Sunday, September 9, 2012


Today is the death anniversary of my father. A 2010 post on Baba appears here (Link). Every time I think of him, the responsibility he carried on his shoulder and made his service available to our extended family and beyond family and  even under difficult times, I get to hear that I must do much, much, more to be considered a worthy son. One of my friend from those days, a JNU PhD, now a faculty member in a college under Calcutta University and doing wonderful work there in NSS, was accompanying me today in my car. He saw father's picture in photo stand there. And told that Baba must have felt proud for me as he could see that I had completed IIT education though he missed seeing me an IIT faculty member.
My friend expressed happiness that my mother is around. What my friend did not know that Baba was more concerned with development as a whole and he was among the first few guardian who patronized the start of Kharagpur unit of Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal (Link) in the seventies. I remember him speaking in some of the functions of the Unit in those days. If I behaved wayward anytime, the medicine that always worked :-),  him saying, "This is what you are learning visiting Mahamandal (its children unit)." The child in me used to retreat by saying, "Tell me whatever you want to say. Don't say anything bad about Mahamandal." And he used to smile at that. In academics, he always believed in putting the best effort and never bothered about my ranking, final performance. Not only me, all who came in contact with him, miss this reassuring personality. He had been an inspiration, a source of strength for people of different ages and background. He always had something to encourage people to go forward and do better.

Youth Training Camp

The major part of the day was spent in a training camp of young people on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Vivekananda. It was held in Traffic Ramakrishna Vivekananda Society, Kharagpur, organized by Kharagpur unit of Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal. About 170 young people from schools and colleges of Kharagpur as well as neighbourhood places like Jharagram, Khakurda, Lalat etc. participated. Ranjitda took 4:15 AM from Naihati in the morning to reach camp at 9:30 AM. He was the main speaker. I spoke little towards the end in the 3:30 PM question-answer session.

Unselfishness is God

Ranjitda was saying that there is debate on existence of God. But we see God everyday whenever we see an act of unselfishness. Vivekananda said, "Unselfishness is God." And this we see when we see our parents. We just think of the sacrifice they make for our well-being with always prayer for us in lips - if we cannot see them as god, there must be a problem with our vision.

Subhash Chandra Bose of 14 years

Ranjitda talked about 14 year old (Netaji) Subhash Chandra Bose. Subhash was writing letters to his mother. In one he expressed anxiety on academic issues as he was loosing focus due to issues associated with adolescence (In Bengali, "Bayaser dharma peye bosechhe"). And in that letter he is asking mother to give him strength.

Good Student or Good Boy?

The letter of this 14 year lad had something which only can come from someone who the country will call "Netaji" soon. On receiving scholarship after doing well in a competitive exam., he visualizes happy faces of parents, the celebration at home and in the locality. But Subhash writes that he himself is not happy. He says that his life will be successful when the mother will say, "Subhash is just not a good student but a good boy. (In Bengali, Subhash shudhu bhalo chhatro noi, bhalo chhele.)" A 14 year lad making the distinction between 'good student' and 'good boy' after doing well in an competitive exam. A campus that houses thousands of good students may do well to listen to young Subhash, his aspiration, what means success for him, the mother's 'good boy' certificate, the 'good student' certificate is not enough!

Life is a mission, a duty : 
Distinction between happiness and enjoyment

Subhas Chandra asked mother what sort of career for her children would please her most?-whether she would be the happiest if her children in later life became the judges, magistrates, barristers
or high-placed officials and came to be admired for wealth and fortune by the men of the world, or if they could earn the respect of the learned and the virtuous for having grown up to be 'real men' even though they might be poor. At the same age in a letter to one of his classmates, Subhas Chandra wrote: 'My life is not for my own enjoyment. My life is of course not devoid of happiness but is not for enjoyment-my life is a mission-a duty.'

Finding a son at pension office

Ranjitda talked about one Kallol, a dedicated Govt. worker for whom work is truly service. Before joining once Kallol happened to see old people waiting for long hours for disbursal of pension at the beginning of every month. Instead of 10 AM, the counter used to open at 12:30 PM and that too for a short period, with lot of harassment to senior citizens. Interestingly, he got a job in pension office after 5 years and even if it meant working extra hours in the evening, he always completed the job so that the pension can be disbursed in time. The first day when he assumed office and started disbursal, hours before the late 12:30 PM schedule maintained earlier, the elderly people were not believing. And they tried to reach out to Kallol's head with their feeble hand offering blessings, the iron grill of the counter coming in between. Be it a family function like marriage or disease like fever, Kallol was never absent during pension days so that the elderly disabled people get their dues in time.

Mind and its control

Jagadishda who came from Narayangarh beautifully explained "Mind and its control." How difficult is to control mind so that we can put it into something at our will as well as take it off!.  Mind is compared with a monkey who as such is restless, in addition it is intoxicated (by desire, lust), bitten by a scorpion (by envy), on whom a demon sits (which is ego). Arjun, the great warrior too said that the mind is too strong to be controlled, it is easier to hold air in one's fist. However, Krishna acknowledged the same but assured that there is a way. What is it? Abhyas and Bairagya. Abhyas is striving, doing it again and again. Bairagya is disenchantment with whatever is bad. Vyasa says that mind as a river that can flow in both the directions. If one goes by the current of Viveka, the conscience, the flow is in the direction of virtue. Then he talked about Yam, Niyam, Asana, Pratyahar and Dharana (Link) as a proven method of control of mind and making the most of this tool.

100 Days 100 Patents

Left the camp little early to attend patent workshop at S. N. Bose Auditorium which is a part of ambitious "100 Days 100 Patents" drive by the institute (Link). Seeing the enthusiasm, our Director said that he had been skeptic at the beginning but feels confident now. On 7th Sept., there was a curtain raiser in which Dean, Sponsored Research told an anecdote that he heard. The moral had been : We spend 25% our effort in constructive things and 75% of mind remains in some state of agitation for problems within or outside. If we can inverse this ratio, we can do much better, given the capacity we have. Team effort as it has been, even for our small contribution, we had been called on stage to light up the lamp. Feel honoured. The workshop had talk from patent controller, patent attorney, case studies, The Q & A session was very live. About 30 abstracts were submitted today itself. Expect that the momentum will continue. One faculty colleague who is an expert in patent law was crisp in his observation to explain the potential loss for innovations being published in non-patentable documents. He was worried about IP rights not being vested properly to institute, the opportunities missed and came up with, "The previous century said - Publish or perish. The current century says - Publish and perish."

Father of PGM holder

Remembering father reminds me the visit of one father on 5th of Sept., the Teacher's Day. I was in a lab. taking viva. HoD called me on phone. Father of one student wants to meet me! Enters the father, one of the simplest person I have ever seen, with only a polythene carry bag in hand which shows the sign of being used many times before. Beard in his face. And none can miss that smile. He is the father of President Gold Medal (PGM) winner of the institute this year, the topper among dual degree students. The son is the only one to get selected in prestigious MIT (Link) for higher studies in the Electronics discipline. The child who intentionally performed poorly to avoid going to a reputed hostel leaving the loving parents, is now at the other side of the globe. Twice a day video talk closes the distance a lot. We wish like his father that the son comes back to serve the country. Then I introduced the father to all lab. students, about eighty of them and they were in awe to meet the father of PGM holder and gave him a huge ovation. [Photo added on 16.9.2012 where proud father receives award from President of India during convocation on behalf of his son.]

Teacher's Day

The Teacher's Day was a rainy day. The soccer match between the students and the teachers were postponed. However, the inauguration of the "Electronics Hobby Hub" went well. The senior most but evergreen Prof. N. B. Chakraborti, with his insatiable quest for knowledge, not only inaugurated the hub but also made the staff explain different experiments, student project materials. The lab. students beautifully decorated the lab. and organized a beautiful function. I had NSS faculty meeting in the evening. Had a call where after a discussion, I was asked to give consent to a nation wide technology development initiative with deep social implication. The answer was obvious and I hope and pray that I can make those proud who placed / place a lot of faith in me.

A conversation

Student: Respected Sir, First of all wish you a very very Happy Teachers day on this auspicious day. Sir, as I am in teaching profession I always see you as my  ideal teacher. The way you speak to us, the way you behave, everything I like very much and try to reflect these things in my life. I specially enjoy the discussion in the lab. Specially your suggestion in handling a big problem by spliting it into smaller ones, I mean how it behave in smaller data helps me a lot in my research and also in real life. In short you are my true ideal teacher and the year I spent with you will be a memorable year in my life. Sir, I always need your blessing through out my life.  

Teacher: Thanks student. I don't know if I deserve these kind words. We see in others what we have in ourselves. It was all within you. My best wishes.

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