The ‘i’ of
- Page 7
THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE
www.scholarsavenue.org O CTOBER 31 ST
2009 IIT K HARAGPUR
Back This Diwali With a Bang
R am reaches Ayodhya after his
epic vanvaas and war with
Ravana; the city of Ayodhya,
in anticipation and in celebration of
the return of its great hero, is lit up.
having been scrapped in protest,
except on an apologetically small
scale by a single hall of residence,
and that too, much after Diwali.
dust and oil, and threateningly
obstructive structures – structures
of bamboo and structures of flesh
and blood. As the days ticked by, the
activity in each hall reached a
th eme, ‘Samudra M an t han ’
(continuing KGP’s long-running
affair with themes from Indian
mythology), while the Rangoli top
prize was bagged by RP, which came
Diwali, a collective memory of that So when halls geared up to do frenetic peak, finally then, the big up with a pixelated (101,000 of
celebration and a popular Illu this year, something was day arrived. The big moment came, them) image of Mother Teresa. LLR
endorsement of the triumph of discovered. Almost every hall the diyas were lit, the judges from and SN got silver and bronze
good against evil. Illumination and found it an uphill struggle due to the Kolkata were shown around in each respectively for both Illumination
Rangoli , an institute’s tribute to this vacuum created last year. One lost hall, and in each, the main and Rangoli.
festival of lights, an affirmation of year means a lot to an educational workforce stood beneath tents and
spirit of the youth and a testimony institute where the basic nature of behind chatais praying, and waiting Post results, Diwali night
to the idiosyncracies of KGPians. talent is transitory; where expertise, for a good show, of which they were brought with it mixed reactions (to
if not handed down from senior to only able to catch the end. say the least), and the usual post-Illu
Illumination a.k.a Illu is back. To junior soon, brings us back to the adrenaline rush was witnessed on
say that the relevance of Illu is ‘Stone Age’, so to speak. Hence Illu Witnessing this extraordinary the campus.
debatable is an understatement. should have died. Did it? celebration, the judges were left
KGP likes nothing better than to astounded and asking for more. All of us may have different
indulge fresh brains into the age old On nights before Diwali, views on Illu, but just how big a part
discussion about the merits and walking out of the hall in the This year, the Illumination Illu plays in KGP life cannot be
demerits of Illu. But last year we evening meant being confronted by honours went to RK, who underestimated. Here’s to a tiring
almost witnessed the death of Illu, blaring music, students smeared in performed a repeat of their 2006 and exhilarating Diwali!
Pan IIT Summit
Pan IIT Winners
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Dr. (Late) Rajeev Motwani,
P an IIT is a global umbrella
alumni from all Indian
Institutes of Technology campuses.
CBS 60 minutes has described IIT as
Pan IIT ’09 also observed the launch
of the first ever IIT alumni pink
pages database. This initiative is
aimed at enabling the cross-
pollination of business ideas among
luminary judges. Umang Gupta,
Co-chair of the board of directors,
Pan IIT and CEO, Keynote Systems,
while congratulating the winners,
said, “They have helped to make the
Professor of Computer Science,
Stanford University Harvard, MIT and Princeton all put registered alumni and budding IITs in India one of the most elite
together. Alumni from the IITs have entrepreneurs with their fellows. educational institutions in the
Academic Excellence Award: made a significant impact in their w o r l d t o d a y . ”
Dr. Pradeep Khosla, Dean, chosen professions not only in India The winners of the first annual The three days of the event
College of Engineering, Carnegie but also in the United States, Pan IIT American Leadership delivered an amalgam of nostalgia,
Mellon Ca n a da , Eu ro p e, a n d A sia , Awards, honouring exceptional networking and entertainment.
occupying positions of leadership at achievements and contributions to While panel discussions were
top universities, leading research American society by IIT alumni conducted by day, the nights bore
Corporate Excellence Award:
institutions, at small and large were felicitated in a ceremony witness to a fashion show, a sketch
Ms. Padmasree Warrior, Chief
companies, in government, and at graced by eminent speakers such as comedy and musical galas, starring
Technology Officer, Cisco
non-profits. former American President Bill popular artistes like Kailash Kher.
Clinton and business visionaries
A w a r d : D r. S u h a s Pa t i l , From 9th to 11th October 2009, from America’s leading corporations IIT KGP startup Lalaland Store
IIT Alumni from all over the world including Caterpillar, Cisco and (www.lalalandstore.com) was the
Chairman Emeritus Cirrus Logic,
met in Chicago at the annual Pan- Microsoft Research. The 2009 Pan official merchandise partner of Pan
Chairman Digite and Cradle
IIT conference. The agenda of the IIT winners were selected from IIT 2009.
assembly comprised several over 200 nominees by a panel of
informative workshops, discussions
Technology Leadership Award:
Dr. Ravi Sethi, President, Avaya
on current affairs and networking
opportunities to meet with
Inter IIT Aquatics
Labs innovators and entrepreneurs alike.
T he 45th Inter IIT Aquatics
meet was held in IIT Kanpur
from 1st to 5th October,
2009. This year IIT Kanpur
celebrates its golden jubilee too,
Visit our website for detailed results
of the meet.
Notably, however, half of
Kharagpur's team and almost all the
They have marking 50 glorious years of its participants from IIT Madras and
existence. IIT Kharagpur won IIT Delhi among others were struck
helped to make bronze in the overall boys' aquatics by food poisoning during the course
the IITs in standings and silver in the overall of events. One particular shop
India one of the girls' standings. Chirag Fialoke was selling sandwiches and burgers
most elite adjudged best swimmer with four located near the swimming pool
golds and a silver to his name. He reportedly sold contaminated food.
educational smashed all previous timings with a As a result, most of the IITs except
institutions in new Inter IIT record in the 200m Kanpur failed to put to test their
the world freestyle event. Fresh blood in the full-strength squads. Kanpur's
today. form of a first year, Darshan Varier, athletes probably knew better than
bagged four silvers promising to trust the local “cuisine” days
Annual Pan-IIT Conference at Chicago
brighter outcomes in the future. before the meet.
2 CAREERS AVENUE THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
a standardized test for it, though – tell you what they know - you might be in place one year, and gone
What standardized test would Bill should get a job. And if everyone in the next. Businesses have to make
Gates pass that other people your family is exactly the same way, sense on their own - not because of
wouldn’t? But I think if you had it is going to sound like a consensus. some government regulation.
spent some time with Bill Gates TSA: Are social enterprises similar, in
before he started Microsoft you The other thing that mostly goes some respects, to clean technology
would have guessed he was unsaid is that there is a lot more start-ups?
entrepreneurial. money in the American economy ,
particularly with the venture IS: No, social enterprises are
TSA: So in entrepreneurship you work capitalist community that exists different. Social enterprises are
with a person and identify his skills. there. basically non-profit organizations
Don’t you think it is different from that make money (laughs). In social
engineering in that way? To be fair, though, students in the entrepreneurship, instead of making
a donation, you teach a person to
P rofessor Ikhlaq Sidhu, founding
director of UC Berkeley's Center
for Entrepreneurship & Technology
Entrepreneurship is a very bottom-up
process. It doesn’t start from a research report.
make money and keep some of that
money for yourself.
and an authority on the process of The big problem social enterprises
innovation and technology Entrepreneurship starts from understanding face is that they are never sure
management, visited our campus people’s needs and finding solutions for them. whether they are businesses or
recently. In this exclusive interview, charities. They are confused
he shares his insights on whether to reinvest their profits or
entrepreneurship in India and to put it into the social good. If they
abroad, why entrepreneurship should US too are not immune to this reinvest all that money, they
be taught in companies and a lot IS: Yes. In engineering you are given problem. After all, if you were a basically become businesses, while if
more. a problem on paper with all the venture capitalist, who would you they put it all into the social good,
specifications you need, and you give your money to? Two-three they risk becoming less competitive.
TSA: Do you believe entrepreneurship produce an output. Engineering is students with an idea or an
can be taught, or is it something one is narrow in that way, unlike the real established team of people with TSA: Any final word of advice to IIT
born with? world which is so much less three big businesses behind them? students?
structured. Once you enter a job you
Prof. Ikhlaq Sidhu: I think the truth find that it is no longer like school: TSA: You attributed the dearth of IS: India needs more people to be
is somewhere in between, in the no one is giving you an assignment to aspiring entrepreneurs in India to the entrepreneurial. That is the only
sense that everyone can be more complete. lack of mentorship. Once mentorship type of change that will make the
entrepreneurial than they are. is available, will the number of country more efficient at utilizing its
Entrepreneurship is essentially a students wanting to start their own resources and ultimately make it
style of thinking and from that point TSA: What is the difference that you companies grow exponentially? more competitive. We need a much
of view, it can definitely be taught. perceive between student start-ups in greater percentage of IIT students
India and in the USA, such as at UC IS: Absolutely. And I would use the who decide that at some point in
You could also ask, ”Can engineering Berkeley? term ‘role-models’ along with the their career, they will be able to pick
be taught?” In a way, yes it can. But word ‘mentorship’. For instance, if an opportunity and very effectively
engineering is taught to people who IS: At one level, there is no all your (IIT’s) role models are Nobel use it to run their own business.
have an ability to learn engineering. difference. Students from both Prize winners, then everyone in IIT
For example, you’ve been selected Berkeley and IIT are smart, have all is going to aspire to win a Nobel You never reach all your goals. But if
(into an IIT) because you showed an kinds of different ideas, and try all Prize. On the other hand, if you you set them too low, you don’t
aptitude for certain subjects kinds of new things. .Just like in IIT, invite 10 speakers every year, each of reach any of them. India needs some
O NLINE N EWS
believed to be relevant to not every student who passes out of whom shares experiences about more people with big goals.
engineering. If someone has great Berkeley starts a company. how to start a company and make it
aptitude to begin with, he is likely to successful, you are going to see an To read these articles online and to
achieve more with what is taught to The difference is in the number of increase in the number of people give your feedback on them,
him. In that respect, students who believe they will start who want to emulate that success. please visit our website at
entrepreneurship is no different a company. In IIT, it is probably a And the more such people you have www.scholarsavenue.org. The
from any other subject. small fraction. In Berkeley and in a in society, the faster this number is website provides the latest campus
lot of leading US schools, it is a very going to grow. And I think you can news through our coverage of events
TSA: Do you think there is a way of large fraction: one of three. In IIT, I see that beginning to happen in as they happen.
judging a person’s aptitude for would guess that fraction would be India.
entrepreneurship? somewhere in the range of one out Send letters to the editor at:
of fifty. In the US, even though it TSA: What do you think about the email@example.com
IS: I think it is possible to notice may be only 5 per cent of those, one prospects for clean technology start-
people who seem very out of three go on to start their own ups, especially student start-ups in
entrepreneurial. There are always company; at least you start with a India, given the lack of legislations T EAM S CHOLSAVE
people who don’t seem to give up pool of one out of three students. On and subsidies that encourage such Executive Editors
easily; people who look for other the other hand if you start with a ventures?
ways if they are not satisfied with pool of one out of fifty, you end up Anup Bishnoi, Deepak Cherian,
their work. with far fewer start-ups. IS: Well, I don’t think you should Mithun Madhusudan
rely on large amounts of funding or Editors
I like to think that the process can The second difference is in the on government regulations for the
start with one conversation or by an environment. In the Silicon Valley, success of a clean technology start- AVN Murthy, Bharath Bhat,
observation made by a single person. for example, start-ups are all around up. Even in the US, the amount of Dheeraj Golla, Mayank Kedia,
Entrepreneurship is a very bottom- you. Your neighbours work for one, money you would need to start such Pallavi Jayannavar, Siddharth
up process. It doesn’t start from a your parents probably did too, your a company would be enormous. In Prabhu, Siddharth Singh
research report. Entrepreneurship father’s friend just started one... there clean tech, a lot of money is invested
starts from understanding people’s is nothing mysterious about in the beginning on intellectual
needs and finding solutions for them. entrepreneurship. Therefore, the property and that intellectual Abhirajika A, Amiya
In a way, it is an extremely applied amount of mentorship available is property is usually absorbed into an Adwitiya,Arvind Sowmyan,
form of engineering: more applied much greater. existing business, and only those Ratan J S, Tiyasa Mitra, Vijay,
than somebody giving you a large existing businesses are capable Sumeet Mohanty
problem to solve, because it is so If you are a student in India and you of funding the rest of it.
unconstrained. intend to start a company in future, Reporters
the problem is whom to go to. If As for subsidies, though they might Achyut Bihani, Chirag Tibrewal,
So there are certainly some skills your parents didn’t start a company, influence the R&D activity within a D e e p e s h K u m a r, H r i d y a
which would mark out people as how will they advise you? What will company, a business model cannot Ravimohan, Indra Saha, Mahtab
entrepreneurial. I don’t think there is they tell you? They will probably be built around a subsidy. A subsidy Soin, Parth Govil, Rishabh Poddar
THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
SATURD NEWS AVENUE 3
As BC Roy Hospital finally gets the upgrades it needs, it tackles some existential questions
I t has now been six months since
the fateful sequence of events of
March 22nd last year. A life was lost,
the hospital is still rather low, but it
is as yet unclear to what degree of
medical care we can expect. There
tempers had risen to boiling point, is a vast difference between a
mistakes were made, and several government clinic, which has its
promises were tossed about by the own set of guidelines, and a
administration to bring matters privately owned hospital. As Prof.
back under a semblance of control. Gautam Sinha (Chairman, BCRTH)
So the question that begs asking is - asks in a concept paper to all
have things changed after such a stakeholders, "What exactly is this
massive shake-up? How fares BC hospital expected to deliver?" As the
Roy Technology Hospital, half a primary medical centre of a
year after pledging to undo half a university, BCR Hospital has to
century of apathy? decide what degree of medical aid it
can or cannot provide - is it
Upon examining progress expected to provide facilities for
reports circa April 2009, it is trauma, cardiac, surgical, bronchial,
heartening to note that the facilities orthopaedic care, etc. - and then
and amenities at the hospital have budget accordingly. The current
indeed been vastly revamped focus of the administration is on
(although some measures arguably formulating such a charter of
should have been in place decades deliverables. Until such not do anything unless someone puts self-restraint in voicing our
ago); for instance, students finally fundamental questions are it in writing or at least writes a mail to grievances is keeping action from
have 24x7 access to free medicine. answered, though, any further me. If an ambulance is delayed, is the being taken.
Specialized staff has been recruited measures undertaken by the driver himself going to contact me
for radiology, pathology, emergency hospital merely amount to applying and say 'I came 40 minutes late'?" Additionally, hospital
care, etc. New doctors and nurses band-aid. The hospital has a feedback form administration is concerned about
have been appointed, and new next to the registration desk which the undue load on the emergency
ambulances have been introduced is checked personally (and ward, often for trivial ailments such
(for a more detailed progress report,
Back to the Patient immediately acted upon) by Prof. as sore-throats and colds. It is hoped
log onto www.scholarsavenue.org). Sinha and the Medical Advisor, Dr that students would make use of the
Perhaps instead of constantly SK Ganguli. However, thus far very Out-patient Department (OPD)
However, it is still hard to gauge pointing fingers, it is high time we few complaints have actually been whenever possible so that the
if medical care on campus is "good tried making good use of what we lodged despite all the stories of emergency ward is available when
enough" - for where exactly does have. Prof. Sinha adds, "Neither am I medical negligence floating around there really is one.
one place the bar? Public opinion of omniscient nor am I prescient. I can in the wings. It appears our own
KGP - UCSD Medical
to discuss how and why IIT underprivileged people in and probability, a School of Medicine, a
Kharagpur is proceeding in the around Kharagpur. That is the spirit R e s e a r c h f a c i l i t y, a P u b l i c
direction of medical education and of this venture - “Health for all is the Healthcare Facility and a center for
research. Application of technology goal”. The aim is to make Biomedical Engineering. The next
in medical education has assumed a technology available to the six months will see a lot of
position of immense importance common people and develop a development related to this project.
and medical education and responsible healthcare system, with
technology must go hand in hand for the socio-cultural aspect as a major
development of a more modern concern. Hated with injustice
O n 18th August, 2009, officials
of IIT Kharagpur and the
University of California, San Diego
healthcare system in India.
The concept of medical
An important aspect which can
be developed is Telemedicine or an
Vikram Buddhi, an IIT graduate
and former research scholar at
Health Sciences (UCSD) signed a education to be introduced in the outreach program for the whole Purdue University has been
preliminary agreement, with the IMC is rather ground-breaking region. With improved technology, languishing in a US jail for three
prior approval of the Ministry of when compared to other Indian cost can be lowered to a great extent years now, accused of posting hate
Human Resources and medical institutes. Technology will and rapid dissemination of medical messages against George Bush. His
father, Subbarao Buddhi has been
Development for setting up of an be integrated to a large extent in knowhow can be investigated.
fighting a lone legal battle but to no
International Medical Center medical education and a new avail; so much for “freedom” and
(IMC) on land provided by IIT curriculum will be developed with A Public Health Education the American justice system.
Kharagpur. The IMC will comprise a more clinical approach and an Facility will also be set up with the Somnath Bharti, IIT Alumnus said,
of a School of Research and increased usage of simulation, help of the Public Healthcare "The judge did not follow the
Medicine and a 300 bed state-of- mathematical modeling, and Facility of India to take care of protocol. The judge is duty-bound to
the-art hospital. artificial intelligence as tools for paramedical staff and nurses so as to instruct the jury on the law, which
teaching. The delivery of medical ensure proper healthcare. the judge refused on record."
UCSD, one of the best Medical education will involve theory, Sympathy has transformed to rage
Schools in USA, is a highly Model-Based Practice and Hospital- The process is now at an initial now as this bright Mathematics
respected name in the areas of Based Practice (Clinical stage, with the planning and strategy scholar, who had also won an
clinical service, management, Experience). being chalked out for the future. award for best lecturer at
education and research. The Undergraduate MBBS courses University of Purdue, is stuck in
Collaboration with them will Research in technologies and may commence as early as 2011. MS, jail for what is so clearly an
facilitate the setting up of a new Biomedical engineering is another MD, PhD and post doctorate exaggerated interpretation as a
approach to medical education in aspect which will be developed. degrees will be provided in the threat to the national leader and
India and there may be an option for Medical and engineering students future as well. Initially, the IMC will which might well have been a
joint accreditation in the future. can work closely in related fields start with fifty Undergraduate result of internet hacking in the
There will be no financial and contribute to research and students but the plan is to first place. Having had enough,
transactions. Research collaboration projects for the development of eventually increase student strength IITians have now joined hands in
will include faculty, student and healthcare technologies. to 750. fighting for justice. With several
resident exchange programs and IIT alumni under the umbrella
jointly supervised clinical trials. Also, a major reason for setting A 55 acre region has been organisation PAN-IIT trying to
up a medical facility in IIT earmarked, adjacent to the IIT pressurize the US government to
A meeting was held with the Kharagpur is to make healthcare campus for setting up of the Health see reason, we at The Scholars’
Avenue sincerely hope the young
top medical experts of the country facilities available for Park, which will have, in all
scholar is served with justice.
4 GUEST AVENUE THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
SATURD THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
SATURD GUEST AVENUE 5
the most vulnerable in our
India’s future in the making. This picture seems to me symbolical of the changes
rof. Goutam Saha (Associate society. This organization was that are coming to India.’’ While the IIT and the IITians have done quite well
P r o f e s s o r, D e p a r t m e n t o f started by Vinayak and some of between 1956 and 2009, the same cannot be said about the area as a whole.
Electronics and Electrical his friends using their private Unlike other IITs, IIT kgp is not in a metro city. That is why the differences
Communications Engineering) is a tuition money. Can we do become all the more glaring – the academic opportunity and the bright future of
National Service Scheme program
officer at IIT-Kharagpur. He
describes in this article the efforts
and Campus something similar for the
children in the areas
surrounding the campus?
Can we create a zone
students inside IIT and the lack of the same in its neighbouring villages that forces
children to drop school and serve the IIT community in some form of the other. It
certainly should not make us proud.
taken by his team to educate
surrounding the IIT kgp
children working in and around
Life campus where every child gets
her education at least up to
secondary level? This might
prevent them from seeking
As I type this article, a current third year student, a former member of NSS team
Vivek, (NSS is a program for UG 1st and 2nd year only) enters my room. He
wants to discuss few important things about an initiative named TeachKGP5.
Four of them have started this program and want to continue the effort from the
point their batch of students left NSS. They want to teach the children working
on their faces and to know that work and also empower them inside the campus as laborers thrice a week by taking the help of the current
It was my first year as a National they liked the gift. Then, we asked them about their daily routine, their families and for the future. batch of NSS volunteers. The other day, in a discussion with a student
Service Scheme (NSS) program their pastime activities. Their homes are in Midnapur but they stay with their master representative, we were wondering whether there will be sufficient correlation
officer at IIT Kharagpur. The at his residence and go back home once a month. Samrat had attended school for a Here are excerpts from messages in the team Vivek mail group. in IIT KGP campus to seek help from a city based NGO. Earlier I attended a
student team I supervised called month while Bisu hadn't gone to school ever. As it was the first day, we taught them meet7 called by Jagruti. I was surprised to see a number of efforts by different
itself Vivek, the conscience. At our how to write their names. Samrat just needed some brushing up as he had learnt it … visited a locality just outside the campus, where all the milkmen who supply the student groups. Stray children at Kharagpur railway station were the target of one
team1 meetings, several members earlier. He can write his name in Bengali too. We asked them to write their names campus with milk reside. Many of their children do not go to school and might benefit such group. It was great to know the effort of Goonj. I believe that the IIT KGP
wanted to do something for the five times by next week. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are from our program. student body, Technology Students Gymkhana has an important role to play to
children serving the campus looking forward to next week's meeting. sustain these efforts and this enthusiasm.
community – in hall canteens, cycle This post is for all those who are supposed to teach the group of children just outside
sheds, food joints etc. Being After some progress we wanted to have a the campus (Milkmen Area). We have planned A thought process and some work have started. The initiative is yet to reach its
students themselves, the members one day meeting of all the students at the ...we taught two boys who work in Azad hall canteen. Their names to visit the mentioned area on Jan 21st critical mass. It will do so only when the wider IIT KGP community starts taking
thought that the best way to serve Rural Development Centre. We had are Samrat Singh and Bisu Singh. They were pleasantly surprised (Wednesday) at 16:00 hrs. Those who do not note of it. When we all show that we care, we share.
these children was to empower competitions, prizes, fun shows, food etc. to when we gave them the folder, stationery and the toffees. It was have any problem with the timings can confirm
them by providing basic education. make the event memorable. Scrolling back, I heartening to see the smiles on their faces and to know that they their presence by replying to this post. We will
A survey began and information found the following message posted on the liked the gift.... assemble in front of RK Hall sharp at 16:00 on 1
like this started flowing in the group by the student-in-charge. Wednesday. We will all go to the area and do 2
team’s googlegroup: our job... 3
On the basis of the mail sent after the meeting of 7th and.html
At Tikka, I came across two kids February we have decided that there are all together twenty students in our coaching Soon a study center started functioning there. 4
Sonu and Bijoy who expressed their classes and we have prepared our budget accordingly. If there is any change in the 5
willingness to study( when they are Inspired by Vinayak and his mentors, the young monks of Ramakrishna Mission, http://vsc.iitkgp.googlepages.com
number of students, please inform us immediately so that we can modify our budget. 6
not on duty), but their masters did Also get the permission from the master about attending the function when you go to volunteers of Vivekananda Study Circle5 (VSC) at IIT Kgp initiated activities in 7
not permit them, but they said that this direction. Besides UG students (as found in NSS) this group is more http://gskgp.blogspot.com/2008/03/social-initiative-iitkgp.html
teach this weekend and inform in this thread only. 8
they could introduce me to a lot of other kids who do not work, and have never been inclusive, having PG students and many faculty members like me on its rolls. http://gskgp.blogspot.com/2009/03/being-heard.html
to school, … there were many of them. I found two kids at a tea stall; Hariom The event was organized well. It was a great to see these children working out While UG students stay away from the campus for the summer as well as winter
Patra(12) and Ridaya. Their parents/masters have no objection regarding their problems and their student instructors getting nervous about their student’s vacation, the services of PG students are available for a longer period. VSC is
education and are pretty fervent about this. Hariom Patra lost his father long ago performance like parents waiting outside the hall during examinations. The quite methodical in its approach. Here are excerpts of messages from VSC
and has a blind mother and a little sister (I think she too can come) to feed and take event ended with a prize giving ceremony where there was a prize for every child. googlegroup. The target was to visit a village named Soladahar within few metres of
care of, in abject poverty, thus explaining why he could never go to school. I also went We always got whatever support we asked for from NSS Coordinators and NSS the IIT boundary wall, 10 minutes cycle-ride from the IIT Prembazaar Gate along
to Vegies and found a kid named Obhi, and his master has given a go-ahead for the
very same, but the problem is that he is about fifteen years old, although he has never
Head and other NSS Program Officers. the canal to the left hand side.
been to school. At times we were disappointed. One day this message was posted on our forum. We have a set of questions in a pre-formatted table; we will go to each house of that
village and ask a member of that family to answer the questions. According to their How often have you been to Vegies or Chhedis, where you’ve been served
At a team meeting, we decided to have a number of teaching centers. The idea The children Bisu and Samrat who we used to teach have left their job at Azad hall answer, we will fill up that table. We have finished almost half of the village earlier. your meal by a child of barely 10 years of age? Ever stopped to think what
was to have at least one such center within easy reach of every child. We decided canteen. The owner of the canteen told us that a new kid would be coming in their So if the number of people conducting this survey increases, we can divide ourselves sort of education they receive or what sort of future awaits them?
to provide every kid with a study material pack that included, among other place. They used to stay at Balrampur at their owner's place but into small groups and do this job much more quickly. Currently, on campus, there are around 20 children in the age group of 8-
things, multipurpose books, copies, colour pencils, drawing book etc. We also their home is somewhere else. I think they mentioned Midnapore 15 years who works nearly 40 hours a week at various eateries and shops
decided to give them toffees every time they come to study. but I’m not sure about it because they told us that they go there Of about hundred landless Lodha tribal families residing in around campus. Most of them are primary school dropouts. Four of our
very rarely. Now since they have left, we are not sure about their Soladahar, the most educated is a Class VIII drop-out. Most of undergraduate students, in collaboration with Gopali Youth Welfare
The team also considered other options available for the cases where the whereabouts. the adults are serving as laborers or house maids in the IIT kgp Society, have taken the initiative to launch a programme called
employer is not willing to let these children visit the study centres. There were campus. Nobody from there holds a Government job in spite TeachKGP, which aims to tackle the problem of illiteracy among these
two distinct categories – children employed inside student halls and those There was a discussion about providing a rehabilitation of the special opportunities provided by the Government for kids and curb child labour on campus. Initially, a six-months course,
employed outside student halls. The opinion was that the employers inside halls package for these twenty odd children working in the campus. the tribal people. This is because of the lack of education and comprising of lessons on how to read and write in a language that they
can be persuaded, if necessary, by citing child labour laws. Trying something A monthly contribution of twenty rupees from each student awareness. Currently there are six students from classes V to comfortable with, mostly Bengali and Hindi, and simple mathematics (in
similar outside the hall, where the students don’t have much say, may risk the member would be enough to put them in a decent hostel VII, still attending school in another village. The guardians we English), will be conducted. The course will also have complementary
employment of the child and we do not have any alternate plan for that situation. providing academic opportunities. talked to are willing to educate their children but do not have activities in sketching, drawing and storytelling that will incorporate
The IIT campus is an island of great economic activity amidst a rural setting. If a the means or do not know how to go about it. VSC is starting moral education and general awareness in a fun and imaginative way. If
kid loses his job here, it will be very difficult for him to get one outside the This reminds me of the effort put in by Vinayak, an IIT kgp alumnus2. He was an education hub there and the villagers are very enthusiastic. NSS volunteers are you, who have been fortunate enough to receive a good education, feel
campus. visiting our campus3 on his way back to Kolkata from Amlasole, a tribal village in participating in this effort. like joining this cause, please visit the website
the same district as IIT kgp, West Midnapore. This village recently became (http://www.gyws.org/activities/teach%20kgp.htm) or contact Mikesh
The work started. Here are few lines from an NSS volunteer. famous for a wrong reason – death due to poverty. Shabar tribes living there have The first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the first ever Udani at firstname.lastname@example.org (09331026922), Sourav Das at
no access to basic amenities of life. Even food is not available everyday and thus convocation address of the IIT system (1956) said, ‘‘Here in the place of that Hijli email@example.com (09432289658), Anurodh Vyas at
Yesterday (On Sunday 18/1), we taught two boys who work in Azad hall canteen. even the little children have to fast. Education and healthcare are distant dreams. Detention Camp stands the fine monument of India, representing India’s urges, firstname.lastname@example.org (09733739827), or Koushik Das at
Their names are Samrat Singh and Bisu Singh. They were pleasantly surprised when There were a few children from those villages accompanying Vinayak to become the same cannot be said about the area as a whole. Unlike other IITs, IIT kgp is not email@example.com (09474822629).
we gave them the folder, stationery and the toffees. It was heartening to see the smiles a part of Parivaar4, a home for the homeless. The group consisted mostly of girls, in a metro city. That is why the differences become all the more glaring – the
6 SPECIAL FEATURE THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
stalwart of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Professor T K Basu
retired recently leaving behind a rich legacy from his time here at Kgp, first as
a student and then as a professor. Professor Basu also taught at IIT Bombay and
later served as the head of the Center of Educational Technology which was
instrumental in developing the video courses for Kgp students. Now
employed in Kolkata, The Scholars’ Avenue managed to catch up with him on
his farewell visit to the Institute, unearthing some candid moments and a lot
of nostalgia. We present a few excerpts from a long and interesting discussion.
TSA: As is well known, your
association with Kharagpur goes right motivation after stepping into IIT. timetable schedule system of taking have evaluation on a day to day basis.
back to your student days, what This problem has increased in recent classes should be broken. Appoint a
memories do you have of that time? times. I have been here for a long time. few more teachers. Research TSA: What is your opinion on
The love for academics that was seen scholars and M.Tech students should students taking up alternative career
TKB: I was a student at IIT in students earlier is seen in very few be trained to teach. Pick a few good paths?
Kharagpur from 1963-70 and was a students now”. How do you think the students early and interest them in
boarder of the Patel and JCB halls of Institute and the faculty can address teaching. At the same time, let them TKB: I am not against different
residence. I was the Mess Secretary this issue? go on to improve their academic career paths. For instance, as an
at Patel for two years at a time just qualifications. Nowadays we want electrical engineer, I myself wouldn’t
before the Green Revolution when TKB: This is not the fault of the ready-made teachers! Motivation mind taking up some aspects of
there was acute scarcity of food in students alone. Now a student has to be created at a very early age. finance modelling as the skill set
India. Kharagpur shaped me as an comes to IIT to get a rubber stamp It’s a wrong selection process that required is similar though ends may
individual and helped me build my and get a better job, not to become a you want people of a very high be different. Technical experts are
confidence. I remember those used required today in various walks of
to be highly taxing days with 37 First and foremost, current examination systems administration. Sometimes, they
periods over five and a half days. We are better suited to understand and
had both open and closed book should be smashed. When I fail a student, I feel appreciate various problems.
exams in a trimester system. I restless. If a student fails, it’s the failure of the
remember having 12 theory papers TSA: Where are you now heading?
in my third year. teacher also as he has not been able to inspire the
student to study. TKB: I’ve already joined Aliah
Apart from self-confidence, I University, which is the latest
gained exposure to different good academician. Many students university set up by the
cultures, languages and personalities. standard, but you don’t give them
aim to go abroad and earn more Government of West Bengal. This is
Kharagpur in a way is mini-India. time to grow.
money. These aspirations have been a university that focuses on the
You start noting your limitations, education of minorities. I’m joining
moulded by the schools, by the TSA: As the head of Centre of
not only in your personality, but in as the Dean of Science and
your culture and daily habits, unlike parents and by the society. Even Educational Technology, you have
then I feel that IIT still attracts a seen the Indian education system Engineering. This is an institute
in a closed society. I now miss the modelled on the principles of our
bright section of students who are from close quarters. Mr. Kabil Sibal
committed to academics. Now that I has plans to liberalize the current IIT system. I believe that students
should be employable as soon as
... if public money is am out of IIT, I can concede that it’s university and school system. What’s
they pass out. The IIT model is
not only the students who have your take on such a drastic change?
going into their grown to show less inclination saleable.
education, IIT towards academics. The faculty is T K B : I d o n ’t s u p p o r t t h e
students must serve also equally responsible. The faculty privatization of education at all. I
should take more care when they are support the idea of education totally Why should anybody
the state for at least teaching. On the other hand, if the nationalized. Develop a uniform be deprived of primary
five years... faculty member has to publish syllabus and therefore, a uniform
schooling? Don't you
papers and bring forward projects education for all. Education should
for promotion, it becomes a be for everyone- rich and poor free feel the small kid
distraction from the main job of of cost. I’m in favour of an Open-IIT serving tea and washing
competitions that the Gymkhana system- an open education system.
used to have in all languages. Even teaching. Again, this is not the dishes in Tikka's
faculty’s fault, rather this is the fault Why should there be restricted
with three competitors, there used
to be inter-hall and open IIT
education? After all, IIT is meant for deserves as much
the country, it is the country’s asset.
elocution and music competitions in Even in MIT, they have a system for education as you did?
languages like Punjabi and
Malayalam. We should make at least taking in some general students. I
feel JEE has caused a lot of damage
5 0 % o f t h e to the IIT system. With such a large
TSA: What were your hobbies and examinations open- student population and a limited
extra-academic pursuits? TSA: Any final message to the
book exams. The number of seats, the competition students of your alma mater?
becomes very dirty and breaks all
TKB: I was into cards. I represented tendency to cheat will kind of ethics, and that is reflected in
Patel Hall in Bridge competitions. TKB: I would like to tell all the IIT
go. Moreover, this will professional lives of students later
students to have more of creative
After joining the department in on.
1980, I took charge of the ensure that the students activities on campus. Insist on longer
department society and introduced are more thorough with semesters and more holidays
I believe that outstanding
Bridge competition between the spanning the calendar year so that
their course material. students should be free from other
you can participate in such activities.
faculty and students. I looked at this subject requirements so that they
as a platform to break barriers These are an essential part of life.
can pursue their interests with
between the students and the Extra Academic Activities should be
dedication. I am in favour of special
teachers, an activity that both of the system that has been created made compulsory for all the 5 years.
topic subjects in the final year, if
parties enjoyed. from the top which the faculty is You professional life requires team
electives are being offered. Give a
constrained to follow. I’m not saying spirit which comes with working
chance to the students to learn on
TSA: Back in our October 2007 Issue, that these things are not necessary, together and playing games. I wish
their own and be tested accordingly.
Prof S K Som, in his interview as the but none of these should serve as a you all the best.
We lack the flexibility of the Russian
new Dean of Academic Affairs substitute for teaching. Teaching is and American systems. I fully agree
opined, “Personally, I feel that the primary. with Kapil Sibal’s initiative to not Due to constraints of space, we
academic performance is not as good could not accommodate the entire
have any Board examinations in class
as it should be, especially for the It is also very important to keep interview of Prof Basu. To read the
X. By no examination, I mean no
Undergraduate students. This could the students motivated as they unabridged version, please visit
conventional examination. You can http://www.scholarsavenue.org .
possibly be due to loss of interest and study. I find that the conventional
THE SCHOLARS’ AVENUE ² A Y , O C T O B E R 31 S T 2009
SATURD TECH A V E N U E 7
It’s The i Of The Tiger!
Himanshu Baweja takes us through his exploits at TC50 and more
"Life imitates arts far more than art Starting out, I would have loved especially innovative product idea gotten on stage with a PPT
imitates life", said Oscar Wilde. to have had a garage as my office but or company is getting people to presentation, I would have had no
too bad I live in an apartment. I know about it. Sure, I could blog, failed demo, nothing to worry
started out building a Facebook tweet, facebook about it - even go a b o u t . Wi n n i n g t h e B e s t
t the recent TechCrunch50 application. DeshkiAwaaz. It was present it at a barcamp. However, Presentation award and gaining the
in San Francisco, it couldn't easy to whip out the application in a that still wouldn’t reach the scale I adoration of the audience also may
have been more true for me. I took few days and with the Indian wanted to reach to build it into a have been a distant possibility.
the stage to demo iMo, my heart election around the corner it was wildly successful product. How do I
beating with excitement. With the perfect thing to launch. The launch this? I started to scratch my 4. Team: We are all good at certain
5000 people watching, this was the application attracted quite a few head. And then I realized that the things and lack at others. It's
biggest event of my life. Friends, users and generated very interesting answer was obvious. As a voracious important to have a team where
family, co-workers watching from discussions on Indian election issues. reader of everything TechCrunch, I everyone complements each other
all across the globe. And then it It was a thrill to get off the ground so knew that TechCrunch50 would and everyone rounds off the team.
happened. The demo failed. It was iMo has a great set of founders and a
anyone's worst nightmare come strong ecosystem of well wishers
true - you could call it a "textbook and friends whose help is
nightmare". With Eye of the Tiger invaluable.
from Rocky blaring on the sound I played 3 video
system and the audience clapping to games, 5. Go all out: I experimented with a
the beat of the music, I did the first controlling them number of ideas till I discovered
15 seconds of my demo script of iMo. I have tinkered all my life, but
donning a helmet and zipping up with my iPhone, had I not quit my day job, the focus
my racing car jacket to demo how to changed into and energy to prototype iMo, share
use an iPhone as a joystick to play a three different it, submit it to TechCrunch, work
video game. The demo froze. The with a team, fly to San Francisco and
iPhone couldn’t connect to the
present it to the world would just
game. I frantically hit connect on the swung a baseball not have happened. Anything that's
iphone repeatedly. "Connection bat at the worth doing, is worth doing well.
Error" flashed across my screen. I got judges. Don't shortchange your ideas, give
off the stage, equally disappointed them full focus, even if it means
and embarrassed. The opportunity quitting your day job. On this note
of my lifetime and the demo had though, I'd like to thank my parents
bombed! This was not happening. I and family who believed in me and
wish I would just "wake up". What quickly. However, i wanted to do provide the best possible platform let me take this step. I realize this
followed was a truly inspirational more. I dug deeper into what I loved to launch the product and tell the may not work for everyone with
turn of events and what is doing and it's gaming. One of the world about it. I filled out the different set of responsibilities and
quintessential Silicon Valley and golden rules of successful product TechCrunch50 application process. financial commitments and I hope
more so TechCrunch50. Even development is to "Build what you I had to admit – much as I was sure you can still make it happen.
though the demo was a fiasco, a use". Being a gamer I could really use of the potential of my idea, the
complete dud, the judges and a video game, I mused. I wrote a process of making it with 1000+
6. Tap into your network: I got help
audience wanted us back. The simple but addictive video game for companies from across the globe
from a lot of batchmates, KGPians
Techcrunch50 team wanted us the iPhone called SwipeBall. While I applying seemed daunting.
and friends. Murari Tikmani (2k6
back, the support from everyone was developing SwipeBall, I was Nevertheless, Pankaj, Gaurav and I
batch) helped us in testing and
was incredible. over-awed by the iPhone as a sweated it out and submitted what
Robin Anil (2k9 batch) did the
hardware device and particularly we felt was a strong application
graphics. You can only do a limited
Later that afternoon, technical the developer platform and APIs. including a video of the product. We
number of things, so tap into your
glitches fixed, I took the stage again. Couple this with how Apple does a were excited when the application
The panel of judges included Marc brilliant job with mobile was short-listed from a few
Andreesen, Paul Graham, Marissa applications end-to-end (from thousand to top 200. We had an
enabling development, publishing, interview with the TechCrunch50 7. Don't be afraid of rejection: We
Meyer, Tony Hseih and Ralf Boetha. would have never been selected if
The demo went flawlessly. downloading, monetization etc), committee and when we learnt we
and I was completely hooked. I was were selected as a Top 50 company, we had not applied. If nothing else,
Everything worked like a charm. I I would have got some experience
played 3 video games, controlling particularly enthralled with some of it was a rush of excitement that I
the hardware related APIs, will cherish for a long time. We flew of the application process. So don't
them with my iPhone, changed into think “I won't make the cut”.
three different costumes and swung especially the accelerometer. Back to San Francisco, rehearsed like
a baseball bat at the judges. The during my days at IIT-KGP, I was crazy and then went on stage and
into gaming big time. One day as I did the presentation. The best part of the last six
audience loved the presentation and months is that the fun has just
applause tore the auditorium as was waving my iPhone at a friend as
a fight gesture, a thought occured, iMo is currently in closed beta started, the stage is set and soon as
well as the "twitterverse". The the product goes live, it’s time for
judges had excellent things to say. that the iPhone was sensing what I and we planning to release it soon.
was doing. It was sort of an epiphany TechCrunch50 has already set the another round of astounding
At the awards ceremony, we got the performance!
award for "Best Presentation". There - the proverbial "eureka moment"! stage and the world is watching.
couldn't have been a more perfect Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if While there is a lot that remains to
these gestures could control a video be done and accomplished, there are Himanshu Baweja is the co-founder
end to the conference. The Eye of the of iMo Controller (for more details
Tiger was befitting, Rocky had game. This would be like a Wii but certain key ingredients of what I
with an iPhone/iPod Touch! I got to believed in strongly that have visit www.imocontroller.com). He
fought back and won! graduated in Computer Science and
work and built the prototype over a brought iMo so far, they are:
weekend with my buddy Pankaj Engineering from IIT Kharagpur in
My journey building iMo 2006.
Meena (now a co-founder of iMo). 1. It's the idea, stupid: No amount
started six months ago. I quit my job
We showed it to friends and of technical knowledge/savvy can
and decided to venture out on my
everyone loved the idea. Most replace the merit of the idea. If you
own and build a company.
importantly, I was hooked and I don't believe you will use the Calling all
Honestly, looking back, I really had
started to spend hours playing product, don't bother building it, it
no idea I would be doing what I am geeks!
games with it. When I realized I was will fail.
doing now with iMo - a product that
so addicted to it, I knew others
has gained world-wide buzz. To tell Want a chance to get published on
would love it too and that this had 2. Execution: 1% inspiration and
you the truth, I could talk Digit Magazine? Send in your
the potential to become a hit. I 99% perspiration couldn't be more
incessantly about the usual clichéd articles on any tech-related topic
sought advice and mentorship from true. We have toiled and worked for
stuff about passion and the love of to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gaurav Bhatia (my ex-manager and everything from the coding, testing,
entrepreneurship and technology
also now co-founder of iMo) who prototyping to doing the
and how my thirst for innovation
helped me think through some of presentation. Follow us on
brought me here. Instead, let me
the challenges in getting this out for Twitter!
focus on the essence of what
mass adoption. One of the 3. Taking chances: Marissa Meyers www.twitter.com/s
prompted this journey - I love
challenges for any new and called the presentation gutsy! Had I cholarsavenue
building cool stuff!