Arvind Kejriwal second IIT alumni to become chief minister

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 28 2013, 20:31pm hrs
Arvind KejriwalDelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during his speech at Ramlila Maidan. (IE photo by Renuka Puri)
Arvind Kejriwal is only the second Chief Minister to be an IITian after his Goa counterpart Manohar Parrikar and joins a select group of ministers like Ajit Singh and Jairam Ramesh whose alma mater is the crown jewel of the country's higher education.

A product of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Khargapur, 45-year-old Kejriwal studied Mechanical Engineering and passed out in 1989.

Besides Parrikar and Kejriwal, the other IIT alumni who are among the handful of highly-qualified technocrat politicians include Union Ministers Ajit Singh and Jairam Ramesh.

Parrikar passed out as a metallurgical engineer from IIT, Mumbai.

Like Kejriwal, Ajit Singh, a computer engineer by profession, is a B Tech from IIT, Kharagpur while Ramesh graduated from IIT Bombay with a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering.

Ramesh's fellow IITian Nandan Nilekani could be also following his footsteps in the wake of speculation of IT bellweather Infosys co-founder's likely leap into the hurly-burly of politics during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Speculation is rife that Nilekani, currently Head of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), could be the Congress candidate from Bangalore South.

Interestingly, both Ramesh and Nilekani were both excellent quizzers and were part of the 1975 Mood Indigo team at IIT Bombay.

And the silver-haired and articulate minister with a reputation as a blunt policy-maker could be the man whom Nilekani may turn to for tips, albeit in a different scenario, and he may well oblige.

Ramesh was the man Nilekani tapped when the Infosys IPO was undersubscribed in 1993. It is stated that Nilekani asked Ramesh, three years his senior in IIT, to put Rs 10,000 in the company. Ramesh didnt and calls the move "the single biggest mistake of my life".

Saurabh Bharadwaj and Manish Sisodia, Kejriwal's ministerial colleagues, have an engineering background though not form IIT.

Bhardwaj is a B.Tech in computer science from Bharatiya Vidyapeeth College of Engineering under IP University while Sisodia did his Mechanical Engineering from Jammu.

Ironically, despite being an IITian, Ramesh, who is now the Minister for Rural Development, had kicked up a controversy claiming the faculty of the premier IITs and IIMs are 'not world class' but are 'excellent' because of the quality of students.

Armed with a BSc degree from Lucknow University, a B Tech from IIT, Kharagpur, and an MS from the Illinois Institute of Technology, USA, Ajit Singh worked in the US computer industry for 15 years before returning to India in 1986 to enter politics. Singh is the current Civil Aviation Minister.

Prem Das Rai, the lone MP from Sikkim, has the unique distinction of being the first ever IIT-IIMer in the Lok Sabha.

He is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur (chemical engineering) and IIM Ahmedabad.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan is another IITian who is currently holding top public post. He is a gold medallist in electrical engineering from IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad.

Kejriwal also has a fellow IITian for company in the Delhi Cabinet. Somnath Bharti, who did his MSc from IIT Delhi, won the Malviya Nagar assembly seat under which the campus of the prestigious institute falls.

On one occasion, six IITians, all in their 20s, as a group ventured into politics and also floated an outfit in 2005.

The engineers from IIT Mumbai and IIT Kanpur, all in their 20s, gave up bright careers and handsome pay packages, to launch 'Lok Paritran Party (LPP) in Jodhpur.This party contested in 2006 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in 7 constituencies, but failed to pull crowd and drew a blank.

It Iater witnessed a vertical split and a Bharat Punarnirman Dal (BPD) was formed by a splinter group and came face-to-face in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

LPP office bearers termed the formation of BPD as "unfortunate and a part of political conspiracy".

Kejriwal did not miss an opportunity to address students of IIT Delhi during the course of his Assembly poll campaign in the Capital.

He emphasised on the role of youth in rebuilding India through corruption free politics. He also said the youth of the country have the responsibility to change the country, and it is time for them to join politics.

Janardhana Swamy, a BJP MP from Chitradurga in Karnataka, is another highly qualified politician from the Engineering stream. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering (instrumentation technology) from U.B.D.T. College of Engineering, Davangere, and a master's degree in engineering (electrical communication) from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

As the tribe of technocrat-politicians slowly but steadily increase, leading political parties are also drawing on the latest technologies to gain a competitive edge in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections

In a changing India, where orthodox and conventional methods of preparing for an election are becoming less significant, technology offers parties a new advantage in what is likely to be a closely-fought 2014 polls

"Technology is an important piece of poll strategy and a vital tool in a party and candidate's arsenal," according to Nilekani.