Friday, April 30, 2010

In Campus with Love

For prospective IITKGP faculty members:
In answer to queries at
I have an offer from IIT Kharagpur. I want to know how are facilities in and out of the IIT campus like, school for kids, hospitals, shopping mall, etc. Thanks in advance for your reply.
April 27, 2010 2:53 PM
gs said...

@R : "I have an offer from IIT Kharagpur. I want to know how are facilities in and out of the IIT campus like, school for kids, hospitals, shopping mall, etc."

First of all CONGRATS! The facility is as good as or better than what is expected in a satellite city with a big railway establishment, three units of Tata (Tata Bearings, Tata Metaliks, TELCON) and many other industries, two army units (Salua, Kalaikunda) and its fast improving. The greatest part is that the campus retains its natural beauty, pollution free atmosphere which is absent in Metros. The district headquarter Midnapore is 15 km away with a medical college and many other facilities. Kolkata City/Airport is now 2.5 hours drive (140-150 km) with refurbished NH6 improving connectivity. There is daily morning and evening volvo bus service from IIT campus gate to Kolkata that takes approx. 3 hours and great for a day long fun trip to Kolkata. Puri is just an overnight journey (8 hours) and great for a weekend trip. Other beaches that are nearer are - Digha, Shankarpir, Chandipur etc. Inside campus, Technology Club is vibrant with many different activities from cricket match (IITKGP faculty vs. J.U. faculty vs. Railway Officers Club - triangualr, quadrangular tournament and so on) to Saraswati Puja. The in house movie hall brings latest block-busters every week with three shows reserved for faculty and staff and rest for the students. There are plenty of direct trains towards Kolkata and to south(Chennai Bangalore, Hyderabad etc), west (Mumbai, Ahmedabad etc. north (Delhi and others - Rajdhani, Neelachal etc.)Inside campus, there are four schools (KV, DAV etc.). Restaurants are plenty, the recent addition "Heritage" has two 'faculty only' and 'family only' lounge. Big Bazaar is there for sometime and Reliance etc. are coming up. A new AIIMS like hospital in Kharagpur itself (in addition to other hospitals like state general, rail etc.) got clearance from Health Ministry and State Govt. What else? A new fly-over to debottleneck two railway crossing at IITKGP entrance is coming up fast (almost all the pillars are in place, overhead work to begin). Anything missing? You have not asked let me share. This IIT may have one of the best teacher-student relation. Besides academic interaction they work together in many socially relevant projects through National Service Scheme and various other NGOs. It is great fun to participate in that, too. Looking forward to have you amongst us and work together.
April 29, 2010 7:28 AM
Dear GS,
Thank you very much for your detailed response. I too look forward to work with you in near future.
Could you please also tell something about the faculty quarters. I mean, how good they are and what type of quarter I can expect when I join as an AP. I have asked this to the concerned Asst. Registrar also but no reply till yet.
Thank you again. I think this detailed description is very useful for the prospective faculties and it should be put on the IITKgp webpage as well.
April 29, 2010 7:29 PM
@R: GS's comments are tricky. No offense there. While most of it is true, it is highly selective.
Campus is green- Definitely, but beware of all kind of snakes except during the monsoon period. To be fair, I have not heard any case of snake bite though.
AIIMS like hospital - with the pace at which things progress in Kgp, you can expect it in the next ten years.
BigBazaar, Reliance - Well that's not where you are going to stay, are you?
Public transport - practically none. You get share autos which stack up atleast 10 people. Own a vehicle or book a taxi any time you have to go out.
Job Opportunities for your spouse in town: -NIL-

KGP has probably the worst faculty quarters among IITs. Leaking roofs, theft-even light bulbs and clothes get stolen.. You have to wait at least another 10 years to get a decent accommondation. What's more, there is no option to rent outside - power cuts for 8hrs a day.

+ves: Good academic atmosphere, student-faculty relationship, research support, in a month or two you will forger other issues.

April 30, 2010 9:34 AM
@R : Thanks for finding info. useful.
@MS : Thanks for acknowledging 'most of it is true', no 'snake bite cases' etc. To me it is all about attitude - whether to see a glass one-fourth empty or three-fourth full. Allow me to address all the points one by one and we follow the rule - no offence taken :-)

Transport : Every 5-10 min. bus or shared auto goes towards the central area of the KGP town from IITKGP 1st gate. There is a 1-2 rush hour in the morning and again in the afternoon (office time, school time). Still it is better than public transport in rush hours at metros like Kolkata. There are four car agencies providing car on phone call which is much cheaper than metros. Stil cheaper option is to have cell no.s of autorickashaw drivers who park their vehicles at IITKGP campus 2nd gate and call them for service. There are rickshaws at street corners for shorter distances. On top of all these I wonder who in campus does not own a vehicle!

Job opportunities for spouses : Obviously not as good as metros. A lot of them teach in nearby schools. A few inside IIT Kharagpur. A few work outside Kharagpur town. There are 3 newly established private engineering colleges within 1.5-2 hr. distance from the campus. There is railways. There are many industries surrounding Kharagpur ( 3 from TATA group) that can be explored based on qualification and skill. There are few start-ups in STEP, IIT Kharagpur. One can start something on his/her own if wished. There are many offices, establishments in district headquarter Midnapore town that is 15 km away. Also there are few NGOs (honorary) for anyone to get interested in and contribute.

Accommodation : Since it is all about perception, let me present data collected this morning from Estate office. We have here three distinct type of quarters. One is multistoried flats. Next is duplex with reasonable space for garden. The other is bungalows with large garden space. On arrival, one is given a 2 Room transit flat, with new whitewash and maintenance work done (you can point out more if you come across and get it done) with LAN, internet, telephone connection, 24 hour water and power supply with electrical fittings and provision for A.C. connection in one room (if it is not there, you ask and will be done in 1-2 week(s)). In fact, all acco. have these common facilities. One may even be surprised to get an offer for a bungalow!!! The present trend here is to opt for flats while it was bungalows sometime back. To me it is more difficult to maintain a bungalow (I didn't opt) as less and less people have time and energy to take care of a large garden etc. But there are takers too.

The acco. provided is on seniority basis. A better maintained acco. (by previous owner) will go to somebody more senior. I have seen many a newcomer opting for bungalow and doing small renovation work themselves as per their choice. IIT estate office may do the same immediately if it is not a volume job else it may take few months.

Since 2009 beginning, a massive renovation exercise of campus bungalows have started with older quarters are refurbished with new roof work, modern floor (tiles), kitchen (stone), toilet etc. A large no. of quarters is already renovated in last one year. Work for the rest is going on. In addition to this, 63 new flats will be ready in June 2010, another 63 in Dec. 2010, another 18 in June 2011. These are larger flats with 4-5 rooms, 2-3 toilets called A or B Type. If seniors take them, relatively better flats where seniors are at present become available to juniors. in last few years, 68 such big A/B flats have been handed over. Relatively older but in a very good condition B Type flats are 81 in no.s. Besides these there are 54 no. 2BR flats are there which have many takers. There is no reason to force anybody stay outside and there is no single example.

Does it take 10 years? : Let me give my example. I joined here in 2002 July. I was offered on arrival 2-3 bungalows and few 2 room flats to opt from. For one year I stayed in G-Floor of a 2 room flat, for two and half year in 1st floor of a 2 room flat and after total 3.5 years (Jan., 2006) moved to present 3 Bedroom, separate drawing and dining, one study, three toilet, 2 balcony G-Floor B-Type flat. Institute did a thorough maintenance before we moved in with completely new flooring etc. It took some time but we stayed in our previous flat till the repair work was over. We have a small garden too to take advantage of G-Floor.

There are quite a few duplex (which was preferred by seniors sometime back at the level of Deans) which may not be available on arrival but some of my colleagues got it after 3-4 years.

In short, institute understands the need and is trying its best to make stay of a faculty member enjoyable in a proactive way. Any member of the family can fill up an online complaint even from home (as stated all quarters are on LAN, internet) at any hour of the day, it is addressed in 0-2 days (even if you are out of station on some official duty). For large repair one has to have some patience as it takes time to mobilize the resources.

Few units have damps. Avoid them. Institute is either repairing or demolishing them.

With 550 faculty members and the pace with which new flats are coming up a new faculty will have less waiting period than our batch. Estate office people says that will be a large surplus after Dec. 2010 since the pace faculty addition is less.

Theft : We have two 2-wheelers which stay outside whole day and night (too lazy to push them in our garage around the car). Similarly, clothes are always there in balcony (G-Floor, uncovered). Never had any issue. It is a walled campus and security is looked after by SIS which is known for its service. Still there can be stray cases but we need not generalize. In metros, it is much much worse. Not only petty theft, you hear much bigger crimes there.

@MS : Your outlines of +ves truly appreciated.

@R and @MS : I have spent 34 years at Kharagpur (my father was employed with railways) and may have little more info. of and little more love for the place.

Regards to all

Hello all,
This comment/question will probably ignite some kind of wrath towards me from IIT-KGP-ians or will start a healthy debate on the aspect of regionalism in our IIT's.

Recently, there was a post in another blog (R2I as Professor) where a new AP (originally from south) expressed frustration regarding the use of Bengali during official and academic related meetings in IIT-KGP. Even after requesting the senior faculty to conduct the meeting in English, he, apparently, was asked to learn Bengali if he wishes to survie.

Now, the credibility of the above person can be debated; but we all can give the benefit of doubt to him given ones tendency to use his/her respective mother tongue when he/she meets his/her native speaking fellows. I would like to hear more comments from people who might have experienced this first hand. I am not just concentrating on IIT-KGP, but in general, the tendency to conduct official business in a local language, when some of the members attending the meeting lack the knowledge of that particular language.

Professor Madras, your comments on this issue will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


April 30, 2010 4:24 PM
@K - Allow me to add more of such complaints about IITKGP.
- The tower is too tall. It obstructs my view when I look up and I fail to assimilate as much energy as I should have got in another place in my favourite mudra.
- There is a solitary cell near old tower where freedom fighters were kept. I want freedom. I want fight. But IITKGP authority says that it is a museum and doesn't allow me to stay there.
- I cannot speak Hindi. Tried English with a local shopkeeper. He understood only half. Even tried German (I am a Humboldt fellow. Just returned and now has great command over it. Before going I learnt keywords/sentences in German)! The poor fellow does not know even that!

I am another person (other one was P) joining IIT Kanpur. Can anyone please provide some info about IIT-Kanpur faculty housing and other facilities?

Ragarding KGP, well i did my btech from iit-kgp. Folks, kgp simply rocks!!!

May 1, 2010 3:16 AM
Anonymous said...

Thank you again for your such an informative reply. Your inputs will definitely have an impact where it matters.

May 3, 2010 2:32 PM
Anonymous said...

Your silence on the issue raised by @K- indicates that what he is saying is true.

May 4, 2010 2:28 PM
gs said...

@Anon at 2:28 p.m. : I thought Anon on 30.4.2010 at 5:43 p.m. made it sound sufficiently trivial!

It is too wild an allegation to respond. I never faced it, heard it and don't believe it to be true. The character of an institution is different from an individual. IIT as an institution has nothing to do with regionalism and there are enough checks and balances within the system. We deal with young students coming from different parts of the country. The faculty members are also from many different states. It is mini-India out here in the campus. We are proud of its cosmopolitan culture.

May 4, 2010 4:20 PM
One of the reasons I posted the comment on the existence of regionalism is to verify the occurrence/authenticity of such claims from multiple sources that are placed within the institutes. I must say that I very relieved to hear that such instances, if and when they occur, are almost rare when compared to the overall structure of the institute.

You see, prospective faculty like me have so many questions regarding everything related to the institute; ranging from teaching and research to general life in and around the campus. Even though life will be much easier if one only concentrates on the positive things, it is very easy to get distracted by one such negative post by someone who is already working at an institute.

Finally, as I already mentioned in my post, all I was looking for is information from different inside people. Moreover, I was not specifying that it happens (or not) in IIT-KGP, but instead exploring such incidents in all educational institutes in India.

Thanks for your comment.


May 4, 2010 5:34 PM
If you see the faculty structure in your Dept. at IITKgp, there are a total of 32 faculty members at present and only 4 of them are non-Bengali. Still you claim that it is mini-India. Going by this number, don't you think that the institute is biased towards the Bengali people at the level of hiring.

May 4, 2010 5:57 PM
gs said...

Thanks K for finding info. useful. You are most welcome to raise any issue that bugs you. Yours truly will try to respond to the best of his capacity. Everywhere you'll find some people finding fault with almost anything! Don't read too much into that. IITs provide best of the opportunities - funded research, industry collaboration, international alliance, enthusiastic & quality students, prestige, decent salary-honorarium for many things-royalty from patents, book etc. Great to be born in an era when India as a nation is looking up, making itself count, finding a place for itself in the comity of nations! Great to be in a place like this playing an important catalytic role in the process!

@Anon at 5:57 p.m. - Your stat. is incorrect. So is the conclusion drawn. Kindly check with other Dept.s too. Getting a faculty at IIT had been difficult. We have >250 vacancies. A strong reason for a person to opt for a position here has been - to stay close to home, to remain connected to the root. I wonder if that is something for which (s)he can be blamed or Dept./Inst. can be faulted with! At least we got people to shoulder the responsibility because of that emotional attachment! There is no single case where application from a deserving candidate has been turned down. The fact is that we get more applications from people of this region - most from Bengal, then Orissa etc. The same is true for any organization in any region. I think the host here has discussed at length how faculty selection takes place at IIT and who are the selection committee members etc. Also this is an age of RTI with documents available for every application - scores etc. Finally, IITs are too big, self esteem of people here too high - to stoop to so low!

May 4, 2010 7:37 PM
Anonymous said...

Continuing on GS's comments, it is very natural for IITs to have more of faculty from that specific region. Take four well deserving candidates one from south, one from east, one from west and one from north. Now say they are all interviewed in IIT-M,kgp,D and B respectively. Now since they are good, say all of them get offers from all four IITs. what will be the natural inclination. Person from east will choose IIT-kgp, person from south will choose IIT-M, person from north maybe IIT-D and person from west IIT-B. this is the probable scenario. Now things like two body problems can creep in. since kgp is located in the middle of nowhere some people might choose delhi or bombay over kgp. but bottomline is the region bias of the candidates automatically makes the IITs look as if they are hiring only people from a certain zone. In reality it is the candidates who are deciding which ones to join.

May 4, 2010 7:54 PM
I understand your point of view and I can also see how things might have played out in terms of the faculty numbers in different IIT's.

If I may, I would like to ask one more question, the answer to which I have not found in any of the forums despite my constant searching.

How do you see the new IIT's playing the role of premier institutes of higher education in India. In terms of faculty, students, infrastructure, research, teaching, funding and X-factors (if any). I understand that the answer to this question can be very subjective, at least in some aspects and quite objective in some. But overall, can you please pour your thoughts on this matter.


May 4, 2010 7:58 PM
gs said...

Thanks @anon at 7:54 p.m. for elucidating the point.

@K on "How do you see the new IIT's playing the role of premier institutes of higher education in India...."

I think you will get better input from a more qualified person who envisioned these new IITs. Prof. Barua IITG Director often visits this blog. He may give better picture.

My humble observations are : A new IIT has to go through same phases of a development cycle as found in any other IIT. I have visited IITKGP museum and saw how things shaped up brick by brick, the condition in which faculty members stayed in initial years. Remember, at that time there were other established engineering colleges. It was a great sacrifice for these people who gave their shoulder to start the wheel. In the first convocation (1956), Prime Minister Pt. Nehru recognizing this effort said ""Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India's urges,India's future in the making. this picture seems to me symbolical of the changes that are coming to India."

The changes have come. India as nation now is stronger than ever. Today the development cycle time for a new IIT will be much less. Each of them is headed by great personalities with lots of acad. & admin. experience. MHRD is extending full support. It is a pride of the respective state & the state Govt. is doing its best. The faculty members joining there, I believe, share the same dream and building their institute with their toil, owning up a challenge greater than their counterpart in an established IIT. As a nation, we are indebted to each of these teams.

@K, on rest of your question "In terms of faculty, students, infrastructure, research, teaching, funding and X-factors"

Faculty : Top positions - Dir., Dept. Head are filled up by experienced people with proven acad & admin record. I know a few good PhD students from IITKGP joining there.

Students : That higher ranked IITJEE student will chose an established IIT is a part of the development cycle phase. Need not be surprised at that. But the students joining there are also good. I interacted with lot of IIT Bhubaneswar students when they were here in 1st year. I didn't find any difference.

Infrastructure : These days it does not take much time.

Research : Experienced people placed at top will extend full support.

Teaching : No different from another IIT.

Funding : Govt. funding is very much there. It is not that difficult to get. You have to write a good proposal and defend it. There is no dearth of funds. It may take some time to get industry fund. But the newer IITs with smarter decision making process (agility because of small size) must be trying innovative measures to develop partnership with industries.

X-factor : X-factor cannot be told, it has to be felt :-)

Boarders from newer IITs can share their experience. To me every challenge is interesting in some way or the other. It always leaves one enriched if faced fair and square.

May 4, 2010 11:08 PM
Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your response. I have been grappling with the thoughts of whether to join an existing IIT or a new one, in case I get offers from both. Again, just in case.

I agree with you on several of those aspects. Especially, regarding students, given that JEE ranking can shift by hundreds just by a change in one score point, I would assume that students joining new IIT's are as good (may be not necessarily better) as the ones joining the old ones.

Also, regarding infrastructure, I guess given the pace with which the modernization of India (at least urban India) is taking place I expect the new IIT's with their own buildings in a few years time.

I personally spoke to the director of one of the IIT's and felt very inspired by what he had to say about the opportunities that one would get in terms of setting up labs and making a difference to the research and teaching community from a new perspective.

Thanks for your valuable comments.


May 5, 2010 3:35 PM
Anonymous said...

If all IITs have a large number of local people, then how come IISc does not? IISc has more than 30% of Bengali faculty and very less people from Karnataka or Kerala region.

May 5, 2010 9:31 PM
Anonymous said...

This is simply because more number of Bengalis go to higher studies than the people from any other states. Bengalis, in general, are also more inclined towards teaching and research after pursuing higher studies.

May 5, 2010 9:46 PM
Anonymous said...

We are talking about regionalism in recruitment. How come Bengalis then are not there in IIT-Madras but it in IISc? IIT-Madras has mostly people from South, IISc does not.

May 5, 2010 9:52 PM
Anonymous said...

I like the spirit of regionalism-anon. You are great dude! We need more of you in this country to propose a region based quota system - more so for the well run, well managed institutes like IIT, IISc, ISRO etc. which catches eyeballs. Let us not allow them more than 100/30 = 3.33 percent of staff from any particular state and union territories put together.

It seems no sane logic is enough!

May 5, 2010 10:31 PM
Giri@iisc said...

GS: Thank you so much for your inputs on IIT-KGP. They are most useful.

M: It is always better to tell the reality. Inform the new IIT that you may get offers from old IITs and that you will make a decision within 4 months. Therefore, ask them for a 4 month extension. Atleast in branches like chemical engineering, the selection committee members are the same in several IITs. So they will come to know anyway. Better to be forthright.


gs said...

@Prof. Giri on "GS: Thank you so much for your inputs on IIT-KGP. They are most useful."

It is all inspired by you ... the service you provide through ur blog.

Warm regards

May 7, 2010 8:35 AM

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