An Interview with Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan

Antibiotic resistance is a burning topic today and there is very little awareness in the world about it. Did you know that antibiotics are a finite resource? Did you know that the existing antibiotic drugs are going to stop working for everyone in some years from now? On the occasion of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 16 to 22), WHO launched the first global campaign for the better use of antibiotics.

Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan

Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan – Batch of 1988

We, at  BITSAA, caught up with Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, a fellow BITSian from the batch of 1988 who has been one of the forerunners in advocating this cause worldwide: from being a part of the Advisory Committee formed by President Obama to tackle this problem in the USA to being actively involved with the Government of India’s Mission Indradhanush.

Dr. Laxminarayan is currently the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy at Washington DC, and is the Vice-President for Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

After graduating from BITS with an Electronics and Instrumentation degree, he went to pursue a  PhD in Economics and a Masters in Public Health.

He is also a senior research scholar and lecturer at Princeton University.  He has worked comprehensively with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US National Academies of Science/Institute of Medicine and World Bank on evaluating malaria treatment policy, vaccination strategies, the economic burden of tuberculosis, and control of non-communicable diseases.


You have had a very unique career path. You did your Instrumentation at BITS, then you came to the US for your Masters in Public Health with a focus on Epidemiology, and then you went on to do your PhD in Economics. So how did this transition happen?

Right after BITS, I had fallen ill during my Practice School, so I graduated about 6 months after the rest of my class because I had to redo my PS. So, I did two things during that time. I was a PS2 instructor and I was also working on setting up an NGO to clean up the Adayar and Koovam  rivers in Chennai, which if you’ve lived in Chennai, you know these aren’t exactly pleasant places to be. I have always had this interest in the environment. That is something I am very passionate about.  I actually didn’t go in for a Masters first, I went in for a PhD in Economics, with a focus on Environmental Economics and I went to work with someone very specific at the University of Washington that I read about.

I went to Seattle for this and for my visitation, I decided to work on a topic which was a little unusual which was to think of the effectiveness of antibiotics as a natural resource, much like you’d think of fish or trees. The topic was not yet so much in the news as it is these days. That’s why I went in to do that and it was what I was interested in. I did my PhD on that and along the way to learn the public health aspects, I enrolled in classes on Epidemiology and Biostatistics and so forth and my Masters in Public Health was incidental and not the trajectory I was really on.

More than 10 years after that, I went to work at a Think Tank at Washington DC, called ‘Resources for the future’, which is considered a centre of the mind space for the people working in Environmental Economics at Washington DC. So I joined this organization and I was teaching at Johns Hopkins.

Around 2007, I switched to teaching at Princeton but I kept my job at Resources for the future. However, by that time I was a lot more drawn into public health in a more general sense, like disease control project which is a very central academic exercise in the world of global health. Although I had one leg in the environmental side, even at Princeton my appointment was and is at the Princeton Environmental Institute, I was still drawn into these other directions like working for Public Health.

I’m really not a health economist, I’m really an economist who is interested in the environment. But subsequently I have done a lot more work on just pure health, on things like vaccines and malaria.

In 2011, I had moved to India to set up and work on the Public Health Foundation of India. At the same time, I had set up a Think Tank in DC called Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. It was obviously a sort of balancing act between Princeton and these two jobs. There is a consistency in the thread that I’m interested in these ideas but I didn’t really set out to do Epidemiology to begin with.

Is it challenging to do this kind of multi-tasking?

It is and it isn’t! If you’re interested in an idea and you’re interested in following the idea to its multiple conclusions, it’s like one big exclamation. To me it’s just a lot of fun, I’m really lucky to have the freedom to think about whatever I want to think about and I value that above everything else. That’s something that comes from being in academics fundamentally, although I have these other jobs which are administrative and to run organisations. At the core of it, it’s the gift of being in academia. And then you get to learn, I really didn’t go to a lot of classes when I was in BITS, so this is an opportunity for me!

Talking of BITS, what was your BITSian life all about? What would be the one, most prominent memory of your BITSian life?

The answer would need a book. BITS was one, long trip – forming friendships that would last decades, and realizing that much of education is outside the classroom. It is hard to overestimate the impact that that place has had on me in every dimension. That moment I described where Dr Venkateswaran just listens to us for five minutes and then says – go for it – those were moments that were tremendous for confidence building and believe in oneself.

BITS helped me grow in many ways but particularly in being adaptable and resilient. I was secretary of ELAS during my time there and we were constantly creating and making do with less both during the year and during APOGEE and Oasis. That’s a valuable lesson for life.

We started TRACS (Trekking Club) on April 6, 1990 after a trek to Pindari glacier that Sanjay Ramabhadran and I went on. We were totally unprepared, wore tennis shoes and no gloves and somehow made it there and back.  When we got back, we went to see the then director Dr. V  who immediately asked what we would need and assigned Rs 10,000 to purchase equipment.  It was unbelievable! Earlier this year, I took my son on the Pindari trek, 25 years after Sanjay and I went there. It was exciting to do this again. I’ve trekked in many places around the world but Pindari was my first major trek and one of my most memorable.

About antibiotic resistance…We understand the problem in hand: With the abuse of antibiotics, we have unknowingly assisted the proliferation of antibiotic resistant bacteria and now we are struggling to find effective ways to treat bacterial infections. How was this even identified as a global health issue?

The issue has been known since the time of Alexander Fleming, the person who discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin. And in fact, resistance has been with us for a very long time and it isn’t unusual at all. This is a problem that has slowly increased over time to reach the situation it is in now, where half the antibiotics don’t work. So, it is not a surprising problem, it’s just basically natural selection of sensitive bacteria where we are left with only the resistant bacteria.

It’s not rocket science in that way but as a consequence, we are facing a huge public health crisis. In many parts of the world the antibiotics are no longer working and we don’t have a good alternative. So, we either have to start using the antibiotics that we do have, responsibly or we really risk being in a situation where someone with an infectious disease has a higher probability of dying.

So, what’s the economic aspect to this problem?

This is an economic problem because it is a problem of the commons. And by that I mean, if I take medicines for heart disease or arthritis, that doesn’t change the effect of these drugs for you or for anyone else. But that is not true in the case of antibiotics because if I take antibiotics, then since I am selecting for the resistant bacteria and these can get transmitted, it won’t work so well for you or for other people. So in that sense it’s a global common issue where actions of an individual or groups of individuals have consequences for everyone else. It starts looking much more like a problem of climate change than it does like a medical problem.

Doctors in the United States and presumably in India as well, prescribe a lot of antibiotics. Why do they do so? Is it because they are not cognizant of this problem?

Well, there is a reason why they do offer antibiotics, but it is not always backed up with substantial evidence. At the end of the day, when you think of the doctor-patient interaction, it is in the realm of soft side. There is a dynamic there. The doctor wants to satisfy the patient, they don’t want the patient to go to a different doctor. It is not a precise engineering sort of equation where the doctor says, yes you need an antibiotic and writes out one where it’s appropriate or he says, oh you don’t need one and doesn’t write one where it is not appropriate. Because there is that human interaction, there is room for all these other considerations to come into play.

How serious is the problem of anti-biotic resistance in countries around the world and what is each country doing about it?

There is a report that we put out last week for the state of the world’s antibiotics:

The problem is all around the world although of varying magnitudes but it’s certainly all around the world. We worked in many countries. The global antibiotic resistance partnership works in over eight countries: India, Nepal, Vietnam and then Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. So, we do a lot of global work as well.

Let’s take India, for instance. At the government level, are they aware of this problem, and do they know that this will become serious in the times to come?

Very much so! But, you know, all these things always are a question of priorities. And sometimes, the instinct is to go after what is on the front page news rather than to solve a problem that is two or four years away. Even if it is here right now, there is not a public outcry at all. I think India has not done enough on this problem. Extensive coverage by media and cover stories on newspapers are the kind of stuff that are important. Because at the end of the day, it is the civil society and the media that put pressure on the government to act. In the US, there has been a lot of action. Last year, president Obama assigned an executive board on antibiotic resistance. In fact, I was on advisory committee to recommend solutions on how to tackle the problem. Some countries much more action, India, sadly, not so much.

Are people aware of the seriousness of this issue? Do we have data to convince people that this is a serious issue?

I think there is enough data but obviously, you are talking to someone who pays attention to this data, particularly because that is my career. I don’t know of others though. Ask your mother or grandmother, if they realize that this is important. I still find that a lot of people use antibiotics quite unnecessarily and they don’t understand this issue. But this can change. It is similar to, for instance, tobacco usage.

When I visited BITS last year, I found that nobody smoked at Sky! Back then, it was unimaginable. Twenty years ago, when I think practically, everyone would have smoked. So, that’s a significant change in not just the institution rules but also what is considered acceptable in your generation compared to mine. I think it is a change in the mindset of the people. So, I think the current situation, with respect to antibiotic usage, would change and it can change. In fact, we don’t have a choice, it has to change!

How can a common man contribute towards solving this issue, however small the scale may be? What would your advice be for a doctor and a patient?

Doctors don’t have that much of an incentive except they can get information and get aware of the damage they are causing. For individuals, I don’t think people realize that if they take antibiotics unnecessarily, they are ruining the chances of the drug working for others as well. A patient always wants the best medication. And he wants to get cured asap. That’s all he cares about in the spur at the moment. That’s the reason it’s the problem of the commons. The commons problem, by definition, is one where you do not consider the effect of your actions on others and therefore you do it just like pollution or driving a car excessively and so forth.

Isn’t it easier to educate doctors?

That is a great point and that would be the rational thing to do. But, the doctor has other incentives. They don’t know if you might come back. They just want to give you something that gets you out of their office asap. They want to make their money in 2 minutes and that’s the way a lot of doctors think. It takes the doctor to exercise some due diligence and some additional network in order to not write the antibiotic prescription. Unfortunately, they don’t have that incentive.

Are there ways of initiating new incentives to get more people to act, then?

Financial incentives are a way to ensure appropriate use of antibiotics, for instance, change the way doctors get paid. But it isn’t that easy. In China, a lot of hospitals overuse antibiotics because that’s how they make their money. Now, you have to change the way these hospitals get paid, so that they don’t rely on the selling more antibiotics to make money. So, these are the challenges that make this problem multisegmented.

What are the strategies, be it in India by the PHFI or in the US by the CDDP, which are being implemented now to try to solve the issue?

There have been different sorts of approaches. Back in 2002, we had the same issue with anti-malarial drugs as well, so, this is very topical. Yesterday, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was given to Youyou Tu and she was part of a team that was credited with the discovery of artemisinin, which is now the front line drug for malaria. Back in 2001, there was a serious concern that because this drug was being used by itself as a monotherapy, that resistance would arise. A group of us had put together a report which was led by a Nobel laureate, Kenneth Arrow, one of the most prominent economists alive today or probably even alive at any time. We had a report which basically called for a global financing mechanism that would make these antimalarial, the quality ones that were in combinations and less likely to be resistant, cheaper. So what that means is that if you make the combinations cheaper, then no one will use the type that will cause resistance. But because this was a global commons issue, this couldn’t be paid at the country level so that it could be paid at the global level.

And subsequently, we did manage to establish something called the affordable medicines facility for malaria. It was close to a half a billion dollar facility that would allow us to subsidize quality antimalarials at a very high level. So, that is an example of the kind of thing we have done at the global level. At country levels, the solutions are actually not that difficult. The first is to improve public health.

In India, there is now a big program called Mission Indradhanush which is a part of my immunization work. We can get vaccines out so that children are less likely to need antibiotics. Second is, of course, water sanitation which is slowly improving. Third area is the hospital infection control. A lot of hospitals overuse antibiotics because they have no incentive to reduce the quantity of infections. This is a major focus in India because no one is really aware of the fact that there is high likeliness to get infected when you go to the hospital for some other condition, say for example, you go for a hip replacement and you could get a hospital acquired infection.

So, the pathways to solving the problem are quite clear but gathering the tools to implement them is the real challenge.

Essentially, the common theme underlying the three approaches you spoke about, to solve the issue of antibiotic resistance, is prevention of infections. If this can’t be achieved, is there a way to make a superior antibiotic to outplay the resistant bacterial strains? And if we can, will it go through the same cycle of becoming ineffective since the bacteria will evolve to become resistant to them at some point? Are we getting into a vicious cycle then?

That’s exactly right. We can’t outplay the bacteria at this scale because they will always come up with solutions faster than we can come up with a new drug. So, our solution so far has been to stay one step ahead, by coming up with a new antibiotic. But that is a very expensive way of staying ahead. Instead, what we should do now is to slow down this race between us and the bacteria by reducing selection pressure. So, there are two things. One is to reduce the need for antibiotics, that’s what you just mentioned.

Lots of antibiotics get seriously overused because people buy antibiotics over the counter, they self medicate, doctors prescribe them unnecessarily. In the US, about half of the antibiotic usage is considered unnecessary and I speculate the proportion in India might be even higher. Also, antibiotics are used in animals for making them fatter, faster and so forth. At some point, we really have to make a tradeoff.

If you truly want antibiotics to save a dying child’s life, then you can’t use it for all the other things that it is being used for. It’s amazing the wide range of things that antibiotics are used for, like aquaculture, for shrimp farming and anything that requires the bacteria to stay at a distance. You really can’t have it all. Once the environment is made up of resistant bacteria, you can’t turn the clock back.

That is precisely my next question. Is this change even reversible now? Are we going to be able to combat these bugs once let’s say they are all going to be antibiotic resistant and we are going to go back to using them appropriately?

That’s a good point. It actually turns out that the answer is a little more complicated. In a general sense, the resistant genes, the genes that are selecting for resistance are out there in the environment. You can think of it like this: all the information is out there, it’s a big library and any bacteria can check out the book and figure out how to be resistant and then learn that process. So, they have the common knowledge. However, if we use lesser antibiotics, then there is less chance where the bacteria are actually using that information. A slightly scientific explanation is that there is a process called fitness cost of resistance.

If you are a bacteria and you are maintaining the knowledge of how to be resistant, you are doing something else less effective than likely, which could be reproduction or the thickness of your cell wall or something along those lines. So, there is a cost of resistance and therefore not all bacteria are always up to date on the knowledge of how to be resistant. You can be sure, however, that when you use antibiotics, they will quickly learn. If we start reducing the use of antibiotics, it is very likely that that resistance will go down. It will take time but it has been shown to happen in many instances.

Would monitoring pharmacies help collect better, more realistic data on the overuse of antibiotics? That way, we will have authentic information to act upon.

Well, you think that pharmacies can be monitored? What they do is against the law. The law says that you need a prescription. I can guarantee you that if you walk across to any pharmacy and ask for an antibiotic, they’ll give it to you. They’ll give the most powerful antibiotic that they can sell to you. So, here in India, we don’t have a regulatory system that is able to enforce a rule that has been in existence for a very very long time. These are not new regulations.

There did exist a pre-antibiotic era where people managed to fight bacterial infections and hence survive. Is there a possibility for our immune system co-evolve to combat the antibiotic resistant bacterial strains?

I don’t know if our immune system will help us, but certainly the burden of infectious diseases is much lower now, compared to before. For that reason, antibiotic resistance may not be that big of a problem now, as it would have been before. For instance, vaccines and better sanitation were not common then. On the flip side, a lot of things we do now require the use of antibiotics, like surgeries and transplants, that were not so prevalent before.  It is virtually impossible to cut open someone’s body without using antibiotics. So, here, we will need more antibiotics than the past.


How about allocating funding for research groups that work on finding solutions for the issue of antibiotic resistance? Has this money allocation increased in the recent times, since the advent of this issue? Seems like a prudent way of spending money to prevent the problem.

Sadly this has not happened except in a few exceptions.  India has almost no additional resources to offer.  Many high-income countries have chosen to spend their money on subsidizing industry research on specific antibiotics.  More money is needed for research on how to reduce the likelihood of resistance and how to make better use of existing antibiotics including behavioral research to help reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Recently, we saw that Youyou Tu, the Nobel Prize winner for finding a novel cure for malaria, found the cure in natural herbs. So, do you think that we should complement allopathic medicine with other systems of medicine, such as ayurveda, thereby reducing our dependency on antibiotics? Should India and the world then revamp their medical courses and include all relevant systems of medical treatment in their curriculum?

This is not straightforward. Artemisinin, the drug that Youyou Tu and colleagues isolated was found from sweet wormwood. Simply drinking wormwood tea would not have helped most malaria patients. So isolating the active ingredient was critical. Searching traditional products for such active ingredients would be a productive activity. I’m not sure every allopathic doctor can become expert in non-allopathic modalities any more than an ayurvedic doctor can learn western surgical procedures through a few courses.


We hope you enjoyed this interview with Dr. Laxminarayan. Let us all be aware of this global threat called antibiotic resistance, swear to be more prudent and cautious with the use of antibiotics and spread the awareness around, like the World Health Organization (WHO) wants us to! (

To learn more about Dr. Laxminarayan’s research and his initiatives to address antibiotic resistance, below are a few weblinks to his talks and interviews:

BITSAA Alumni Summit

Keeping in mind its resolute mission to keep the alumni of BITS connected to their alma mater and to maintain the integrity and strength of the vast alumni community, BITS Alumni Affairs Division – Student Team Goa, conducted the Alumni Summit 2015 on the 30th of August 2015. It was a first of its kind event and witnessed speakers who had established themselves in various fields of life. They reminisced about their life back at the BITS campuses and their journey thereafter.

Seven speakers were invited to take the stage – Anugula Rakesh Reddy- a BJP Youth Wing politician and the founder of Nirmaan, Akash Gupta- the founder of Grey Orange Robotics, Jenish Mehta- a Graduate Student at California Institute of Technology, Ajay Chaturvedi- the founder of HarVa and a published Author, Nikita Bhardia- an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and the founder of Udaan, Harish Sivaramakrishnan – the lead singer of the band Agam and Garv Malik- a stand up comedian and founder of OpenMics.

A Rakesh Reddy


Anugula Rakesh Reddy, the first speaker spoke about how he joined politics after graduating from BITS. His experience at BITS in contesting elections, and his role as the General Secretary during his time at BITS motivated him to take up politics. He mentioned how the BITSian tag was special for him as it distinguished him from the crowd. He stressed on the need for educated people to take up the responsibility of changing the political landscape in India and talked about political entrepreneurship as a career.

Akash Gupta

He was followed by Akash Gupta who left behind enticing job offers from the USA, South Korea etc. and followed his heart into starting up a hardware product company. He spoke about his belief in taking risks and enjoying work, and how challenges are an important aspect in an entrepreneurial journey. Excerpts from his college life were a major part of his speech and he also talked about AcYut, India’s first humanoid robot. He encouraged students to be passionate about their dreams.

Jenish Mehta

Jenish Mehta, a student of Theoretical Computer Science at California Institute of Technology took stage next. He walked us through his journey to Caltech and spoke about various aspects of Theoretical Computer Science and its applications. In surprisingly simple words he explained fascinating concepts such as zero knowledge proofs. He then moved on to say a few words about perseverance and effort, and how we must endure a lot of pain to succeed in the field we are truly passionate about.

Garv Malik

Having graduated very recently with a degree in Civil Engineering, Garv Malik could relate really well to the people in the audience. He described his journey in the eight semesters of BITS and jokes about how being a Civil Engineer enhanced his sense of humour. Stand-up comedy comes naturally to him. He started off by sharing jokes by gathering his friends and slowly, after a lot of experimentation, he managed to find his way into shows and flagged off his career in stand-up comedy. Even though he was not appreciated early on in his career, he didn’t give up. Along with building his career as an artiste, he also established to provide a platform for comedians.

Harish Sivaramakrishnan

Harish Sivaramakrishnan, the voice of Agam, gave an inspiring speech sharing his experiences at BITS and after that. He narrated the story about how he discovered his passion for music and web page designing during his college years. Despite not having much interest in his own branch of engineering, he never got demotivated and instead found his salvation in creative areas like music. While his dream job offer from Adobe served as inspiration for all the students, his stint at Freecharge as its 4th employee caught the attention of the startup enthusiasts. His life story was summed up in a single line – “Do what you love in life, for if you love your work, it won’t seem like a burden! Rather you’ll enjoy doing it.” In the end, he sang on public demand and that energized the atmosphere.

Nikita Bharadiya

Nikita Bharadiya, a young and active alumnus of BITS Goa motivated young BITSians by throwing light on different aspects of her life. She was extremely motivated to crack CAT and had the exact percentile in her mind so that she works towards a specific goal. She explained how life at BITS Goa transformed her from a silent, shy person to a fearless young woman. She mentioned how she founded UDAAN for empowerment of poor and deprived women, the difficulties she faced and how she overcame those. She narrated the story of her first day at work after graduating from IIM-A, when she realized that though you have good degrees from reputed institutes to your credit you don’t gain respect until you work hard and contribute to the company or association that you are working for.

Ajay Chaturvedi

Ajay Chaturvedi was the final speaker at the Summit. Students were very curious to hear the story of the man who had made it so big in the corporate world, only to leave it behind to build his own startup. He shared his experiences at BITS and at Wharton, working as the director of Citi. The dot com bubble made an appearance in his speech. Finally, his experiences of going to the Himalayas and Kedarnath after hitting a rough patch in his life and how he found his guru there who inspired him to change tracks. From being an investment banker, he became the founder of HarVa- a BPO company empowering rural women. He ended the talk by launching his book-“Lost Wisdom of the Swastika” and answering students’ queries.

BITS-AMP – Second session coming soon!

In an effort to bring the huge number of BITSians in all parts of the world closer to the initiatives of their alumni association, this first of many posts is about the Alumni Mentorship Program – BITS AMP.

The Comms team had a brief chat with Sandeepa Garlapati for more information on BITS AMP.

BITS AMP is a one-on-one mentorship program that was conceptualized in late 2013 and the first session had its kick off during the BITSAA Global Meet in January 2014 at the Hyderabad campus. The man behind the idea, Venu Palaparthi (batch of 1987), wanted to connect BITSians belonging to the same fields and usher the flow of guidance. He roped in Shivaraaj Kotini (batch of 2006) who had done something similar for BITS Spark and had been leading the Spark Mentors program for 2 years. He had conducted mentor-mentee workshops at few locations in India and had gained excellent insights in the area. However, the task proved big and they needed a volunteer to build the team and fine tune the entire concept from its raw stage. That’s where Sandeepa (batch of 2002) came in. Together they worked for a few months before the first version was presented to the world in January 2014. Kris Inapurapu (batch of 1999) was involved in structuring this program during his studies at MIT and he gave ideas from his experiences in launching a similar program there. Chandra Bhople was instrumental in conceptualizing the program as well. Rohit Koul, ex-CEO of BITSAA, was very interested in this initiative and motivated the team. Sandeepa, very recently, hired people to build the team and currently the size of the AMP team is 4 people.

Venu came up with the idea to crowd source the name and logo for this initiative. A contest was held on Facebook for BITSians and the winner, Ravi Mantri, received an MS Dhoni autographed cricket bat! He, of course, gave BITS-AMP but there were also a lot of interesting names like BITSPlus, BITSBuddy, Marg Darshak that were suggested.

The basic idea behind BITS AMP is that BITSians come together and assist each other in their careers. On the BITS AMP platform, BITSians need to sign up either as mentors or mentees. Then they are paired up  accordingly by the AMP team based on a variety of factors. The most important factor is that both members have the same interests and be in the same fields, career wise. After this, the pairs begin a six month relationship, throughout which the AMP team is in contact with both the mentor and the mentee. This ensures that the relationship is ongoing and stays true to the concept. The AMP team would also help the pair in case they have trouble contacting each other or if they haven’t much to contribute to each other.

After the first session of six months started in Jan 2014, the AMP team took some time to restructure most of the program and make it more streamlined. There were around 18 to 20 pairs made by choosing guests who had attended the BGM. Some of the mentors who participated include Preetish Nijhawan (Managing Partner, Cervin Ventures and Co-founder of Akamai), Anurag Jain (CEO of Access Healthcare), Venu Palaparthi (CEO, Nasdaq OMX), Sudeep Jain IAS (Chairman & MD, Tamil Nadu Solar Energy Development Agency), Arun Jain (Director, Sales and Marketing, TI) Devender Kumar (MD, Ahuja Engineering Services). Sandeepa tells us that this was a great learning experience for the BITS-AMP team.

The second session for which sign-ups have been happening since the last few weeks will be started in October this year. Sign-ups have started coming in. In Order to sign up or the BITS AMP program, click here.

However, everyone who signs up cannot be a part of the program unless a counterpart with similar interests signs up.

The categories for mentorship currently include:

  • Technology Careers (careers in technology – in consulting; at enabling companies; non-technology companies)
  • Business, Strategy, Finance, Consulting, Innovation, Education (includes project management; product management)
  • Entertainment, Media, Marketing, and Advertising (includes creative pursuits such as Film, Music, etc.)
  • Mentoring for Businesses
  • Sciences & Scientific Research

“BITS-AMP’s target audience is the entire BITS community. Our mentoring program will also help students and faculty in realizing their aspirations. BITS-AMP will work in a symbiotic way with the other BITSAA programs such as BITS2MS PhD and BITS2BSCHOOL.”

— Sandeepa Garlapati (BITS Class of ‘06, Coordinator, BITS-AMP)

“To me, any mentoring effort needs to have a way for effective one to one interaction between the mentor and the mentee  with limited or no external intervention. BITS-AMP provides exactly this.”

— Rohit Koul (BITS Class of ‘02, ex-CEO, BITSAA)


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.