Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reaching Out

It was last Monday. The fish-sellers in the market complex were too talking about this, bereaved. Two such incidents within a fortnight! Went to institute. Teaching, non-teaching staffs alike were expressing their pain. And as we expect to hear from elders, were wondering if these students at least thought about what their family members back home would go through. It was also being discussed what we can do more, in addition to services already in place. Director, IIT Kharagpur in his message to students requested all students in reaching out to each other. In his message to teaching and non-teaching staffs, he requested their time, cooperation, guidance to students.

Next day, I had a double lecture in my 'Signals and Systems' course of 100 UG students. We are near the end of the semester. After learning the methods and techniques of characterizing analog and digital signals and systems (emphasis was more on digital part in this course  - while students get educated I get re-educated), it was time to take up challenges / practical issues in building up of systems. We took up physiological system as an example. The attached three slides give an outline of the discussion.

It was not surprising that the discussion at times drew certain analogy where our social being and society came as a system that reacts to various kind of stimuli or signals. At times, response and its effect need to be fast but at other time, the effect takes more time to be visible on surface but it is more permanent in nature. We discussed the difference between symptom and sign and how to get more of objective data to initiate action. Rarely any disease, even in societal space, is silent. Often it remains buried under noise. Signal-to-Noise ratio can be improved if we can get close to the source of the signal. Will getting too close to be seen as invasion of privacy?

The Student Welfare Group (SWG - Link) representative from this class met me at the end of the class. We discussed many things - the role of SWG wing representative in hostel, role of friends, family, and faculty members like us. In a closed campus like us, far from maddening crowd of a metro city, there can be closer interaction between students and faculty. And we are always within the reach of the students and they are always welcome.

Three years back when such an unfortunate incident took place, I tried to conjure my thoughts and assemble them in this post (Link).

If I am to express my thoughts today on this, the following is what I would like to put forward.

Each of us respond to signals / triggers based on what we pick up - the tuned receiver as we are, our processing ability and the way we have trained ourselves to develop a model of life before us. We, specially the privileged ones, often tend to believe in a made-to-order life where perhaps, our entitlement is the only things that matter.

Made-to-order life? Devoid of uncertainties? It does not require a big philosophical debate to understand that the same is only a wishful thinking and against fundamental tenet of life. Yes, many of the signals / triggers of life can be anticipated within certain range of error, even there the errors which essentially are perpendiculars to thought processes, need to be adequately dealt. And there is always a probability of signals / triggers for which error is out of range. Whether we like or not, we cannot avoid challenges of life - predictable, not-so-predictable. That there will be uncertainties of various orders is certain, for each one of us.

How do we deal with it?

In one approach, I can expect that the sources that cause error in my life's model adjusting itself in such a way so that my life's challenges are reduced. The environment that sends signal / trigger / challenges to me is not static. It is also changing and responding to various triggers at its own level as a macro system.

In another approach, I do what Tagore taught us in a poem meant for rapid-reading of children but has profound thoughts embedded in it. He used his own brand of humor to teach us life's lessons. A translation of original Bengali poem appears here (Link). Speaking Tree puts it under category 'self-improvement' and gives a nice narration here (Link). This says that it is not possible to swipe the dust off the entire earth and it is far more practicable proposition to cover our own feet.

As an individual, it helps me to weather all challenges in every environment if I grow in character and build inner strength, not being at the mercy of the environment around. I can expect to have an environment that I think is congenial for me and everybody, here and everywhere. But what if it does not exactly matches my expectation? Is it not prudent if I also take up an exercise to emerge stronger mentally, physically - in all three components of 'H' - Heart, Head, Hand? Heart - to feel, Head - to think and plan, Hand - to execute.

How do we do that? How do we grow strong inside? How do we emerge as a better and stronger individual to cope up challenges of life?

Since early childhood, we spend so much time and energy to learn a thing or two of external world, how to make things move there. We often do not give even a small fraction of that time, energy to myself to understand me in relation to the society, how we can build our character, what makes our inner world move.

What are the methods of techniques to develop character strength? There are enough as knowledge pool. We simply need to make a conscious effort after recognizing the fact that we need to grow within. If required, I can come up with another post in future on what I can share from a learner's point of view (not as teacher).

All said and done, if we do not start our training early enough, after certain age "Training is taken and not given." This I heard from Sri Russi Modi, MD of Tata Steel when I joined that organization at the completion of my B.Tech. here. 

1 comment:

anirbandeep said...

Our investigative mind can explore the root of the entire problem which lies beneath the peak of the iceberg of recent unfortunate incidents. The basic shortcomings of our education system are that the aspiring young talents are mechanically treated and coached to crack the exam.
Their tender inquisitive minds are not properly nourished for their future life. We should keep in mind that education is not just mere collection of information that rattle and swirl uncontrollably inside the letter boxes of minds but the real education will kindle the spark of interest among the youngsters to expand new horizons of their life.
The shocking fact revealed by World Health Organization (WHO) states that, a suicide is committed every 40 seconds in the world, making it one of the predominant causes of death. In addition, each suicide was found as the consequence of every 20 other unsuccessful attempts .The frightening truth is that a huge population of youngsters trying to suicide are bogged down by the pressure to succeed in their life
In spite of the high number of suicidal victims, the prevention has not been adequately addressed, although there are thousands of ways to prevent such deaths.
The blogger is talking about the external triggers we run across every day. These triggers can dictate our decisions, make us distressful and stressful. These external negative triggers have an affect on our life, and it's possible to use them to our advantage. In short, we can replace the bad triggers and focus the good ones.
In this context,I want to mention an inspiring story which was depicted by blogger in his old post.(Pls mention the link,if possible)
““Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon tennis player was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: “Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease”?
To this Arthur Ashe replied: The world over — 50 million children start playing tennis, 5 million learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals. When I was holding the trophy I never asked GOD: “Why me?”. So today in pain, I should not be asking GOD: “Why me?””
Another inspiring quote
“In a day, when you don't come across any problems - you can be sure that you are traveling in a wrong path”― Swami Vivekananda.

Anirbandeep Bose