Sunday, July 28, 2013

Convocation 2013

The 59th Convocation of IIT Kharagpur was held yesterday. Such a day is always special. More so for the parting message graduating students receive from the alma mater - the responsibility, the challenges ahead, the expectation around them and their role.

It was overwhelming that Honourable Higher Education Minister of the country in his message expressed 'regards' to the graduating batch. In his opening note his message was, "The stars of this convocation of course are graduating students and therefore I want to begin my talk by offering them heartiest congratulations, best wishes and regards."

And it was no surprise that he has high expectation from IITians. We heard, "IIT has presented us most successful model of empowering India’s youth. ..Students of IIT have a special place and also a responsibility since they symbolize India’s urge to become a technological superpower. I am certain that all of you are full of ambitious ideas for your future path. May your dreams come true. Look for the highest. Aim at the highest and you shall reach the highest. Remember “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in a man” and Character is the test of that manifestation. It is my firm belief that it is the contribution of the youth which is at the core of India’s rapid economic progress. While all of you have been fortunate enough to upgrade and empower yourselves to quality education and training, the path of social and economic revolution India is undergoing, there is a much larger segment of young Indians expecting to be a part of this process. We need to face the challenge for creating better access for young people for quality education and training and make them a part of the national development process to ensure an all inclusive growth. ..Let there be a smile in every Indian’s face.".

 This was echoed in the voice of Director, IIT Kharagpur. "Let there be a smile in every face of our countrymen. And let there be rays of hope scattering from every corner of the nation." At the end of the Convocation ceremony, new Director assumed responsibility.

Chairman of the Board of Governor was clear and direct. He was straight to the point when he said, "Now it is your turn to generate new and path-breaking ideas. Dear students, please remember, knowledge has no limit, no boundaries. Your quest for excellence must continue. You should not bask in the glory of your current achievements as that will soon become the past. This is what the IIT System teaches you…The country is looking at you with hope and expectation. You have all the talent an brilliance. .. You should use technical knowledge for the benefit of the people and create wealth for the nation…IIT degree holders, you will carry with you the spirit of IIT education system. From now on, you will be the brand ambassador of IIT Kharagpur in India and all over the world. Today is the beginning of new era of dissemination to follow for the passion of the profession of your choice. Dear students, honesty and integrity are two tools to give you mental strength. These two coupled with sincere effort effort will take you to the path of glory in your profession. In turn the country will benefit with the obstacles and challenges India is facing today will soon be overcome…. I would like to end with what Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Education can end. But learning is a journey."

 Not only our outgoing students, we educators too got educated. Hope, we can build further on this.
The President Gold Medal (PGM) Holder conducted the oath in Sanskrit to all graduating students (youtube link). The chief guest told students if they understood the meaning of it - dedicating themselves to the service of the nation.

It was convocation lunch venue. PGM holder who happened to be from our Dept., came forward with his friend. Both tried to touch feet which I stopped somehow. And I had also the same to say - what is the meaning of the oath taken.

In the evening, attended the Sitar recital by maestro Pt. Sahid Parvez briefly, taking a detour from the evening walk. (The youtube video has glimpses of few of the events. Some of the photos is credited to one of my Dept. colleague <Link>. There may be error of 1-2 words from my side in taking down notes from the speech made.)


Sunday, July 21, 2013


A July 18 mail led to a new awakening. The "Film projection unit of Netaji Auditorium has been converted to a DIGITAL CUBE SYSTEM with the latest state-of-the-art UFO Satellite links." The mail also told that with this we "pay homage to our old PH... system which had served so well over six decades since the inception of IIT Kharagpur."

I was not a movie-goer type during my B.Tech. or Ph.D days here. However, I oblige myself with 2-3 movies a semester now. In those days, we had a yell emanating from the movie hall "T-a-r-a-p-a-d-a", every occasion something went wrong with movie projection. We were told that the character Tarapada is a myth. Whoever handles the projection system becomes Tarapada.

One of the reason why I do not hear Tarapada-shout now is the decreased number of footfalls. The 60 year old movie projection system was no more reliable in terms of audio and video quality. Also, it is difficult to get movie prints of all the films on reels. The technology has moved to digital systems - hard disk, satellite download etc.

An effort started this year to  move to digital projection system. I was a part of the team that visited few modern cinema halls in Kolkata. We educated ourselves with lots of literature, met people, visited projection rooms. The new system implemented is what our Technology Film Society (TFS) found good and what takes care of technology, operational and other issues.

This has been the first movie weekend with the new system. Wanted to meet our TFS colleagues, with whom I spent few days earlier this year, after this transition which is major for them. Also, wanted to have a feel of the new system.

The 3:00 - 6:00 PM show was housefull! Chatted with TFS staffs, and learnt how they are handling the new system. Visited the projection room. They told what more they need. Watched the movie till halftime. The movie was Aashiqui II. Both audio and video quality have improved and there was no interruption. Didn't watch after half-time as (i)I learnt that there is a sad end (Hero dies) and (ii)I had some other responsibility. 

I watched two movies last sem. and felt so bad that the persons with shady character and doing unlawful things were portrayed as hero in those movies. No wonder that we see so much indifference or rather inclination towards such stuffs if this is what we feed our young population. Yes, they were primarily comedy (Race 2 and Special 26) but people who watch them take the comic as well as the unlawful stuff. Not so easy to unmix them and slowly but surely they enter our value system. Compared to that this movie was more of tragedy but has certain respect for value system. The hero, however, does lots of unnecessary and illogical maneuvers to increase melodrama quotient. But who watches mainstream Bollywood movie to find rationality in it :-) Perhaps, I would have liked struggle or ending like Ek Vivaah .. Aisa Bhi [Youtube Link], watched two semester back where too one comes forward to extend help to another. But there is a difference between Rajshri and Masheh Bhatt production!! Isn't it? 

People watched Aashiqui with the first projection system IIT Kharagpur had. They begin journey II with the second movie projection system here when Aashiqui II is screenedWhile we welcome the new, we feel sad for the demise of the old system that stood by us for six l-o-n-g decades. Our homage to the old system. It is time to see if we become Aashiq of the new system and TFS officials get what they were lamenting for, more footfalls, more yaarana from movie buffs. One must say that the beginning has been good.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Five Years With NSS, IIT Kharagpur

[Before I could type a single letter for the body of this post, a phone call came. RKMVU (Link) has sent about 200 English Grammar titles for two village high schools in our neighbourhood where VIVEKDISHA, an online two way distance learning program (Link, Link) is implemented.]

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


On 11th July, this article came in front page of Kolkata edition of Hindustan Times (HT) as boxed item. The correspondent (who had been very meticulous in getting every details) and me, were conscious and cautious about this possible error. But finally, it could not be prevented. There may be an auto-correct mechanism at final desk where PCG (phonocardiogram) was corrected with more popular medical use ECG. Both of us felt bad on this mix-up and HT is expected to provide a corrigendum. The title chosen by the publisher may be what makes an article connect to reader. It may invite cell phone companies to take interest and the technology penetration can improve, specially for people in remote places and having limited mobility due to old age or otherwise. So far, we have got good result with this on valvular disorders using clinical data in our IIT Kharagpur lab.

I must admit that it is always a pleasure to interact with our friends in media who helps us to connect with larger population with technology developments happening here. This inspires us to deliver more and reinforces our commitment. Besides HT, had interaction earlier with Economic Times, Statesman, Telegraph (Anandabazar group), Headlines Today and other correspondents on technology development, with Times of India correspondent during then President His Excellency Dr.  A P J Abdul Kalam's visit to IIT Kharagpur, with Anandabazar correspondent on NSS team visiting a local tribal village to address an important issue and others on NSS activities. Sincere thanks to all. [I am sorry that I could not respond to Electronics for You on their DSP (Digital Signal Processing) prospect related queries within due date. Was out of country on serious occupation, was on family vacation on not-so-serious or even-more-serious occupation :-) etc. which I informed the correspondent.]