Friday, April 22, 2011



"Dream is not what you see in sleep. Dream is the thing which does not let you sleep."

This evening I got a call from the adjacent computer room which was then under command and control of Her Highness! I was at my relaxed best watching television - after an 8 hours stay at office on an Institute holiday! If one sneers that 'watching television' in the evening is too low level an activity to be engaged in, I have some techno-social explanation to offer. This can be weakly related to 'Nyquist Frequency'. I was covertly experimenting what could be the ideal sampling frequency of watching channels in a multiplexed condition. Multiplexing here refers to the techno part and is not related to 'multiplexes' society in general relates to and television brings the society in its all hues colours in our drawing room! Yes, I was watching IPL 4, two Bengali news channels covering state election, one Hindi channel depicting life of Sai Baba, two English news channel giving miscellaneous news and one movie channel simultaneously in a time sampled manner!!!!

In the middle of doing such a serious job which had the potential of developing 'Goutam's Frequency' of channel surfing, came the call - too powerful to ignore! Her Highness appeared to be quite excited. She was there to look for some missed episodes of her favourite TV serial from the net. What happened? Is there an n-th reincarnation of a character who died (n-1)th time p episodes back? As I entered, I saw a photograph of Dr. Kalam on the computer screen which carried above quote. She was writing down in a piece of paper the neo-definition of dream, very excited.Wish all of us take a mental note of it and live for a dream.


Flashback to yesterday evening. The review meeting was just over. The reviewer seems to be quite pleased. They talked about how to take the work forward. They were referring to protecting IP (Intellectual Property i.e. patenting), commericialization of this piece of technology on biometric authentication. Lots of suggestions received for developments of sub-IPs. There was quite a good amount of feel-good factor amongst all. This area too was also considered to be at an inflection point and expect to catch up, in terms of recognition, with what our lab. got in biomedical area.

Next, this project team gathered in my office. We discussed the next steps, the division of labour etc.. We were to attend dinner arranged as a part of this review. Towards the end of this meeting, I turned my attention to one project student who remained absent without information, appears to take things not that seriously. I told, "Hope you remember that your scolding is due and got postponed due to this project review! Today there is a dinner after this. Let us schedule it on Monday." The student said, "I admit that I made a mistake. I deserve scolding. But can it be postponed to 29th (next Friday)? I have one exam. On 28th April." We agreed on that schedule. The other project student who faulted once, told  "Please remember that my quota of scolding is done. You scolded me for two days."

Concentration, Passion

There was a new project student in this meeting who was surprised at how we conversed. I took an example which Sri Ramakrishna used to explain. Our mind is like mustard seeds in a bag that got pierced and became scattered all over, on a floor. It is so difficult to gather all of them and put them back in the bag. One has to practise concentration, meditation may be too much to expect for a beginner. There is a nice, short (only 2 pages) article on how to improve concentration here (Link). It is important to have control over mind and focus on research. The parallel sun rays if focused through a magnifying glass become so powerful that it can cause fire. Asked them to spend one month’s undivided attention to research and see how wonder works. Vivekananda said, "The difference between an ordinary person and a great person is in the power of concentration."

This morning I was listening to Mr. Ram Narayan of Dept. of Telecommunication, Govt. of India. He was referring to how we Indian lack in our temperament in approaching research problem. We treat it as a job. If the clock strikes 9 PM, we feel tired and think that we have done is enough. (Yes, he said 9 PM ... and one may not be surprised to see people who are mentally off at 6:00 PM or even earlier.) He continued to share his wisdom. The people who  ‘çreate’ and with whom we compete internationally, not only remain awake for one night but many nights. Madam Curie sold her house to fund research. Such  passion is somehow missing. He further said, ‘Failure’ is not when you fail but when you do not get up.


Few days back one UG student asked for an appointment. The student finds the mode of instruction, evaluation unexciting and wants to go to the bottom of a topic that is liked. The fellow students do not like that approach and thus cannot strike a cord. Communication became a problem amongst them. I discussed how the world is hungry for originality. The originality is to be preserved for the good. Being original is a virtue and this is an important ingredient that helps to create.

Then we discussed how doing well in exam. is important even if that means being monotonous at times. The better one does in exam., the more time and confidence one has to pursue one's original thinking. A not so capable person looks for advantageous proposition only. A capable person can convert any proposition to his/her advantage. It is not at all difficult to do well in academics in IIT system because of continuous evaluation if someone is serious. It was admitted that the regularity had been missing in study and that would be corrected. Nice to see that the student comes occasionally in google chat and is trying to remain engaged. My best wishes.

Tough Task

Got a kind of distress call from an elder sometime back for their ward, a college student. It is very common these days to get into a relationship in college days. Initially, I declined thinking it is not correct to come into personal space of a 20 years old. But the parents continued to ask me to counsel. They neither agree nor disagree to that relationship but wants the commitment part to be postponed by few more years; till the college education is over, till the youngsters get adequate time to be acquainted with the world, become some more matured.

I must say that it was one of the toughest task of recent times. My first such engagement. Tried to convey the parents argument to the ward and vice-versa. In the process, when all were present, my own view was sought. I don't think there is any prize to guess what I said. I don't claim to be an expert. And there seems to be too many experts around. Also often while trying to do 'mentoring', we try to 'control' others and impose ourselves, without respecting the journey of an individual.

Experts Speak

Therefore, it is best left to those who are not street smart. I would like to refer to this very very beautiful discourse of a Ramakrishna Mission Monk that can be found here (Link). Another wonderful discourse from from a teacher who now gives lecture to Ramakrishna Mission monks can be found here (Link) that talks about life's goal, the benefit one can derive by following higher thoughts and ideals.The 2nd lecture was addressed to students of Sister Nibedita School of Kolkata. He talked about how there is improvement in confidence, concentration.

Almost a month back I was watching one episode of 'Awakening with Brahma Kumaris' where Sister Shivani dealt this nicely. I have not been able to locate that in youtube. But in this one (Link) Sister gives almost a 360 degree view on 'Personality Development' and puts the responsibility on oneself. She was addressing an audience where there were many young members.

Finally, this Kids Marshmallow Experiment on 'Self Control' which is referred even by Scientific Americana is not simply hilarious. It shows how our reward system works and how we learn to deal with temptation and develop our own mechanism to handle it. If a child can do that, why not we elders? We know very well the kind of reward waiting for us when we achieve our research goal. Let us exercise our will power and remain a life long learner.

Thursday, April 14, 2011



Just now Benida rang and told that Kounish's father has returned from Chaitanyapur Eye Hospital and the eye is saved. We were all worried. We saw 'Kaku' working in a coal shop in our younger days, struggling hard to cope up with life. Both the sons, Koushik and Kounish were some years junior to me but we played together in BNR ground. Koushik joined Ramakrishna Mission. Kounish now works under a distributor of consumer goods. Several occasions we met in Tech. market. Few days back Kounish rang, was at a loss what to do. The doctor has referred to Disha Eye Hospital and they have asked to arrange a large sum. Benida knew about Chaitanyapur Eye Hospital near Haldia run by Vivekananda Mission Ashram and they do such a wonderful job. And they did it again. Heartfelt thanks!

Oh! It's a holiday.

This had been one of the most hectic day of recent times. In the morning, one ex-student, now with TCS came in chat. I answered that today is a sudden holiday under NI act. And we get to work more on holidays when the distractions are less. Completed setting up of two exam. papers. One in the morning and the other in the evening. Scheduled a 3 PM meeting with research students which ended at 7:45 PM. This accomplished a much needed review of our various strategic initiatives and take a stock of tens of leads we are pursuing.

Staff vs. Student

Work in a research lab. is not an office job. Pushing the reporting time from 9 AM to 9:30 AM, then 10 AM and so on, leaving campus in the weekend (without permission) compulsively, extending the weekend, not following reporting structure etc. do not help one to stay focused on research problem or derive the most from IIT infrastructure and research environment. We try our best to remind our those students who think themselves more as staffs than students of these pitfalls and how important it is to maintain focus.

Man is a social animal

People in this part of the country perhaps are more social than others, which of course is good when society is getting fragmented, families are becoming nuclear. But it comes with its own problem for those who are supposed to be in 'student mode'. There comes a social pressure to attend every single birthday, marriage function, first-rice-ceremony, this and that of all the people I know or and share a cord. The emotional self gets better of us. We find it difficult to say, "No", not to hurt feelings of others. I myself have experienced this and still experience it because of my very large social network. But somehow I have been able to communicate well and make my community feel that they have a stake, a share in whatever work I do at IIT and how important these are. I talk to them about our research, work in a language they can appreciate. It is their kindness, magnanimity that not only the bond is strong and healthy but also they inquire time to time how the work is going on here.

Abhyas (striving) and Vairagya (detachment)

Urge research students to make your community a stake holders in whatever you do and they will try to create a congenial atmosphere for you and ask you not to get defocused. Please act before it is too late. It is your career. These 2-4 years are very crucial. This is the most productive phase of the young and intelligent. Yesterday, we had a snacks break in between our research meeting. One new faculty joined us in Tikka. He was discussing the difference between a research student of China and that of US. And one can see the difference how these two nations have come up in recent times. The research students in India need not follow a 7 days a week culture but definitely do more than what they are doing now. The story says that God was not happy creating all forms of life till man was created, as the formers did not have the ability to realize the creator. When one realizes God becomes God himself. The power is there but latent. One has to strive. The scripture talks about twin principles, 'Abhyas' (striving) and 'Bairagya' (Detachment). If we remain too much attached with surroundings, we shall not be able to concentrate. Unless we strive and focus our energy, the nature will not reveal its secret.

Choose your ideal

We try our best to recruit the right kind of people for the lab. ... the ones who have passion for research, ones who are trainable, ones who are hard working, ones who want to dive deep and immerse fully. None of us are super talented. It is the combination of whatever talent we have and hard work that make us deliver. New comers to the lab. should take note of this. Please draw inspiration from performers in the lab. Please see their track record, their effort, their devotion, their sincerity.

Welcoming fresh blood

Yes, we are gearing up to welcome three new students (not staffs, please!) in our lab. We are filling up all the three positions that we advertized recently. We are keeping one in waiting list, in case somebody does not join. One thing was noticeable in this round of recruitment. It appeared that a good number of these candidates have genuine desire for a research career. This is a welcome change. Some of these candidates are from industries and little bit out of touch. Some are willing to sacrifice their faculty job and be a part of our team. One candidate appreciates that the performance should have been better and wants to prepare for the next selection and seeks guidance.


I must say that I am overwhelmed and humbled by this keenness. Wish all of you who are really interested get an opportunity to fulfill your research dream. Usually, we are asked to submit projects but we do not do as there is a scarcity of committed manpower to service when projects are granted. I think, we can explore new projects now.


To those who are looking for guidance may refer to NPTEL (Link) resources. Please brush up the fundamentals of core subjects. If you are to be called an engineer in a particular field, the basics of core subjects should be known. One may forget minute details if one remains out f touch for long. But if the fundamentals are clear (what this chapter says and why is it useful - basic equations / graph / table and their significances) then one knows where to start if a problem is given. Be it a drawing of CMOS inverter, transistor characteristics curve, getting a non-inverting amplifier from OP-AMP, definition of Discrete Fourier Transform, Truth Table / Excitation Table of Flip-Flops, Design steps of filters, Difference between Synchronous / Asynchronous counter, Difference between C and C++, writing simple codes for basic mathematical manipulation or reading / writing files ......... we often find candidates appear clueless. Also one should be comfortable with detailing of projects done or proficiencies claimed in biodata.

We often tell people interested to work with us to brush up Digital Signal Processing (Link1 and Link2), gather some idea on Pattern Recognition (Link1 and Link2 : Low cost Indian Edition is available for the book "Pattern Classification" by Duda and Hart : May not have been exposed as this subject is a PG core or UG elective ... basic understanding will do, details can be learnt in course of time.) and have familiarity with MATLAB (If one has MATLAB loaded in own machine then can play with codes of this Link or other stuffs available on web). MATLAB is gently and systematically introduced in this Analog and Digital Communication Text (Link) and the companion website's student centre (Link) provides downloadable MATLAB mini-projects and codes. Similar feature is offered for Verilog HDL language in this text (Link) and the downloadable stuffs in student centre (Link).


Talked to Jugal Babu, a devoted High School teacher this evening on a new free coaching centre our NSS volunteers have planned. It is on course. Just now the student volunteer pinged. Their team had been very very responsible and are showing a matured approach. If IITians come forward like these and help the community it will truly be leading from the front. Proud of these young volunteers.

Shubho Poila Baisakh (Happy Bengali New Year)

Time to say good night. It is 1:30 AM. Have an 8:30 AM class. Shubho Poila Baisakh (Happy Bengali New Year) to all. While typing this post was going through some of the PPTs 2nd Year UG students are sending by mail for their mini-projects. Some of the ideas (not implemented) like Moving PPT slides by voice command during presentation, Lie Detection, Communication with Extra Terrestrial Intelligence appear interesting. Let's see how they present.

You have earned one more tomorrow

Sure that earned one more tomorrow for what I have done today :-)  ..... pasting one poem that is my favourite for long.

Is anybody happier because you passed this way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to them today?

The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through.
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?

Can you say tonight in parting with the day that's slipping fast,
That you helped a single person of the many that you passed?

Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said?
Does the one whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?

Did you waste the day or use it? Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness, or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say:
"You have earned one more tomorrow by what you did today?"

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hiring Again : 3 positions vacant

A mistake often made by freshers is that they run after high-paying jobs. In the initial stages, don’t mix career and money. Your priority should be the job profile based on your capabilities, which will help you hone your skills and grow. Once you’re established, the money will come,” ~ Nidhi Gaur, Head, HR, Wiley India

Whoever said that match is made in heaven was more than philosophical. The practicalities on earth show that it is not easy to get students who are serious and not looking at project positions as stop-gap opportunities. Equally difficult is to find students who love academic environment, research and have good fundamentals. This points to quality or more correctly, the lack of it. Often wonder, with thousands of engineering colleges around, why are we facing such a scenario? Is it like - water, water everywhere; not a drop to drink? Do not want to sound pessimistic at all. Rather urge engineering students to work on the fundamentals, develop passion for research and an attitude to scale higher altitudes, have faith in self. There are plenty of opportunities in IIT research lab.s, waiting to be grabbed.

Trying once again with this round of walk-in-interview. The selected candidates, if qualifies Dept. test, can register for higher degree from IIT. In the past, all eligible did qualify the test. Besides this, it offers an opportunity to work in a challenging research environment, a great team, good infrastructure and IIT brand.

Trying to sell hard :-)

Worth every rupee as getting a right candidate is not just the first step but the most important one. Well, from a candidate's point of view, getting a right research problem, research environment and research advisor mean a lot. Today's Economic Times in a career advice (Link) tells that such a career should be selected in initial years that allows one to hone skill in one's area of interest and asks not to go after money. If one attains skill, the money will come later, thick and fast. The compensation we offer in project positions is not bad but more than that, IIT lab. environment offers no limit to attain skills.

Let's see how well the match is made this time. Calling all eligible candidates. Urge well-wishers to forward the message to probable candidates. Now the advt. is for 3 positions. No short-listing. All eligible candidates as per the Advt. are to send biodata by email and directly appear in the walk-in-interview on April 13, 2011, 10 AM at Dept. of Electronics and ECE, IIT Kharagpur.

Project Title Automatic Speaker Recognition on VoIP (VDA - IV)
Reference Number IIT/SRIC/R/VDA-IV/2011/65 DATED 31st March, 2011
Temporary Position(s) Walk-in-interview on 13/4/2011 at 10-00 AM at Dept. of E & ECE for Junior Project Assistant / Junior Project Officer
Number of vacancies 1
Consolidated Compensation Rs.16,000/- Rs.24,000/- p.m - (depending upon qualification & experience)
Coordinator / PI Dr. Goutam Saha, Deptt of Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering
Qualifications & Experience M. Tech (Preferable) in Electronics / Electrical Engineering OR B. Tech / B.E in Electronics / Electrical engineering preferably with valid GATE/NET Score. Candidates should have good academic record (minimum first Class in all exam.) Competence in Digital Signal Processing, Speech Processing, MATLAB with research experience in signal processing & pattern recognition, preferably related to speech processing is desirable.
Relevant Experience Candidate should send prior intimation with their CV to the email ID by12.4.2011 with a subject heading “Walk in interview for JPA/JPO - VEICET ” 
Last Date 13 Apr 2011
Application Fee Rs. 50(not for female candidates only)/-

Project Title Digital Electronic Circuit Lab (VLS-7)
Reference Number IIT/SRIC/R/VLS-7/2011/64 DATED 31st March, 2011
Temporary Position(s) Walk-in-interview on 13/4/2011 at 10-00 AM at Dept. of E & ECE for Junior Project Assistant / Junior Project Officer
Number of vacancies 2
Consolidated Compensation Rs.12,000/- Rs.18,000/- p.m - (depending upon qualification & experience)
Coordinator / PI Dr. Goutam Saha, Deptt of Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering
Qualifications & Experience M. Tech (preferable) in Electronics / Electrical Engineering OR B. Tech / B.E in Electronics / Electrical / Computer Science & Engineering preferably with valid GATE/NET Score. Candidates should have good academic record (minimum first Class in all exam.). Competence in Digital Circuits,MATLAB. Programming knowledge of .PHP, Actionscript is desirable.
Relevant Experience Candidate should send prior intimation with their CV to the email ID by12.4.2011 with a subject heading “Walk in interview for JPA/JPO - MHRD ” 
Last Date 13 Apr 2011
Application Fee Rs. 50(not for female candidates only)/-