If it werenft for one Indian scientist, we may not have been able to watch the World Cup on our big screen TVs or enjoy Korean dramas on our computers.
Dr. Arun Netravali (60). From 1999 to 2001 he was the director of Bell Laboratories, which has been called the gMind of Americah and has produced 11 Nobel laureates. He was the first Asian to hold this position.
His 1979 thesis on how to efficiently compress video data would be a huge force in the digitalization of video. The outcome of his continued research at Bell Laboratories on gmaking a cheap video phone that even poor people can use freely to communicate.h led to DVDs and televisions with higher definition.
Yamagata University professor Toshio Koga, who was researching the same field at NEC at that time, explains, gThat thesis excited corporations and universities around the globe, and spurred more research.h
Currently, Dr. Netravali is running a fund that invests in telecommunications start-ups, while still doing 10 hours of research a day. gI believe that we can connect people across the world more freely. My true breakthrough is in the development of new technology for that purpose.h
On the lakeshore of a suburb in Indiafs second largest city of Mumbai stands the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay (Mumbai). On its lush 200 hectare grounds there is not only the school itself, but also housing for the students and teachers and a school for their children. Dr. Netravali, who comes from a small town in the south, graduated from here in 1967, at a time when color TV broadcasts had not even begun yet.
gIIT is a symbol of Indiafs possibilities.h (Professor M.G.K. Menon, Former Ministry for Science and Technology). In 1950, the first school was built in the eastern region of Kharagpur to train elites. There are now seven schools, including schools in Mumbai and Delhi. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) served as a model.
Students from every region of India are gathered here, living in dorms and studying. This spring some 300,000 people applied for admissions at the seven schools, but only 5,000 gained admittance.
The 100,000 or so graduates share a strong sense of a common bond. Half of them look to North America for employment, with about 40,000 in America.
Mainly in the IT field entrepreneurs Mr. Rajat Gupta, who was the former head of the American consulting firm McKinsey & Company and the advisor to Secretary General Kofi Anan on U.N. reforms, and Mr. Vinod Khosla, founding chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, stand out.
At the alumni conference held in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada at the end of June some 300 people gathered from fields such as the United Nations, the Canadian government, Stanford University, IBM and Motorola etc.
The Indian entrepreneurs, mostly IIT graduates that have been successful overseas, even began teaching younger members their know-how. One result of this was the launch of the NPO, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in Silicon Valley in 1992.
There are many seminars, at which the experienced entrepreneurs and investors are the gcatalystsh for the younger members wishing to start their own businesses. There are over 10,000 members, with chapters in nine countries and 44 cities. There are even plans to open a chapter in Japan.
Hotmail, the pioneer in free e-mail, is a prime example of a company born of TiEfs activities.
Mr. Sabeer Bhatia (37), who was aiming to start a business after working at Apple Computers, started Hotmail in 1995 with capital from investors he knew through TiE. Its rapid growth caught the eye of Mr. Bill Gates, who acquired it in 1997 for Microsoft. Looking back, he says, gTiE inspired me to go out and do something on my own. I also met my mentor at TiE.h
He is currently involved in planning a gNano Cityh in northern Haryana that would pool IT and bio-related businesses together to give to India a ggrowing sustainable city like Silicon Valleyh. This is Sabeerfs dream.
India, with 1.1 billion people, is showing the world its remarkable development. The source of that power can be found in the ties of people and things that bind India with the world. (Akihito Sugii)