Blog Archives

When S*** Becomes A Parliamentary Word

Should there be a decorum for the editorial of a campus newsletter? Isn’t it unworthy of the newsletter to have an uncivilised word like s*** in its title? It reminds me of an interesting debate in the British Parliament where a lady MP got away with the word as “it is appropriate to use that word as a noun, but not as an adjective”. Hence, I think I am perfectly justified when I use the s*** word to raise my grievances about the rivulets of sewage that are found flowing in the campus, especially near the eating places, making it the smell of IISc.

The man hole near the back gate of CPDM constantly overflows into Tea Board. The man hole close to the coffee counter in Prakruthi and the one opposite Nesara also overflow occasionally. The hygiene in C-Mess used to be worse until sometime back. Thankfully, the problem in the mess has been resolved. Some of the other troublesome places are the ones near Juice Centre and near N Block, on road to Gymkhana. The one next to Krithika, on way to Mrigashira, is so infamous that it now acts as a traffic island.

It is not that people are insensitive. Sometime back, it was interesting to observe some professors from MRDG once clear the overflowing man hole behind Bio-Chem and in front of MRDG.

Suggesting a solution to this menace is beyond the scope of this editorial. But Voices does hope that the administration takes note of the situation and comes up with a lasting solution.

Photo from Voices archives

Photo from Voices archives

When there was sewage leak inside C-mess an year back

When there was sewage leak inside C-mess an year back

Shyam (MGMT)
Photo credits: Jim Reeves David (Mech Engg) and Rupesh Nasre (CSA)

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The Idea of a Food Special Issue

The idea for a food special came up when I was in the Students’ Council 2009-2010 reunion party. Alexander Fell (SERC), who headed the Volunteers Committee came up with this brilliant idea. The Voices assigned team would visit restaurants all over the city, volunteering to publicise the place and in that pretext explore new dishes and new places. The plan did not work out. But the idea triggered Madhurima, our former editor, (along with Suvasini (Alumnus, MCBL) and Ananthalakshmi (MCBL)) and the work for the food special began.

Two regrets
Personally, I have regrets over two themes not being covered in this isuue. First is that of wine and alcoholic beverages. Surprisingly, no one wanted to write on the subject. Second is that of Kerala food. Let me make a weak attempt to overcome that regret. If you are a non vegetarian, Biryani Paradise is the place you should visit to enjoy one of the best Kozhikode Biryani (or North Kerala) dishes served in the city. A first left on the road between MS Ramaiah bus stop and Mathikkere would lead to Biryani Paradise.



Kudos to Mess workers

On March 25, I got an email from Subrata Chakrabarti (Mech Engg), who wrote:

“It just occurred to me that this edition of Voices must carry a word or paragraph of appreciation for the mess staff and workers for their punctuality, hard work and emphasis on quality of the food being served during the two days (March 21 and March 22) when electricity supply was disrupted and IISc was blacked out.

I think these hapless souls engaged in a thankless job deserve this. They have earned this.”

Voices echoes Subrata’s thoughts and would like to congratulate all the three messes for the wonderful job they do, day in and day out.

Shyam (MGMT)

The man who rejected Padma Shri

It was a dream that I shared with Prathamesh to host Palagummi Sainath in the campus. I also invited him for a possible talk, which he can deliver in the campus. But it did not materialise (I mailed his old e-mail id). So it was exciting to know that Concern along with two other organisations managed to get him to the campus. Amartya Sen calls him “one of the world’s greatest experts on famine and hunger”. A cult figure for emerging journalists, he declined Padma Shri in 2009 stating that the state should not be judging journalists. You knew you were listening to someone genuine when the person did not begin with the rhetorical “It is an honour to be in the ‘prestigious’ Indian Institute of Science …”.

Surviving Academicians

Mr. Sainath, as a student in the ‘prestigious’ Jawaharlal Nehru University, was a student activist who had led many protests in the JNU campus (the Vice – Chancellor was Mr. K.R. Narayanan, who later went on to be the first citizen of the country). During the very serious discussion, there were a few lighter moments in the form of anecdotes. A Marathi journalists had once questioned Mr. Sainath, asking if alcoholism the real cause of farmer suicide. He had replied, if that was the case, then there would be no journalists alive. A slight pause was followed by, so is the case with most of the academicians.

Contrasting opinions

Voltaire, the famous philosopher, remarked “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”. Shiv Shankar Menon, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, remarked (during the IISc Golden Jubilee lecture) that the emerging technologies rests in a few corporate hands and this is not comforting. Mr. Sainath (in the discussion after the documentary screening) was arguing how the income inequality was widening and the losers in the budget are the social service sector and Agriculture. Mr. V.K. Varadarajan, former editor, Business Line, during the Panel discussion on the Union Budget (organised by Management Studies) expressed that social sector will benefit from the budget. He was possibly referring to corporate farmers and farmers cultivating cash crops.

Mr. Sainath argued that IT is not a great creator of jobs in the country. While, Mr. Vivek Kulkarni, former IT secretary, Govt of Karnataka, argued (in the panel discussion) that enough incentives are not given to IT sector in the budget. If for every 100 crores generated by the Iron and Steer industry, two percent goes as salaries, the figure is 60% in the case of IT sector.

To quote Adam Smith, the father of Modern Economics and Capitalism, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”. The floor is open for deep thought and discussion.

Shyam (Mgmt)

Snake catchers of IISc

Ashok catching the Rat Snake from the backyard of the Placement centre

The chance of spotting a live Cobra (as told to me by my colleagues) in the wild took me to the backyard of the placement office. We spotted two snakes attempting to climb to the sun shade, probably attracted by the scent of the pigeons. We were joined by Ashok and Ranjana, the last of the active snake rescue volunteers, who came with a cotton bag. We were told, to our disappointment, that we committed the common mistake of confusing between Rat Snake and Cobra. The whole exercise of catching the snakes and releasing them into the wild, aroused my curiosity and this started an interesting conversation on snakes and snake rescue activities in campus.

The earlier count of snake species in the campus based on snake sighting (led by Natasha Mhatre, Alumnus, CES) revealed the presence of 12 varieties of snakes in the campus. But since then the Common Bronze Back has been spotted in the campus. Sand Boa may also be present here. But Ashok speculates that it was to brought to the campus for research then later released, so although not a native (campus) species there is a probability of it being spotted in the campus. Cobra, Saw Scaled Viper, Russell’s Viper and Common Krait are the poisonous ones found in the campus. Saw Scaled Viper is the poisonous variety regularly spotted in the campus.

A few years back Natasha Mhatre had organised a snake rescue training for security guards, since, they are the ones who regularly come into contact with the snakes. The constant shuffling of the security personnel have resulted in guards killing the snakes than re-locating them to the wild. Some of the snakes found in the campus belong to the endangered species list. Snakes helps to keep the rodent population in check. The general ignorance on snakes may end up in us killing non poisonous snakes.

There is lack of awareness among the institute community about the snake rescue volunteers. So next time, you find a snake in your hostel or work place, please contact the snake rescue volunteers. Ashok (ashok@ces) and Ranjana (ranjana@ces) can be approached for any query on snakes or snake rescue.

Shyam (Mgmt)
Photos: Ranjana (CES)

‘Legitimate wife’ and other stories

The legitimate wife

I relate a conversation which I had with an ex-Voice-ean. I was trying to convince him of becoming a member of the IISc alumni association. The benefit of using the library facility was laughed off mercilessly. When I tried to lure him with the option of getting a hosyala guest house booked, I was in turn told about the experience of a common friend. The common friend wanted to accomodate his wife, working outside Bangalore, for somedays in the Hoysala guesthouse. He was denied a room in the guest house for the reason that wife cannot be considered his blood relation. IISc entertains only those guests who are blood relations of the students. All his efforts to convince his ‘legitimate’ marriage turned out to be futile. Common sense is indeed the most uncommonest thing around.

UG @ IISc, Bangalore, INDIA(fullstop)

We are posing a small challenge to the IISc-ians. Identify the photos given in the poster released by the UG admissions team. Also try to connect their link to IISc. If you fail to answer any despite being a part of the campus, think of the plight of the 17-18 year old prospective students viewing this poster. Strangely, all the disciplines which will be offered has got a picture and a title.

The International Relations Cell of the campus informs the reader that IISc is located in Bangalore, India(fullstop). I wonder where else will an Indian Institute be, other than in India?

Designing a poster is an art. It should have a proper balance of text, pictures and white space. For more on posters, a visit to Antz fx would be enlightening.

Raise your voice, let yourself be heard

More than an year ago when Condoleeza Rice, former Foreign Secretary, United States, was welcomed back in Stanford by The Golden Spike, the Stanford newsletter, with the headline ‘Condoleezza Rice bulls***s way through lecture’. The reason being liberals in Stanford did not approve of a professor taking a eight year sabbatical.

Do we have guts to write anything gutsy on any faculty, let alone, on any one in the top administration? I doubt that. We live in an environment of fear. We are often scared by the potential risks involved in declaring the emperor naked. As the editor of this newsletter, I believe, Voices do get noticed. Come, join and strengthen us to make Voices a reflection of yourselves. You are welcome to contact us at voices.iisc@gmail.com.

Raise your voice, let yourself be heard.

Shyam (Mgmt)

Street light facility needs to be improved

The Snake rescue volunteers in the campus claim IISc hosts around 12 species of snakes with most of them being non-venomous. The size of a venomous snake could be as small as 10-20 cms. The CES website on snakes suggests, “To avoid unnecessary encounters (with snakes), walk on lit paths at night and use closed shoes when walking in the wilder areas of campus”. All the information given in the poster is correct, except that there are few well lit roads in the campus.


The road leading from the Gymkhana cafe to the PD hostel is mostly dark at night with no street bulbs working. The walk from the Gymkhna to PD takes atleast four to five minutes. Pedestrians and cyclists find it difficult to commute to the hostel with the road full of pot holes. Of late, we have heard of snakes being spotted near PD hostel by both, the security and students. The issue of badly lit roads is not a problem of PD residents alone. The road leading from EE to Prakruti and the road between library and Physics leading to Nesara are often found to be dark with little street lighting. With the institute electricity expense crossing one crore rupees, cutting down the electricity consumption is required. But with an IISc work culture of students working late night in their labs, well lit roads are something that should not be compromised on. Let us hope that the institute administration takes up this issue very seriously.

Shyam (Mgmt)

Download July 2010 issue

Greetings to the new office bearers

What stood out in the recently concluded Students’ Council elections were the contrasting campaigning strategies adopted by both the contesting panels. Unimaginative rules always used to deny IISc-ians the excitement of an eventful election week. Team Srinidhi (Chairman candidate along with Deepak as the General Secretary candidate) needs special pat on the back for making election campaigning as colourful as possible. The poster designed by Basavaraj Talwar deserves special mention. On the other hand, Team Rishikesh (who was eventually elected the Chairman along with Suman as General Secretary) reached out to almost the entire campus asking for votes. They also made good use of the web space through their blog.

With the elections over and the new office bearers assumed charge, an introspection of the election revealed some interesting trends. If the voter turnout was impressive, the number of invalid votes was a disgrace.

As the new SC team start implementing their manifesto, it would be worthwhile to recollect a remembrance by P. Sainath on the former president K.R. Narayanan which appeared in the Hindu on November 12, 2005. In the mid 80s, when the late K.R. Narayanan was the Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, P. Sainath was a student there, active in student politics. Sainath and his colleagues subjected the former President to “dharnas, protests, marches, and other annoyances”. Years later Sainath gifted his book to the late President with the following inscription – “For my old Vice Chancellor: in the admittedly faint hope of persuading him my days on campus were not entirely wasted”. The great man replied that he never considered those days as wasted.

With the confidence that the SC and the administration will rise to the occasion dealing with both the academic and non academic problems faced by students, Voices congratulates Rishikesh Pandey and Suman Devadula for being elected as the office bearers of the Students’ Council.

Shyam (Mgmt)

Download the June 2010 issue.