Tuesday, June 25, 2013
‘IITs are incubators of intellectual prowess’
May 31st 2013
Veteran IIT professor Madhav Madhira at the panel discussion organised by The Hindu in Hyderabad on Thursday.
The panel discussion, organised by The Hindu, comprised IIT alumni who dwelt at length on the various facets of the prestigious institutes
The role of IITs may not be limited to imparting core subject knowledge, or churning out candidates for the most happening jobs in Information Technology and Finance.
With even secretarial posts in the Central government being increasingly occupied by IIT graduates and postgraduates, the prestigious institutes have come to be viewed as incubators of intellectual prowess.
So felt ex-IITians who gathered at The Hindu office on Thursday for a panel discussion ahead of ‘Choice 2013’— the career counselling workshop for IIT and NIT aspirants. The workshop, sponsored by State Bank of India, will be held at Ravindra Bharathi on June 11.
Madhav Madhira, who has over 50 years of teaching experience in various IITs, sought to remind that IITs were initially set up to be research hubs, and not teaching institutions. What had earlier been a ‘by-product’ has become more successful eventually, dousing the institutions in its aura.
For those who pursue a career in the same stream, the knowledge of the subject becomes an added advantage by its relevance in the field, while those who arrive merely for the IIT tag will not go empty-handed either, the panellists sought to assure.
Five-year integrated courses are relevant for the first set of students, as they will get a better opportunity to explore and hone their skills in the core subjects, said Devi Karunasri, a young mechanical engineer from IIT-Madras.
Students who have enrolled for the four-year B.Tech can later shift to the five-year integrated course, but it is not possible the other way round.
Old versus new
On the choice between old and new IITs, there was the near-unanimous view that each had its own benefits. In terms of infrastructure and facilities, old IITs score over the new ones by huge margins, but the quality of faculty remains the same.
While emphasis has shifted from teaching to research in older institutions, the newer ones are more enthusiastic about pedagogy. R.S. Naveen Kishore, a 2012 graduate from the new IIT-Hyderabad, agrees that there were a few problems for the first batch, but his juniors had better facilities such as computer labs and drawing halls.
These hitches are to be resolved once the new and technologically-advanced campus comes up by 2014. Students in the old IITs, meanwhile, may have to make do with older equipment.
To a Facebook query on NITs in the North East, students were advised to keep them as last option, as their development would take more time. IIT Guwahati, however, has attractive offers for faculty, and hence may be considered, the panellists said.
The shortage of faculty is certainly an issue to reckon with, as a class of 120-140 students would be dealt with by a single faculty member in the first year. Sailesh Akella from IIT Madras said only one class is fortunate to listen directly to the lecturer, even as two other classes would just hear him through video streaming. However, at a few IITs, tutorials are being held after each lecture, which enhances the learning experience. After the first two years, the classes will be completely split stream-wise, with about 40 to 60 students per batch.
All IITs teach basic courses such as Mathematics, Physics, English and drawing during the first year, and a little of engineering and allied courses during the second. The core part of the chosen stream will be taught only in third year, to be taken to advanced level in the final year.
Choice of streams
On students blindly choosing streams based on their ranks, Sanjay Gadhalay, an IITian from the 80s felt the very system of ranking streams based on market preferences is flawed. Students should be allowed to choose the stream after completing two or three years of study, he felt.
The panel also discussed student suicides in IITs due to the pressure to perform.
According to Prof. Madhira, one has to work hard to fail in IIT, as there is relative grading. However, placements are the most compelling phase when students slip into depression.
“There are those who excel in allied activities and some who do good in academics. Those left out of both are usually the ones prone to depression,” Sailesh observed.
T. Muralidharan, an IITian from Youth Employability Services Centre (YESC) — the co-organisers of the panel discussion — moderated the discussion, while Prof. R. Balasubramanian from G. Narayanamma Institute of Technology and Science, engineer-turned-entrepreneur Srinivas Chakravarthi, and infrastructure consultant Chakrapani were the other IITians who participated.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Manjari Mishra, TNN Jun 19, 2013, 01.12AM IST
JABALPUR: When German engineer Philip H Diehi invented the ceiling fan in 1892, he had no clue that apart from providing comfort during summers, his invention will very often be put to use to commit suicide. But there could soon be a remedy.
A Madhya Pradesh cardiologist has invented a suicide-proof ceiling fan. R S Sharma, a professor in government medical college in Jabalpur, calls it "a simple contraption rigged up by using plain common sense".
The inspiration came from a real life experience when a teenaged boy in his neighbourhood committed suicide after failing the Class XII examination. His inconsolable mother kept cursing the day she replaced the table fan with a ceiling fan in his room, Sharma recalled.
That set the doctor thinking - how to design a ceiling fan with built-in safety features so that it can't be used as a tool of death. A week of hard thinking and several trips to the welders and mechanics later, Sharma had come up with a solution.
The device has a hollow metal tube inside the fan's shaft to which the motor and blades are attached. Hinged to the shaft are four heavy springs designed to take an additional weight of 25 kg besides the motor and the blades. The moment the limit set for the optimum weight is exceeded, the springs uncoil, leading to a soft landing of the person without stretching of the neck or straining the noose, explained Sharma.
"Hanging causes dislocation of atlanto axial (upper cervical segment of the spinal cord) and compression on medulla oblongata (upper neck bones) that control vital centres of respiration and heart. But the victims are not aware of it. They normally die due to compression of carotid arteries (located on both sides of the neck which supply blood to the brain) and the resultant asphyxia. This death could be extremely painful and prolonged as the victim remains suspended in the air till the end comes," he said.
"With the stretchable shaft, the risk of 'feet- above- the-ground' position is eliminated. The maximum harm could be a few bruises," he said.
The professor has applied for patent and hopes this will be used in all homes and hostels. "Worried over the spiraling suicide graph in the IITs, a four-member committee had suggested replacement of ceiling fans with pedestal fans. All they have to do is to install this device which will cost only Rs 450 and breathe easy," said Sharma who is now working for an aesthetic design of his innovative contraption.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Admission agony spurs teen suicide
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Dharmendra’s (left) mother breaks down in Bokaro on Wednesday;
the note the Sree Ayyappa Public School alumnus left behind. (Pankaj Singh)
A student of a premier Bokaro institution chose the noose over life after he was allegedly denied admission to Class XI at his own alma mater despite a good CGPA in his CBSE examination, the results of which were declared last month.
Dharmendra Kumar, who studied from nursery to Class X at Sree Ayyappa Public School in Sector V-D of the steel city, hanged himself with a nylon rope in the outhouse of their Sector I-C quarters at 10am on Wednesday, an hour after venting his frustration before his father. The 17-year-old also left behind a suicide note, saying his average academic record had spurred his death wish.
That the mad scramble for a school berth snuffed out a young life in Bokaro is a fresh pointer to our country’s skewed education system, where emphasis is still laid on competition — marks or no marks — instead of learning.
Sources said that Ayyappa has a total of 325 seats for pure science and 65 for bio-science. Normally, students fetching a CGPA of 9.4 or above get the cream berths.
According to father Ram Narayan Gupta, Dharmendra — the youngest among his three sons, the other two being alumni of the same school who have joined defence forces — notched a CGPA of 8.4 out of 10 in the CBSE Class X examination and wanted to study science at Ayyappa. “But, despite requests for the past three weeks, the school refused admission,” said the bereaved father, a fruit wholesaler.
Around 9am on Wednesday, the depressed teen opened up to his father. “He told me, ‘Papa, I want to study science and crack IIT-JEE. Please do something. Please see that I get admission to some good school, though my first preference is my school, where all my friends will study in Class XI’. My son was in tears and I was willing to cough up donations, if necessary. I promised him that I will not leave any stone unturned to secure him a seat,” Gupta recalled.
Incidentally, Dharmendra had failed to make it to the Class XI merit list of DAV School too. “After Ayyappa turned him down, my boy had applied to DAV. The list came out yesterday (Tuesday) and his name was not there either,” the father said.
To ensure he had his own space in his adolescence years, Dharmendra’s doting parents had allowed him to shift to the outhouse, a stone’s throw from their Q.No. 1076, a decision they perhaps regret now.
After the dad-son talk in the morning, the teenager went to the outhouse on the pretext of getting a bottle of water. He never came back. An hour later, his mother hollered at neighbours to check on him. The boy was found hanging from a ceiling fan in the outhouse. His dying declaration on a scrap of paper lay on the ground.
Family and friends rushed Dharmendra to Bokaro General Hospital, but doctors declared him brought dead.
Ayyappa principal Latha Mohnan denied that the school had spurned admission requests. “In fact, Dharmendra Kumar was invited for counselling on June 4, but he did not turn up. We thought he was trying elsewhere,” she said, adding that the cradle was taking in other students who had scored much less than Dharmendra and there was no reason to turn him away.
The boy’s father and classmates contest the school’s claim. “Had our school given Dharmendra admission, he would have been alive today,” a friend said, adding, “Time and again he had shared his frustration with us.”
DSP Raja Ram Prasad confirmed suicide. The body has been sent for post-mortem.
Is academic competition healthy for a child’s growth?
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Press Trust of India | Updated Jun 05, 2013 at 07:19am IST
Ahmedabad: An IIT-Gandhinagar dropout, who had left the institute in 2010 after failing to clear the exams, allegedly committed suicide in Ahmedabad on Tuesday by hanging himself. "Rohit Jagenia, a native of Kota in Rajasthan, committed suicide by hanging himself from the hook of ceiling fan in the kitchen," Chandkheda police inspector AG Gohil said.
Rohit, who was an electrical engineering student in IIT-Gandhinagar, had come to Ahmedabad on May 28 after taking his BSc final year exams in Kota, he said. He had come to Ahmedabad for an interview at a coaching institute and was scheduled to leave on Tuesday evening, Gohil said, adding that he was staying at his friends' place. "Till around 1 PM, he along with his friends had watched a movie on computer. Later, the friends went out for lunch but he refused to accompany them and preferred to stay back," he said.
Upon their return, Rohit's friends found the main door bolted from inside, after which they opened it using duplicate key and found him hanging from the ceiling of the kitchen, Gohil said.
Meanwhile, IIT- Gandhinagar director has expressed surprise over the incident. "I am very surprised. He (Rohit) had left the institute voluntarily three years ago in 2010," Director SK Jain said.