Prof Biswa Nath Datta, Distinguished Research Professor, Northern Illinois University, USA, a great well-wisher of Vidya, whose 80th birthday was celebrated by V-THINC of Vidya with a two-day international conference titled “Meet the Mentor” during 1 – 2 July 2021, has expressed his interest and willingness to establish a Scholarship Fund to to benefit some bright and deserving Vidya students for higher studies in India or abroad. This was communicated via an official email to Dr Sudha Balagopalan, Dea-Academics.
Thank you Prof Datta for your care and interest in the advancement of Vidya!
A detailed write-up on the “Meet the Mentor” programme
“DREAM CAN COME TRUE IF YOU KEEP WORKING AND NEVER GIVE UP”: Prof Biswa Nath Datta
A two-day International Web Conference was organized by and held at Vidya Academy of Science and Technology, Thrissur, Kerala, India, on July 1 and July 2, 2021 under the title “MEET THE MENTOR” to celebrate the 80th Birthday of the legendary INDIAN -AMERICAN Mathematician, PROFESSOR BISWA NATH DATTA and his contributions to interdisciplinary research and education . Professor Datta is a Fellow of IEEE and Distinguished Research Professor at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb , Illinois, USA.
Professor Datta is well-known for his interdisciplinary research blending applied and computational mathematics and optimization with several areas of engineering and applied sciences. During his research career of more than forty five years, he has ben extremely active to promote and advance such research through his books, research papers and lectures at numerous universities , research organizations and international conferences in countries around the world.
This International web conference was held under the auspices of Government of India’s “AICTE (ALL INDIA COUNCIL FOR TECHNICAL EDUCATION) SCHEME FOR PROMITING INTERESTS, CREATIVITY and ETHICS AMONG STUDENTS( SPICES)”. It was organized by V-THINC (Vidya’s Talking, Hearing & Integrating Knowledge Club), a group of First-Year B. Tech students and their Group Tutors, under the supervision and proven leadership of Dr. Sudha Balagopalan, now the Dean-Academics of Vidya .
This two-day conference was attended by about 450 students, faculty and researchers from various parts of the world, including, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia , Mongolia, New Zealand, Portugal, Poland, Russia and USA.
The luminaries who attended the Conference
The people who were personally present and gave talks included : Bibhas Adhikari (India), Safique Ahmad (India), Mark Arnold (USA), Jose Balthazar (Brazil), B. Barsbold (Mongolia), Sanjib Basu (USA), Amit Bhaya (Brazil), Shankar Bhattacharyya (USA), Richard Brualdi (USA), James Bunch (USA), Partha Pratim Chakarabarti (India), Bhujanga Chakrabarti (New Zealand), Raymond Chan (Hong Kong), Raj Datta (USA), Rakhi Datta (USA), Rajeeb Dey (india), Carlos Eduardo Trabuco Dorea (Brazil), Sylvan Elhay (Australia), Daniel Ho (Hong Kong), Luiz Goncalves (Brazil), Leong Wah June (Malysia), Thomas Kailath (USA), Eugenius Kaszkurewicz (Brazil), Pramod Khargonekar (USA), James Lam (Hong Kong), Melvin Leok (USA), Debasattam Pal (India), Alex Pothen (USA), Marcos Raydan (Portugal), Kumar Vikram Singh (USA), Vadim Sokolov (USA), and Kok Lay Teo (Australia).
Several other people who very much were keen in attending the meeting and giving talks but could not do so at the last minute, because of time differences between India and their own countries of residences or for some personal reasons. They included : Dario Bini (Italy), Lothar Reichel (USA), Mark Liberzon (Russia), Eric Chu (Australia), Wen-Wei Lin (Taiwan), Mohamed Ramadan (Egypt), Enkhbat Retensen (Mongolia), Promod Vohra (USA), and Pradip Majumdar (USA), and Abhijit Gupta (USA). Each of these people wrote personal letters of greetings to Professor Datta.
The speakers briefly gave an account of some of the glorious achievements and ever-lasting contributions of Professor Datta and the impact these work have made in the research careers of numerous young and established researchers around the world. Besides, they also briefly talked about their personal interactions with Professor Datta in various capacities, either as a student, a colleague, a co-author or a personal friend. In particular , the following glorious and notable comment was made by Professor P.P.Chakrabarti, the former Director of Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur in his follow-up communication with Professor Datta : “You are an asset to the world”.
Presence of Prof Thomas Kailath
A major highlight of the program was a speech by Professor THOMAS KAILATH , the Emeritus Hitachi America Professor of Engineering , Stanford University, and a recipient of the coveted Government of India “PADMABHUSAN AWARD”. In his talk, Professor Kailath very eloquently gave a brief account of Professor Datta’s life story with a special attention to the extreme hardship that he had to endure during his journey from growing up in a remote village in the State of West Bengal with extreme poverty to his present status as a scientist of international reputation. Moved by his such an unusual life story, Professor Kailath encouraged Professor Datta to publish his Biography which would motivate numerous aspiring students around the world.
Prof Datta speaks
In conclusion, Professor Datta expressed his heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Balagopalan and her dedicated team of students and faculty for organizing this event, acknowledging that it took an extreme hard work and complete dedication to bring so many people together from so many different time zones of the world. He then thanked the audience and the speakers for attending and speaking at this event in spite of the obvious inconveniences caused by the time differences between Indian Standard Time (IST) and the times of their own countries of residences. He remarked that each of the speakers had made some notable contributions in his life and enriched his professional and person life in some way or other and that he was honored and grateful for their love and support in his life. He mentioned how the work of Professors Brualdi and Kailath, in particular, had an impact on his early research career. Addressing the two of his former students, Mark Arnold and Vadim Sokolov, who attended and spoke at this meeting , he said that he was blessed to have talented students like them and was proud of their achievements.
Prof Datta is Indian first!
In expressing gratitude for his native country, he remarked that he , as a mathematician, took an immense pride in the rich mathematical heritage of India. He mentioned that though he spent most of his academic life outside India, he still maintained a close relationship with academic institutes and research organizations in India through his numerous visits, talks , and interactions with the students and researchers over the years.
Some of the institutes he visited are : IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Bombay, IIT- Madras, IIT-Guwahati , IIT-Indore, IIT-Hyderabad, IIT-Tirupati, IIT-Jaipur, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Statistical Institute , Kolkata and Delhi ; Jadavpur University , Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology , Sibpur; Sri Padmavati Mahila VisvaVidyalayam , Tirupati ; NIT-Silchar, NIT-Durgapur, NIT-Shillong; Vidya Academy of Science and Technology, and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing , Pune and Bangalore.
He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to these institutes , and the Government of India and the United States Government for bestowing him with several honors and recognitions which facilitated these visits. These include , his appointment by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of India as a TOKTEN (Transfer of Knowledge and Technology via Expert Nationals) Advisor, the Award of “2015 FULBRIGHT -NEHRU DISTINGUISHED RESEARCH PROFESSORSHIP” awarded by U.S. Department of State and administered by USIEF (United States India Educational Foundation) with IIT-Kharagpur, as the host institute , “the 2017 /208 PC RAY DISTINGUISHED CHAIR PROFESSORSHIP ” awarded by Indian National Science Academy, “GIAN LECTURERSHIP” at NIT-SILCHAR VJTI, MUMBAI , and several other awards and honors by IEEE Kharagapur Section at IIT-Kharagpur and Vidya Academy of Sciences. Professor Datta currently holds an appointment as an “International Visiting Professor “ at IIT-Kharagpur.
He is also a great well-wisher of Vidya. As the Chairman of the four very successful interdisciplinary international conferences , EPSCICON’10, EPSCICON’12, EPSCICON ‘ 14 and EPSCICON’18, all held at the campus of Vidya, he brought together several distinguished researchers in mathematics, engineering and applied sciences from various parts of the world. These conferences immensely helped the students and faculty of Vidya and other institutes of higher education in India to have an exposure to the state-of-the art knowledge in the areas of interests to these conferences and have an effective exchange of ideas with those authorities. He also helped establish the program of CSE (Computational Science and Engineering ) with an initiative and strong support of Dr. Balagopalan. The “PC RAY AWARD” ceremony was also held at the Campus of Vidya during EPSCICON’18 and the award was presented by Professor PRAMOD KHRGONEKAR, a celebrated control theorist and currently the Vice Chancellor for Research and Distinguished Professor at University of California, Irvine. Professor Khargonekar was also the Key-Note Speaker at this conference.
Advise to students
As a mentor, Professor Datta’s message to the students ( as realized through his own life -experience ) was:
“DREAM CAN COME TRUE IF YOU KEEP WORKING AND NEVER GIVE UP” .