Sunday, February 14, 2010
I was out of station for GATE exam. duty when the news of Pune blast broke. Our immediate reaction was to find if our relatives staying in Pune are alright. Yes, they are safe. A sense of relief descended. It is ironical as if the tragedy belongs to somebody else, family members of those nine who died in the blast. India is vast country. Everyday somewhere or the other there is disturbence and people die. Can we take notice of each one of them? After all, we also have a right to enjoy life! That goes the logic. We don't realize till our own house is set on fire! Somebody from our own family or community gets hurt. We feel frustrated, angered ... others remain indifferent as usual...ultimately, it becomes a personal tragedy and there is no collective, conscious, cohesive effort to address why this is happening, what is needed to solve this, what role I can play. Patriotism is now placed to history book which is not to be taken seriously as competitive exam. have different syllabi. Independence Day and Republic Day are now marked for shopping festivals. The handful that attend the ceremonial parade are more concened to get their attendance recorded in teacher's register and leave at the earliest opportunity. Community service, to work for the underprivileged, to bridge the gap between haves and have-nots are not well explained, neither one tried to understand that - Me as a parent, Me as a teacher are only concerned about how well my ward are making good career progress. It is least of my concern how well he is integrating with the society at large. In some cases I as a guardian would like to keep him centred around few things and limit his interest in other things ... saying, it is a selfish world, my child!
If above is the analysis of my sense of relief after the phone call, we were surprised yesterday evening on reaching IITkgp campus after completing our outstaion job. It was a hectic schdule for all of us to conduct a national level entrance exam. at state capital, many of us had to skip formal lunch. A silent candle-lit procession of students stopped our vehicle. One of my collegue in the bus started wondering. Is it the anniversary of the student who died last year? The other said - No, it was not on Valentine's Day. The third said - Could it be a new expression for V-Day? But they would be anything but silent. As we descended from bus one Prof. of our Dept. told - Do you know ... it was in memory of Ankik Dhar, our E&ECE student graduated last year. Nobody can forget Ankik, that smiling face .. now in first page of many newspaper, flooding internet sites. That is the time we felt terror at our door step. Checked our E&ECE faculty mail. Members of faculty mourning the death, HOD calling a condolence meeting. In our residential complex, one faculty griefed, lashed out that so much need to be done. Went to Ankik's orkut profile. Checked his photo album. Read the Scholaravenue obituary, and other write ups of his friends. Remember Ankik. Taught him in the class, lab. Watched his BTDS performance. Debated with him on various issues. The entire IIT community feels grieved.
The question remains unanswered - where do we go from here, why we remain oblivious till it hurts us personally?