Thursday, October 30, 2008

American Dream - The Untold Story

This I found in letters to editor in Times of India Oct. 31, 2008 web edition following a disturbing piece of news. An Indian techie killed all family members apparently after loosing his job. The young in India often chase overseas dream, perhaps driven by the success stories, not knowing the other side of the coin. This is not to say that they shouldn't do that, rather to say that they should take an informed decision. Some of the view expressed comes only when goes thro' grinding of life, may appear a bit philosophical but may be useful to younger generation.

santosh, New jersey, says: Very very sad to hear this tragedy again.. ! Why educated people become so flustrated when then loose jobs & try to kill their loved ones which were so innocent..!! Looking at his age, he must be in US for last 10 yrs. must have earned & saved a lot till now(in Indian Rupees). He could have gone back to India & can spend rest of his lives there[31 Oct, 2008 0201hrs IST]

Vishal, NY, Berlin,Mumbai, says: Sir I remember my days few years ago. I was 24...I had lost my job. I went home almost crying. Cursing everyone...but my parents told me that 'you want enjoyment of US culture but don't want to share risk behind them. This is not going to happen, hire and fire will be policy'. hhhmm Good Learning Lesson... It is not at all bad to loose a job...but the problem with Indian Mindset ( or Asian Mind) is..we attach our EGO with job that we do. Because How otherwise we rise our Status , Pride among our relatives. So Economic downturn , Loosing a Job and Getting a New one a very natural cycle. [31 Oct, 2008 0452hrs IST]

noname, Denver, says: All those are living the American dream - please wake up - for the dream is over. If you don't wake up now you will be woken up very harshly over the next 6 months. For all those successful NRIs out there - the word may be "evacuation". A terrible storm comes thy way. [31 Oct, 2008 0452hrs IST]

ssunil, SanFrancisco, says: It is so sad. Indian H1 holders are citizens of US. India companies never hire H1 holders in USA unless they do not have any other alternaative to bring people on H1 or L1 from India. I have seen all major companies do it. IT IS SLOW DOWN. WHY SHOULD GOVT OF INDIA EXTEND ALL SUPPORT, EXTEND TAX CUT ETC TO THESE COMPANIES WHEN THEY DO NOT SUPPORT INDIAN CITIZENS. Patriotism is only for citizens and NOT for companies.[31 Oct, 2008 0321hrs IST]

Rakesh, USA, says: USA is a country that strictly follows the economic cycle. When it is UP you should conserve money for the next downward spiral - not very difficult for Indians who are born with a saving mentality. But at the same time due to our family values, we cannot divorce spouses and just runaway like others here. Also, remember that it is no more the country of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln - the pictures our minds conjures up when we line up for visas. Also, if any techie is still living in hiding (200,000 as estimated by INS) try to get out of the country with the help of the embassy. Ego and shame should not cloud their mind. Because even though Obama is not antagonistic to Indians, the typical Indian ideas like backdoor citizenship by getting children born here will not be encouraged. Relatives also may not be able to help much as they have gone through the credit system of expensive education, home and car buying , though that they may not show when they land at Indian airports coming on vacations. Techies who had their education India with no such expenses. Any way the post-y2k laissez faire won't happen again as demographic goals of immigration is reaching their limits. They are closing the loopholes one by one. We Indians and Philippinos were allowed in en masse as democratic people by President Johnson to neutralize Jews after the assassination of Kennedy! [31 Oct, 2008 0306hrs IST]

Eddy, Davis, CA, says: I think there is some kind of a stigma attached to a person having migrated to the USA (where it is still thought in some quarters that the streets are paved with gold) to return to India, penniless and a failure. This is specially so in cases where the groom has been described by the family to the bride as a successful NRI in America. Techies should diversify their talents and not take out their frustration on their spouses and innocent children. All techies that lose their jobs should be offered counselling![31 Oct, 2008 0252hrs IST]

niko, Auck, NZ, says: There is lots more in life then only status. Many Indian's feel that once their job is lost, life is over and how will they face the society and here the society is to blame for it. Indian culture has to undergo a change, get more western and learn to respect all sort of jobs. I have observed that those mainly from Hyderabad worship IT professionals, there is nothing great in it at all. I would not want my son to get into IT which is such a demanding field, I would rather want my kids to enjoy life and learn how to be able to take on real life challanges.[31 Oct, 2008 0238hrs IST]

Ramesh , US, says: Let me tell you one thing folks, one has to fight this life, i have been out of job for 4 months and have 2 kids and a housewife. I have been doing small jobs to keep my lifestyle low, this doesnt mean that one has to slaughter ones family to survive. My word to everyone is it may be hard to digest but folks please fight and never give up and their will be smiles in your life. Life is short make best use of it.[31 Oct, 2008 0214hrs IST]

Arjun, sydney, says: Indian IT comapnies are taking jobs away from NRIs. Its high time NRIs should stop outsourcing for their own benefits only.[31 Oct, 2008 0208hrs IST]

Deven, US, says: I am really nervous at this moment for those 2 kids and housewife. Indian male always prove their dominance on indian female. If they do not feel to live, they have every right to decide fate of their dependents. Let me tell all of you so called masculane characters that you have only developed skills to reproduce generation but not to carry them independently. To reproduce does not mean you are such great male. Masculanity actually means how well you carry them. Killing your dependents do not justify your affection to your family. Even if you die, they can survive. God has given them everything to survive in this world. I am also indian but I do not see taking control of freedom of my dependents as a part of my failure. [31 Oct, 2008 0202hrs IST]

Sunny, FL, US, says: This is a sad incident. I am apalled why these guys don't return to India if they are facing such problems in the US? I am sure with the kind of experience that Rao had, he could have landed a decent job in the booming indian economy. Instead they end up destroying their own and their countrie's reputation. Indians will now be steriotyped in the US after second such incident[31 Oct, 2008 0152hrs IST]

Uday, USA, says: Please don't do this to your family and self. Economic crisis is very severe especially in Michigan but it doesn't warrant such brutal action. May the deceased souls rest in peace.[31 Oct, 2008 0053hrs IST]

Monday, October 27, 2008


Yesterday was the one to reach an important milestone. It is interesting that another one coincided with that.

Sandipan Chakroborty, my first PhD student completed his PhD defence viva yesterday. Congratulations! Sandipan. In the afternoon get-together, arranged by Dept. Society, HOD rightly pointed out how important and signficant is the experience to guide one's first PhD student. It was a challenge for both me and Sandipan to delve into a completely new area with a zero balance in the account i.e. withtout inheriting anything. We started from the scratch, struggled, made mistakes but never gave up. The journey took 4.5 years. Today it is all the more satisfying to have comment from Dean(PGS) like 'in recent times I have not seen such good comments on thesis from examiners'. The foreign examiner termed it as 'best thesis read'. Indian examiner, the Professor from IIT Madras said that the thesis would be preserved in their lab so that the research students learn from it how to work systematically.

I was told to say a few words in the get together about Sandipan. I talked about a few things like his hard work, perseverence etc. What I didn't say that even after 9 months of leaving our lab I often find it more convenient to ask Sandipan clarifications of many silly things e.g. how to open files sent by our foreign collaborator in a new file format etc. This is because the green light in google had always been lit between us. And that has not changed even when he joined industry for a highly paid job in Feb. He continued to spend his spare time for research. How nice it would be to complete the cycle, to have him as faculty colleague here! Let's see what's in store for the futre.

The other one to be considered as milestone may appear ridiculous to many. But it is really one for someone like me coming from a lower middle class background. Few days back, one senior Professor and Head was lamenting "Given your background, contribution and effort you put in for the Dept.,Inst., you have not got a good deal as regard promotion". I assured him that I have got too many great things in life to complain about a few things which I might not have yet got. I never thought I would be studying in IIT or become its faculty member. Given the financial hardship we went through since my family came from Bangladesh during partition of India, the survival was the only goal - to get a job and earn a square meal. And thus it becomes a milestone to book a Rs. 2.5 lakh Maruti 800 AC Uniq Limited Edition car in their Diwali offer. It happened yesterday, just after Sandipan's defence viva (in fact the dealer's agent was waiting for the seminar to be over and receive the cheque). Everybody in the family is excited. Ma, (now in Bandel, to return after brother's day) too appeared very happy on telephone. She had went through those trying times, the major part of her life. We always saw her face lighting up whenever there was any discussion regarding the purchase of a car. True that I always postponed it considering car is a luxury. But the 6th pay commission, arrear payment and the necessity to have a vehicle that can make four of us move together led to the decision, that the time has come.

Pray that we all scale newer heights, reach many more milestones and make the most of our potential. Remember Vivekananda saying "Each soul is potentially divine" and "Be Good and Do Good, that is the whole of religion."

Sunday, October 26, 2008


But I am not happy with myself! This is festival time. The best season of a year. Durga Puja, Diwali, Brother's Day etc. How much I longed for these and enjoyed these even a few years back! Even when future was so much uncertain. Thought that a Government job would be all fun, never mind the 0.33X salary. I shall have time for myself, family and friends and enjoy life to its full. Few days back somebody remarked what had been his motivation behind accepting a low paid Government job. To be able to say 'NO' to any undue pressure from boss which perhaps one cannot avoid in a high paid industry job.

But being in IIT is more than a doing a Government job. There is so much opportunity! It is very difficult not to spend even the last single available minute for the cause. There is classroom teaching. There is project work under curricula - for me, mostly the disinterested bottomers, to extract work out of them! There are sponsored projects - 4 of them, its evaluation, delivery according to timelines! There are international collaborations to nurture which gives opportunity to grow exponentially! There is a requirement to extend support to research groups inside IIT whenever needed and also participate in team work like curricula development for new discipline! There are short term courses to be offered when such requests come from important Government functionary. There are research papers to review for others and own students. There are requests to be in technical committee or simply committee of many things. There are new frontiers to be explored i.e. submission of new research proposals. There are administartive work - playing host to visitors, being coordinator of various activities.....

To top all these there are deadlines of different work elements for each each of above. With no secretarial facility it is a big pain to remember all of them and prepare for them. As I mentioned in some other post that I don't get bright students and my research students are just average. I am getting work from them keeping them fully focussed and dont want to delegate anything to them. It is difficult to explain this to many who think (from our group's contribution) that there are many students working with me and we have sufficient bench strength.

And I would also like to point out that we too have responsibilities towards family and friends without whom we wouldn't have been here.

The two works after my heart had been writing manuscript for the new editions of the two books and mentoring UG 1st and 2nd year NSS students. I wish I could give maximum time to these two activities as they can make maximum impact in the society as far as my contribution is concerned. The Durga Puja vacation thus was mostly spent in manuscript writing. Coming Diwali would also be the same. The deadline is 31st Oct. for one book. Cannot but say 'No' to sister's earnest appeal to celebrate brother's day next week. No time for myself, family. I know that if I request the deadline will be extended again, for the second time. But I don't want do that repeatedly and dilute the high standard I had set in previous two editions of those two books. Let's see if my sister can make it to Kharagpur.

I am very happay with my NSS team VIVEK (, a significant percentage of them are really serious. Hope and pray that I play my role sincerely in imbibing in this team the spirit of sacrifice and service and they become worthy citizen of this country. So far they have prepared to organize a kid's event of 2-3 hour duration which is 5-6 activity based like song, science expt., funny video, quiz, play zone, drama. The theme is patriotism but will be loaded with fun too. The plan is to host it in various primary schools around IIT Campus. Also they are developing teaching modules for kids who do not get formal education. Next week, we are starting a study circle within this team. First week the students proposed to take up 'Chicago Address' of Vivekananda 'I have a Dream' of Martin Luthar King.

During Durga Puja visited Dakshineshwar and Belur Math on Saptami. Interacted with local club at our native place and partcipated in their philanthropic activity on Shasthi evening. Prepared one upgradation plan for the local public library. The Puja vacation was really enjoyable. Back here unhappy finding myself spread too far and too thin and nobody can take a 'NO'. I find my concentration level has reduced by few dB compared to what it had been in the Puja week. I am not enjoying it. I need to learn time management, ability to say 'No' and stay focussed. God, please help me!