Behind The Scenes: BITSAA Delhi Chapter

We wanted to do a blogpost exclusively on the Delhi Chapter after the grand reception that BITSians Day in Delhi had this year.

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BITS Alumni Association Delhi NCR (BITSAA Delhi NCR), established in 1957 is the oldest & arguably the biggest BITSAA chapter, predating even BITS by 7 years. Starting out as BECOBA (BIRLA ENGG COLLEGE OLD BOYS’ ASSOCIATION) in 1957, it was rechristened BECOSA (BIRLA ENGG COLLEGE OLD STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION) when girls first entered the hallowed portals of the Engineering College in 1962 and was renamed BITSOBA in 1965 & BITSAA in 1968.

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Chapter events like ‘Khwaab’ also have had large gatherings in the past. We caught up with two members of the Delhi Chapter to know the secret and this is what they had to say.

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Firstly, the executive committee of 14 members is very enthusiastic, which is a founding principle for any chapter to succeed. They have a very large breadth of BITSians starting from the 60s batches till the 2010 batch and that is definitely a USP of the Delhi chapter.

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BITSians in the Delhi and NCR region are evidently very well connected within their batches and have their own individual mailing lists. More often than not, the message, once announced, goes viral through most active BITSians in the area.

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We have also been experimenting on various types of events. The pull factor that increases participation and of course a single strategy doesn’t always work. Plan starts 2 months in advance; the initial response is slow but picks up speed with the calls and the email communication. The results are seen in last 15-20 days as that is when the fever catches up.

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We identified a few batches with active participation and having batch representatives and making sure that each of those representatives brings atleast 10 people from their side for the registrations has worked for us. Setting simple targets like this helps us achieve our goals easily. We also aim high. For the “Khwaab event”, we booked the entire venue, with the seating capacity of around 300 to 400 people. We had no confirmations initially but after booking the venue, we were confident and made sure that we meet that target OF 400 people. Surprisingly, 550 people turned up with many people waiting outside, hanging out with their batch mates as there was no place in the inside venue.

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Location also matters a lot. Many younger batches of BITSians are in Gurgaon area, we were sure they would be enthusiastic and made sure we would reach all of them there. It was a plus point for the “BITSians Day” event.

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All the events we conducted were in key locations either in the city or places connected well through multiple modes of transport. We took a lead from last year when the events for BITSians day were at three different locations, Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon and the turnout at Gurgaon was highest. It was not a very organized event unlike this year.

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The pricing was also quite enticing. There was no regulation to register with a payment first and we were committed to bring 300 people there without any advance payment features which was quite a risk. The price was also only Rs.300/-. We were at the Registration Desk that day and had our fingers crossed as the weather was unpredictable, people were pouring in till 10 PM because the place was centrally located. We also had media coverage and small attractions like T shirts and other products which were arranged. The BITSIAN day 2015 in Delhi NCR was one of the biggest BITSIAN day get-togethers ever seen.

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Summing up, the success of the BITSians’ Day lay in a very efficient Executive Committee, determined batch representatives, accessible venue and low costs. This time for the BITSians’ Day, we also tried to introduce the organization connect or the corporate connect. We identified key people from big companies and they popularized the event within their own company. Since these people work together and meet every day, they could form groups and arrive at the venue.

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Previously, we used to request people to pay in advance, but this time, thanks to Kingdom of Dreams, the venue for BITSians day this year, we didn’t have to do that.

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Online portals were also introduced to buy tickets – this was implemented for ‘Khwaab’ and that was also helpful. Paying through cheques or at the venue would have been a hassle. Additional benefit was that we could plan more efficiently as we knew the rough estimate of how many people would turn up.

The next big factor for the big event like Khwaab was sponsorship. It really helped us give organize ‘Khwaab’ successfully. Since it was a Golden Jubilee event, we approached sponsors for freebies during the event. We had Kellogg’s as a sponsor for gift bags and we also had a liquor sponsor which helped us optimize the costs, which is something that’s always on our minds as members of the Executive Committee. We try to negotiate heavily with the vendors and for the venues.

In today’s virtual world, social media plays a huge role in gathering people for any chapter event. We have an active BITSAA Delhi group on Facebook where BITSians from the 60s and 70s batches interact regularly as well. They are, more often than not, more active than the younger BITSians.

We organize one annual marquee event, which is the Picnic during the winters. This is a fun event with Delhi style snacks and lunch options. Games and activities for all are also organized at a Farm house of fellow BITSians who actively support us in the initiative. In addition to this, we try and have one musical evening where we invite a guest, an artiste or BITS Alumni and meet with family over drinks and dinner.

 Another fact that we would like to share is that the Executive Committee has meetings almost once every month and half of those are generally with families, where we meet up at someone’s place or a club or a hotel. Those interactions generate a lot of ideas and that connect between the Executive Committee is the backbone of the entire planning and execution of any chapter event.

Meeting and talking to alumni ranging from 60s and 70s batches is always fun and on a personal level, almost everyone in the Executive Committee enjoys the interactions. They do better laccha sessions than we can ever imagine!

Lastly due to this unique mix of senior and junior batches, we have learnt to take risks. The senior BITSians give us the confidence and a free hand to go ahead and set high targets and work to achieve them which is a very infectious feeling. At some level, it becomes a personal target for each of us and we strive to meet those targets in union.

In the pipeline is the Annual Picnic and it has been planned for the 31st of January 2016. BITSIANs in Delhi NCR can register using online payment portal and can find details in the following links. The event is priced at just 500 rupees for early birds!

BITSAA Delhi NCR Annual Picnic 2016 – Facebook

Online payment link – Meraevents


The BITSians’ Day 2014 Flashback


Chennai Chapter Meet-up at Gandhinagar Club

The month of August is very close to every BITSian. In fact, it is as joyous and exciting as the month of December for the rest of the world. Wonder why? It’s because the first week of August every year marks the beginning of a new academic year at BITS. That did not just mean a new set of OHT courses and late night ghotting sessions and Cs and Ds in CDCs, but also meant getting back to the campus to lead the enthu filled life of a BITSian. So, BITSAA decided to make this month special for all the BITSians. It decided to dedicate the first Friday of August every year as a day to celebrate being a BITSian, to enjoy the nostalgia, to relive all the fun moments, and to stay connected to the BITSian community around the world. Thus was born the concept of BITSians’ Day, a celebration that is one of a kind, something never done before by any other college in India.

The first BITSians’ day celebrations in 2013 saw huge success with BITSians putting mega enthu by wearing BITSAA tshirts and meeting up fellow BITSians around the globe. BITSians met up in their work places or for a meal at a restaurant. Now the challenge for BITSAA was to make BITSians’ day 2014 as good as or even better than 2013.

The Communication and Marketing team at BITSAA had a meticulous social media campaign planned to recreate the magic. Posters that advertised the event, video teasers, email newsletters and pictures and trivia from 2013 celebrations were released on Facebook from two weeks before the event. An unplanned boon the night before 1st of August 2014 was the #BITSmemories fever that was kindled on Facebook by a BITSian. The Director of the Communication and Marketing Team at BITSAA recalls being pleasantly surprised and super excited that night to see posts from BITSians flooding Facebook.  Every BITSian’s Facebook page was swamped with anecdotes, poems, senti messages and truck loads of pictures making them feel the vibe and giving them goosebumps.  All the Chapter heads in coordination with the Chapter Relations Team took care of setting up venues and arranging for volunteers. Pubs and restaurants were reserved for the celebrations across the globe, food was ordered and coordinators assigned.

Thanks to all the publicity on Facebook, the meticulous arrangements made at each venue and the BITSians that volunteered to offer help with the coordination in each venue, there was a great turn out for the event. More than 4000 BITSians participated, including alumni from the 1970s and the 2000s. Meetups were held in 100 different office locations and involved 45 different chapters. The celebrations ranged from informal latchaa sessions and parties with music nights to formal dinner gatherings.

BITSians’ Day 2014 was better than the 2013 celebrations in every which way. It saw some unusual and interesting incidents. The enthu of the event percolated into remote locations like Tanzania and Ganjam, Orissa. Venues like Chennai and Mumbai were overflowing.  The event gained global public attention too. Times of India covered BITSians’ Day at Udaipur and Microsoft retweeted a picture of BITSians working for the company, thus acknowledging their contribution to its growth. Very excitingly, a new chapter at Hong Kong was born out of BITSians’ Day 2014, thanks to Sneha Nandan for having taken the initiative. She gathered a group of BITS alumni at Hong Kong with the help of BITSAA to celebrate the event. Following the celebrations, they swore to keep in touch and have regular meetings and thus was born the Hong Kong chapter!


Celebrations at Microsoft Hyderabad office

For an event of this magnitude, minor setbacks were inevitable. BITSAA received complaints about the poor service provided by the Estore vendor. This year we have partnered with My Dream Store and promise to provide you a much better experience. Visit and order your BITSians’ Day tee now! Orders placed till the 26th of July will have guaranteed delivery before the BITSians’ Day.

BITSians, buckle up and get ready for yet another BITSians’ Day gala!

August 7th, 2015: Mark your calendars!

An interview with Anitha Alappat

We are back with the prestigious ‘BITSAA 30 Under 30’ Award.

Every three years, we dedicate these awards to all those young BITSians who thought and acted differently, who challenged the status quo, rewrote the rules, and created their own paths, to the best examples of what it means to be a BITSian.
We recently interviewed Anitha Alappat who won the award in 2009 under the Leadership Category. Here follows the interview –

Q.  Please enlighten us about your work for which you won the BITSAA 30 Under 30 Award.

I won the award in the Leadership category. After BITS, I did a masters in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and then joined General Motors India at their Technical Center. I was the only engineer in their Indian team who was trained in using AutoMod, a simulation software used for throughput simulations. Additionally I was involved with several other initiatives within and outside the organization, including being a training needs coordinator, member of GM Women’s council, Dream A Dream, and Navgati. Later, I attended Indian School of Business, Hyderabad specializing in Strategy and Leadership. Post ISB I joined MEMC (now SunEdison), a semiconductor manufacturing company in their Product Marketing team. I have always been passionate about education and learning and development, and in 2013 finally plunged officially into this domain! I am currently Head of Operations at an education consulting company based in Dubai, UAE. I manage their local operations as well as new product/market strategy for teacher training and recruitment. Until few months before I was an active member of BITSAA International as well as the BITSAA Middle East Chapter.

Q. What does it take to become a woman leader?

Everything that takes to become a man leader, plus an extra dose of perseverance and self-confidence!! There are always more people telling a woman that she can’t do something than people telling her that she can do it. If a woman is able to find the strength within herself to achieve whatever she wants, then nothing can stop her.

Q. Mention that one thing which you pursued in your BITSian life which played the most important role in making the present Anitha Alappat?

Always trying out new things and being part of initiatives that seemed interesting to me!

Q. What does this award mean to you?

This award is one of my most cherished achievements, an honor I am extremely proud of. It was at BITS that my leadership skills blossomed and I consider this award as a recognition from the alumni community for putting those skills to good use. :)

Q. We might be having several BITSians who would be unsure if they should get them nominated. What message do you put forward to them?

Go for it! My name was suggested by someone else and I wasn’t sure at all that I should submit a nomination. Finally I decided to do it, and its been one of the best decisions in my life so far. :)

BITSAA International calls for nominations for the prestigious 30 Under 30 Awards.

Know someone whose work shines brightly in one of the above areas?

Nominate them now ->

To know more about the 30 under 30 awards, go here ->
Nominations end – June 30th, 2015.

Oasis 2014 in Boston!!!

Reunions are always nostalgic and short but leave a profound and everlasting memories. The year 2014 witnessed another glorious Bitsian reunion in US – Oasis 2014 in Boston.. Yes you heard it right!!

Oasis was recreated this time, not in Pilani but in Boston on 9th Nov 2014.This was the first oasis organized outside Pilani with more than 160 people attending the event. There were representations across all the four campuses from different batches. The idea was to cast the magic spell of Oasis in Boston as it used to be celebrated in Pilani and provide a platform for socializing and bonding among bitsians of all batches. “We were not sure how the event would turn out nor did we know many people would come as it is the first time in history that Oasis is conducted outside Bits. However the support and attendance which we got was overwhelming” says Ajay Koul, BITSAA NE Chapter Head.(Batch ‘98)

This Gala event kick started with a warm reception and the Bitsian Junta who came with their family were served their favorite dishes like bread pakoda, banana rabri and paneer maggi with “shikanji” grabbing maximum attention. This was followed by powerfully nostalgic music and dance performances and some entertaining musical games all steered by hilarious emceeing. For more coverage of the event, Do checkout this You tube video.

Bitsians across various batches and campuses bonded very well and together put up an extraordinary stellar performance and made the event a very memorable one. The amount of fun and excitement this Boston Oasis has created gives us the staunch hope that this tradition will continue.


The beginnings of BITSAA

BITS Alumni Association (BITSAA) is one of the largest Alumni Associations in the world, and one of the most active and prolific in terms of its initiatives. And yet, it is easy to forget humble beginnings, and the contributions of several “generations” of leaders that have made into what it is today. Over the next few weeks, we aim to bring to you the beginnings of BITSAA – the events that shaped its growth, and give you a glimpse of what went into it, from the biggies like BITSConnect and the NASDAQ phenomenon; to the small victories and setbacks that are part and parcel of any large enterprise, and last but in no way the least, the actual faces and voices behind the name.

Though recent in origin, BITSAA has emerged as one of the strongest alumni networks of any university. It is interesting to know how 9/11 attacks played a role in the birth of BITSAA. In a candid conversation with three founders Anupendra Sharma (Eco Instru ’87), Venu Palaparthi (Eco CS ’87) and Sandeep Arora (MMS 87), we explore how four waves have created and transformed BITSAA into an enduring, relevant organization.

The story goes back to 2001 in New York City, when Anupendra sent an email to the Eco ’87 batch about raising a scholarship for Pilani students in the memory of his batchmate SS Seshadri (Eco Civil), who had passed away a few years ago.

The Eco ‘87 batch was instantly responsive. But to fully endow the scholarship, Venu Palaparthi, who lived across the river in New Jersey, suggested doing a fundraiser music night instead of simply collecting money. Venu risked a $10,000 deposit to book a place for the show. That’s when Sandeep Arora (MMS ’87) surfaced. “Sandeep was a popular guitarist and music club member at BITS”, says Venu. He agreed to pull the music night together.

Anupendra, Venu and Sandeep were working towards the big night, finding BITSians, and sending out invitations for the event. A date was set: October 13, 2001.

Then, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

A BITSian, Vamsi Pendyala (’88), was a passenger on the flight from Boston which crashed into the World Trade Center.

Venu says, “It gave us a massive jolt. I was in NYC and I received hundreds of emails. BITSians asking about other BITSians. The phones had gone silent. But people were on emails forwarding across batches – seeking info and reassurance that their mates were safe.”

Anupendra recollects, “When we finally got to the fundraiser, I found out that two BITSian classmates were in the towers when the planes hit.

“They remembered walking down 50 floors, watching people jump to their deaths. We didn’t talk about that day. In fact, it would be months before both of them were able to discuss that morning with each other.”

With Ground Zero burning, the three founders decided that it was only fitting to create a scholarship in memory of Vamsi Pendyala. Vamsi’s wife and classmates were instantly supportive, and the organizing team grew rapidly. Unfortunately, overcome by grief, Vamsi’s wife took her own life a week later. It was a sad day for the entire BITS family.

“9/11 forced us to rethink about the fragility of our relationships,” Venu told Rediff later. “In Vamsi, we saw ourselves. It could have been any of us.”

Vamsi’s death brought a lot of attention to the New Jersey fundraiser being planned. “We owe our entire organization to Vamsi,” Venu says, “In his death, he created an organization.”

In anticipation, Anupendra met Kevin Dyer, a New York lawyer at his Park Avenue office. Kevin, inspired by the fundraising efforts, and the story of Vamsi and Sesha, halved his fees and filed all the papers to create a not for profit organization.

Sandeep remembers the year that BITS started to recognize BITSAA. “In BITSAA’s 3rd year (2003), our dear Director, Prof. Venkateshwaran came to the United States as he had been doing for years. This visit turned out to be very different than the past, since BITSAA started to organize meetings everywhere.

The Diro was surprised and amazed by the large crowds of people he met everywhere he went. Inspired by the new network, in his final stop with the Silicon Valley Chapter, he left BITSAA with a mission he called BITSConnect – to wire the BITS Pilani campuses.”

It was a second call to arms, and one that was to unite the entire BITSAA global community.

The BITSConnect movement was led by Silicon Valley BITSians Jayan Ramankutty, Prem Jain and Karthik Krishna in New York galvanized the globe into its first major joint action. Venu says “Sandeep Arora managed the new complexity of hundreds of donors, pledge cards and messages from around the world. Being Treasurer of BITSAA suddenly became a big job.”

Venu is proud of what we achieved. “BITSConnect succeeded, and over $1 million of equipment and services were installed on the campus.” Anupendra adds.

“The Sandpaper 2.0 team rejoiced in its success by creating a cover of hot air balloons taking off. BITSians on campuses were now free to connect with the rest of the world. It was an empowering moment”

After the success of BITSConnect, BITSAA’s energies waned. The big project was over, the initial bout of nostalgia done. BITSAA needed a new mission, a new purpose. It had to be more than just about the University. It had to be about the alumni. Anupendra expressed this view to Venu often. Yet neither had an idea of where to take the organization next.

As it happened, things worked out by themselves, and BITSAA got a new direction wherein to expand, as we shall see in our next post.