Monthly Archives: December 2011
A few years back, one of my favorite local lecturers told me about his adventure in Bangalore where he was visiting as a guest researcher. He described his whole day in the campus of some university called IISc. The highlight of the story for me, was the fact that this place called IISc had Fanta. This piece of anecdote motivated me to get into the campus. So I worked hard to clear the GATE exam. Then, in my dreams, I could see my gift straw into that ‘first’ bottle of Fanta. This clear cut vision drove me to work harder as the days passed. I managed to crack GATE and was selected to study at IISc.
Subsequently, I reached IISc with my trusty straw and an advisor was assigned to me, for my direct Ph.D. I met him on the first day, where he was hoping to discuss my future research, my favorite subjects and so on. I was too excited about Fanta to have anything else occupy my mind. I told him my motivations sincerely, my background, and how I really wanted to taste a complete Fanta. My advisor smirked at my naive thought of trying to complete a Fanta in the first try. However he kindly agreed to sponsor the whole thing.
My advisor who was staring at me for some time said,”You think that the straw that you have, is enough to reach the depths of the Fanta bottle?”.
Alas! It dawned upon me that I had been foolish to think that my special straw, made for local drinks, could reach the depths of Fanta. My old, trusty straw could only help me till 250ml of Fanta and not beyond that. To go deeper I needed a longer straw and I did not have it. My advisor consoled me and asked me not to worry. He said that everyone goes through such setbacks while trying to reach a goal.
“The first step towards amending, is realization. Now that you have realized that your straw is not sufficient, take another straw from here”, he said. He had to leave then since he had a class to teach. I asked for another straw and I drank my Fanta. Sadly, Prakruti’s straw was not enough to brave the depths of a 300ml Fanta bottle either. I could never finish my Fanta. I saved the piece of straw to remind me of the Fanta I had. It was to remind me that I could never finish it.
Over the course of time, I ordered more Fantas and my adviser would ask me to take more straws. He told me that we would never know, when I might just get a straw that would help me finish my Fanta. I saved all the straws I used to drink my precious Fantas. At the end of two years he had forced me to take around 12 straws, none of which helped me finish a Fanta. I stopped ordering more straws and tried to use the straws I carried to drink my Fantas. It was really a very sad state of affairs then.
At the end of my third year, I was sitting in Prakruti drinking my Fanta and staring at all the straws I owned. Voila! the answer to my problem, then, occurred to me. I realized that by jamming one straw into another, I could make a longer straw and thus reach the bottom of my Fanta. The epiphany was that I was thinking of each straw as a separate entity and this narrow thinking was getting me nowhere. No known single straw helped me, yet when I combined the straws, I could reach the depths easily. I finished my Fanta , reached my goal that day and I saved the straw that helped me reached the goal. Heaven knows that this was my last straw. I told my adviser about the breakthrough and he asked me to jot it down so that it might help others understand similar situations in life and he asked me to publish it somewhere. I agreed to do it and the fact that you are reading this, means that it has been published somewhere.
Srikanth Pai (ECE)
With the frequent hikes in petrol prices, “going green” has never been cheaper (and undoubtedly, it is getting cheaper all the time).
On Teachers’ Day, the Environmental awareness committee of the Students’ Council flagged off the concept of cycle/walk day where, on the 5th of every month, the institute community is invited to voluntarily avoid the use of motor vehicles and either cycle or walk on campus. Pankaj Jain, from the Students’ Council tells me that the primary intention is to increase awareness and motivate people to cycle or walk at least once a month.
Vehicular traffic on campus is increasing causing increasing distress to pedestrians. The long term aim of this initiative is to motivate people to avoid the use of motorized vehicles where unnecessary and encourage the use of cycles. Adding to the charm is the fact that IISc is a cyclists’ paradise.
While the ball has been set rolling, there are plans to increase the momentum and sustain it till the event becomes an integral part of the institute. This was evident in the increased publicity that the event was given in its second month.
Pankaj hints at what is perhaps the one question the slightly skeptic are expected to raise “What difference does it make to the environment if we avoid the use of our motor vehicle for one day in a month?” He clarifies that it is not so much about reducing pollution as about increasing the ease with which a pedestrian or cyclist can commute on campus, due to the reduction in motor vehicles on that day of the month.
An often raised point whenever a small group of enterprising people attempt to make some difference to the environment is, “Will it have any significant impact on the big picture?” I will not quote the clichéd “drops make up the ocean” maxim. Instead, I write what I consider to be an illustrative albeit deleterious example of the difference one man can make.
In 1930, the American physicist and Nobel Prize-winner Robert Millikan said that there was no risk that humanity could do real harm to anything so gigantic as the Earth. In the same year, the American chemical engineer Thomas Midgley invented chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the chemicals responsible for thinning the stratospheric ozone layer.
Earlier, in 1921, Midgley, while working at Dayton Research Laboratories, a subsidiary of General Motors, discovered that the addition of Tetraethyl Lead (TEL) to gasoline prevented internal combustion engines from “knocking”. The company named the substance “Ethyl” to avoid all mention of lead in reports and advertising.
CFCs led to depletion of the ozone layer and large scale combustion of leaded gasoline led to release of large quantities of poisonous lead into the atmosphere.
J R McNeill an environmental historian has remarked that Midgley “had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth’s history.”
Arjun Shetty (ECE/MRC)
The beauties were lined up.
Each one had already decided which ones they were interested in.
The auctioneer eagerly stepped in.
Let the bidding begin…..
It was Sotheby’s Central at the Old Amenities Hall on the 6th of August. The Students’ Council (SC) along with the Security Section organized a ‘Bicycle Auction’. They decided to do it the classy way – the ‘English way’. As I approached the venue, I realized that the process was already in full swing. Sri Vallabha (Amenities Committee, SC) stood at the apex of a human circle, enthusiastically narrating the high points of the metal skeleton placed in front of him. He would pause, then beam and shout out the quoting price (well, someone has an alternate career ready in case the research option doesn’t pan out as expected…). I thought that there would be a lull and people would be too shy to shout out their candidacy. Boy! Was I wrong. The cycle in question came under the ‘good-looking’ category and so its base price was about 500 bucks (the other category being ‘horrible’, the base price for which was usually around 250 bucks). But, these categories were highly subjective – as they say, “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”. The offers started pouring in, and students were out bidding each other at lightning speed. In no time, the price had reached Rs. 1600. Going once, going twice, gone! Sold to the guy at the back, in a dusky yellow T-shirt…who couldn’t stop grinning. The cycle was then taken to a makeshift office of sorts, where it was immediately registered (SC is planning to register all the existing cycles, so that the remaining ones can be auctioned in the second round).
Bikes for girls were the ‘rare items’ in this auction (not surprising, considering the obscenely skewed sex ratio in the campus). Most of the cycles were thoroughly rusted, with no bells and no seats (the ‘horrible’ category) but this one girls’ cycle had the bare essentials plus a smatter of paint. Two girls came and stood right next to it, each step towards the cycle reeking of determination. The basal price was quoted. Even before the Gods could raise an eyebrow, the bidding-battle started. Increments of 50,and sometimes 100 bucks, flashed right through. The war was long and finally a victor emerged. Applause.
Some of the students were apprehensive about the condition of the cycles. One student lamented, “The state it (the cycle) is in, I hope it doesn’t break down midway…” Well, serious repairs were in order for all the cycles sold, but, I guess that was the idea – buy a dead cycle from the cycle graveyard (at a nominal price) and then bring it back to life; would probably be more profitable than buying a brand new one. Considering this was the first time something like this was attempted, I believe the process is in a phase of standardization.
The auction started at around 10:00 and went on till 11:30. The junta (‘bidders’ and the ‘lookers’) left. I finally got the opportunity to talk to the SC volunteers. Sri gave me the ownership forms (of the cycles) and explained to me the nitty-gritty’s of the auction (like how the basal price was decided and how the students were asked to exercise caution while bidding and not go beyond a certain price range) and Sree (SC Chairman) talked about how the money collected will be utilized to install electronic air pumps (rumor has it that the SC is planning to put it at the SC office-Stores junction but nothing has been finalized yet).
Some students panned the event; others enjoyed it to the hilt. Personally, I think that it was an adventurous enterprise. Something innovative. It helped ‘recycle’ a mess that we students create (albeit unknowingly). As I wrote before, the process is in a phase of standardization, and hope that the second auction would not be far along.
H. P. Fuel Station on New B. E. L. Road
I am writing this little article to alert the campus community about one of the fuel stations (a.k.a. petrol bunk) on New BEL Road, the HP bunk located opposite Barista.
Most customers go there and ask for a certain amount of petrol and then carefully monitor the meter while it runs. When the meter touches about 60 to 70% of the full amount, another guy there comes to you and tells you about a Customer Card facility for frequent customers, or tells you that you can have the air pressure in the vehicle tires checked there, or gives you some free, but good, advice that you have to regularly clean or get your vehicle serviced, or simply asks you for payment. You are distracted by that and while you take your eyes off the meter for a fraction of a second, with amazing coordination, the other guy who is fueling the vehicle presses on some button on the dispenser unit and then even before you realize what is happening, the meter jumps and shows the full amount. Effectively, the guy seems to be refueling for only about 75% of the total amount we pay for. I realized that only after I checked the mileage. This has happened to me on two occasions and since then if I happen to land at that petrol bunk by mistake or by no choice, I just stare at the meter until it runs to the finish much to the disappointment of the other worker who tries to distract. I checked with a few colleagues in Vignanpura and they also seemed to have had similar experiences at that petrol bunk. Most of us do not want to pick a fight with the petrol bunk fellow that too during a rush hour (so hard to win such a fight anyways!). So, often times, we just let go!
As it is, the prices of petrol are sky-rocketing. On top of it, we don’t get our money’s worth. This is probably one instance of how most of us common men get so easily cheated in the city. On a lighter note: Is it probably about time the Government of India introduced a C.A. (cheating allowance) component in the next Pay Commission recommendations?
Chandra Sekhar Seelamantula (EE)
Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all! – Hypatia of Alexandria
Each step you take should appeal to your curiosity,
Do not shy away from contradiction and ambiguity,
For your thoughtful response in face of such a difficulty,
Will spur creativity!
Breakdown a tough problem into simpler pieces
Like white light a prism disperses,
Remember this is achieved as the prism has multiple facets,
So view a problem from different angles, be open, be deft!
The greatest evil is fear,
Think with a slate that is free from bias it’s clear,
The solution is like a chain of gears,
Overcome the inertia and the goal is near!
As I sat there,
on a concrete bench..
There lays a playground,
that tall building,
a wink of red glow
of an aeroplane, above.
And, as I sat there,
listening the music
of your heart
only to crave for
those thousand moons
in your eyes..
O! Wish you were here
with me sitting
on this concrete bench.
Manish Gautam (CIVIL)
Women’s Welfare committee is specially meant for the lady students of the institute community. This committee focuses on the academic/nonacademic issues associated with the lady students. Recently we had organized the Self defense Course for the women/girls of the institute community and got a good response.
All the participants were happy and satisfied with the course which not only emphasized on the defense skills but also gave a moral boost.
We requested for separate security outside the girl’s hostel Ashwini and are still following it up. We also made attempts to solve some women related issues and complains.
Our next plan is to organize the health awareness program for the women’s. In concert with Students’ Council, this committee ensures the comfortable stay of the lady students in the campus.