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

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Life

I wonder if a platform was in place ... could have been a technology platform with the school as nodal centre ... now that broadband is reaching villages ... so that these two girls got to know each other in life. Both are victims. One fought valiantly and got justice, ably supported by an NGO, Anhad. The other succumbed. One notable difference. In the second case, the fight was against own people, parents ... the root cause being poverty. Difficult to fight own people. Still wish to believe ... if this girl could have sent an SOS to an appropriate network and the other girl (from same background) responded after receiving the message, things would have been different. Awareness, entrepreneurship, feelings/love for our own people in distress and believing in the right to livelihood for all as much as we do for ourselves ... is there in all of us, may be dormant, needs cultivation. Next is .. how to reach, how to facilitate, how to become an enabler, how to make use of what we learn in the best technology institution of the country ... for the upliftment of masses. Now the news of the second girl first as it appeared in today's TOI.

All she wanted to do was go to school. Maybe she thought education would let her escape from a life of poverty and ignorance. But there’s no way to find out anymore — Firoza Khatun drank pesticide and took her own life days before she was to be married off by her parents to a neighbour.
Firoza, the daughter of labourer Ekhtar Sk and Asalu Biwi, was a resident of Mojampur in Malda’s Kaliachak. Firoza was studying in Class V of Mojampur High Madarsa. But Ekhtar and Asalu had three daughters and a son and were finding it difficult to send her to school.
Six months back, before leaving for Delhi to work as a labourer, Ekhtar decided to get Firoza married once he returned. Like Firoza, her elder sister Sammi was married off at the age of 14 last year.
A month back, Asalu stopped Firoza from attending school. Firoza pleaded with her mother but she went to the madarsa and had her daughter’s name struck off the rolls. She then decided to engage Firoza in bidi-making, a staple job for most women in the area.
Meanwhile, the family started negotiating with a neighbourhood boy’s family for the marriage. Firoza kept saying she didn’t want to marry, but no one listened.
Ekhtar returned from Delhi a few days back and wasted no time in wrapping up the negotiations. On Friday morning, some members of the groom’s family came to Ekhtar’s house. After some discussions, a date was fixed for next month.
In the afternoon, once the groom’s relatives had left, Ekhtar and his wife heard someone groaning in one of the rooms. They both rushed in to find Firoza lying on the floor, frothing at the mouth, an empty bottle of pesticide lying by her. She was still partly conscious and kept saying, “I won’t marry. I want to go to school”.

Can we hear the scream/whisper of the partly conscious dying teen - "I won't marry. I want to go to school." While Ferozas are not allowed to go to school, some of us in IIT campus feel that once we cleared IIT-JEE, it's time to enjoy. End-sem. exam. started on THU. Yesterday (SAT), the full evening music was played in full volume in a hall next to our quarter ... so loud that we had to shut off all the windows. Imagine what is happening to residents of that hostel. Not everybody there subscribe to this mode of enjoyment during exam.. It shows that some of us are, powerful enough to rule, are making fun of education. And this is the irony of the situation. The underprivileged (contrary to the popular belief) here wants to study and the privileged once reaching a safety spot (i.e. ensuring IIT degree) are no more serious. I am not trying to generalize but asking attention towards our orientation and approach. As one enters IIT, one cannot miss the sentence in main building "Dedicated to the service of the nation." What does it mean? Is the building dedicated or its service?

Now onto the valiant work of the first girl. It is reported in today's Telegraph.

A 13-year-old village girl from Bengal who was taken from town to town in Gujarat by traffickers and raped by “customers” returned with police to each of the safe-houses, managing to remember every street and address in an unfamiliar state.

Mithu Das’s monumental feat of memory has helped put 10 men and women members of the inter-state child trafficking-and-prostitution ring behind bars, police say.

Mithu (name changed), now 16, had never stepped out of hometown Habra, North 24-Parganas, before the gang took her away three years ago. After she was rescued by the NGO Anhad a little over two months later, she remembered every unfamiliar place name: Mehsana, Baroda, Viratnagar, Ahmedabad, Kanpur.

She remembered the addresses of the private homes, hotels and guesthouses where she was stripped, raped and battered day after day — and walked bravely back into those very buildings and rooms, accompanied by the police.

“She has been absolutely brilliant. The investigation became so much easier because of Mithu,” said Prakshita Rathore, a Gujarat policewoman.

“Although she had never been to Gujarat before, she not only took the police team to the places where she was locked up but also identified the gang members by name. There were lanes and bylanes and she didn’t take a step wrong. In the end she busted the network in Gujarat.”

Bengal girls are some of the worst victims of trafficking. A study by Save the Children in collaboration with the Bengal government revealed that across 265 villages in the state, 3,429 children had left home to work in urban centres and 271 of them — one per village — never returned.

Mithu said: “I don’t have a good memory, but I have to fight the case. I have to say what happened to me in detail; so I remember.”

“The truth is,” she added, “I want to forget everything, start life anew and be happy. I want to study and work hard.

Mithu, however, has a personal battle to fight. She is HIV-positive — one outcome of her two-month ordeal.

“I don’t think she understands the implications yet. But she is a strong girl,” said Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad.

Salute to Mithu. Salute to Anhad. Yes, she is a strong girl. She was in Class V when abducted and brutalized. Her memory helped, even if she does not want to remember them. Not everyone is as gifted (even if courageous, cannot recount properly and culprits escape).

Wish Feroza interacted with Mithu and I am sure she could have the strength and a way towards solution. Let Feroza rest in peace. Let Mithu get her share of happiness, freedom. Let we all think how we can contribute, how we can dedicate ourselves.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


It is said that death is the ultimate reality and a great equalizer. It seems that we at the other side of it are judgemental even on this count. Or shall I assume that we are ignorant of the hard facts? This is a page 10 news in TOI's today's edition. It quotes report of transport research wing of highway ministry of India.

in 2008, the country witnessed 4.85 lakh road accidents, in which 1.2 lakh people lost their lives. And more than half of the road accident victims are in the age group of 25 and 65, the ‘key wage earning and child raising age group’.

That amounts to one accident every minute and one death from road accident every 4.5 minutes. TOI gets this from the ministry officials.

“The deaths are on rise despite the ministry spending more on road safety in the last six years. We are not analysing the actual reasons behind road accidents. Had technical people with road safety expertise been in charge of the affairs, the situation would not have slipped to this alarming level,” said a senior ministry official.

This post is to draw attention of young India what our country needs. It could be awareness drive. It could be technology based solution. It may require India specific technology. Certain problems exists in countries like India and research lab.s of developed nation may not have a clue of it or how long shall we depend on them to solve our very own problems?

Monday, April 19, 2010


While IPLgate hogs the limelight I wonder where the following will be published in tomorrow's newspaper. Can you guess? My guess is page 9 or so for those papers where it exists. If we really love our country or humanity, we need to take note of the following and do not leave as just another question answered in Rajya Sabha. Just now came across a Press Trust of India report (at TOI web edition) where Minister of State for woman and child welfare provides this information.

"There are about 2.8 million prostitutes in India out of which 36 per cent are children....The common factors for entry into prostitution have been economic distress, growing consumerism, illiteracy, lack of vocational skills, migration, ill-treatment by parents and desertion by spouse, according to a study on girls and women in prostitution conducted between 2002-2004 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development....The village panchayats have not been assigned any direct role in prevention of trafficking, but under a special scheme called 'Ujjwala', financial assistance is provided for formation of community vigilance groups for its per the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of persons convicted under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act in the year 2007-08 is 2,884....nine integrated anti-human trafficking units have been established in the states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and West Bengal under the joint project capacity building of law enforcement etc."

While the report focuses it as a law and order problem, there are more that cannot evade the eye ... what we can do to remove the very cause of it. Can we take up few villages around IITKGP and convert it to model villages without these vices. Don't kids in our neighbourhood deserve this? Yesterday, I attended a nice function organized by 5 NSS volunteers where they are teaching 22 kids of a slum. This was the last day for this team for this session as end-sem starts this week followed by vacation. What I liked most is the love and affection between these kids and the IITKGP student-teachers. They showed me Math Table and other works and then there was prize distribution. It was great to see the support of the parents and local youth. While the kids were working a man drunk even in broad daylight appeared. A girl student who was doing sums lifted her head and lowered it immediately with a murmur in native language - "My father, I am scared of him." NSS IITKGP is beginning to make inroads. But miles to go and it needs a united effort. With a student strength as large as ours, we have the numbers but do we have the will?

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Interesting! Interesting!! Interesting!!! ... This is what I read this morning in ToI. Was expecting something like this. If it is so easy, it is not worth it. If it is not, it takes time to mature an idea in the form of output and publication. Was getting tired of China-India comparison on volume of research publication. It is not that such things are not in India. A majority of the conf. paper from lesser known institutions in India that I review belong to that category. These are run by private entrepreneur who is in education business. There is hardly any quality faculty, students or research infrastructure there. But the faculty has to show publications to their boss who is not from education fraternity, so that the institute is ranked higher. The faculty of Govt. run institutions do not show these vices. However, they are accused of lower volumes of publications in comparison to China and US. The Govt. run institutions are of various categories. There are primarily research institutes with no UG students. The faculty member there take one or half-course in a whole year with a very small class size of Masters or PhD students. Their every project/assignment can be of longer term with the potential of becoming a good publication (the PG students have adequate background). These institutes cannot be compared with primarily UG institutes like NITs, IITs. Each evening I return from office at about 7:30-8:00 p.m. Thereafter, when I start checking Mid-Sem. answer scripts it takes approx. 15 minutes per script of 4x3=12 questions with comments etc. Note that to an IIT student one has to explain each evaluation, questions, parts and subparts - even after the explanation is made they keep nagging whether for a particular error on his part 2 marks deduction is justified or it should have been 1 mark. (The time we studied as IIT UG 20 years back has changed. Now students file court cases, guardians email Director, student take image of answer with his camera mobile and his father who too is an academician comments if evaluation is justified and then there is mandatory student feedback)Imagine, how many days are required to finish checking scripts of 90 students. And the number of sponsored project one does, the number of national mission project one is engaged, the no. of papers/thesis one reviews, the no. of committees one belongs to with meeting, discussion note etc. - all without any secretarial support that means draft to final - every note one has to be prepared by himself. And they also have a family! Still I would say, the majority of the faculty members gives approx. two hours to their research students every day. However, one has to note that the research students in IITs, in most of the cases, are not IIT BTech, not IIT MTech, not NIT (or next level inst.) B.Tech., not Pvt. Engg. college toppers as there is good job market for them or they prefer to go abroad for various reasons. So, we mostly get the leftovers of Pvt. Engg. colleges in our research lab. and they need time to stabilize and get their fundamentals right before they can pursue higher things. Now by the time they stabilize, a considerable time has gone and funding period is limited. Effectively they pursue a challenge that can be overcome in 2 years than what a IIT grad pursues in US univ. in 4 years. So, the quality of problem becomes different. This makes a big difference and the vicious cycle sets in - better performance bringing better students even if we discount US life-style or dollar dreams.

This post is not to question flight of good Indian students to US, a good amount of debate is already on in different forums. This is again not to undermine the research contribution of students in our research lab.s. In fact, the amount of value addition they do to themselves at IITs is more than what our best students do in US research lab.s. Also, it is their sheer hard work and lifting of themselves that keep our research lab.s running and we faculty members are grateful to them. This post is to be realistic in terms of volume of publication. Yes, certain amount of pressure does good. But it should not be too much. I cannot ask my research students to publish in volumes to fulfill certain quota rather I ask them to be honest, to learn from failures, to work harder and enjoy research, the newness of things that emerge. I ask them to write good English, learn how to communicate. And they reciprocate! I take pride in the outputs generated by these students - had their communication ability been better, it would have been published in top rung journals instead of mid-level journal (of course with impact factor > 1) they usually attempt to. Let us not to do what has been reported next.

Copy + paste gives Chinese research a bad name


WHEN professors in China need to author research papers to get promoted, many turn to people like Lu Keqian.
Working on his laptop in a cramped spare bedroom, the former schoolteacher ghostwrites for professors, students, government offices — anyone willing to pay his fee, typi
cally about 300 yuan ($45). “My opinion is that writing papers for someone else is not wrong,” he said. “There will always be a time when one needs help from others. Even our great leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping needed help writing.”
Ghostwriting, plagiarising or faking results are so rampant in Chinese academia that some experts worry it could hinder China’s efforts to become a leader in science. The communist government views science as crit
ical to China’s modernisation, and the latest calls for government spending on science and technology to grow by 8% to 163 billion yuan ($24 billion) this year.
State-run media recently exulted over reports that China publishes more papers in international journals than any except the US. But not all the research stands up to scrutiny. In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, saying the work had been fabricated. “Academic fraud, misconduct
and ethical violations are very common in China,” said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University in the capital. Critics blame weak penalties and a system that bases faculty promotions and bonuses on the number, rather than quality, of papers published. Dan Ben-Canaan is familiar with plagiarism. A colleague approached him in 2008 for a paper he wrote about the kidnapping and murder of a Jewish musician in Harbin in 1933 during the Japanese occupation.“He had the audacity to present it as his own paper at a conference that I organised,” Ben-Canaan said. “Without any shame!”
In a separate case, he gave material he had written to a researcher at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He said he was shocked to receive a book by the academic that was mostly a copy and translation of the material Ben-Canaan had provided — without any attribution. The pressure to publish has created a ghostwriting boom. — AP

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I found this in today's TOI. A definitive statement that "Ell is (not) well". Somewhere we have succumbed to a very costly trade-off. The report says,

"Dr A K Mahapatra,head of the department of neurosurgery,AIIMS,said: At AIIMS,we get 250-300 stroke cases every month.Of them,70-75 are young people including school and college-going students.The rising incidence of smoking and drinking,which leads to thickening of blood vessel walls and disrupts cholesterol and sugar levels in the body,among students is one reason for this. Mahapatra said in Delhi schools,up to 20% students smoke and drink."

The report continues.

"Dr Anup Kohli,consultant neurologist,Apollo Hospital,said Indians are genetically predisposed to stroke. Most of us have family histories of diabetes,high cholesterol and heart problems.The imitation of a western lifestyle by eating more junk food,drinking and doing recreational drugs by youngsters has put them at increased risk of developing heart and brain-related problems,including strokes,at an early stage, he said."

Suggested measure.

"Kohli said a balanced lifestyle,more exercise and awareness about lifestyle diseases were required to check this.And the excessive use of contraceptive pills by young girls increased the risk of a stroke,the doctor said."

Anything missing? While the above is curative in nature, what can we do to prevent it? What is missing in education system? The young students love to idolize. The parents, teachers, seniors used great care to lead an ideal life themselves and guide youngsters accordingly. The instant gratification mode in which everybody, seniors juniors alike are trying to operate these days are leaving a gaping hole in the society. While this report is about health, one must have noticed that juvenile crime is rising alarmingly that includes kidnapping, arson, looting, rape even by class VIII-IX students. The earlier we take note of that, the better for the society and including we as an individual. Let us act, now and here. Let us not think it will not happen to me or my family. The passive goodness will not do. The good in the society need to unite and actively engage themselves in rebuilding INDIA.