To do that ... I happen to write!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Events in plenty - waste control not so dandy!

\m/ Beat This \m/
This weekend in IIT Delhi we've:
EDC E-SummitTons of awesome entrepreneurs pouring in Campus to give fundas; and several innovative events to raise enthu and give a chance to the budding Entrepreneurs
BSA SportechLargest Sports Fest of North India. 200 colleges - 2000 participants; from table tennis to basketball to volleyball - footie, LT, Cric and all those things...
BSP LiteratiIITD's Lit Fest!
EDLC International Parliamentary DebatePeople from all over India come to debate!
BRCA Spic MacayThis hardly needs introduction - Indian Classical Music and Dance comes under the roof of our sem hall - literally!
FAC SemblanceNow even Fine Arts Club have their own fest! Still...
Kumaon MelangeOur hostel fest - yes, I know *hostel* fest but after all it's KUMAON!
Technocracy WorkshopsFinally some flavor of technicality in a technical institution with workshops on MATLAB and Web Development

Now to leave you all in awe was not my purpose. The purpose was an observation - the observation on number of posters on the IITD walls! 10? 100? - Take a wilder guess; 1000 would be a little realistic number! Imagine the total cost of all the flexes (large and small) and A1, A2 and A3 sizes posters combined - my lower estimate is Rs. 100,000/-

*such a waste - such a waste* I thought.

Not that I am
against publicizing events; but putting 100 poster in 10m2 of space does not serve any purpose! My belief is that people are intelligent beings and all you need to do is to tell them 'what will they get from such and such event' and they will decide for themselves - and for the lazy ones just put up a single poster which details out all the events!

However having an opinion without acting on it is another waste - so we at Technocracy thought it would be nice to go completely paper free (even otherwise we put only around 100 posters in an year! - seems like such a large no. Right? Wrong, it's the smallest!). And thus we are trying to have everyone on a google group where we would post the relevant Technocracy announcements... let's see if it works!

If you are from IIT Delhi - Join

For every1 else out there - Join us

Let's hope that we're able to do that

Saturday, 13 February 2010

God has Funny Ways

We tend to get so caught up in things that many-a-time it looks like there is no way out. We see ourselves spiraling into an infinite myriad of nothingness - and however hard may we try - we cannot see even a faint beacon ray of light...

My Maternal grandmother is nearly 96 years in age. 96 years is, as you all would agree - pretty old! She's seen 5 generations before her eyes. To put in context she's seen her great great grand children! And the hard truth remains that people come and go in this world. The truth is hard because we tend to get attached to people who we love, who we live with; and thus when they go - it becomes hard to come to terms with the truth of life. With her being 96 years of age - she's seen many people go. She's seen many of her loved ones go. But any other day you see her - she's normal. She's lonely - she can hardly move. She is fortunate to have a devoted son and his wife - but still the fact remains that she's alone - there's no one she can talk to, share her feelings with; and there are just too many loved ones who have gone. Then how is that she remains normal?

"Oh well, the answer is simple", said my aunt, "she doesn't remember. She tends to forget all the things which have happened in the last few decades, until she asks for something and has to reminded of it, which is when she turns sad, but then again she forgets - and becomes normal!"

As I kept down my phone, I thought - God sure has His funny ways to make things work!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Foundation Day Speech - II

I has the honor to deliver this speech before the faculty and students on 27th Jan 2010, the 51st Foundation Day of IIT Delhi.This speech was published in institute magazine here and in Alumni magazine here

Other person who spoke on the day alongside me was Siddharth who too have penned down his speech here (he writes well!)

I also had the honor of giving a similar speech last year on the 50th Foundation day of IIT Delhi which too is available on request :)

Anyways, here's the complete version of this years speech:

Widening Horizons of IIT Delhi

Browsing the hostel notice board, I read the theme for the Foundation Day, “WIDENING HORIZONS of IIT Delhi” and then turned to think a little about it. I turned back to read it once again, but this time it appeared to me as “WIDENING the horizons of IIT Delhi”.

I am Nishant Ranka, a final year student of Electrical Engineering. I welcome you all geniuses and all geniuses who make geniuses to a very warm evening. In the next few minutes, I’ll talk about both the things, i.e. about how IITD is such a dynamic organization – the way it has grown in last 4 years, from a student’s perspective and about how I believe that we can keep this growth fuelled while continually widening its scope.

It’s amazing to see the activities in my IIT – IIT Delhi at a new high. There is a revived enthusiasm in all the boards: for example - whenever there is a major educational event in Delhi – there is a BSW trip going to it, when it’s time for UG registration – AIC steps forward and takes the charge. Library and Reading Room have undergone a major makeover and so have the eating joints. I still remember the days of my first year when the net speed was so slow that seniors would click a link on their computers and talk to us in the meanwhile – compare the speed today! On my very recent visit to the Robotics club I was amazed to see the level of streamlined work – it was so different from my 1st year when the club was new. The club is now an inspiration for the student bodies, just like SPIC MACAY. It is a quintessential example of what we can do with sheer desire to do it. The important take home lesson for me was we can DO. In last one week, I met 4 great personalities – Nicholas Burns, Tom Wheeler, Charles M Vest and Peter Chan – all due to the fantastic initiatives like the Institute Lecture Series, the Bharti Lecture Series and those of our Entrepreneurship Development Cell.

We all invariably fall prey to criticism – don’t we? It’s so easy after all. It’s so easy to criticize that we always forget the hard work done and the several positive changes that have been made. And when I see all these things I realize how much of hard work must have gone into every single thing.

I recently read the Toyota Way – and the book hit me hard. Someone asked me – what did you find so fascinating about the book? I said, “The Toyota Culture”. What makes Toyota the no. 1 manufacturing company, is in my opinion - its culture…And this is what I see happening today – seeding of the IIT Culture of the new decade, of the new century, of the new India. And my dear friends this is what we have to enrich – You and I.

Last month, I was talking with a UK based journalist, and invariably I showed her the microcontroller circuit I had built for my BTP. She looked at it intensely and told me that I could’ve soldered it in a better way. I said er, OK, but if I may ask how you know?” She told that she studied from Oxford where they had several such interest groups, like the embedded interest group where they used to meet up and discuss such things.

Consider for a second – wouldn’t it be great if we would have astronomy, electronics, car designing, aero modeling, high energy physics, Rubik’s Cube and other such clubs in IIT Delhi…so that when a student comes to IIT Delhi – he is not only stupefied by the amazing cultural activities of IIT Delhi, but also get a glimpse of its technical potential. Wouldn’t that be a good way to expand our boundaries?

There is always a great buzz about Jobs. The great Day 1 Job stories do round in every nook and cranny of each and every hostel, and to the least I’ve repeated MY Job story 100 times. But I have never heard any such buzz about the stories of brilliant people who go for their MS and PhDs. Isn’t there a need for some form of information which gives the profile of these several people who have gone for their post graduate education. Wouldn’t that give students a realistic picture from early on – just like we have about the best jobs? Wouldn’t that be a step forward?

These are just 2 ideas, but there are several others as well. However, the important question before us is that how do we make it happen? As you all know, ‘Great ideas which are not implemented are but a waste’...And that brings me back to the point of culture

The initiatives MUST come from the students, because after all…they are the group for which these activities are meant for. Let me go back to my school days – invariably my whole class used to love 2 subjects – History and English. Were these subjects any better than others – No. Then why? We passed the class – and got a new History teacher and slowly History again became boring. Students didn’t love the course – they loved the teacher. And students try to emulate teachers they love. Thus when we talk about the cultural change, I believe that it HAS to come from the students but those with the experience, authority, knowledge and with the bigger picture need to walk hand in hand with the students to change things until this ‘dream culture’ become a part of their DNA.

I would rather say that the mission in front of us is 2 faceted. While on one hand there is a great need to have dedicated teams with focused vision and mission to take the current activities to insurmountable heights, on the other hand we continuously need to be open minded and initiative taking to increase the width of our activities.

And thus there cannot be a better occasion for me to urge you all to continue trying indefatigably, just as you’re doing now – to bring about a lasting cultural change and to broaden the excellence of IIT Delhi in all directions.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A reflection on Life

Riding those green waves
So High:Touching the Blue sky

Shivering in those dark caves
So dark; black would shy

I love riding those waves;
but I want shore

I hate those black caves;
I want them no more

But they remain; as I do.
- 2008

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Horn OK Please

As I descended the stairs to eat my Dinner, I saw a dozen people going out together somewhere. "Where?" I asked out of curiosity. "Horn OK Please". "Oh, wait for me", and spontaneously - I too joined in.

Horn OK Please is a play which is written and directed by Shahrukh (Tarun Singhal, in case you want his real name!) and is being starred in LTG Theatre, Mandi House; on 6th and 7th Feb at 7:30 PM. The play is choreographed by Ashutosh Matela.

To know more about these two guys, I would direct you the 3 page Mint article here. Even though I do not agree with all what Tarun and Matela have to say, the article is interesting.

The play too was! I was amazed to see that Rj, Ruchira, Pandit, Shrutika are such good actors. It rather came as a shock. I see these people daily in my insti; and have seen them in insti plays too; but suddenly seeing them act so well in a pro play left me all in praise.

Danka, as usual rocked; Shahrukh was a little sketchy but probably writing and directing the play were more important responsibilities. I was not able to identify Matela till the very end - he was one of the best actors in the play! Sudeep Mathur was, just like the good old day, handling lights! Other actors were great too, but I do not know them personally.
Vyom was also there, handling backstage. Then I remembered that he was absent in today's morning exam: Intro to Lit. And then I saw our Intro to Lit teacher; Multani sitting and watching the play! Perfect plot!
The play had a lot of dance sequences, all choreographed by Matela. They were great. I liked them. I have not seen many Indian plays, but as I've heard that such sequences are never performed here- I saw them in London Theater though. Adds life to the play!

I believe that Desires Unlimited has a great future, provided they sail through the tough time they are facing at the start - shoestring budget, IITians as main audience, social pressure (with peers earning 20L p.a. you can but guess the magnitude!) and so on. Infact, I wonder how people like Nasruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan and others would have gone through in their theater days...No pain - No gain, I guess!

But there was a great peer support too. People realize that there is atleast one person who is doing what he loves to do! Everyone was there - KGP, Abhiroop, Harry, Ujjawal, JJ, Bidhu and scores of other seniors and contemporaries.

Well, anyways - it was nice to watch a play after a long time.
It brought back all the fond memories of watching London Theater, and acting in 5 plays in my 1st year. Shahrukh, Lallan, Danka, Mittal and others were my seniors who introduced me to theater; but unlike them I did not find it as my passion, and I am still searching for one!

PS: Watch the videos by Desires Unlimited here. I simply love Jigar Machis and Chintu Candy! Do watch them, pakka...

Friday, 5 February 2010

Tom Wheeler - Lonely Planet

Could Tom have been possibly born with an apter surname. Wheeler, people, Wheeler. The man who traveled the world, and made a business out of it: A £50m plus turnover (well, the equations have changed a little after BBC acquired 75% share and economic crisis sprung up, but anyways...)

He was here, in an EDC event and it was fun listening to him. The presentation he gave was the best I have seen till date: It had only photos, and as you've guessed - breathtaking photos...
Some Quotes:

Language isn't always necessary: when you're in a restaurant you want to eat and someone makes sure that you eat. I've never came out of a restaurant hungry in last 40 years of traveling"

"I love walking - you see the world at the pace god intended us to see"

After the talk was over; I went up and talked to his better half: the women behind the scene - Maureen Wheeler. It was she who wrote all the books while they traveled.

NR: "Why is that you don't put virgin places, the hidden getaways in your book - for e.g. the hidden treks of the Himalayas and so on"

MW: "We cannot. If we write about a place which is not yet fully developed, and 1000s of people reach there after reading it: it would be chaos!"
I was enlightened: Lonely Planet Books (and for that matter, Rough Guides etc) literally control the place where the world travels!Of all things - I was fascinated by the idea that there was a Lonely Planet book on Antartica! I so want to go to this place - anybody willin' ?

Their Story: The FoundersMore history: FAQs
Wheeler Foundation
Trekking in India:
Himalayas (courtesy Jatin)

Best of all - their autobiography: 'Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story"

PS: Just for you info - remember the Lonely Planet show we all grew up watching on the Discovery Channel, by Ian Write if you remember the man - The show started with Ian drawing a circle with a stick on beach sands...good old days!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Five Whys of IIT

Making presentation for the UG curriculum review workshop; I asked 5 Whys to find the root cause of a problem.

Aim of IITs: The IITs were created to train scientists and engineers, with the aim of developing a skilled workforce to support the economic and social development of India after independence in 1947.

PS: Has the Aim of IITs changed after 60 years of independence

Students don't go for higher education/technical jobs


They don't have a great experience; or find a field which they are interested in during their degree


They don't get to do great projects here


They are not interested in doing great projects because they require hard work and technical knowledge


They are not motivated to learn the 'technical' stuff


During their initial 1-2 years, the courses and labs do not motivate them to do something of their own; after which due to increasing pressure of interns/jobs etc; they shift their focus to other activities.

PS: They continue to score good grades, but they are not 'interested' in the courses/their dep: but scoring good grades is prereq for good interns/job/other things....

What's your opinion?