front of HSB today.

There are no photographs available of this momentous occasion. Even The Hindu and The Indian Express did not publish photographs but filed only written reports in their 01 Aug 1959 issue. According to the reports, “Sri BishnuramMedhi, Governor of Madras, Sri A.L. Mudaliar, Chairman, BoG of the Institute, Herr von Heyden, West German Charge de |Affairs, New Delhi, Sri C. Subramaniam, State Finance and Education Minister were the other distinguished speakers of the evening, in addition to Professor Kabir. Prof. R. Krauss, Germany’s Special Commissioner for the establishment of IIT Madras, flew to India from Germany to participate in the inaugural function. Sri L.S. Chandrakant, Special officer, proposed a vote of thanks.” The newspaper reports also give a brief summary of each of the speeches. Prof Krauss was the first Head of Mech. Engg department in IIT Kharagpur, the eldest of the IIT family.

The seed for IITM was sown in distant Bonn, the then capital of Germany, on 16th July 1956, when an agreement was signed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Chancellor Konrad Adaeneur and President Heuss, the First Trimuvirate of IITM, to start a “technical teaching institute” in India. Lot of water flowed in the Kaveri and the Rhine between then and 31 July 1959, with many technical and official teams from both countries meeting umpteen times to hammer out the minute details, before the Institute became a reality. Madras, that is Chennai, was selected as the South Indian city where this third member of the IIT family would be located for which Sri. Kamaraj, the then CM of Madras State, with the full support of his farsighted ministers, Sri. C. Subramaniam and Sri. R. Venkataraman, graciously offered this huge expanse of serene greenery with variety of flora and fauna, an oasis in the bustling city, to the Govt. of India to house the Institute.

All of us, who are fortunate to have earned the chance to live in one of the most beautiful campuses in the world to pursue our teaching, learning and research careers, are inheritors of  an ambitious dream of a host of  dedicated planners, founders and builders, the retired faculty and staff , proud alumni and our well wishers. Let us rededicate ourselves on this Happy Birthday of our Alma Mater, to the onerous but exciting task, and duty, of making that dream a reality, the dream of becoming the truly top-most academic institution in the world!!                                                                                                                            

(PS: 28 Dec 2014 is the 50th anniversary of our Stadium which was thrown open to use during the inauguration of the Third Inter IIT meet, the first at IITM, by the Nawab of Pataudi)