The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 26-05-2023 | 11:45 am
(‘A Lesson from IIT’ is a weekly column by an IIT faculty member on learning, science and technology on campus and beyond. The column appears every Friday.)— Neeldhara MishraMy earliest exposure to the notion of being an engineer was in school through a popular clip called the “Knack” from the animated show Dilbert. In it, a doctor is diagnosing a kid with a condition involving extreme intuition for all things mechanical and electrical. It is implied that having the knack is not compatible with a normal life, with the kid now destined to “be an engineer”. This causes his mother to experience much concern and grief. This inspired me to keep a polite but firm distance from all things engineering, conveniently including the entrance exams meant to unlock the gates of the IITs.Now, let’s get to the present context. College admissions are rife with two types of scenarios that are less than ideal: students ending up in programs that are not their cup of tea, and students missing out on experiences that would have been right up their alley. These mismatches are cumulatively expensive: there is the price paid in misallocated resources. Consequently, there is the personal cost of training for programmes that eventually turn out to be a poor fit.Read | Are NCERT textbooks enough for JEE Advanced preparation? IIT Delhi professor explainsSome of this can be mitigated with an appreciation of what these programs entail, and what the campuses have to offer. The IITs are known predominantly for their undergraduate programs in the traditional engineering disciplines. However, several of them also host excellent programmes in the sciences. Further, there are an increasing number of undergraduate programs that have interdisciplinary themes (such as the BTech programme in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering with specialisation in Smart Infrastructure at IIT Jodhpur) and a focus on emerging technologies and areas (for instance, the BTech program in Artificial Intelligence at IIT Hyderabad or the undergraduate program in Design at IIT Delhi).Currently, awareness about these opportunities is mostly a heady mix of word of mouth, Quora answers, vibes from coffee-table conversations at coaching centres, and placement statistics on popular media. Impressions of what campus life entails is also largely a combination of imagination fueled by things seen in the media. However, if you are a prospective student or a parent of one, you would do well to go beyond these secondary sources of intelligence and get some first-hand experience.Most IITs host open days every so often — these are special days when the campuses are open to anyone to walk in, and professors and students from the organisation delight in sharing what they are up to with accessible demonstrations or lab tours. A recent example is the G20-Ignite Sci-Tech fair which hosted hundreds of school students at the IIT Gandhinagar campus. Often, even one such experience can trigger an inner calling, helping you identify the thing you want to do for life – or at least for a substantial duration.You could also go beyond the glimpses offered by open days. Watch out for opportunities to collaborate over small projects. For example, the Center for Creative Learning at IIT Gandhinagar welcomes high school students for short term projects over summer, and students who do well in courses on the NPTEL platform have a shot at internships with the instructors of those courses. Many professors delight in talking to students: check out the various seasons of Talk to a Scientist, for example. You can also ask your school to reach out to professors at nearby institutions for an interactive session, or approach organisations like INYAS that focus deeply on outreach activities at the school level. Finally, several IITs also host bootcamps, hackathons, and so on: they are usually announced on their websites and social media channels, so keep an eye out for these.A Lesson from IIT | Coaching institutes disregard critical thinking and holistic education, writes IIT Delhi professorHaving said all this, a choice of career – or more immediately, a branch or stream – does not have to be prompted necessarily by an intense love at first sight. The routes leading to your final pursuit(s) can be potentially meandering, and not having an inner voice abundant in clarity should be no cause for alarm. Examples of this abound, and I’ll share a representative one. Ronald Graham is arguably best-known as an American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to combinatorics. Because his father worked in various jobs related to oil fields and shipbuilding, he moved schools often. He did not study in any school for more than eighteen months and often studied in grades higher than what would have been normal for his age.At the age of 15, Graham won a Ford Foundation scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he spent three years learning gymnastics. Because of his outstanding performance in math on the scholarship examinations, he did not (have to) take any mathematics courses. After the duration of the scholarship, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in electrical engineering. During this time, a one-off number theory course with D H Lehmer “fired his imagination for the subject”. After four subsequent years in the Air Force, during which he also earned a B.S. in physics, he returned to UC Berkeley where he completed his Ph.D. in mathematics with D H Lehmer as his thesis advisor.All this is to say that life can be — and typically is — highly non-linear. I would argue that as much as we like to imagine being in control, planning one’s future down to summer-vacation-wise bucket lists is perhaps somewhat excessive. Your first branch and your first job does not have to be your last: for more evidence, I recommend reading Tim Ferriss’ book, Tribe of Mentors. Now, you might be prone to making your choices after optimising for a dozen variables or more, or you might prefer leaving your destiny to the gods of randomness. I believe somewhere in between, there is an approach more reasonable than either extreme: make an informed choice after investing a finite amount of your own time and energy into understanding what actually lies in store.The IITs are now far from being the only ticket to the good life and a powerful alumni network: if these are your main motivators, you might consider exploring less painful pathways to the same outcomes. If not, allow yourself the space to let your instincts come to the fore, and follow them to make your choices. This will maximize the chances that you will end up in a meaningful journey that involves truly enjoying what the programs have to offer, instead of being in a situation where you have simply transitioned from one rat race into another.
With just the clothes on their backs, M Joy Singh and his family of five fled their home in the hill district of Kangpokpi and arrived at a relief camp in Imphal West’s Lamboi Khongnakhong on May 7. They have been there ever since and see little hope of returning anytime soon, even as the violence that started on May 3 continues across the state.They are among the thousands of families currently in relief camps across the state, many of whom have been living as refugees within their own state for close to a month now.As of June 2, there were 37,450 people living in relief camps across 13 districts. And with the continuing incidents of shooting and arson, particularly in the areas at the border of valley and hill districts, this number is rising by the day.The relief camp in which M Joy Singh and his family are being housed is located in a government school. Set up by local residents from a group called Indigenous Development Mission, it is much smaller than many other camps — housing 67 people from 22 families, most from Kangpokpi district and a few from Churachandpur district. Because the school campus is small, organisers say they are already running over capacity and have not taken in any new people since May 24.“The provisions for the camp are mostly being donated by different NGOs and clubs. They have been asking us about our needs and contributing. We have also been receiving some basic provisions from the government’s side,” said S Milan Singh, one of the organisers. Since May 12, they have received 18 bags of rice, three bags of dal, a few bags of salt, potatoes and onions, three tins of cooking oil and 22,000 litres of water from the district administration.In Churachandpur, Kennedy, part of the Kuki Khanglai Lompi group which runs 50 relief camps in the district, said meeting basic needs is a daily challenge amid the swelling numbers and soaring heat. On Saturday evening itself, more than 100 people arrived at the camps from Moljol village. Currently, he said, there are more than 6,500 people living in these camps, set up in schools, churches and community halls. Another 2,000 people are living in relatives’ homes but depend upon the group for food rations.“Different stakeholders are providing us with supplies. There are other civil society organisations, the church, private organizations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the district administration… Right now, providing medicines to the people is a big challenge for us, especially since a lot of people are getting sick because of the heat,” he said. More than anything, however, it is the future that worries him.“We can’t just keep feeding them every day. Ultimately, people will need their own livelihood again,” he said.Back in Imphal, M Joy Singh — who was a teacher in a private school — said that for him, rehabilitation would ideally mean returning to Kangpokpi with protection so that he can restart his life there. “I have lived all my life there. My parents and grandparents have been cremated there. I don’t want to lose the place where I was brought up, but I fear it may take more than one or two years to return,” he said.At another relief camp in Imphal, M Baby, whose home was in Churachandpur town and who has been in the camp since May 10, said that her family would prefer a fresh start in the valley.“We came with nothing but our clothes. But there is nothing to go back to, everything is destroyed,” she said.According to the Deputy Collector of one of the districts concerned, there are primarily two sets of people in relief camps with differing long-term needs. People who have moved to the relief camps from border areas of the same districts, and those who have come from other districts dominated by people from another community.“Those from fringe villages will probably eventually go back. It is more challenging for the other displaced group. Until the question of where they will be resettlement is tackled, we want to at least find a better place for them to live where they can have some privacy and live as family units instead of all together, which is something we are working towards,” said the official.Among the inmates of the Lamboi relief camp are 14 children. While schools across the state have been shut since the start of the violence and will continue to remain closed till at least June 15, a small respite for the children is that some volunteer teachers have been visiting the camp for the past two weeks to conduct some informal classes for a few hours for them.
TBSE Tripura Madhyamik, HS Results 2023: The Tripura Board of Secondary Education (TBSE) will declare the board exam results for Class 10 or HS and Class 10 or Madhyamik today at 12 pm. Students who appeared for the exam, can check their results at the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.This year, the Tripura Higher Secondary or Class 12 final exams began on March 15 and ended on April 19. While Class 10 exams began on March 16 and concluded on April 18.Step 1: Visit the official website— tripuraresults.nic.in.Step 2: Click on the result link on the website for your respective classStep 3: Enter your credentials such as roll number and date of birthStep 4: View and download the resultA total of 112 exam centres were set up for Class 12 exams. All the exams were conducted in one shift. For Class 10, a total of 162 centres were set up for 43,503 students to appear for the exams.Unlike last year, this year, the exams were held only once. In 2022, the exams were held in two terms and final results were declared on July 6.
The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court, which asked Lucknow University’s Astrology department to look into the horoscope of a woman to verify the claim by a man whom she had accused of raping her on the promise of marriage. The man has claimed he backed out after learning of “problems” in her horoscope — that she is “manglik”.A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal, which took suo motu cognisance of the May 23 order of a single bench of HC, stayed the order and asked HC to decide it on its own merits. The high court intervened after Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud took note of the matter.“At this stage, we say nothing on the merits of the case, except that in the interest of justice, the operation and effect of this order so far as it gives directions to the Head of the Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University must be stayed…In the meanwhile, there shall be stay of the operation and effect of the order dated 23rd May, 2023 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench),” the bench said in its order.The top court said that while it respects the sentiments of the parties on astrology and astronomy, what happened was “totally out of context” and involved issues of privacy, etc.Though the Supreme Court is on summer recess, the special bench in this regard was set up on the instructions of Chief Justice Chandrachud, who is currently overseas. The CJI took cognisance of the reports in this connection and directed early Saturday morning that a bench be set up immediately to consider it.The high court order came while hearing the man’s bail plea.Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the order is “disturbing” and urged the court to stay it.He told the bench: “Astrology is a science. Whether a person should decide based on manglik or not in marriage, nobody is questioning. The only question is while entertaining an application by a judicial forum, can this be a consideration?”The counsel appearing for the complainant woman informed the bench that the HC order “happened by consent of both parties, and the court directed for expert evidence under Section 45 of Evidence Act”. He also pointed out that universities are now granting degree on the subject of Astrology, and it is a science.“But this was totally out of context,” Justice Dhulia said, referring to the HC order. “What has this got to do with the subject matter?… It involves so many other features; the right to privacy has been disturbed. We don’t want to spell out — there are so many other aspects.” The judge said: “We are not challenging anything. We are only on the subject matter in this context.”The counsel for the victim pointed out that it was argued that the marriage cannot be solemnised since the woman is manglik, which, some believe is unfavourable for marriages. “That’s why the court ordered. It is not out of context. It was the issue before the court,” the counsel said.Justice Dhulia, however, said, “We do not want to join issues with you on this fact as to what is the relevance of these aspects, what astronomy has to do, what astrology has to do, nothing. We have nothing on that. We respect your feelings as far as that aspect is concerned. We are only concerned with this subject matter linking to that issue”.S-G Mehta said while adjudicating the issue, the competent court cannot examine such a thing.The complainant’s counsel said the petitioner had taken the plea that the marriage cannot be solemnised. “Half-part of the ceremony was done. After that, they backed out on the question of manglik. This was argued,” he said.Justice Mithal said, “We have stayed the order and permitted the court to decide bail application on its merits. We don’t understand why this astrology report is called for.”
ALMOST 50 years ago, when Anu Aga moved to Pune from Mumbai with her husband and settled down on the Boat Club road, the city welcomed her with open arms — and lots of fish.“The Mula Mutha was a flowing water body with aquatic life. Back then, it was a pleasure to be located next to the river and see the boating, and fishermen catching fish. In fact, we used to buy small fish from those fishermen. Those were delicious,” says Aga.Today, 80-year-old Aga is better known as the former chairperson of Thermax, the sustainable energy solutions provider, and spends her time reading, travelling, sharing precious moments with family and friends, and contributing to various social causes — including saving Pune’s rivers.“Over the past many years, I have seen the city grow. I recall my husband and I occasionally rode bicycles to dinners from our house on Boat Club road to Aundh or Koregaon Park. After dinner, they would take a lift home from friends and have the cycles picked up the next morning. For cycling, I could wear only one dress and I used to call it my cycling uniform. Today, with the indisciplined traffic and lack of cycle tracks, it would be suicidal,” she says.“As far as safety is concerned, Pune was and is a relatively safe city and I felt comfortable driving back alone till midnight. But me being a bad driver, my family has forbidden me from driving at night — for the safety of others on the road,” Aga says with a smile.Company in crisis, sleepless nightsAga’s memories of Pune are also tinged with sorrow and stress. In 1966, when her husband passed away, the Thermax board insisted that she take over the role of Executive Chairperson. “Having been in HR prior to being the Chairperson, our employees knew me well and wanted me to succeed. Even the outside world was very supportive. In those days, there were employees who proudly stated that this was their first and the last job. But today, youngsters think that staying with any company for even five years brings down their market value,” she exclaimed.Soon after she took over — the company had gone public a year before her husband’s death — the economy went through a downturn. “Thermax’s performance started slipping and the share which was quoted at 400 tumbled to 36. I got an anonymous letter from a shareholder saying we had let him down. For the Aga family, ‘letting down’ anyone was a dirty word and I went through sleepless nights,” she says.She then convinced the board to engage Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to find the way forward. At the time, Thermax had diversified into many non-core businesses like IT, electronics, bottled water, which added to the top line but eroded profits. “We were, perhaps, the first company to enter IT but had no clue how to run those businesses. In order to come out of those non-core businesses, many divisions had to close down and several employees were asked to leave. Thanks to the graciousness of those employees, they left without bitterness. If I meet them even today, they do not hold a grudge against the company,” she says.Those were very difficult days, Aga says, but Thermax managed a turnaround. “Some of the most difficult decisions I had to make was to decide whether the family wanted to be board members or executives. Until this point, my daughter Meher and her husband Pheroz were in charge of businesses and were board members but it was decided that they had to choose one. They were very upset to be pushed to make this choice and decided to be board members. Today, they feel it is the best decision they have made for themselves and for the company,” she says.An unusual encounter on Main StreetAs for life in Pune, Aga has an unusual anecdote to share. During one of her visits to Main Street in the Camp area, she saw a group of young boys begging. “I had seen them doing this very often but on that day I asked them why they were not going to school. They gave a big yarn that their parents had forced them to bring a certain amount of money home every day and if given an opportunity, they would love to study. Two brothers even took me to their parents,” she said, pointing out that her own children were young at the time.“I explained the situation and the parents were delighted that they could stay with me and attend school. I gave the parents my address, took them home and enrolled them in a municipal school nearby since no private school would admit these kids who did not know how to read or write,” she says.Then came an unexpected twist. “They went to school for about a week. But one evening, they did not come home. The same day, their parents came to meet the children. Some of my friends, who were visiting, cautioned that it could be blackmail. But I intuitively knew it was a coincidence. I went to Main Street, found the two children there and returned them to their parents. A few days later, when I met the brothers again, I asked why they did not come back home that day. They replied that they valued their freedom more than anything — an answer that thrilled my husband,” recalls Aga.An end and a new beginningAccording to Aga, the family’s philanthropic journey started with an incident that involved her son, Kurush. “He returned to India after studying and working abroad for eight years. He was extremely keen that a substantial part of our earnings should go towards social causes. To make his point, he threatened that if I did not do as he wanted, he would go back abroad. I hated doing anything out of compulsion and calmly told him that he was free to leave. But later Kurush apologised, and the family agreed that now that they had dividend income, they should seriously look at giving. Soon after this conversation, Kurush died in a car accident at the age of 25,” she recalls.To honour Kurush’s wish, Aga started looking for NGOs she could associate with. Soon, she met Shaheen Mistri, the social activist and educationist, and was drawn by her passion for educating the underprivileged. “Meher and I were invited on the boards of Akanksha Foundation and Teach for India,” says Aga. “Thus started my philanthropic journey.”
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) Saturday claimed that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration agreed to its student unit’s demands of an immediate notification for the PhD admission process, the ‘Barak’ hostel allotment, hostel renovation and library maintenance after its hours-long protest. “After the protest began in the school area at 10 am (Saturday), the students surrounded the dean of students. Even after sitting for eight hours, when the dean did not respond satisfactorily, the students exerted pressure to summon the registrar and vice-chancellor. Eventually, the registrar, both the rectors and the dean came together and had to yield to all the demands of the students,” said an ABVP statement.ABVP unit president Umesh Chandra Ajmeera said the admission process for PhD would commence in the next 10 to 12 days. Within six weeks of the start of the next session, the process for student union elections will be completed, he added.From this week onwards, the process for University Grants Commission (UGC) recognition will begin for the Ayurveda Biology course in the undergraduate programme. It has been running without recognition for the past three years. The PhD programme in Management, which was discontinued, will also resume in the next academic year, he saidHe added that the allocation process for the new hostel, which is almost ready under the name ‘Barak’, will begin in July.