Sunday, July 20, 2008

When you donate 5 million dollars to your alma mater ...


... you get to be called an "old boy" by ToI and its reporter who, in this case, is Hemali Chhapia.

It's really appalling that they applied this description for someone -- Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, an IIT-B alumnus and founder of the Symphony Group -- who graduated way back in 1969!

And, no, it's not a quote from someone else (if it was, the report should have mentioned it clearly); it's right there in the opening paragraph.

The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) has received one of its largest private donations from an old boy in New York.

At an alumni gathering in the Big Apple, Romesh Wadhwani, founder of the Symphony Group, gifted his alma mater a purse of $5 million (about Rs 22 crore) to set up a research centre in the area of bio-sciences.

"The lab will work in the area of research in bio-sciences and bio-engineering," IIT-B director Ashok Misra t old TOI from New York. Details of the centre's focus areas will be worked out after discussions between Wadhwani and the bio-sciences faculty.

IIT-B deputy director Juzer Vasi said the centre would work closely with the six-year-old bio-sciences school on the campus.

12 Comments:

  1. Vivek Kumar said...

    I don't think age has anything to do with it. The term "old boy" is used quite regularly in the context of "old boys network" etc. In this case, the usage seems appropriate.

  2. Vivek Kumar said...

    Incidentally, I would be quite interested in what happens to these centers that IITB keeps opening. The money seems to be used for setting them up. Then what? Where do the funds to keep them running come from?

    Or, do they establish some kind of a trust fund with the money and the center lives on the income from this fund?

  3. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    I agree with Vivek, "old boy" is a standard term for an alumnus. Haven't you heard of "old boy's networks"?

    My copy of the "Shorter Oxford" lists it (not marked as "colloq.") as "a former male pupil of a school or college, esp. of an English public school." The other two usages are marked "colloq.": "an elderly man" and "an affectionate or familiar form of address or reference to a man or boy." These usages are familiar from Wodehouse...

  4. manasi said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  5. manasi said...

    Now that you've been educated about how square the term is, I hope that you will redact your snark. Since you call out Ms. Chhapia by name and insinuate that she sucks at doing her job, an apology may also be in order

  6. Anonymous said...

    Get out of this holier-than-thou attitude syndrome, prof Abi. At times you are plain irritating!

    kumar

  7. Anonymous said...

    Abi is an Old Boy of BHU. In fact they have Old boys' Home in the BHU campus.

  8. Anonymous said...

    Kumar: No one asked you to read Abi's blog. If you find his blog irritating, why not go elsewhere? Get yourself a life...

  9. Anonymous said...

    There also seem to be quite a few old boys of BHU in IISC....not that I am insinuating anything here...:)

  10. Abi said...

    Vivek, Rahul and others: Sorry for this much delayed response; I have been away the last three days.

    Evidently, 'old boy' has evoked different meanings -- and perceptions -- among us; perhaps I can explain a bit about where I come from. 'Old boy' is okay as a substitute for alumnus as long as the 'boy' was a student at a school -- especially a prep school or a (British) public school -- whose 'boys' go out and become 'old boys'. Also, in the kinds of things I read these days, the phrase 'old boy network' *always* carries a negative connotation. Given this background, I found it jarring that a generous alumnus was being referred to as an 'old boy'. To me it was informality at its worst (and most inappropriate). Dr. Wadhwani certainly deserves better.

  11. pc said...

    I found nothing offensive in that article. It is very clear that the author is using the term to refer to an alumnus.

  12. Vivek Kumar said...

    @Abi: Sorry for a much delayed response to your delayed response :) I was away for two weeks, hence the delay.

    My point was merely about your reference to his graduation in 1969 (hence, the age) while objecting to the use of the term "old boy". That is all that you said in your post, and still do. You called the use of term "appalling", and mentioned the reporter by name.

    I see now that you have essentially quoted the dictionary definition in your reply. But, if not conforming to the precise dictionary definition of the term was your issue with the article (not that I would agree with you on that either), you could have said so in your post. Or, you could have edited it later to reflect your position.

    I know this post is quite old in internet-age by now, but these things get archived for ages. The reporter doesn't deserve this kind of flak, IMO.