The Indian Institutes of Technology have another feather in their cap, and this one's particularly impressive. Sundar Pichai, born P Sundarajan, was on Tuesday appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of search engine and tech behemoth Google. Pichai takes over from Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and will officially be overseeing everything from the ubiquitous search engine to the equally omnipresent Android operating system for phones to YouTube.

In getting there, Pichai has managed to rack up one of the most impressive resumes of all. So impressive that it's giving a complex to those who were around him in his earliest years: his Wikipedia page has turned into something of a battleground with people fighting over which Chennai school he actually went to.

Schooling was followed by a stint at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, which is the original IIT. But, just earlier this year, when a professor at IIT-KGP got a call from a Wall Street Journal reporter asking details about Pichai, the response was that there had been no student by that name.

It was only later that Professor Sanat Kumar Roy realised that the journalist had been talking about the student who was then known as P Sundarajan, then a topper in the metallurgy department

Here Pichai stayed in Nehru Hall hostel, named after the father of India's first prime minister who also laid out, in a characteristically evocative speech back in 1956 at IIT-Kharagpur's first convocation, what he expected from the graduates of the institute.

"Now you are engineers and this world today becomes more and more, shall I say, it takes shape more and more under the hands of engineers," Nehru said. "There was a time when administrators played the primary role in the country’s government and development. Administrators always had to play an important role, we cannot minimise it. But the time has now come when the engineer plays an infinitely greater role than anybody else."
"Engineers, scientists and the like-in fact, these divisions of Administrator, Engineer, etc., gradually fade away, as I see it, many of our administrators in future will have to be Engineers and many of our Engineers might well have to be administrators because the major work of the country to-day deals with these vast schemes, engineering schemes of various types. We are building up a new India and the administrator who is completely ignorant of engineering does not help much in administering. He can not understand this new domain. You will find in a country technologically developed, how Engineers and Scientists play a far more important role even outside their sphere of Engineering and Science. That is right and that is bound to happen in India."

No jokes

And indeed, it has ended up being true, not just for India, but for the entire world. Google's influence today goes beyond the reach of most countries, and it happens to be run almost entirely by engineers like Pichai. That has, however, led to a bit of an arms race in India to ensure that our kids are competing with the best and brightest the world over.

Presumably the kids themselves are interested in a different part of Pichai's success.

And there were plenty of other reactions.