Monthly Archives: March 2012

Contents – March 2012


Intanglibles in a world of tangibles

Editorial: Verified Fact or Fiction?

Where the roads meet

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s talk at IISc

NBD: A Misguided Effort?

Response to NBD: A Misguided Effort?

Deluded Delusion!

An appeal to the institute community

Justice Santosh Hegde Talk

Compassionate Lifestyle: Living in a Hostel and Eating Out


Sanity Restored 2

Download March 2012 Issue


Professor Parag P Sadhale, a one-of-a-kind Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology lived life on his own terms and attained eternal peace on his own terms. The following is just an excerpt of what all of us in his laboratory experienced when he decided to rip us all apart and still managed to smile at us.

It is said that ‘Actions speak louder than words’, yet we find ourselves craving for a word lost somewhere in the depths of extreme actions.

Normalcy is more often a surreal camouflage, than a sign of self-belief.

Somewhere in the dark caves of the human mind, still lies a thought that tries hard to not reveal itself and when it does, shatters everything surrounding it.

It takes far more courage to have oneself dissolved into nothingness.

These are not anyone’s words, but sentences that only begin to describe the void that I felt on a bright Friday morning (Friday, the 20th).

For a man who valued his principles more than anything, for a Professor who viewed things in a dimension that can only be described as ‘visionary’, for a mentor who not only inspired but also shared his exquisite wealth with more people than the number of mobile models currently available, for a friend who would smile even if the apocalypse were to happen before his eyes, for a person who regarded every petty aspect of life a challenge to be overcome, for a Vidwan who didn’t think science and music were any different from one another and for a scientist who never gave up learning and learning more even if it meant he had to spend an eternity doing the same, Dear Professor Parag Sadhale couldn’t have thought of a better way than what he did to himself to create an atmosphere so charged with a devastating lull that it threatened to consume everyone and everything around it into oblivion.

He came, he taught, he taught more, he directed, he laughed along and then, when we were ‘Family’, he left us with his characteristic smile.

I have personally known Dear Sir only for a month and a half as a trainee, but in that short period of time, I have learnt a lot of aspects – ‘Questioning everything’, for one. Had Socrates lived long to see the ‘number of questions’ that he made me ask, he would have left a gallon of flesh in dedication. Every time I passed by his office, a unique force would draw me in and stimulate an interaction. ‘It wouldn’t suffice if you just know, you have to learn how to improvise’, he would often hint.

Dear Sir’s company was always something I looked forward to. Be it, being the first to fetch him a cup of tea just so I could have a casual chat with him or to sit right next to him in his car to listen to the sweet ‘Hindustani tunes’ that he hums, Dear Sir’s company has always been compelling. On a warm afternoon during a certain Neurobiology Seminar on facets of memory, Sir called out, ‘Shankar, here. Sit near me’. I was a little hesitant to sit with Dear Sir during a lecture, fearing his ‘Quiver full of Questions’. At the end of the lecture, Sir commented, ‘Did you get that fully, because frankly speaking, I did not’. I laughed and told him ‘No, not a single word except the videos’. He laughed back. That made my day. On another day, he would ask me: ‘What do you mean you did not get it?’ I would go pale and he would laugh again. It was a to-and-fro that I looked forward to every day.

A few days later just before he decided to strip us off into pieces, he took me to a Carnatic concert. On our way back, I was commenting on the various Ragas that the Vidwan rendered in the course of the concert and Sir pointed out, ‘Well, you see music is no different than science. One small change and it can lead to something totally new.’ I was flabbergasted at the analogy.

Now, that I think about that episode, it comes back to me as ‘Life is no different than science. One small change and it could lead to a totally all-consuming result’.

Will we all in the lab ever get over this void? Will we ever stop wondering what we could have done to prevent this crude happening? Will we stop looking at his office every two minutes or so and wonder if he has left us something? Will we stop shedding tears every time we look at his ‘lab slippers’? Will we ever stop anticipating?

Well, like they say: ‘When one door closes, another opens’; but what if the door that just closed took away all possibilities to open ‘other doors’ along with it?

Amidst the hum of the refrigerator nearby, we all just heard a rumble in the silence. The doors of heaven just opened!

Shankar Chandrashekar Iyer (MCBL)

Intanglibles in a world of tangibles

—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Deepak Sharma <>
To : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
Subject : hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2012, 10:35am

Pally Sir! I m bak 4m my vacation n wud like 2 meet u for my courses. 2day is d last day. Pls lemme know when I cud meet wid u. btw I got A in nanb, B in manstat and C in physb. Pls advise.

—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
To : Deepak Sharma <>
Subject : Re: hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2012, 10:45am
Dear Deepak,

There are so many things wrong here that my anguish could not tolerate being expressed in prose, so it immediately accessed the poetry area in my brain (which, my friend sparun tells me, is next to the conflict and error monitoring area, the anterior cingulate cortex. He also says I have a really large ACC which is clearly a backhanded compliment coming from a neuroscientist).

How do I mentor thee? Let me count the ways.
The longest letter you’ve ever composed, let me guess
Must have expressed your love in an incomprehensible sms.
I mentor thee to write, so when you go out of the IISc whirlpool
Your sentences will be grammatical and their content cool.
I mentor thee to write, so I can read your thesis
Without flying into a rage and tearing it up into pieces.

Second, I said, take courses but don’t drop dead
But your grades remind me of the alphabet instead.
(What if you had taken four courses instead: ABCD?)
I mentor thee to stop with the swagger
Otherwise IISc will cut you up with a dagger.

Third, I mentor thee to notice hypocrisy
On one hand, you want endless postponement
Of deadlines for every assignment,
But you give me only one day to decide on your courses, you idiot!!
In case you are wondering why this para doesn’t rhyme,
Dude, this is IISc and professors can do whatever they goddamn want.

Actually in case you are wondering, that last part is not true. I can only write whatever I want in Voices, which is partly because hardly anybody reads it. But everytime you think you’re senior enough to do what you want, you’ll find an even higher-up making you do their dirty work for you.

But I digress. I hope you get the message.


—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Deepak Sharma <>
To : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
Subject : hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2011, 10:46am

Pally Sir! I saw ur mail sir but I cud not fnd an appt time in ur reply. Cud u pls lemme know a tym 2 meet u?

—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Deepak Sharma <>
To : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
Subject : hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2011, 2:15pm

Pally Sir! I snt u a mail bt did not get a reply. I know u r in ur office coz shruti met wid u. only 3 hrs r left 4 me 2 submit course regn. Pls sir 4give me for any mistek I hv done. pls meet wid me 2day.

—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Deepak Sharma <>
To : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
Subject : hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2011, 3:15pm

Dear Prof. Palayanteeswaran

I would like to meet you regarding my courses. If possible could you meet with me today so that I can submit my course registration on time?

I would also like to apologize to you for (1) giving you such a short deadline; (2) writing emails in bad English and (3) anything else I might have said or not said which led you to form a negative judgment about my character.

Thanking you

—————————- Original Message —————————-
From : Prof. Palayanteeshwaran <>
To : Deepak Sharma <>
Subject : Re: hello
Date : Mon, January 2, 2012, 3:16pm

Dear Deepak,

I am glad that you understood the error of your ways. Come see me at 3.30pm in my office.

I hope you understand this mode of instruction. This is a radical approach that we follow in India, which takes full advantage of our complex social brains. You see, we have a twisted reaction to authority in India – it’s a colonial hangover. If I had just told you to write emails in normal English, you would never have listened since you would have achieved your objective (i.e. got your form signed) anyway. You would keep sending me garbage sms-style emails. Instead, if I keep you guessing for hours about why I am not replying to you but meeting everybody else, you will finally come up with the simplest explanation which is that I am upset with you about something. Since you have a deadline, your brain will work overtime to figure out why you upset me, and you will go back and actually read my previous email. Then you’ll understand that you should always write emails in proper English, addressing me as “Sir” or “Prof. Palayanteeshwaran”. Of course, in the past, most fresh students have only figured it out by asking their seniors, which is probably what you did also – in fact, the sudden improvement in your English can only be attributed to Shruti who not only typed out your email, but even inserted for good measure her usual line about forgiving both said and unsaid things.

In fact, one day you’ll find that I don’t reply to any of your emails, and then you will have even less clues to why I didn’t reply, and your brain will slowly heat up to 40C by the time you figure out that it might have been because you did not do what you said you’ll do but you had the audacity to remind me about what I said I’ll do. Your senior Shruti is presently in this stage and I can assure you she is getting rigorous training since the last two weeks. She still hasn’t figured it out, can you believe it?

I think you will agree that this is a much better way to train a student than to directly tell them things. My general approach in life is, why say words directly when you can show by actions indirectly. Don’t actions speak louder than words? I sometimes find that my silence produces more activity and restlessness in my students than my words. Of course, it’s another matter that most of the time they’re trying to figure out why I am upset rather than spending time thinking about research – that way when I actually ask them to work on a particular research problem, they are too exhausted by the effort of second-guessing my emotions that they meekly agree to do whatever I say. Ultimately this is what I would like at my stage in life – people should just agree to do what I say – after all, what the hell did I work tirelessly all these years for? To have people disagree with me? Do you know, now I make new project assistants sign on bond paper saying that they will obey every order I give, otherwise they agree to be fired without notice. I even moved a motion in the IISc Senate to allow advisors to get this signed by their PhD students but that motion was unanimously defeated. Clearly this is because of politics against me.

But this is the reason why labs abroad are so disorganized – professors don’t control their students. True, they have good equipment but their students are too busy thinking on their own, wanting to do their own little project, arguing unnecessarily with their professors and so on. It makes lives miserable for the professors! That’s why their faculty have such high divorce rates. The best way to do science would be to give students a rigorous training so that they follow orders, and get all their fancy equipment. Then see how our country will develop!

I’ve rambled long enough. In fact, I have wasted the entire day checking my email continuously for the right email from you. See how much time you have made me waste and see how much dedication I have towards my students! I hope you will appreciate and understand this over time.


Prof. Katrinivalakeshwarasrinivasahareramakrishna Palayanteeswaran
Fellow of all 42 Royal Societies of Timbuktu
Recipient of Jnana Shri award, Mathikere Sports Academy
Former President, Indian National Science Academy
Co-president, National Indian Science Academy
Secretary, National Science Academy of India
Treasurer, Academy of National Indian Science
Member, Society of Physically Inspired Nanobiology
Professor and Founding Chairman,
Department of Chemically Inspired Physical Nanobiology
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012

S P Arun (CNS)

Editorial: Verified Fact or Fiction?

One of the reasons for intense debate in the Voices meetings of yore has been the dual nature exhibited by Voices. One, that of a newsrag, carrying reports, opinions and perhaps analysis of various events on campus. Two, that of a magazine, carrying creative write ups, poems, cartoons and such articles of general literary interest.

There are members (past and present) in our team who hold both opinions and willing to defend that view till impeachment (if not death).

Those in favour of a newsrag kind of issue claim that it is our job to report and increase awareness about the happenings on campus. If we want to read a literary piece, we might as well go to some blog. Why put it in print?

Those in favour of a creative issue say that we being a monthly (if that) newsletter, chances are high that the institute community is already aware of the event through other means of communication (posters, broadcast mails) by the time we report it. So why report news after it has become stale? Non news articles have a longer shelf life. There are people who would rather spend time with a Voices issue that offers some amusement as compared to a Voices issue filled with a bunch of past event reports.

However, all these debates within the team and fist banging on the tea board tables are to no avail if the Voices reader does not get what he wants to read. The importance of reader feedback cannot be undermined. Voices would like invite you, the reader to give us your feedback on what you expect to read when you pick up a freshly minted copy of Voices from the stack in the corner of the mess. You are most welcome to email us at or you can even tell it to any of our team members in person.

Coming back to the news vs creative debate, one thing I have learnt at Voices is that a news report is more difficult to prepare as compared to a literary piece. The creative license that an author is entitled to in his prose and poetry is no longer afforded to a reporter in his write up.

I would like to end with a snippet I stumbled across in the internet, related to verifying a fact before reporting it in media (print or otherwise).

When Mark Twain took his first job as a newspaper reporter, his editor told him never to report anything as fact unless he could verify it by personal knowledge. That night Twain covered a social gala. He filed the following story: “A woman giving the name of Mrs. James Jones, who is reported to be one of the society leaders of the city, is said to have given what purported to be a party yesterday to a number of alleged ladies. The hostess claims to be the wife of a reputed attorney.”

Arjun Shetty (ECE/MRC)

Where the roads meet

Francis Collins came some time back. For the uninitiated, he is the reigning director of the National Institutes of Health, US. He is known for his contribution towards making the Human Genome Project a grand success, the benefits of which we are still reaping, nearly a decade after the project was officially declared complete.
I was supposed to write about his talk. That is precisely what I’m not going to do.
Those who were interested, came for the talk. Those who were not, did not. Those who missed it due to unavoidable circumstances (sheiβe!), I’m sure you’ll find a video link somewhere.
What I remember telling myself was, “Hmm… fancy chemistry and even fancier and scarier ( I can understand if people believe there can’t be anything scarier than chemistry) machines”. Francis was training to be a chemist. He shifted gears mid-way. He went into medicine. Time for another shift – he jumped into genetics. The ease with which he played around with molecular genetics (for the biologists – he was part of the team responsible for the seminal papers on ‘chromosome jumping’) was probably because of his background in chemistry. Don’t get me wrong – I believe the blue blooded biologist can do the same….all I am suggesting is that a different background might have given him that extra something.
This brings me to what I really want to share with you guys, and that would be the interdisciplinary nature of things. Francis might have been a one man army but, often the complicated nature of the questions we seek to answer, requires a whole arsenal. At least that holds true for the current era of biological research and I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon.
I remember sitting and listening to my roommate, enthralled and mesmerized, about ‘schlieren photography’. A few weeks later I was attending a talk at NCBS and there was this sticky little irritating question which the speaker was unable to answer. The answer to me was, “use schlieren photography”. I am sure I was wrong. What I am pretty confident about, is that the general direction in which I was thinking, was not wrong. A senior PhD student from MRDG was telling me that initially it was thought that the most pressing questions in biology can be answered through physics and chemistry alone. But, slowly biology bloomed into an independent art and commanded her own niche. We are going to hit a roadblock soon enough if these niches don’t start communicating.
Today the undergraduates are exposed to a plethora of subjects and are discouraged from over specializing at an early age. There are pros and cons to it but that makes for another article. My generation of wanna-be-biologists didn’t have that luxury. To them I say – Collaboration. But most importantly, step a little into the world of your collaborator, get your feet dirty in the opaque and muddy techniques used by them, get a glimpse of their frustrations and steal a peak of how they view the world. The reason for it is simple, though your collaborator will be doing a certain part of your research for you, the mental and cultural isolation that the two camps suffer from, might elude a certain interpretation of the data.
Interdisciplinary research (as opposed to ‘multidisciplinary research’, where one individual dons various hats) isn’t a very alien concept. Big biotech and pharmaceutical companies have been practicing this model of research for years. They tend to quickly assemble a team of the required super specialists and embark on solving tortuous and torturous problems. ‘Holistic’ campuses like ours are a gold mine to do this sort of research. In most universities, departments pertaining to different disciplines might be in two different cities altogether but, that is not the case with us. Other scientists are also waking up to this one simple fact – get diversity under one roof. The Janelia Farm Research Campus is one such bold initiative, where scientists from different walks of life are brought together to solve perplexing biomedical dilemmas.
Even the ‘one lab-one PI’ dogma is being re-evaluated. A graduate student from Toronto recently visited my lab. He was working under two guides in McGill – one was from biomedical engineering and the other from neuroscience. We are seeing this change even on our own turf. There are students who report to two scientists – a friend of mine has to report to both the centre for neuroscience and the department of mathematics. My batch mates and I might not be as malleable as the undergraduates, but this system seems to be quite profitable.
Intro courses for some subjects might be specially started (if there is demand for them) to help graduate students familiarize themselves with other areas of research. ‘Mathematics and Statistics for Biologists’ is one such course the campus offers but, I am sure many more can be looked at. Also, we are lucky to be in ‘academia central’ – surrounded by institutes working on “all sorts of weird things!”. Opportunities are galore. We just need to look around a little and keep an open mind. And all anecdotal evidence points to the fact that interdisciplinary research can be intellectually very stimulating.
This is a campus where all the roads meet and I, for one, have no intentions of walking alone.

Anindo Chatterjee (CNS)

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s talk at IISc

Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam graced our institute on 7th and 8th November, 2011. He visited the Chellakere campus, had a special interactive session with the institute’s undergraduate batch. He inaugurated the Robert Bosch Center for Research in Cyber Physical Systems and later gave a talk to a packed J N Tata Auditorium on 8th November, 2011.
Starting proceedings at the J N Tata Auditorium, Associate Director Professor N Balakrishnan gave the introductory speech. Director Prof P Balaram welcomed Dr Kalam and referred to the thunderous applause that welcomed Dr Kalam into the auditorium and stated that the only way the Director may get an applause when he enters the Auditorium is if he is accompanied by Dr Kalam.
The theme of the talk was “Evolving a unique you”. Dr Kalam started by speaking about the beginning of IISc. He spoke about his experiences with Prof Satish Dhawan, theclasses that he attended, the way they worked on a project to design a contrarotating propellor and mentioned Prof Satish Dhawan’s advice: “In a project, problems will always occur. You should master them”.
Dr Kalam held the audience spellbound with his charisma and had the entire audience (comprising of grown up researchers) reciting his oaths with childlike sincerity and enthusiasm.
He listed the criteria for building a unique personality. 1. Have a great aim (Small aim is a crime) 2. Continuously acquire knowledge, through great books, teachers, wise people and good internet 3.Work hard and 4. Persevere. He added that IISc will provide a conducive environment to become a “unique you”.
APJ gave the example of Prof Satish Dhwan and listed out the essential qualities a leader should have. 1. Leader must have vision. 2. Leader must have passion to transform vision into action. 3. Must be able to travel into unexplored path. 4. Must have nobility in management 5. Must work with intergrity and succeed with integrity. 6. Must be a creative leader
In conclusion, Dr Kalam asked everyone in the audience to think about what we would like to be remembered for and to write it down on a page. This was followed by a vibrant question and answer session.
Finally, the vote of thanks was delivered by Associate Director Prof Balakrishnan

Voices Press
Illustration: Aravind Krishnan (SERC)

NBD: A Misguided Effort?

The goal is to reduce the high drop out rate recorded among the students of primary classes in the government schools. [voices: NBD]
=> There could be two ways:
1. Imposition: It is related to the drop out due to circumstantial constraints or impositions. It is a difficult one as it involves the society in general and out of scope for NBD. Typically, the economic constraints of the family force the kids to drop out.
2.Choice: So let us just focus on retaining the enrolled students. Further, rather than just retaining the number let us focus on igniting the interest in learning and facilitating the quality learning.

“Since the government of Karnataka provides books and uniforms free of cost to its primary class students, NBD decided to take care of their annual stationery requirements which include notebooks, cursive writing books, drawing kits, geometry boxes, stationery items, sports materials, library books and so on. As this drive spreads, NBD hopes that no child will be bereft of basic education due to economic constraints.” [NBD]

=> What a creative step to reduce the drop out rate! Where the Government effort to provide the primary accessories like infrastructure, manpower and organization and economic incentives like free books and uniforms, fee weavers and scholarships is failing to the cause, we the genius students of premier research institute called IISc envision that by providing the secondary accessories like stationary items, sports materials and “library” books will improve the scenario. And this is fuelled by the money collected from the IISc community which pays thinking it’s for a “good cause”. No doubt about the intentions and the marginal achievements. The act of individuals satisfying their itch to do something for society is perpetuated by the volunteers by converting these funds into material objects and giving them away to the poor and deserving students. Well, something is better than nothing. But why, when we can think.

The next attempt is to educate the school kids in the subjects they are lagging e.g. English language; and extra-curricular activities like dance as part of the personality development. Now, this is done by the volunteers spending few hours on weekends with these kids.
=> Rather than creating an alternate system for education which by its nature and working is limited and demanding a lot of money from donors and effort from volunteers for scaling and sustaining, why don’t we put these resources to update and strengthen the existing system.

What happens when a group of volunteers such as NBD goes to school to help? To The School Administrators and teachers: The very action says “you are incompetent and we the smart ones with good heart are going to fix your
broken system with the money we collected”. A typical head master of a primary school knows, respects and more importantly fears a brand like IISc and this allows you to step over his territory: physical and professional.
Of course, not whole heartedly, may be with some few exceptions. Again, as long as you do it on weekends it is not really much concern to them. And help with good intentions is always welcome. But at what cost and to
what end?
To The Students: It’s exciting, fun and marginally helpful financially and academically. Is it worth the effort?

Issues and some thoughts on resolutions:

Sustainability: The approach taken is clearly not sustainable and even if it is at considerably high cost.
Why? Compare the amount of resources and efforts put by volunteers against the government resources and efforts. Well, the comparative outputs might be a point of argument but again only indicates the difference in approach if any.

Consider giving these inputs to the facilitating agents (school infrastructures, teachers, families of the students) rather than the end users (individual students). e.g. Rather than teaching the students, educate the teachers so that they can do the job you intend to do more effectively. Rather than giving the financial incentives to the students
give them to these agents. The equation is simple: students come to get educated and teachers come to get paid. Rather than donating the resources invest them in sustainable ways. e.g. Books to library, relevant softwares, videos, and other relevant resources for school computers so that the teachers-students can use them repeatedly over a period of time without any external support. Rather than teaching students find out what’s wrong with the existing methods employed by the teachers; work with them to improve the existing setup rather than trying to create an alternative. Improve the personality of the teachers and the students will follow. Despite goodwill and intelligence of volunteers, they cannot give as much time as the teachers give. Avoid competing with teachers for you are not. Rather than inviting students to IISc, invite their teachers, discuss with them, learn from them and help them improving the educational system itself. Expose them to the new successful experiments in the field of

Teachers have an attitude and not very supportive to us:
=> They are insecure. Your approach is not of trust building. They have no incentives for complying with you. Develop it. Give them respect and admiration and then reward them for positive feedback from and improvement of students. Help them doing their job in a better way rather than doing their job.

Teachers’ ego comes in the way.
=> Or ours’? Any teacher in the right spirit of his duty would like to see his/her students performing better. So theoretically there is no conflict. Practically, if the teachers get sufficient incentives: social (recognition, respect), economic (rewards) and sense of achievement the ego will be replaced with pride. Perseverance and patience shall pay. Get involved the respected personalities from government, public, private to convince, communicate
and collaborate.

One student taught. One student learns.
One teacher taught. Generations of students learn.

Attempts to understand the claims by NBD

“If the poor does not go to education, then the education should be brought to him.” ~ Swami Vivekanand [NBD]
=> Education. Not the resources such as accessories.

“This is a student run volunteer group in Indian Institute of Science whose objective is to provide notebooks, stationery etc. to poor students who otherwise have to dropout of their schools simply because in trying to
fill their stomachs, they fall short of money to buy notebooks.” [NBD]
=> Says Who?

The following links from the first page of search results from Google on “India school dropout” should be helpful particularly the last link.

Thank you for reading. I am not interested in defending my opinions. If any part of this is worth in your understanding kindly try to implement by aligning your efforts.

Avinash Dawari (CPDM)

Response to NBD: A Misguided Effort?

We sincerely appreciate the various points of concern Avinash has raised about Notebook Drive (NBD). At the very beginning, we would like to make it clear that several issues raised by Avinash and many other similar points have been the subject of intense discussion in many of the NBD meetings. In NBD we are continuously scrutinizing and improving our modus operandi in the best possible way to address these. Through this mail, we would once again like to appeal to Avinash and others who are bogged by such issues to actively join us and be a part of NBD.

Notebook Drive (NBD) was started in 2002 with the objective of providing notebooks, stationery etc. (which are not provided by the government. as a part of any of their education policies) to financially constrained government school students in and around Bangalore. Starting with one school in IISc campus, we have expanded to 26 schools in 4 districts. We have observed over the years that many children are very dependent on the notebooks and stationary which are more relevant in primary schools than library books, computers, softwares etc. They could be given in addition to and not in replacement of notebooks etc is what we feel from our interaction with children and teachers (and we have setup libraries, given sports items, etc). Notebooks and stationeries are the major education tools missing from the list of government support and NBD is just trying to plug-in this gap. As a part of our goal to improve the quality of education, the group has decided not to increase or change the schools we support (since 2009) which gives an assurance to the school authorities and more importantly has helped to build trust and cooperation for the group in these schools.

Meanwhile, with increasing efforts from the government in supporting the students with school uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals and even bicycles to girl students, the group gradually realised that the efforts shouldn’t be restricted to just notebooks andstationery. With newer volunteers and higher collections, innovative ideas were added on to the agenda with an aim of improving the overall quality of education [NBD Newsletter 2011]. Our initiatives in this regard include conducting annual science fairs, mentoring kids for Science Projects, providing scholarships, improving their English communication skills, teacher training programmes (at a preliminary level) and workshops on Fine Arts as a part of Childrens’ day celebrations. (For more details on our initiatives, kindly go through our annual newsletter 2011

The activities of NBD are not about satisfying the itch to do something for society. Beginning from our major event of distribution of notebooks to screening the right candidates for scholarship to mentoring kids for science projects and organizing science fairs, all involves a great deal of planning and preparation from the volunteers side and are not done overnight. As a part of our association with Science NGO, Agastya International Foundation ( NBD volunteers had visited their Kuppam Campus to help them on their existing science models as well as ideas for new ones, which will help the larger target they serve.

Some of the efforts of NBD are towards updating the existing education system. Teacher training programmes have always been on the cards since many years, but organizing one involves great amounts of effort and is expensive. Teachers unlike kids will not be willing to come on Sundays (that’s when the volunteers are free) to interact. And it is quite difficult for volunteers to travel every weekend also. Hence even though our ideals might be high it comes down to the problem of logistics.

In one of our preliminary attempts for training teachers, NBD had associated with IEEE and Microsoft this year. 10 science teachers from NBD supported High schools attended the training program conducted by them in Bangalore with NBD paying the TA/DA for the teachers within Bangalore and all other requirements being taken care by IEEE and Microsoft. We of course plan to organize an annual teachers training programme for teachers in NBD supported schools in the coming years. Also in one of our recent meetings, a suggestion for celebrating Teachers ’ Day to appreciate their efforts had come up which we will be implementing. Rewarding teachers is definitely a good idea that needs to be implemented. Provision of sports facilities, library facilities (post annual survey of the amenities they have), dictionaries also are a part of improving their resources. One of our efforts towards reducing the dropout of students after completion of their 10th standard is by providing scholarship for their higher education. Around 15 students are currently continuing their education successfully with our scholarship provided by donors from campus. We are even planning to conduct career guidance sessions for students of High schools supported by NBD in the month of February.

Your take on how the school administration feels when NBD volunteers visit their school is purely a personal opinion as our experiences mostly suggest otherwise. We wish to make it clear that our weekly activities are for sure volunteer intensive but not financially demanding. Some of the practical limitations that NBD face are the requirement of Kannada speaking volunteers for the effectiveness of many of the activities and time constraints.

Your point about the sustainability of our initiatives is well taken. This point has come up in many of our NBD discussions and meetings and before the implementation of any new initiative, we do discuss about its sustainability and every decision is taken based on the consensus. Also, the support from the volunteers that we have been getting for all our initiatives definitely holds promise for the sustainability of these events.

With whatever resources (time, manpower and money) we have currently, this is definitely worth the (small) effort. Of course, this can be scaled and modified further depending on the need of the hour, which will require a lot of teamwork, thinking big and making bold decisions. With constructive discussions in the group, we are open for that too. Our annual newsletter summarizing activities for the year 2011-2012 will be published in March, which will definitely update you on our group objectives and initiatives. Also we have begun a forum as a part of our NBD website (will be official soon) which we hope will serve as a platform to obtain feedback on our activities and suggestions from all to improve our efforts.

Notebook Drive Team

Deluded Delusion!

“Fantasy” alleged:
I turned off
The light-
The world went dark!
I turned on
The light-
The world was still dark!
Was that-
The light-
That veiled the veracity?
Was that-
The darkness-
That engulfed the truth!
The truth-
Of ‘Nothing’ exists!
-Are illusory!
Still I was searching-
“No” for each ‘yes’!
I trust-
The beauty-if
A blind man describes
The Love- if
A heartless heart worships!
“Reality” whispered:

Pulling the castle of cards-
From the distant sky]
“Perish- The world will
A traveller next to you
You are lucky-
That you are, amongst the few
For, you know the truth-
The dark exists-
So does the light!
For, you know the illusion
Lies right inside you!
Yes !
They are the turns
That shall drive you-
To the fate!
An allegory-
Of delusion!
A mirage to
Those who loves to hate!
A voice in You-
Chants a hymn!
The clamor outside
A delusion!”

Sanjeeta Sharma Pokharel “Hridayaninadini” (CES)

An appeal to the institute community


I am prompted to raise my voice being motivated mainly by a recent incident. One of the hot water taps in a bathroom in the New Hostel Block started leaking one fine day. The usual washer problem, I think. In the initial few days, the quantity of leakage could be kept low by expertly tying a cloth onto the tap. That day itself, i had gone to that electrical, water supply complaints office to write down a complaint. The room was open though there was no one in it at that time. Anyway, I wrote it down and came back. Nothing happened for the next two weeks and once again, I went to the room and this time found a person sitting there. When i told him about the complaint, he said the rules are now changed and what they do now is to simply forward whatever complaints they receive to someone in the main hostel office. So, I went on to meet this person and asked him about the complaint. He initially responded,” Oh, which bathroom?” and on telling-“There? It has already been done, isn’t it?”. On insisting that nothing has been done and that the leakage has reached alarming proportions ( I think this is due to some people who open the tap and don’t care to properly tie the same with the cloth) he jotted down the bathroom number and said that it will be done. Now, one week has passed and again I go to the office and meet this person who now says he has forwarded it to someone else. “You see, it is company material and not local one. It is high standard and we have to wait till we get it.” I got pissed off and said that the institute does indeed maintain great standards in addressing a complaint. I heard that in the newest block also, leakage problems have started already. Wonder when any worker in our country will try to put full commitment in whatever job he is doing so as to make it perfect. Anyway, as a good institute I feel we should set an example and I would appeal to the community to act now.

To the students, security persons, faculty, all office persons, and everyone else not among the above four:
I feel we, the students, as the future of India, should set an example and avoid wastage of water & electricity. Please make sure you switch off all lights, fans etc. when you leave your room. The faculty have made it a habit not to switch off their systems or lights, fans etc. when they leave their offices. Not only here, it was the same story in my UG college also. Again, make sure lights are switched off and taps are properly closed as you leave the bathroom. Most of the people who come for cleaning the bathrooms everyday and also security people who frequent the bathrooms do not care to switch off the lights. Also, the office people, please, don’t tell me that IISc office is just another government office. I am tired of this attitude.

Sunder Ram K (EE)