One faculty member from a different department came forward in a faculty meeting held last week. The word of appreciation that followed was nothing but an assertion of the collective will that exists at IIT Kharagpur. Then there was a short term course dinner. One faculty opined that the work got expanded quite a lot. Yes, that is why to assist new Program Coordinator, the institute is providing one new position who too will be associated with coordination. Not only in this, whenever NSS team requested support from the institute or larger IIT Kharagpur community, the same was available.
We worked as a team. I don't mind if someone says that I was lucky to get such a strong faculty team in NSS :-) The dedication, the discipline, the camaraderie, the leading from front, the sense of responsibility from all team members - it was a privilege to be a part of such a team. The students as well as the village / slum people were little skeptic in the beginning. Most of our students do not know the local language. NSS fund is next to nothing (Rs. 6000 per semester per village/slum) to make the kind of contribution which village people were expecting from us. Gradually, we could establish our foot-print which is now has spread to about 20 village / slum of our neighbourhood. Glory to the spirit of the youth!
We got good amount of support from alumni, campus community, institute which made the work easier. The panchayets and the offices of BDO, SDO found a friend in us. It was great to collaborate with RKMVU in implementing VIVEKDISHA program. We got lot of encouragement from higher officials of NSS, be it Regional Head's Office at Kolkata or Program Adviser's Cell at New Delhi.
I started as Program Officer in NSS, taking care of a small unit of about 50 student volunteers. This was the learning phase for me. There again I got a very, very enthusiastic and disciplined team to work with. The students developed a website for the unit. This was given a name 'Team Vivek'. The website still exists and is a testimonial of the effort the then student team put. It can be found here (Link), frozen in time. In fact, this and my first NSS Annual Camp was the starting point of rebuilding the NSS activities here. I must thank the ABVYM (Link) Annual Camp experience that I had in my young days (Link), which helped. Of course, NSS camp has a character of its own (Link, Link).
Then I was entrusted with the responsibility of Program Coordinator of NSS, IIT Kharagpur. I have already stated the amount of support received from all quarters. I would like to reiterate here what I said to the correspondent of campus newspaper of students (Link). "Let me clarify at the outset that if we have achieved anything, the credit goes to the team where our students form the bulk of the members. Everybody associated with NSS, directly or indirectly – the administration, the faculty, the larger campus community-have contributed in their own way. I just got an opportunity to coordinate the strong collective will and energy that was already present and played my role as everybody else played theirs."
Having completed my tenure as Program Coordinator, it is time to pass the flag. NSS, IIT Kharagpur will go from strength to strength given the strong goodwill it enjoys, the focus it has. The fresh idea, the fresh energy will catapult it to next level. Prof. Debasis Roy, the new Program Coordinator has years of experience in NSS as Program Officer. He led the team of students which served the farthest of the villages reached by us, about 10 KM from campus. Also, he had been instrumental in successful conduct of NSS Annual Camp. Prof. Abraham George will assist him in coordination. He too has years of experience in leading students in slum and village school based NSS activities.
As for myself, I'll always be available as NSS resource person. In fact, shall be updating NSS blog (Link) for some more time. And there is another responsibility related to Extra Academic Activities of IIT Kharagpur. It can be found here (Link). More about that experience later.
It is time to say bye and thanks to all, students, faculty, larger IIT Kharagpur community, local administration and village / slum people, who made this five years of experience in NSS all the more memorable. Thank you, thank you very, very much! I wish I could reach each of you individually to express my gratitude. Thanks again.