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Success stories of IIT toppers

Srikanth Jagabathula, President of India gold medal winner.

Internet connectivity in rural areas at cheap rates? Well, this could be a reality if Srikanth's dream comes true.

Meet Srikanth Jagabathula, IIT's pride, the President of India gold medal winner for 2005-06 for scoring the highest marks among all batches at Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.

After an enviable stint at the IIT, Srikanth is all set to fly to the United States to pursue his studies at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After five years he plans to come back to Indian to start his own communications company.

As a kid he dreamt of becoming an engineer. Somehow he always thought an engineer's job would be very fascinating. He heard about the IIT when he was in the 7th standard. Since then IIT was his aim. After clearing his 10th class, he religiously worked towards cracking the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination. A rank of 38 at the IIT-JEE meant a smooth entry into IIT-Bombay. Srikanth, who hails from Hyderabad, was always a topper in school. Mathematics and physics were his favourite subjects, but he dreaded biology and chemistry.

A desire to top in everything he did from his schooldays helped him score high grades and he always lived up to his parents' expectations. Studies were always a priority for Srikanth and his efforts won him several awards.

From securing the first rank in the board exam in the 7th standard, securing the 8th rank in the Andhra Pradesh State Science Talent Exam when he was in the 8th standard to securing the President of India gold medal for topping across all the batches in 2005-06 in IIT-B, Srikanth's success is an inspiring story.

Any IIT-ians in the family? "No," he says, "my father has retired from the technical education department in Andhra Pradesh and my mother is a homemaker. They are really happy to see me achieve my goals though they are sad to see me go aboard for further studies."

His role models: Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani. Srikanth is excited about his next stint at MIT and takes us through his journey from IIT to MIT.

My IIT experience

"IIT has been a dream come true for me. Initially, it was very difficult as I came from Hyderabad. It (Mumbai) was a new city and for the first time I was staying away from the family. But from the second year, everything was perfect and I made good friends here.

It is really a great learning experience. IIT helps you excel as it provides you with the best facilities and faculty.

My mantra for success

I have a desire to excel. I am very organised, am always on time, and have deep love for the subjects I learn. I have always done things I like to do, which is very important.


Reading books and participating in debates. I also like watching action-packed films and thrillers. On OBC quota.

The 50 per cent quota is not a good idea. The focus should be on improving basic education. Unless you get the basics right, there is no point introducing the quota system at the highest level. There are many backward regions in the country, so the focus should be towards a region-based development than a caste-based reservation system.

Next move

"After I joined IIT, I heard more about MIT from my seniors who studied there. I'm very happy that I got selected. I will be joining MIT soon to do my PhD. I'm very excited about it. I have got a scholarship which will waive the entire tuition fees and I will get a stipend of about $950 a month," he grins.

Advice to IIT aspirants

Don't get bogged down by pressure, many people are very talented, but it is important how you perform on the entrance day. You have to prepare well for two years, you must learn to cope with the pressure.

On India

Earlier foreign jobs offered much better prospects. But now all the multinational corporations have set shop here. There are plenty of opportunities in India. So there is no need to actually go abroad. India is on a growth path and in 5 to 6 years there will be big changes in India.

Future plans

I would like to come back to India and start my own company. It will basically be a communications company. The idea is to develop products to provide cost-effective Net connectivity and communication facilities in rural India.

Now the cost is a big hindrance to Net penetration. My aim will be to remove the barriers and make communication effective and increase its reach.

And if you were to join a company, which would it, be?

Google is an example of efficiency and best products. It will be a great and interesting place to work in and learn.

Photograph: Srikanth receives the certificate from Prof. Ashok Misra, Director, IIT-Bombay.

Text and photographs: Manu A B

Also read: Bill Gates' words of wisdom

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