Some people are born for success, and Professor Nanda and Dr. Hariharan (NB: two of the other winners of the IIT Delhi alumni award this year) are examples of it, others aspire to success like the Rt. Hon. Jayant Sinha (NB: Union Minister of State for Finance, a classmate and friend, and an awardee as well), and strive mightily for it and attain it, and some simply muddle their way to it. I belong to that latter category. Nothing from my time at IIT Delhi would have pointed to the fact that I would be here today -no distinguished academic record or research accomplishments, nor a record of student leadership. The fact that I was even at IIT was a product of the times -if you took the feared IIIT-JEE and got a rank, even if it was abysmal, like mine, you joined, because that was the thing to do. So I joined IIT Delhi as an undergraduate, though my first love were the humanities, and at IIT, if I excelled at all, it was in the humanities. But that love of the humanities has stood me in good stead, and given me, if anything, the only advantage I have had in the world of science and engineering; where others think analytically, I think synthetically, and this has allowed me to invent new technologies by borrowing from different disciplines to synthesize new concepts.
I am an experimentalist; I work in a team that I choose carefully, of my students and post docs, and like all team sports, this is their award, as much as mine. I have had a few ideas along the way, but they -my students and post-docs- have improved upon them and added new ones, and done all the difficult experimental work of translating new ideas into technologies. For that, I thank all my current and former students and post-docs, and I share this prize, in absentia, with all of them.