The loss of vision did not come in the way of completing the PhD for K Sriram, who was one among the 1,536 students who received their degrees on Friday at the IIT-Madras campus here.
It was the perennial presence of role models like his father V Kalyanaraman, a lecturer in the civil department in the IIT-Madras campus where he grew up that motivated him. An alumnus of Loyola College and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, he suffered a partial loss of vision at the age of four, and went entirely blind in 25. His area of research is multi-disciplinary - sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.
The disability, however, has not deterred him a bit. All along he has been writing articles on his topics of interest and associated extensively with non-government organisations. He elaborates that it was the urge to give back to society that led him to opt for the course.
Obtaining the degree, he explained, was a humbling experience. “I have realised that the more I study, I know that there is still an ocean out there to be learnt. I need to help the visually-disabled and make a difference in their lives. No disability can stop you unless you consider it to be one”, he said.
Earlier, president of Carnegie Mellon University Dr Subra Suresh, an alumnus of IIT, urged the graduates to “think beyond technological solutions to global problems, in a broader context involving humanity” in his chief guest address. To buttress his point, he said, “The US National Academy of Engineering had issued in 1999 a list of twenty great engineering achievements of the twentieth century such as electricity, the usage of fossil fuels and developments in the automobile industry. In 2005, the same organisation issued another list, this time on 14 engineering challenges of the 21st century. So, it was evident that the technologies of the 20th century have given rise to challenges.”
“The spread of internet has changed the way we work, but we now face the problems of cyber-terrorism. Hence, the need to think beyond technological-based problems”, he added.
Tabling a report on IIT-M’s achievements and collaborations,its director Dr Bhaskar Ramamurth said, “The institute has 7,533 students on its rolls, with more than half of them being post-graduate students. IIT-M has linkages with more than 150 leading universities leading to a two-way flow of students and faculty,” he said. He added that several research centres have been created in 2012-13 offering programmes of great national importance.
Chairman of board of governors of IIT-M, Prof M M Sharma, was among those present.