Param pioneer to head Nalanda University

30th January 2017
Param pioneer to head Nalanda University
Dr Vijay P. Bhatkar. In the background a visualisation of the new Nalanda University campus

 Dr Vijay Bhatkar, founder-Executive Director of CDAC and the architect of India's Param supercomputer series  has been named  Chancellor of Nalanda University

By Anand Parthasarathy
 January 30 2017: To head Nalanda University,  the 21st century avatar of one of the world's most ancient seats of learning, the President has  appointed distinguished computer scientist  Dr Vijay  Bhatkar.
The announcement was made by Rashtrapati Bhavan last week and Dr Bhatkar takes over as Chancellor immediately for a period of three years. 
Dr Vijay P Bhatkar was born on  October 1946 and did his  MTech at the Sayajirao  University Baroda and obtained his PhD IIT Delhi  in 1972.   He moved from a position as technology policy planner in Delhi to head the Electronic Research and Development Centre in Thiruvananthapuram where he headed many pioneering projects in plant automation, color television rollout and  even  critical security infrastructure challenges.
However he  is best known as the architect of India's national initiative in supercomputing -- the Param  programme supercomputers, in the 1980s and 90s which he led as Executive Director of the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune. from  Parallel processing technology was in its infancy -- he put his faith in the technology though Cray said it could not create a supercomputer.   
Dr Bhatkar explains: "In 1990 we had a prototype -- within two years.  What should we call it?  After long hours of thought and meditation, I hit on a name:  Param  means supreme and param is also acronym for parallel machine."
Based on the Param series of supercomputers (which continues to  grow even today)  a new generation of  leaders)  connected Param computers into  the Garuda Grid which went on to become  the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
In recent years Dr Bhatkar  has  continued his scientific leadership in new roles:  as  Chairman of ETH Research Labs, as national President of  the people's science movement Vignana Bharati and  a member of many national science advisory committees.  He  is a recipient of both Padma Shri (2000) and Padma Bhushan (2015) and continues to  articulate  a vision to make India a supercomputing power in the exascale era.
Nalanda University located in the town of Rajgir,  in Bihar, is a postgraduate, research intensive, international university supported by the participating countries of the East Asia Summit. The University  was created in  2010 by a special Act of the Indian Parliament and has been designated as an “institution of national importance”.  The first batch of students joined in 2014. 
It  is situated close to  the site of the ancient university  which thrived from the seventh century BC to 1200 AD.  At its peak, the  ancient school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from  Tibet, Korea and China.  
The first chancellor  of the modern university, was  Nobel  laureate Dr Amartya Sen.