We wanted the IIIT campus to be inaugurated by the CM. He was there when the foundation was laid by the-then President APJ Abdul Kalam.
We had sent a proposal to his office. Initially, they gave us a date on 19th September with a lead time of about 5 days. We had to make the campus presentable. Our builder painted the Academic buildings. Efforts started to level the frontage. With the JCB and the road roller in action, the noise was enormous. The toilet on the second floor was made ready. Everybody swung into action. By 16th Sept I came to know that CM has postponed his visit. We kept it a secret and let the work progress rapidly. On 18th morning we revealed the CM's programme. The CM gave the date on 9th Oct.
There was Puja Vacation lasted about 10 days. Ajit went to Nainital for Vacation. As is my wont, I stayed at Bhubaneswar working on the new Website, Hibiscus, chaning the OS of all my computers to ubuntu, watching a few movies. I visited the campus every alternate day. The work had come to a standstill. Everybody went home for the vacations. I had a meeting with IT Secretary Pradipta Mohapatra. He was concerned about the arrangements. I assured him that every thing will be ready.
On Oct 5th the Institute reopened. We took stock of what needs to be done. The laundry list of things to do ran into about 3 pages. We divided the responsibility. Prashant, Sidharth, Debasis, Umakanta, Bishoyi and others were given tasks, deadlines, quality parameters to fulfil. Every one was one campus till midnight. We tried several permutations and combinations for our plans. Initially we planned refreshments for the guests. Later we changed it to lunch after discussing with Ashok Panda. We briefed the students about the details of the CM's Visit and shared our expectations from them. We had discussions with Prof. Tanutrishna who would be the anchor.
We had the Minister, MP, MLA, Chief Secretary on the guest list. We invited guests from the Academic community, Government, OCAC, IT Fraternity. We did a rehearsal the previous day.
There were goof-ups. The weather was very humid and hot. We wanted to put a couple of ACs for the guests of the dias. The event manager brought window ACs which could not be installed. Fortunately for us, the weather turned pleasant.
The function went on with clockwork precision. All the guests arrived in time. The CM arrived about 5 minutes late. We had the unveiling of the plaque. We discussed the the campus plan with the CM. He said that the devil lies in the details. He seemed happy with our campus but made a few comments. Why is the floor not polished. Why the campus is not green. He suggested that we take ideas from a landscape architect Mr. Shaw. He promised to give us another 17 acres of land we have requested.
I had shared the dias with the CM on a few occasions before. But, I never had discussions with him from such close quarters. The stakes were high. I was nervous.
The function went precisely as we planned. The MP Sri Patsani was very entertaining. The CS promised to make efforts to make IIIT an University. The CM shared that 9th was the birth day of Gopabandhu Das. It was a coincidence and I was not aware of that fact. The CM gave a pep talk to the students and the faculty. Others spoke with brevity. I gave the Vote of thanks. I spoke about the amount of coverage Orissa got in the last general elections and its coming of age. I shared the pencil story with the students. The function lasted less than an hour which was our estimated time. Even though we had arranged for some refreshment, the CM declined but requested the rest of the guests to have lunch with the students and faculty.
After the function was over many people complimented me saying the function went off well. I was feeling relieved. Most of the staff were tired and left a little early.
On 10th Oct, IT Secretary Mr. Pradipta Mohapatra called me and told that the CM was happy with organization and the conduct of the programme. He complimented him.
The Foundation Laying was the First important function. I was not with IIIT at that time. In fact there were no one with IIIT except Ajit who was the OSD. The CM's visit was next most important function. This function had the involvement of the faculty, staff and the students. I am happy that it went off well.