Monday, April 28, 2014

Dhiman Sir

Yesterday evening there was an address by Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Kharagpur. He recollected his IITKGP days, strength of IITKGP and how we can leverage upon our unique attributes. He also explained how some of our perceived weaknesses can be converted to strength with right positioning. Our semi-rural background is considered as weakness. Getting a job for spouse is perhaps easier in a metro. The other perceived weakness is coaching of kids. Dr. Banerjee reminded the faculty that a teacher is not himself/herself, because a teacher touches lives of hundreds, thousands students and thus attitude of a teacher is very important.

While I was listening to Dr. Banerjee and taking down notes for the student in me, there was a quick replay in mind of what happened in the morning -my daughter of Class VII coming out of school crying, many other students also crying.... Took daughter to hospital but by that time the carriage has moved away. At home she told her mother that her dream of becoming an 'art teacher' has been shattered. No other teacher can be the substitute. He was so loving - never scolded, always encouraged and inspired students.

In a massive heart attack in the school premises itself, everybody's beloved Dhiman Sir passed away yesterday morning in his forties. A big shock for all of us. May his soul rest in peace and his family and students who were so close to him, get the strength to overcome this. Hope that as a faculty I can live up to the expectation of our Chairman; closer home, Dhiman Sir had been an example of that. May we be able to serve our students as nicely as he used to be.

His facebook page is this (Link). The latest post there from his daughter says following.
what to say and what to write i dont i had lost almost everything...ok ok let me introduce myself I am Pritha Paul daughter of Late Dhiman Paul..I know that this "Late" word is inappropriate to use before this dad was everything for me... OK NOW THIS IS TO INFORM ALL HIS STUDENTS THAT THE ART EXAMINATION WHICH WAS DECLARED TO BE HELD ON 1st May 2014 WILL BE HELD ON THAT PARTICULAR DAY ONLY...HE NEVER EVER PAUSED IN COMPLETING HIS WORK..SO WE ALL SHOULD THINK LIKE HIM..BECAUSE WE ALL LOVE HIM VERY MUCH..AND THIS WAS HIS LAST WISH TO COMLETE ALL HIS INCOMPLETE TASK...THEREFORE I REQUEST ALL THE STUDENTS OF KHARAGPUR ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS TO COME AND APPEAR FOR THIS ART EXAM ON 1ST MAY 2014.. Thanking u ( Pritha Paul)
Presented below are pictures that my daughter used to draw in 2011-12 session followed by the transformation brought by Dhiman Sir in 2013-2014. Coloured pictures can be shared in some other occasions.

2011-2012 series:

2013-2014 series:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ISWT Course on Neuroscience

Registration for the International Summer Term course "Methods and Techniques of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience" has started. The course will be conducted at Dept. of Electronics & ECE of IIT Kharagpur campus, during July 02 - 12, 2014 with a Sunday break in between. The course brochure can be downloaded from here (Link).

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the course, a student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of: (a) neurophysiological basis of various techniques (correlational and causal) to measure brain activity patterns; (b) state-of-the art data analysis methods  for complex brain responses (single unit, EEG/MEG and fMRI); (c) pros and cons and appropriateness of each method and the relationships between different methods. 

International Faculty:
The principal faculty, Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharya, Professor, Goldsmiths, University of London is well-known name in this field for his long list of contribution (Link). We at IITKGP worked together with him on quite a few neurosignal processing problems, the research output of which were published in high impact factor journals (Link1, Link2, Link3). Dr. Caroline Di Bernardi Luft, a Senior Research Fellow working at Goldsmiths, University of London will assist with her extensive knowledge of EEG, fMRI and MATLAB programming for neuro data analysis. 

National Faculty:
Among national faculty, we have Dr. Abhijit Das, MD, DM, the Director of Neurorehabilitation and a Consultant Neurologist at Institute of Neurosciences, Kolkata, India (Link).  His expertize includes Cognitive Neurorehabilitation, Cortical Plasticity, Non Invasive Brain Stimulation (TMS/tDCS), Neuroimaging etc. We at IITKGP got acquainted with him through a collaborative research initiative (Link). My departmental colleague, Prof. Sudipta Mukhopadhyaya (Link) and yours truly too will pitch in time to time and supplement!!!

No. of seats and Course Fee:
No. of participants to this course is capped at fifty. We intend to reserve ten seats for participants from Industry and R & D organizations. Initial application fee is Rs. 500 only. Upon confirmation, one has to pay the following course fee.

Course CodeCourse NameCourse Fee: Participants fromFor Students
Industries &
R & D organisations
IST 0118Methods & Techniques in Cognitive and Clinical NeuroscienceRs, 20,000Rs. 15,000Rs. 15,000

Course Fee waiver for faculty / students:
There is a grant available with us which will allow us to reimburse full course fee on successful completion of the course to most of the participating faculty of recognized institutes of India. Students from Indian institutions, interested in this area are also eligible for fee waiver. We are asking to pay up initially, to avoid cases where one blocks the seat and then does not turn up, wasting the opportunity for another and if one is casual in his / her approach in completing the course. There will be exam. to clear at the end of the course. IIT Kharagpur students will be able to earn two credits from this course. 

How to Register:

Please follow the guideline available at following webpage of IIT Kharagpur:
Last date of application is June 02, 2014.

Priority Rule:
Since there are limited no. of seats and the course is virtually free for most of the participants from academic institutions, Course Coordinator reserves the right to give priority to faculty, then research and pstgraduate students and finally UG students working / intend to work in this area. We shall try to confirm as early as possible whether one gets selected. We are trying hard to arrange full reimbursement of course fee to all participants from recognized academic institutions of India. If it is not possible to waive fee for all, the priority rule will follow first-come-first-served policy among selected, confirmed candidates who complete the registration process and successfully complete the course. 

Travel Booking and Confirmation Schedule:

We would like to confirm candidature of 1st set of applicants of this course by 30th April so that there is enough time to get reservation done for outstation candidates. Train reservation now starts 2 months ahead. Those who apply before 30th April, will get the confirmation on 30th April from the pool applied till then. After that, we shall release list every 10 days till last day.

Accommodation & Food:

While we are trying to arrange reimbursement of course fee for most the candidates from academic institutions, the accommodation, food etc. are chargeable. Accommodation will be provided from whatever is available at campus at that time. We shall try to provide relatively inexpensive accommodation for student participants.

Other information:

It is expected to be monsoon time here in the first fortnight of July. Last year, during the course period, temperature varied between 25 and 35 degree centigrade. For any query of this course, please email me at or

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SSLS Recruitment

Trying to reach out to the maximum and get the best out of  the collaborative research initiative, Signals & Systems for Life Science (SSLS) where experts from IIT Kharagpur and leading hospitals / Life Science R & D came together. Please visit this (Link) to know more about this.

MS Application online:
PhD Application online:

Interested persons can apply from today till May 05, 2014.

For other instructions and project code for filling up of application, please download these 3 pages (Link).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

This far

This far, and no further. Where, when and how we draw the line is very important. We need to be at our wit's end if we allow things to go out of proportion. Timing is important as a stitch in time, saves nine. All these sound good. Comes the most important and difficult question, how do we do it. Do we act tough? Do we act soft? Do we not act at all expecting things to fall back on its own weight? There is no one shoe that fits all. 

Bead String

The clock strikes 5:00 AM. Waking up and taking morning walk. Beautiful campus, morning breeze. The loudspeaker of a neighbourhood colony gently pouring in "Om Bhurbhuba Swaha .." You reflect on the past. You gear up for future. You know that yours is to act, to play your character, as long as you are on stage. Many people acted in past, many will come in future. You are only one of the beads in bead string. See that your bead remains shining. Pray, the string that connects all the beads finds mine worthy enough to put on Her necklace. 

An Inspiring Speech

We got more than what we could give in terms of our service to village school children when we listened to one youngster from Gholgharia Primary School in NSS, IIT Kharagpur Annual Day on April 12, 2014 (video link). Even if you do not know Bengali, you may feel like listening to it again and again. His audience was a full house V2 auditorium that included students, faculty, Dean, Director of IIT Kharagpur. He took up anecdotes from life of Vivekenanda where his mother Smt. Bhubaneswari Devi and Guru, Sri Ramakrishna taught him adherence to Truth and - it is Truth that conquers.

Reaching Out

Director, IIT Kharagpur in his speech emphasized on learning experience of an IITians when (s)he goes through program like NSS (video link). Many students for the first time in their life visit a mud house in a village. It surprises how a two-storied mud house gets built and how it survives. He recollected his own NSS Days as student here. He used to visit Balarampur village to teach underprivileged students. Those students often used to come to campus to clarify their doubts. He encouraged NSS team to come up with more programs for the welfare of underprivileged and reiterated institute's commitment to contribute to the development of villages in 20KM radius of IIT Kharagpur campus. A cultural program by village school students followed (video link).

Chandrasekhar Yadala Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is in memory of our departed student Chandrasekhar who died of cardiac arrest soon after leaving his MTech program and joining job. This scholarship is funded by faculty and fellow students of his laboratory at IIT Kharagpur. It was bolt from a blue to all those who knew Chandrasekhar, a very jovial and warm person, good at extra-curriculars too. The NSS function saw the award of late Chandrasekhar Yadala Memorial Scholarship to six high school students of neighboring villages of IIT Kharagpur (video link). There was a slide show where we remembered beautiful moments of Chandrasekhar's stay here.

Candle March

There was also a candle march scheduled on 12th April and it started from Gymkhana later in the evening. It was the last event of the 'Reach Out Week' (April 09-12) and was in memory of two departing souls, who we lost recently. It was a silent procession with candles in hand. The evening was quite windy. People reached out to each other to keep the respective flame burning during the march, whenever it was getting extinguished due to wind (video link). One of the student who I took help from most of the times, was a wing-mate of one of those two boys. There was no apparent reason - he was good in academics, sports and games; probably it was due to overpowering emotion - he was a sensitive boy. 

The Substrate

I saw the poster in Students Welfare Group's facebook page that says, "Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings." During our walk, we discussed what I wrote in earlier posts - the amount of effort we give to gain control of external world and not a fraction of it for control over internal world. There is knowledge abound on this in this country. We need to take some amount of our attention away from single-minded pursuit of material wealth and glory and build the aadhar, the substrate - that is me. Else, where will we put all those medals? Also, it will help us to know which are the medals to go after.


Does talking about inner development sound out-of-fashion? Does it sound like prabachan (sermon) which is not meant for youngsters? Well, how about martial art? That probably is fashionable! And one would not feel shy or ashamed to take lesson on that! The other day I was going through basic tenet of Korean martial art Taekwondo (Link). They are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, Indomitable spirit, Community service, Love. We got to acquire these character qualities.

Making Choices

Each of us is a leader. Someone or the other always looks up to me. We need to know how to lead. It first starts with how to lead oneself. There is no choice but to make choices on what we take as input, what we cultivate within and what we place before others. We have to make choices on our input - the company we keep, the material we go through. We have to make choices on what to cultivate, of various inputs that we receive. Finally, we have to see if what we give back to society, has gone through a value addition, if we are contributing to the making of a better society, and a better tomorrow. It starts from self. Then if we get an organizational responsibility, there too we have to make choices. There is no escape from it. But we always have to ask ourselves, our conscience this question - what are we trying to achieve by making this choice.


Every action has a reaction. A leader has the strength and ability, will and resolve to withstand it. It is easier if sufficient contemplation is done, if the decision is for the greater good. To lead is to sacrifice. Sacrifice gives moral strength to the leader, earns him / her respect. That is the real power. Rest is only supplementary. We have to sacrifice many of our smaller propensities to lead ourselves to our greater selves. We should not be afraid of sacrifice. Let me end with a famous quote of Vivekananda, "Sacrifice in the past has been the Law, it will be, alas, for ages to come. The earth’s bravest and best will have to sacrifice themselves for the good of many, for the welfare of all.

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.