Prof Ananth

I keep listening to many people as a part of my job. I think public speaking in our country needs to be taught on a war footing, because many speakers manage to effortlessly put me to sleep. One exception was this week. Prof. Ananth, former director, IIT Madras. I heard him speak at an event TCS conducted called Sangam, an academia-industry interface. He was superb. He spoke about education- higher education- and its purpose. My IIMB classmate Sandhya who was head of the Research Park near IIT also figured in his talk, but that's incidental.

Here are a few gems from his talk.

On the futility of excessive exams

C. Rajagopalachari once visited us (he narrated), and asked during his talk, "I believe you have exams EVERY YEAR nowadays?,"  looking surprised at it.

On Repetition

The speaker visited the US and heard a pastor giving his sermon. He asked the pastor at the end, "Why did you repeat the same thing seven times?" The pastor told him, "Because, at any given time, only a seventh of your audience is listening." After narrating this, Prof Ananth quipped, "the rest of the time they sleep or do something else."

On Teaching

"Impart the joy for the subject that you feel to the students. They will learn on their own, or from friends etc.. Don't worry about them passing, or covering the syllabus. " I agree.


We teach logical things. Intuition is very important too, but it can't be taught. We hope that students will be able to develop it.

On a Director's Role

Hire brilliant people, leave them alone, and PRAY.. that they will do good stuff. Of course, they may or may not :)


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