Monday, January 28, 2013

Looking Back

'Backlog' is a dreaded word. But many of us prefer to read a novel at one go or at least by chapters and not by pages or paragraphs. And this keeps asking for a space. Things start piling up. Dots in this leg of the journey do not add up. Let me scribble something here which I can quickly recollect.

NSS Annual Camp

The seven day long NSS Camp (Start link) experience was something I wanted to write about. Young first year students UG students, 500+ of them spending 7 days in countryside doing activities like widening of road, bush-cleaning, filling-up of potholes, organizing cloth distribution to needy, conducting awareness rally, cultural program, learning team work, plain living. It was great to spend 7 days with the students and was happy to see the smile, the joy in their faces. The feedback received (Link) from young campers show why we should be believing.

RGUKT IIIT Basara visit

I am not doing justice by not writing a separate post on this visit, so overwhleming was the experience! There was an official work. But visiting an engineering college campus and not interacting with students - nay, it cannot made to happen! The 8:30 PM full-house student interaction was more than interesting. The emails received from some of those students post-visit are thought provoking, serious and sincere. No praise is enough for the excellent discipline in 7000 strong campus where devotion to academics is integrated with life and culture. The college is the first of its kind in admitting meritorious, rural youth after Class X Board examination. The teaching and hostel is completely free. Not only that, dress is also provided by Andhra Pradesh Government. More of this college can be found here (Link).

The Call

We usually call SDO, BDO in our effort to enrich young IIT Kharagpur students with community service experience. They often grace our functions where local village community and our students perform together (Link1, Link2). And the call came. First from SDO and then from BDO of Kharagpur-II block. There was an issue with a tribal village where scientific investigation was needed, besides assuring tribal community who can be superstitious on the issue related. And they thought of us. It was an honour and privilege. We rushed to the spot with BDO office staff and interacted with the community, explained them and gave our recommendation to the district authority. It was first such experience and thus very special (Link).

ABVYM Annual Camp

After IIIT Basara visit, was occupied with answer-script checking and other admin. responsibilities. Then came ABVYM Annual Camp (Link) during Dec. 25-30, 2013. This time it was held in Basantapur Jhareshwar School, Sabong, abut 40 KM from here. Young men from all over India, about 1600 in number, poured into the village school. The six day camp dwelt on man-making, character-building ideas of Vivekananda whose birthday is observed as National Youth Day. The campers had to bring their own bedding, lie on floor of school building, take food which is the simplest possible, manage in an infrastructure with limited no. of toilets and other amenities, follow strict discipline - compulsorily get up by 4:50 AM (flag-hoisting everyday at 5:40 AM), participate in all camp activities that include guard duty at night when mercury was at its lowest in the season. No travel allowance or daily allowance is paid. Instead a camp fee (Rs. 150-200 per camper) is charged. "Why take so much hardship? What do you gain from it?" A group of IIT Kharagpur students asked some of the campers when they paid a brief visit to the camp site. And the answers from a beaming 3rd Year Chemical Engineering student from Vizag or a young school teacher of a Bankura village told the same - such a camp recharges them, re-energizes them in increasing their resolve to be a better human being for a better society. The motto is "Be and Make" where the word "Be" comes first and that is the most important. National Service Scheme (NSS) motto, "Not Me, But You" was discussed with the campers.

Five in context

There are people for whom if you do five and not the rest ninety five, they remember the five you have done. I cannot but feel embarrassed when local village high schools conduct annual function and print invitation card with my name as chief guest. I have already attended two such this year. Today, the headmaster of another high school called and told about their annual function. I try to attend as it develops bonding and our students can engage themselves in community service work and benefit from the experience. Many of our students are very popular among village school students for the Saturday classes they held. In two high schools we are trying to launch Vivek Disha, an online class, with the help of RKMVU (Link). We shall link this experience later once it goes through.

Lift and Push

To get it back in to track, a carriage has to be lifted. Once it is on track, push is enough unless it gets derailed. It had been very satisfying to get something into track and leave it at a stage when it seems that push is enough. Am always around if it gets derailed for some reason. And the time and energy can be utilized in any other job that requires a lift. And the time has come.

What else?

The Tata Steel slogan of yesteryear can be remembered, "We also make steel." It is life as usual. Notable is to file three IPs in last month. They were nearly ready. It needed the '100 Days, 100 Patents' drive to complete the documentation process and subsequent filing by patent attorney. We have shared the details with one Hyderabad based company who were talking to us since PanIIT meet. Yes, completed proof-checking and indexing of new edition of one of the title. It was a laborious job but a textbook always needs care in preparation. Two sponsored projects ended with nice remarks from funding agencies. Two big projects of national importance are in the pipeline. Delhi, Bangalore - one has a big societal impact, the other is to serve those who serve us without caring for their own life - lots of responsibility, but as some of my colleagues say, I am blessed with research students who are serious and sincere. What more does one want? 

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