ALTHOUGH many believe that he was shortchanged by the mandarins of the Indian technological and scientific establishment, Sam Pitroda still retains a concern for Indian S&T. He was at his avuncular best last fortnight at the 7th foundation day celebrations of the Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), producer of the Param computer, when he exhorted CDAC to "lose no time in overcoming its reluctance to develop a sizeable stake in the international parallel process market".
Pitroda's main point before the CDAC scientists and managers was that CDAC could hardly be termed successful if it rested content merely with the construction of a world class computer. He felt that the performance of any frontline technology development organisation should be measured in terms of its ability to penetrate markets and sell products profitably. According to him, "In the high tech area of supercomputing, it is not enough to be a national player. If you are not an aggressive player in the global market, then it is not worth being a player at all."
Interestingly, in anticipation of his organisation being pulled up, CDAC director Vijay Bhatkar announced that Pitroda had consented to present a special award to him for all the "ills and the troubles at CDAC". The gathered audience burst into peals of laughter as he solemnly proceeded to unwrap the packet given by Pitroda, which contained a brick wrapped in several layers of thermocole and paper, symbolising a polite brickbat.
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