Anita Kesavan Srinivasan, Lives Lived: Hiremagalur K. Kesavan, 88, The Globe and Mail, May 20, 2015

Memory Book

I am deeply saddened at the passing of Dr. Keshavan. My heartfelt condolences to Aunty and his family.

I am proud and blessed to be a beneficiary of his and Aunty's guidance and generosity. I would consider myself fortunate if I am able pay forward even a small measure of assistance and guidance that I received from Dr. Keshavan and Aunty.

Aunty, Rohini, Anita, Kalpana and all the family members, I pray that you have strength to go through this tough time.


Deepthi Setlur (Houston, TX)

I had known Prof. Kesavan for many years. He was a dear friend, scholar and a compassionate human being. After completing his undergraduate education in India, Prof. Kesavan came to USA for higher studies. He received his M.S. degree from the University of Illinois in 1956 and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1959 in the field of Electrical Engineering. He worked as an instructor at Michigan State from 1956-1959 and then as assistant professor during 1959-1960


Professor Kesavan joined the University of Waterloo as an associate professor in 1960. He later served as chairman of the Electrical Engineering department. He went to India for five years from 1964 to 1968 to serve as the first chairman of Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He also served as the first Dean of Research and Development there.

Professor Kesavan returned to Waterloo to serve as the founding chairman of the Department of Systems Design engineering. He wrote books on systems theory, applications of linear graph theory and entropy optimization principles besides publishing a number of scientific papers.

Professor Kesavan acted as a research advisor to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and helped set up TCS research in 1981. He interacted closely with Mr. F.C. Kohli, founder and first CEO of Tata Consultancy Services.

He was an early pioneer in the field of information technology, who understood its importance in the knowledge economy of today. Professor Kesavan played a phenomenal role in the growth of Indian software industry by setting up institutes, developing new technologies and training new graduates with tools needed to serve the fast growing software industry. His work has impacted both India and Canada significantly. Today Indian software professionals are in demand all over the world. Closer to home, the graduates of University of Waterloo are in great demand at top software industries such as Microsoft. His pioneering vision has changed the world as we know it and we should feel very proud of it.

Throughout his life, he acted as a bridge between India and Canada and promoted interaction between Indian and Canadian professionals. He was also a mentor to many young professionals of Indian origin.

I had the privilege of attending many programs with him and discussing the impact of Indian culture and philosophy in the contemporary world.

We will miss Professor Kesavan dearly. May his soul rest in eternal bliss.

Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan (Mississauga)

Mr. Kesavan was a true friend to us their next neighbour. We shared many special moments and family events. He was one of the greatest minds that I met. Mr. Kesavan was an excellent speaker; his knowledge on many subjects had no bounds. When listening to him you could not help but admire his brilliance. He devoted his entire life to academic work and writing. Whenever we met, he found time for a chat about politics, our families, and about his thoughts on spirituality. He told me on several occasions that spirituality is important in life and he lived by that. Mr. Kesavan was a modest man. He had no interest in material things. He was very proud of his children, grandchildren and their accomplishments. We knew each other’s children from their early ages. When we visited we enjoyed going through family photos and kept each other posted about their lives.

As the saying goes, “Behind every great man there is a woman.” In his case there is no exception. For him there was always Mrs. Kesavan (Lakshmi) as we call her. She took care of their household. Her Indian cuisine is second to none. She got us hooked on the taste of Indian food after we had sampled her cooking. She prepared every meal from scratch for their guests. They had many visitors at their house. About two months ago when I visited Mr. Kesavan at home and had my last chat with him, he said, “I’m fortunate Lakshmi is taking good care of me.” His great mind with enviable memory served him well till the end.

Mr. Kesavan will be greatly missed by my family and me. He lived life that he loved, immersed in work, his thoughts, family, and friends.

Dan Raletic and Family

Dan Raletic (Waterloo)

Prof.H.K.Kesavan – A Tribute
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Earlier with Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

I first met Prof.H.K.Kesavan when he joined IIT/Kanpur to head the Electrical Engineering Department. I was a young Assistant Professor and had joined the Department of Electrical Engineering in March 1963. When I joined we were still in the local engineering college building and the campus was not yet ready. By the time Kesavan came in the winter of 1964 we had moved to a new campus at Kalyanpur about 15Km from Kanpur. There was only an undergraduate programme and teaching Electrical Engineering courses had barely started. We were a small young group, inexperienced but with a pioneering spirit to start a new academic institution. Kesavan came as a breath of fresh air. He was open-minded with lots of ideas. His sterling qualities were being frank without being offensive, academic honesty, transparency of whatever decisions he took, and the confidence he gave to the young faculty to achieve things which they never thought they were capable of. One of the first points he made was the importance of starting a post graduate programme in Electrical Engineering and also initiating research as early as possible. IIT/Kanpur was hardly known as an academic institution and we were not sure we could attract good students to a post graduate course. He reposed enough confidence in me and sent me to scout for good students at IIT/Madras and IISc, Bangalore. I went to Madras and Bangalore, visited the hostels and talked to graduating B.Tech students and tried to impress on them that IIT/Kanpur was recruiting excellent faculty under the leadership of Prof.Kesavan and that we had a new computer – one of the first in an educational institution in India. IIT/Kanpur installed an IBM 1620 computer in August 1963, the first computer with a FORTRAN compiler in India. The American team headed by Prof.Harry Huskey and the Director of IIT/Kanpur Dr.P.K.Kelkar were highly impressed by the leadership qualities of Prof.Kesavan. He was requested to head the new Computer Centre in addition to the Electrical Engineering Department.

It was a very bold step taken by Prof.Kesavan to admit students to the M.Tech programme in Electrical Engineering in August 1965. I was interested in teaching courses in computing and Kesavan encouraged me. He also requested me to assist him in the day to day running of the computing facilities. Even though I had taken some courses in computing during my graduate programme in U.S.A., I had not done any research in digital computing. I had done research in designing analog computers and had used them extensively in my research. Prof.Kesavan was far sighted and talked to me at length on the inevitability of a digital world. He arranged with the Kanpur Indo American Programme for me to go as a Visiting Assistant Professor to the University of California, Berkeley, to re-orient myself in research and teaching in digital computing. I spent 1965-66 at the University of California, Berkeley and returned with a lot of new ideas. I will be ever grateful to Prof. Kesavan for the opportunity he gave me to enter the fledging field of computers. He was far sighted to allow the initiation of Computer Science option in the M.Tech course in Electrical Engineering which heralded the beginning of Computer Science education in India. It came as a shock to me when early in 1967 he told me that he was planning on returning to Waterloo. When I expressed my trepidations about the vacuum he would leave behind he said in his own inimitable way that the sign of a good leader is that it would be obvious who would succeed him and that his effort would have been fruitless if he had built a department which depended on one person. In his brief stay at Kanpur he left his distinct mark. The culture and traditions he had nurtured in the department of Electrical Engineering has made it one of the best in the country. He also assumed a leadership role in the development of IIT/Kanpur’s distinct ethos and values. The structure of various academic committees, the rotation of Chairmanship of departments, and the representation of students in some of the academic bodies were all pioneering ideas in India and has made IIT Kanpur what it is today.

Although he was physically in Canada, his spiritual underpinning was in India. Each winter when he came to Bangalore he talked to me about Indian politics and his deep studies in philosophy. He admired Sankara’s intellect and his logical arguments on Advaita philosophy.

Kesavan was an intellectual’s intellectual, a loving husband, an affectionate father, a great academic leader, and a rare human being. I was extremely fortunate to have had as a mentor Professor Kesavan, an unassuming great person who left his indelible impression on me during my formative years as an academic. I will miss his scintillating conversations during his winter visits to Bangalore. My wife Dharma joins me in expressing our deepest condolences to Lakshmi, Rohini, Anita, Kalpana, and all the family members of Professor Kesavan. His passing away has left a big void in our lives.

V. Rajaraman (Bangalore, India)

I am sorry to learn from your mail of the sad passing away of Prof. H. K. Kesavan, a towering personality in Electrical Engineering.

Prof. Kesavan used to be a regular visitor to IISc during the 1960s when he was building up the EE Department at IIT/K. Subsequently, he was visiting us during his trips to India. Besides, Dr. Srihari being our alumnus, we would be generally following up on our past connections. I vividly recall my last meeting/interaction with him in the mid 1990s when we had arranged a major Conference at IISc with support from the Ford Foundation, at which he was a guest speaker . Therefore, his passing away is a personal loss to me. May his soul rest in peace!

B. S. Sonde (IISc, Bangalore,India)

Massage from IIT Alumni Canada (IITAC) to Professor Kesavan's family:

Please accept our condolences on behalf of IITAC members and its Board. it was an honour for IITAC Canada to recognize Prof. Kesavan's many contributions to IITs at the 2006 Pan IIT conference held in Toronto. May his soul rest in peace.



Khaliq Zaman (Toronto)

Please accept our condolences on behalf of the many IITians that have done their post graduate studies at the University of Waterloo, in particular those under Prof. Kesavan's tutelage. As Dr. Venkatesh has mentioned elsewhere, it was an honour for IIT Alumni Canada to have recognized, at the 2006 PanIIT conference held in Toronto, Prof. Kesavan's many contributions to IITs.

Vijay Aivalli (Mississauga)

My association with Prof. Kesavan and his family goes back well over 40 years when I was a PhD student at the University of Waterloo and continues to this day. The warmth and guidance he and his family provided during my student days at Waterloo were most welcome and very timely. The last time my wife Kasturi and I had the privilege of meeting Prof. Kesavan was at the screening of a Kannada movie in Toronto just a few months ago.

Many of us from the IIT Alumni Canada fondly recall his participation in the 2006 PanIIT conference held here in Toronto, an occasion where we recognized him for his many contributions to IITs (see photos in Photo Gallery). Prof. Kesavan leaves a legacy that will be remembered and cherished for a long time.

Srinivasan Venkatesh (Vaughan (Toronto), Canada)

My association with Dr.Kesavan goes back a long time, but our meetings were brief. I was present when Dr.Kesavan was honored by Kannada Sangha ,Toronto for his achievements and contributions. I was saddened to hear his obituary and prey God to grant his soul a long lasting peace.

Nagaraja Rao (Markham ,Ontarrio,Canada)

Dear Aunty, Rohini, and family,

My deepest condolences to all of you. I was recalling all the times with Prof Keshavan and his gentle and thoughtful presence. We are all blessed for our time with him.

He so impressed me with his incredible memory, about people and events, in these recent years.

geetha srikantan (palo alto, CA)

Our deep felt condolences to Dr Keshavan,s family. My acquintances with him were for brief periods and he was eversmiling and happy. We used to remind ourselves about June 14th, which happened to be his and my birth day. I am fortunate to have known this great person.

Hut Srinivasan

Hut Srinivasan (Mississauga)

I received the news of Prof Kesavan's journey to eternity immediately from his brother Narayan. He was my professor and guide at the University of Waterloo during early seventies. He had encouraged me to join the department of Systems Design and arranged a graduate fellowship.

During my stay I was invited several times to his house for dinner. His warmth, hospitality, and gentleness were very genuine and remarkable. I remember a family mishap that happened to me during my stay and how kind he was in expressing his concern. It was like the soothing words of a father.

I have not been in frequent touch with him, but we exchanged emails a few times. He took much pride in his student's professional success.

I bow my head in deep reverence to such a great soul and can see his smiling face returning my namaskar. The soul's journey continues even if the physical body disappears.

Jnan Dash (San Jose, CA)

I've been thinking for several days now about what to write, and to be honest I am no further forward now than I was when I first heard about Professor Kesavan's passing last week. The Joyners and the Kesavans go back many years, and we have always been made to feel welcome whenever we have visited. Kalpana and I grew up together of course, and even as a young girl, I was always treated with respect by Professor Kesavan; as fellow politics aficionados, we spent many a pleasant 30 minutes discussing current events, and I learned a great deal from him about Indian politics. As I grew into adulthood, our relationship matured, and realise now that I was being treated as a colleague and fellow scholar. Professor Kesavan granted me the honour of reading an early manuscript of some of his thinking around spirituality and science, which I found and continue to find fascinating.

One of my favourite pictures from Kalpana and Prakash's wedding is of Kalpana sitting on Professor Kesavan's lap -- sharing a private moment, they are both giggling -- his gentleness, his humour and his pride in his family are captured in that photo.

I'm very deeply saddened by Professor Kesavan's passing, and will miss those 30 minute "politics" debates, but full of warm memories and gratitude. All the best with my love to the family.

Melanie Joyner (Saltash, Cornwall, UK)

I was deeply saddened by the news of our Dear Prof. Kesavan passing away. I was at IIT Kanpur, an undergraduate student when he joined in 1964 as head of EE. We looked up to him for guidance, and he was warm and inspiring. In 1995, Prof Kesavan attended our 30th class reunion in Toronto, and I kept in touch with him by email and phone. He was an inspiring teacher and a great human being. Through him, I also connected with Rohini and Srihari. We cherish his memories and example. Abhay Bhushan

Abhay Bhushan (Palo Alto, CA)

Our heartfelt condolences to Lachu Aunty - Laxmi Kesavan, Rohini, Anitha, Kalpana and the entire family - from Narayanan Family and Sheela Ramapriyan.

Kesavan Uncle was a great man but so very humble and affectionate. He was a very good friend of my father the Late N. Ramapriyan. He will be missed .....

Kanthi Narayanan (Morganville, NJ)

Our meetings with Prof Kesavan were brief and usually at a social gathering but the conversations we had were always stimulating and enriching. Whether it was music, religion, philosophy or politics, Uncle's viewpoints were unique and thoughtful. Our thoughts are with the family.

Lalita and Ram Krishna (Toronto)

I fondly remember of Kesavan uncle as a jovial,loving, compassionate man who always welcomed us into his home. We had the most enjoyable time in Waterloo when we were kids. Our families have had wonderful memories in 279 Glendridge dr.Daddy and uncle were best buds who stayed in touch through their Kanpur days till now. We have lost a dear friend and human being. I will never forget his kind eyes and wonderful smile.

Sujata Dutt (Irvine, AR)

Kechu Dodsppa as i used to call him was very affectionate. As a young girl, I started noticing that everyone in my family held him in highest regards. As I got to know him more, I started appreciating his intelligence, balanced mind, mentorship and emotional connection. He is a true role model to everyone in the entire family. I am so glad that I was able to visit him at waterloo a couple of years back and spend good time with Dodappa and Dodamma.

Along with my family, I pray sincerely to God to rest the soul in peace.

Keeping everyone in the family in our prayers.

With sentiments,

Raji, Ram. Rishab and Gokul.

Mrunalini Rajan (Fremont, CA)

A true gentleman and a scholar! Above all a Guru who knew vedanta deeply and could explain it to youngsters! So full of life and passionate about all things life. He will be ever present in his many of his books and writings. My conversations with him, dating back to Buffalo 80s, are unforgettable!

Srikanta Kumar (Washington, DC)

The Glenridge Drive house and the many weekends spent there with Dr. K (Uncle) and Aunty brings back fond memories. Dr. K watching Meet the Press and a whole hoard of us spread out all over the house is something that sticks in my mind. Aunty with her ever hospitable self cooking up a storm and all the kids sharing their room with us. He was an institution and will be missed by us all. Uncle was a wonderful man with a wife who enhanced his qualities. He will be missed but never forgotten. His family is a true testament to the life he led and we wish them all the best.

Rangamani and Madhu Murthy (Potomac, MD)

I am very saddened about the news. I enjoyed his visits to St . Thygararaja music society concerts with his family and also his visits at temple. We miss him . May his soul rest in peace.

bhavansa padmanabha (east Amherst, NY)

Hearing about the passing of Dr HKK is very sad.

Here was a person who touched so many individuals in a positive way. Auntie and Uncle were the pillars of the Indian community in the greater Toronto/Waterloo area. Always generous, guiding the newcomers, they helped many families gain foothold in the new land. He gave unselfishly, a trailblazer who symbolized the goodness in human beings. When asked, how can we repay your generosity? He always said, "Help others who need it and that is all you need to do."

He instilled the spirit of sharing in many that came in touch with him.

Auntie supported Uncle always and the void that he has left in her life is shared by all of us.

A great man has joined God and we mourn his passing.

Naresh Setlur (Houston, TX)

A great visionary, and a true model for all generations to comprehend from his learning & apply in every walk of our living. A very modest and innovative person, always with full of energy and aware of entire range of knowledge eg., science, political, heritage, philosophy etc., An immense loss to all of us & the entire science fraternity, since his teaching & abilities not only enriched the current generations but also empowered the forthcoming.....our prayers & emotions, and we stand together & mourn with all his family members. RIP a great scholar and nobleman

Prahalad Muthanna (Bangalore, India)

Prof. Kesavan's passing away from this mortal world on November 26, 2014, is a deep loss to me and my wife. When my wife, Shesha Jayaram and I, Jayaram came to Guelph University from Bangalore, to pursue my PhD, in 1986, we had a chance to meet Prof Kesavan at UW System Design Department. He was very kind and helpful for Shesha, who had obtained M.E., from IISc, Bangalore, to get admission to graduate program in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UW. Because of Professor Kesavan's generosity and helpful guidance, Shesha has not only completed her PhD at UW with Prof James Cross but she is now a Professor at UW,in Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Shesha and I are deeply indebted forever to Prof Kesavan for his support and encouragement, there by shaping Shesha's career and life to become better and highly satisfying at Waterloo, Ontario.

In Prof. Kesavan's demise, Shesha and I have lost a great Professor, an intellectual giant of world standing in Engineering Science, more so, a sincere and compassionate Human being. It is with deep sense of sadness, we offer our condolence to Prof Kesavan's Family (Daughters and Sons-in- Law, and other members).

Good bye, Prof. Kesavan.

With reverence and gratitude.
Sheshakamal and Jayaram Muthanna

Jayaram Muthanna (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)

Dear Rohini, Hari and the Kesavan family:

Deepest condolences from us.

I joined IIT Kanpur in 1974 when Dr Kesavan had already left for Waterloo - but everyone knew his name as one of the pioneers who had started the computing center and solidly placed IIT on the international Computer science map. In fact they used to say that every punched card we used on the IBM 1620 system had his name on it! And we studied WatFIV - which brought in the Waterloo connection.

I met him several years later at Buffalo at your place (along with Auntie) and it was a pleasure to chat with him - on topics ranging from entropy to the spiritual.

May he rest in peace.

Raghu Rao (Williamsville, NY)

Dr.Kesavan was a pillar of our Kitchener Waterloo community. He was a founder member of our local Canadian South Asian Club and we benefited immensely from his guidance and direction. Our condolences to Mrs. Laxmi Kesavan, Rohini, Anita and Kalpana and their spouses and families. May he forever rest in peace.

Horace and Rita Coelho (Waterloo)

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Dear Rohini And Dr. Shrihari:

Our sincere sympathies on the loss of your loved one! You are in our prayers during this difficult time.

Jaimina Patel (Getzville, NY)

Our heartfelt condolences to the Kesavan family. It has been a privilege to have known them for the past several years. We were fortunate and were truly blessed to enjoy the affection and kindness shown by Dr. Kesavan and Lakshmi. As it is well known, most Indian names are the synonyms of the names of gods/goddesses ; very recently I came to know from an expert that 'Kesavan' is the most renowned/sacred of all the more-than-thousand names of Vishnu. What a perfectly fitting name to our dear Dr. Kesavan! He will be dearly missed....Radha Govindarajan, Waterloo, ON

Dr. Kesavan was a man of very high erudition. We will miss all Dr. Kesavan's scholarly conversations. Govindarajan

Radha Govindarajan (Waterloo)

Kechu Uncle as he was affectionately called by all of us - was a favorite uncle - always full of humor with a twinkle in his eye - a friend, philosopher and guide to my husband Prakash and I particularly after we moved to Michigan in early 80's.

My own memories of Uncle go way back to my childhood way way back in Delhi - when he used to visit our home - always an intellectual with my dad, but down to earth with us kids - kind, gentle,affectionate and always there for guidance and wisdom. We also shared many wonderful times with him when he visited Bangalore and then of course in Waterloo where we enjoyed his and Auntie's generous hospitality time and again. We shared wonderful moments of spirited conversations with him on a wide variety of subjects - so versatile was he in so many fields! A father figure to me personally - we will miss him so much.

To his loving family - Rajlakshmi Auntie, and Rohini/Anita/Kalpana - we offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers that may his soul rest in peace and God give you all the strength to bear this immense loss.

Usha(Dolly) and Prakash Shrivastava (Plano, TX)

We miss Dr. Kesavan who used to be regularly attending the Thanksgiving party at Hari and Rohini's place. I gave a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to my students at my home on Wednesday and we remembered Dr. Kesavan and the entire family of Rohini and Hari. It was a strange coincidence to hear the passing away of Dr. Kesavan on the Thanksgiving day.

Shambhu Upadhyaya (East Amherst)

Dear Rohini, Sri Hari, Mukund: It is very sad to hear about Prof. Kesavan's passing. Uma and I were fortunate to have met him through Mukund. In the limited interactions we had with him, we were enriched by his discussions ranging from kidney physiology to Hindu philosophy! A remarkable soul, he has left an indelible impression on us.

>Our prayers are with you all.

Kashi and Uma
San Antonio, TX

Balakuntalam Kasinath (San Antonio, TX)

We are ever so sorry to hear of the loss of your father, in laws, Susheela and Srinivasan always had fond memories of your father and they would share those with us. The association goes back to Davanagere days. I remember him as a gentle, kind human being .

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during these trying times

Jayanthi Govindaraj (Amherst, NY)

My Sincere and Heartfelt Condolences. It indeed causes immense grief to all the near and dear ones. Knowing the close bond that I shared with him over the years, I am going to miss all those wonderful interactions that we used to have over the years which was an education in itself. I was indeed fortunate in my life and thank the All mightly that I came across a GENTLEMAN, who was so affectionate , caring , yet so simple , down to earth and the list can go on endlessly that has left such an indelible mark and impact in my life which is inimitable, a vacuum that can never ever be filled.

I shudder to think he is no more and completely lost for words and for a moment I was speechless. The fact that I will not see him again caused me unavoidable sadness and tears which I cannot express.

Dearest Mama was a SPECIAL PERSON who meant a world for all of us. Whatever I am today it is because of him and his blessings and I feel so sad and helpless that I cannot be near him today to touch his feet and seek his blesssings.

With lots of love and heartfelt sympathies,


Our condolences to the immediate and extended family - my wife and i got to meet him only once in Waterloo but i have been on email contact with him for a few years as we shared a common interest in Vedanta. I will cherish his writings especially the one on Mandukya Upanishads. I enjoyed & benefited a lot from talking to him and his presence in our lives will continue forever through his memories and writings. We were blessed and honored in crossing paths with him!

Krishnan Iyer (Pickerington & Chennai (India), OH)

Whenever I think "Appa" I immediately think back to all of the years of emails on my birthday joking how he was 12 days younger than me. Every year, the same joke. But every year, I looked forward to reading his email. He knew what time I would wake up on my birthday, and make sure to be the first person to call or email me. Some years, it got to him emailing me the day before. It always put a goofy smile on my face when I saw the email.

To me, it always felt like Appa was shocked that he had a granddaughter following 5 boys. I was the pink in the sea of blue. The grandchild carrying around the doll rather than sports equipment. I always kinda stuck out like a sore thumb among my cousins, but Appa could somehow always tell when I was feeling awkward and made some stupid joke that would completely change the subject to something that I would fit in talking about, or he would call me into the other room to talk to him instead. It made me always feel comfortable around my family and now it takes nothing for me to feel comfortable around them.

Appa could always talk to me about the thing I'm interested in, or at least pretend to be interested. He would just keep asking me questions that kept me talking, which we all know isn't hard to do, but in a way that showed him more about me so that in our next conversation, he'd use that topic to keep me talking and learn more about me each time. He probably did this to everyone, but it made me feel so loved that he wanted to learn everything about me.

There is so much more about Appa I want to have written down, but many of those are memories I like keeping as a personal memory, sort of like an inside joke that will always be strong between my grandpa and his only granddaughter. I'm sure there are also memories that I was too little to remember, but my family can remember for me.

I'll miss you so much, Appa. I'm not going to say goodbye, but instead See You Later Appa. I love you so much.


Kavita Sarathy (Manhattan Beach, CA)