Six Life Lessons

from my father-in-law, the late Professor P. V. Indiresan

Prof. P.V. Indiresan, former Director, IIT, Madras, was not just a father-in-law to me, he was my professor too. 

From him I learnt that:

1. Being principled is everything. He taught me to examine my beliefs and values, and then to remain centered and never give up on those examined principles.

2. To speak one’s mind without fear or favour. I was taught by example to articulate my views clearly and logically, uninfluenced by the possibility of adverse reactions from others.

3. Disagreement does not mean being disagreeable: Even when one has radically divergent views from others, one can articulate and debate with others and even disagree. However, it does not mean that we have to be offensive in our manners. Civil discourse is the mark of a civilized mind.

4. Catholicity of taste: He was a voracious reader and would devour books on almost any topic. All reading was to educate the mind and provide food for further thought.

5. Social Awareness: An engineer by background, he constantly sought solutions to the problems of society. He encouraged thinking about social problems and was tireless in his search for solutions to them.

6. Zest for life: Through his abundant energy, the multiple projects & causes he associated himself with, he taught me that life is for the living. He taught me to live it fully.

About Prof. P.V. Indiresan
The uniqueness of PV Indiresan in the Indian intellectual landscape comes from the fact that he encompasses so many different disciplines and has produced top-tier work in most of them. He is simultaneously an inventor, a scientist, a social scientist, a manager of some repute, an educationist and, of course, a lover of food, travel and books.

Through he has held many positions and won many accolades, PV Indiresan is best remembered for being the director of IIT Madras. As the director, he ushered in an era of transparency and created an administrative staff that not only engaged with the students, but was often judged by them. This two way interaction was regarded as revolutionary in the staid and orthodox education system of the country, and for that and other reasons he had been recognized as the best director IIT-M ever had.

He has been a part of the Planning Commission, and has worked extensively in Defense, having obtained patents for a number of designs. His has been a fierce advocate of PURA, his unique vision of the future of Urban Design.

He has been conferred the Padma Bhushan by the President, and has a regular column in the popular Hindu Business Line, having published over 350 articles there. The professor’s accomplishments are as awe-inspiring as they are immense.

—The author of the article is R. S. Ramasubramaniam, an IITM77 alumnus and PV Indresen’s son-in-law.



November 2013

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