Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yours sincerely

Dear student,

Welcome to our research group. Hope, this association will be mutually beneficial. You will learn from the group. We shall also learn from you.

The beginning of a research career starts with placing right questions that comes from a probing mind. In the initial phase, you will mostly contribute to the group by asking questions, looking beyond obvious - mostly 'why's and 'why not's. There is no question that can be called 'silly'. An inquisitive mind filled with innocence looks at the world with bewilderment, like a child - amused, excited, - a child having untiring zeal, indomitable spirit to ask endless questions. In the pursuit of knowledge which is infinite, we all are like a child and should possess such a quality. You will learn from the group, skill set we have already acquired. But you have to make it your own by not taking them as blackbox and asking relevant questions.

I was waiting for this day for your induction to the team. There could have been a better start had you performed better in the test. It is not easy for somebody to come back to academics after so many years and getting only few weeks to prepare with a completely different type of project responsibility to attend to in parallel. You had been brave to appear for the test with such a short preparation. Have faith in yourself. Your P.I. (who talked to me earlier) is very much satisfied with your contribution to the project. Feel proud of what you achieved in such a short stay at IIT Kharagpur. You will definitely earn what you deserve.

As far as reaching life's milestones, my little experience is that life gives opportunity. Our job is to remain prepared and make the most of opportunities when it come. The preparation is in our hand. It is not always possible to create opportunities ourselves. We are entitled to feel bad if we do not exert ourselves enough in the preparatory phase and let go an opportunity. You have worked hard since you joined and your responsibility ends there. There is no reason to feel bad. Take the feedback from the test - written and interview in right spirit and work on it. It is important to maintain a positive attitude and prepare oneself for the next opportunity. It will come.

Be strong. Vivekananda says, "Strength is life, weakness is death." "Life is short. The vanities of the world are transient. They only live who live for others. The rest are more dead than alive." The milestones achieved in life are not for self or are vanity stuffs to flaunt about. It is owning up of more responsibility, telling people that I am to deliver more (not from a point of ego, true education never does that), they should expect more responsibility to be shouldered by me, they should make me aware if I am failing in my duty vis-a-vis capacity I possess. Reaching milestones are important as that gives us more capacity to serve. Let us hope and pray that each of us can raise ourselves to achieve more not just for self but for the society at large which in a nation like us constitutes of millions of underprivileged.

Let us find sometime tomorrow and discuss how you may chart next part of the journey. Allow me to end this longish welcome message with one of my favourite Lord Buddha quote, "Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful."

We all know that "Lives of great men all remind us that we can make our lives sublime." I may suggest at least 5-10 minutes of study of lives of great men and women in everyday's routine. My own experience is that I have found Vivekananda quotes from "Call to the Nation" (Link) or his letters to young disciples like Alasinga (One Link), Nivedita (One link) very inspiring.

Welcome again and cheers!

Yours sincerely,

P.S. The older one grows, the more one starts giving sermons!!! And I am not getting younger day by day. Pls. get used to that as you join this group :-)