Friday, July 18, 2014


We were traveling in one part of the country. We never found gentler people in any other part of the country. They were always 10 on 10 about manners and the way they treated guests like us. However, there was one practice there that we had been told in advance.After paying the cost of the service offered, there is a practice of giving some extra as bakhshish, however small that amount could be and they never argue with that. For that little extra they bow to the customer with a smile in face, offers a salute.

Who does not like extra? And it is time for me to take a bow with a smile in face and offer my salute - the charge is handed over yesterday, the 'extra' academic engagement that lasted for last six years comes to an official end. Thanks to all giving me this opportunity. It had been a long association - first as NSS Program Officer, then as NSS Program Coordinator and finally as NSO Health and Fitness Program Coordinator. I thankfully acknowledge the cooperation received from larger campus community, local people, alumni and last but not the least - the beloved student community who I used to interact with, about 1000 of them in each semester. But for the huge goodwill shown by the students, it would not have been possible to undertake the journey over such a long period and together. 

A quick flashback shows that my first post on NSS was dated 30-08-2008 on this blog (Link) on my first day experience. Earlier I got acquainted with the undercurrent of social entrepreneurship of IIT Kharagpur by attending a student meet here in March, 2008 (Link). The NSS unit I served was named 'Team Vivek' (Vivek comes close to Conscience). The student members came up with a beautiful website on a free server and regularly updated it (Link). It is still live. Then a UG student here, now a researcher at University of Waterloo redirects traffic if any web search leads to him as member of that webteam. I had NCC as EAA in IITKGP during my student days here. NSS was a whole new experience. The little effort the team put caught attention of student community. Scholars' Avenue, the campus newspaper run by the students came up with an article in Oct., 2009 (Link). 

The NSS Camp of 2008 was important as it gave lots of confidence and showed the latent strength of NSS team. That was the first time I was communicating beyond my unit and to students of other units. The camp feedback was great. Some of them can be found here (Link).

There was no looking back since then. NSS Program Coordinator responsibility came in July, 2010 (Link). Senior students came with donations for instituting scholarships for village school children (Link). And NSS, IIT Kharagpur found a place for itself in in the front page of IITKGP website in the NSS Day 2010 function (Link, Archive). To have easy updates on our activity, we launched NSS Blog in March, 2011 (Link). NSS newsletter was also launched to have higher impact (Link).
By 2013, NSS, IIT Kharagpur was ready with committed and experienced faculty and student team. The maturity of its exercises, the visibility made students confident to mention their association with NSS in their resume. This year in Gymkhana election Soap Box, I heard one G Sec. aspirant mentioning the engagement in NSS activities as one of the credential and it is interesting that candidate got the highest vote. The baton was passed to new Program Coordinator of NSS in July 2013 (Link).

There was a requirement and thought that may be I can give sometime to another EAA program that was asking attention. It had about 900 students enrolled and there was a great opportunity to serve. Started building team and motivating ourselves (Link). The program was launched in Feb., 2013 and was a success from Day 1 (Link). The journey in that program is captured there in regular session-wise updates. It took some effort from me to be consistent on that front but it had a great effect in launching a big program with so many students being addressed together. Without fail, a mail used to reach every student every TUE and FRI motivating them for the WED and SAT early morning field activity. There were many special activities. Students came up with newsletter for this program too (Link).

Comes July 2014 and the new academic session. It is time to hand over the charge to next in command in this EAA program and post the last one here (Link). Is it time to revel in the joyful and satisfying experience of this EXTRA academic journey? There was a Scholars' Avenue article in March 2013 (Link). The title chosen by the students showed why they are our greatest teachers - and what we think as extra is essentially the core of our existence. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


[Pictures are from yesterday evening's visit to Rathayatra fair, just outside IIT Kharagpur campus.]

We cannot be faulted if we take ourselves too seriously! After all, this is the only life we have!! One suggestion would be to follow Dadi of Kapil Sharma's popular comedy show on TV. When told, "Dadi, think second time," she shot back,"When life is one, why think twice?" For the believers of more than one life, one may say that we had chance before, we shall get chance again - why worry? If nothing works, we have the liberty to become more philosophical than usual - Many like us had come and gone, many like us will come and go, let us not get stressed!!!

Star Plus is now beaming the epic Mahabharata with new castings. "Dharme cha arthe cha kaame cha mokshe cha bharatarshabha. Yadhihasti tadanyatra yannehasti na tadkvachit" i.e. "O scion of the Bharat race, whatever dharma, artha, kaam and moksha exists in the world, exists in the text, whatever is not in the text does not exist elsewhere." We can watch all episodes here (Link) and take life easy. Of course, we should avoid 'what-if's and draw conclusion out of it. For example, if the battle of Kurukshetra could be avoided if Dhritarashrta dealt Duryodhana differently at various stages - Dhritarashrta could become neither a true king nor a true father. Probably if one is true in one, he automatically becomes true in other.

The other epic Ramayana of Ramanand Sagar production, probably holds world record as the most viewed mythological TV serial. Our young days had "Sitaram charit ati pavan / Madhur saras aur ati mann bhavan / Puni puni kitane ho sune sunae / Phir bhi pyaas bujat na bujae" filling the air on Sunday mornings.  All episodes of it can be seen here (Link). This too offers lessons that places eternity over transients. Often it is laced with humour that we can appreciate if we know that life is more than stand-up comedy, but comedy it is!! Here goes one such story from Ramayana that is taken from this place (Link). 

One day in the forest, Lord Rama was standing with his bow rested on the ground and talking to his brother Lord Lakshmana. After some time Lakshmana noticed that Rama’s bow was rested on a frog and it was struggling to survive. Rama took the frog and asked, “Why didn’t you speak up when you were in pain?”. Frog, a self-realized soul, replied “when others hurt me, I call your name “Rama, Rama” – but here it is you giving me the pain – who else can I call? So I accepted this pain as a blessing.”

Endnote: "We play our parts here — good or bad. When the dream is finished and we have left the stage, we will have a hearty laugh at all this — of this only I am sure." - Vivekananda in his letter to Sister Nibedita on 28th August, 1900 (Link)