Last week I had unexpected visitors in my office. The mother and son came all the way from Pune, Maharashtra. The son got a very good rank in IIT-JEE and should not find it difficult to get Electronics & Communication Engineering at IIT Kharagpur. The boy won many a laurels before this and his look, appearance make one remember "Shradhhaban labhate Gnanam" (wisdom dawns the person who is respectful).
The mother said, "I have heard about you from many and would like to have some time from you regarding my son's admission into IIT." I could not conceal my bewilderment that they have crossed the entire breadth of the country and asked, "Why IIT Kharagpur? Don't you read so much of negative press reports about IIT Kharagpur?" To this, the mother said, "I know what IIT Kharagpur is. I used to be a teacher in an engineering college. Besides that several friends of my son study here." I tried to answer all that they asked with standard disclaimer "as perceived by me." In addition stressed on the point that stepping into an IIT is not the end of it. It is a big step no doubt for a young student but neverthless only a step. One has to look higher and much beyond and make the best use of the facilities the country can afford.
"Please give me some valuable guidance for admission in IIT ..."
This was another student emailing from Solan, Himachal Pradesh who cleared IIT JEE this year. I suggested him to follow a webpage and added few lines from my side.
"If you are among toppers at 1st year, then you get an option to move to a branch of ur choice in 2nd year at IIT Kharagpur. If you are topper in your branch (whatever it is) you can expect a very good job irrespective of branch.
"If you have a passion for a specific branch, go for it. Else you may think of an IIT of ur choice. Give ur best there. If u feel like, go for dept. change at 2nd year or stick to one u got.
"Our experience is that the students who crack IIT-JEE do not know what to do next and tend to relax. If u keep working the way u have done so far, you don't need to worry at all."
Experience of a different kind!
Spending a night at railway platform like Tatanagar, Delhi or airport like Bangkok, Tokyo, Frankfurt was not that difficult, specially when you know that it is only a night. For last 8 days, I am experiencing what can be correlated to living on footpath (correlation > 0.8 :-))- cramped, dust, pebbles all around. But I have a fan and a mosquito net and a working TV to give company. It is quite an educative experience and to understand what is our minimum requirement. Our quarter is going through a massive renovation. My only worry if the work will be completed in time i.e. before the arrival of family members next Sunday (school reopens next Monday after vacation). Else, there is no problem.
The other day I was talking to the supervisor about the health hazard of such civil works, the amount of dust a worker inhales. Can we adopt a technology which is dust free and less hazardous? May be placing of factory made pre-fabricated blocks, one after another can help. I saw one individual building a house on his own through such blocks with the help of a fork-lift and a small crane. This was Trento, Italy and several years back. May be we want labour intensive technology here to get more people employed. But can it not be less hazardous?