Roorkee: An IIT alumnus, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar says a public life was something he never anticipated and he was pushed into the river of politics from behind but managed to "swim successfully".
He used disarming sense of humour in his address to future technocrats while inaugurating IIT Roorkee's 'Cognizance 2016' yesterday, often having the students in splits.
"When I came here, I was given this two-page prepared speech but then I thought since we are talking of 'Make in India', so I would have my own speech. So, guess I'll go my way, the IIT way, and talk directly the students," he said, to a loud cheer, as he spoke extempore.
"It's almost like coming back to IIT-Bombay. I spent my B.Tech days at IIT and later also took up a PG course but never finished the M.Tech. But more than degree and I valued knowledge. I spent 6.5 years at IIT, I didn't spend 6.5 years for undergraduation but I have a B.Tech degree, as my affidavit says, and not M.Tech. Someone, may file a case (against me)," he said, leaving the crowd in raptures.
The minister was apparently making a reference to the row related to Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani's educational qualifications.
On being a reluctant politician, he said, "Many IITians went to the US, the UK but I stuck here. Let me tell you I never anticipated joining politics. I was the one sitting by the side of the river and someone pushed me from behind into it.
"But, I swam successfully, in that river and became chief minister of Goa and then the defence minister," he said, adding, "I was the general secretary of the mess and quite popular and thus got elected for three years. At least that proves that doing the mess management I learned to steer the state finances properly."
Moving on to examinations, he said the current generation is "luckier" as far as engineering examinations are concerned.
"Let me tell you, open book examination is the most difficult one. As you have to know where the answer lies, going through the book twice, thrice" as he asked students to inculcate, out-of-box thinking and contribute to the growth story of India.
Before ending his speech, he recounted a humour-laden story of a French King and his court astrologer to reinforce his point about Make in India....