Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Morning trek to the lake at IIT Campus

What do MBA students do on weekends? Sleeping-in would top the charts at most B-school campuses, but students at the Dept. Of Management Studies, IIT Madras have other plans.

Much is made about IIT Madras being the only campus which is part of a reserve forest in the very heart of the city. It’s common to see people wearing ‘Walking Passes’ and briskly sauntering on the tarmac within campus. People appreciate the shade, the woods, the wildlife. But off the beaten track is where the fun lies and that is what a few of us set out to explore one lazy Sunday morning.

We started off at 0600hrs, armed with nothing but a sense of expectation and adventure and something to shoot deer with – cameras. The track at the stadium was where we decided to start our exploration. One moment we were in the wide open area of the sports stadium, and a few quick paces into the woods, bordering the track, we had entered the fairly dense, but not too dense forest zone in the campus. Cameras came out, and the shutterbug in us started having a field day.

Being early was an advantage as we could see fresh deer tracks, and other things fresh, contributed by deer but not as exciting. We kept to the narrow path that guided us deeper into the forest, thickly canopied now with overhanging branches of I don’t know what trees. On either side of us were swamps overgrown with moss, inviting less intelligent people to step onto it and ruin their footwear. And just as we were starting to lose our patience, we saw a magnificent sight of a herd of deer led by the alpha male with huge antlers, crossing the path some 50 metres ahead of us. They did stare at us, for a while before calmly progressing. Not an unfriendly stare, just a curious one.

By now, even we were getting a bit of an overdose of trees, swamps, deer, bird calls and the like. But IIT Madras did not disappoint. As the winding path whittled down to a non-existent, imaginary trail, which was found by following the path of least (foliage) resistance, we came across an old temple beyond which, sprawling in all its morning beauty was the Lake at IIT Campus. It is a refreshing sight, a large body of water which is completely hidden even from people who frequent the campus.

We decided not to give any cause for thrilling entries in this narrative and so, did not step into the lake. We even excavated a rusty old sign that said “Caution: Do not venture into the lake”. Respect the aged we said and like rational people, we started walking around it. Cutting across deserted snake holes, playing limbo with thick thorny vegetation blocking our way, along cacti plants, over water treatment plants until we reached the perimeter of the green zone demarcated by ten foot high walls. It was a sad sight that near the wall, there was the universal signature of human habitation – garbage. It seems even a reserve has its limits.

The sun was grinning more brightly now as we circumscribed the lake and reached the residential zone. The lake thinned out at places, and the woods also gave way to patches of clear land, finally ending in a clearing which lead to the Lake View Road. Ha! Lake View Road, where to our surprise there was a sign saying “Beware of crocodiles”. It seemed funny then, but now as I write this account, I’m glad we didn’t come across any. I would have had to sacrifice one of my co-explorers. On second thoughts, it would have been a great photo-op though...

Tired but happy, we started our walk past our beloved department, the mighty Gajendra Circle, the imposing Central Library, smirking at the morning walkers knowing how much more we had seen. Apart from a sumptuous breakfast, Marcel Proust’s saying came to mind:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Contributed by
Edwin Antony, MBA 1st Year

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wasted Education?

Only at IIT Madras could you have a crowd made up of venerable professors, a PhD student in Nanotechnology, a CAT 100 percentiler and other brilliant people discussing a topic such as ‘Wasted Education’.

This was the topic for a panel discussion held on 20th March 2010, Saturday at IC&SR Auditorium IIT Madras.

The moderated panel discussion tried to throw more light on issues like societal pressure on students, student burnout, balance between academics and extracurricular activities and more flexibility in choice of courses.
Opening comments by the panellists were ample evidence of the incisive thinking on display and also brought out the different hues of thought due to the fact that the panel was fully representative. It had males and females, old and young, arts and engineering, traditionalists and modernists – it was a treat for the audience. Prof. L S Ganesh defined the terms wastage and education, and the talk progressed based on this foundation of a shared understanding and agreement on the clarity of these terms.

The students presented their take on things which included a review of the credit system in place, the counselling process during JEE, the pressures which force them to compromise on what they really want to be doing with their life and making learning enjoyable.

The professors were compassionate in their views. Prof. Hema talked about how the grind children are put through in terms of engineering coaching was just another form of child labour. Prof. Suresh recounted his days as a student and how admin decisions, review committees have over the years shaped the current system. There were insights provided as to how the BTech as a course has transformed itself over the years. The audience reserved its heartiest applause for the soft spoken but razor sharp Prof. G. Srinivasan who commented on the issue, not as a panelist but as a member of the audience. It really put the much badgered ‘Instititution’ – a euphemism for the system and bureaucracy – in a very different light, where it was possible for everyone to understand how enormous and challenging their task is.

There were fervent responses from the audience when they were asked to participate by commenting on various aspects. There was a general feeling that students cannot know what they want at the age of seventeen when they are asked to make a decision impacting the coming four to five years of their lives. There were questions raised regarding how free students are – from parental pressure, from societal pressure and from peer pressure.

What was evident from the discussion was that the love for learning is sacred and it should be protected from the debilitating effects of intense competition. It was also evident that the existing system was not flawless and needed improvement, so that we can ensure that the young bright minds which are the future of our country are treated not like battery cells, but like flowers that need to be given space and care to flourish and bloom. To sum up, in Prof. L S Ganesh’s words, “you can waste time, but you cannot waste education”. And this is the combined responsibility of students, parents and educational institutions.

Contributed by
Edwin Antony, MBA 1st Year

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DoMS Facts

Some facts about DoMS that you may want to know

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kiran Bedi visits IIT Madras for an EML lecture

You know what is the best thing that could happen after a sleepless and peace-deprived weekend and a six hour class on a Sunday morning? A talk by one of your role models. The one who had been one of the main reasons for what you are today. I was lucky enough to have such an experience.

Kiran Bedi was in IITM, to share her experiences with the future leaders of the nation (well, she called us that). We had enough goof ups before the start of the event, audience mistaking an old lady as kiran bedi and worse still, one of the organizers joining them and starting to read the welcome address for the old lady. The laughter that started, couldn’t be stopped even after the lady of the evening came and the guy welcomed her with the same speech yet again.

All this was till Kiran bedi went onstage. Words wouldn’t do justice to explain the experience that we had for the next sixty minutes. Man, what energy! It didn't take long to figure out, why she left service.. Here is one rare celebrity who doesn't mince words. Ten minutes after she started, she accused us for not producing enough patents and abusing tax payers money..And we cheered her up :)

For people who misssed it, here is the crux of what she said:

1. Be a Master in what you do. Success is not the aim, excellence is... Being ordinary is a sin

2. Be a Member of the community. Without being inclusive, you can succeed but you can't be happy.

3. Define a Meaning for your life.

Well, that’s 3M for you. The best part was , she declared that she might form a government one day..Here is a lady who, after all she has done, was abused by a system but still believes she could make a difference.
I definitely can't bring even one tenth of the effect she had on the audience through this post. It was not about a good lecture which was entertaining, or one which had a wonderful speaker, or about one of the rare women who had finally made it big. It was all and much more than that. It was about a human who worked to make a positive difference wherever she went, and who continues to do. Here is the link to her site:

For once, I couldn’t find a smart closing line :P

I guess its the Kiran Bedi effect. So let me close with her words itself:

“Your work should aim at solving problems not at stopping obstacles.”

Contributed by
Revathy Easwar,
MBA Class of 2011

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