In the last fifteen years the very names Bangalore and Silicon Valley have become evocative of the important connections between India and the United States in the global IT industry. Historian Ross Bassett argues that the linkages between the two countries are far older and deeper than is widely known. In the course of his research, he found that Indian graduates of MIT, to a remarkable extent, significantly influenced the creation of modern technological India. In the colonial period, a small group of Indians, including some associated with Gandhi, went to MIT as an anti-colonial act and as a way to develop technological capabilities for India. Indian graduates of MIT played a key role in the founding of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), and in the years after 1947, were central figures in the Indian steel industry, the atomic program, and the space program. The Indian IT industry today is to an astounding degree the product of Indian graduates of MIT. Since 1965, Indian graduates of MIT and graduates of MIT once removed---that is graduates of the IITs---have also played an increasingly important role in American technology and computing.
Bassett’s research is based on numerous research trips to India and scores of interviews. For this project he created a database of every Indian graduate of MIT in the 20th century. Bassett has published articles on Indian graduates of MIT and on IIT Kanpur. His work was profiled in the Economic Times of India and he was invited to give to Godrej Lecture in Business History in Mumbai in October, 2009.
CHM’s July 15 “In Conversation With” program will feature Dr. Bassett and T.M. Ravi an IIT graduate, Silicon Valley businessman, and member of TIE discussing the roots of the Indian IT industry and its influence on the computing history.
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