Founder of Hotmail, renowned entrepreneur and innovator, Sabeer Bhatia was conferred with Jamia Millia Islamia’s highest award, ‘Ímtiaz-e-Jamia’ for his ‘outstanding contributions to public service and for technological innovation for the benefit of the society.

US-based, Mr Bhatia, 50, was presented with a plaque with the citation and a shawl by Vice-Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad at an impressive function in the university campus amidst loud applause by a large number of students, especially from Science and Technology faculties. The citation read: ‘JMI confers Ímtiaz-e-Jamia on Mr Sabeer Bhatia, entrepreneur, philanthropist and innovator for his outstanding contributions to public service throughout his life’.

Accepting the award, Mr Bhatia, who subsequently sold-off Hotmail to Microsoft in 1998, gave a stimulating talk on entrepreneurship and the future of information technology. Recounting his days as a student at California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, he asked the students to develop innovative ideas and be open to risks that come with entrepreneurship.

With technology changing at a rapid pace, he said that newer technology makes old technology obsolete. Neural networks are the new paradigm of technology, he said adding that the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring in the next wave of revolution that will transform the society. With IoT, all objects will have some intelligence device and will send data to the cloud which will be useful to all stakeholders, Mr Bhatia said.

Talking about the risk involved in entrepreneurship he said that all decision-making has to be based on logic and one should be prepared to face failure. There should be no shame in failing, he added.

Mr Bhatia said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is future technology and it will bring sweeping changes in the lives of people and business as machines and the superior algorithm will outdo human intelligence. He said that though algorithms are good for machines, it is not how the human brain works or for that matter how a child’s brain develops. Though algorithms may have more accurate analytical ability than human beings they lack the emotions that human beings can express.

Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad said that he was pleased to confer the award on Mr Bhatia who has not only served society with his innovative use of technology but also brought laurels to the country of his origin. Prof Ahmad said that the idea behind instituting this award is to identify outstanding Indians across the world and give due recognition to them for the contributions towards the betterment of the society.

Prof Ahmad said that the youth of today have to think out-of-the-box to succeed and learn to take risks to achieve something. He told the students to go for innovations that would cater to the rural masses.

Among those present at the award ceremony included Mr Javed Yunus, Senior Advisor of Aramco Asia India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s National Oil Company, Aramco, JMI Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof Shahid Ashraf, Registrar, Mr A P Siddiqui (IPS), Finance Officer, Mr Sanjay Kumar, Director FTK Centre for Information Technology, Prof Doja, Deans, Heads of Departments and Directors of Centres, faculty members and students.

Mr Bhatia accompanied by VC-JMI, Prof Talat Ahmad and Registrar, Mr A. P. Siddiqui later visited the Jamia’s Premchand Archives and Literary Centre which houses rare photographs, archival records and memorabilia of Jamia founders, former Vice-Chancellors and major literary figures who were a part of the 98-year old history of Jamia. Prof Sabiha A. Zaidi, Director of the Archives gave them a guided tour of the different sections at the centre.


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