Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Under the JEE System

I was pretty surprised by the fact that I could not find a single, unified picture of all the IITs, IT-BHU and ISMU, all of them being connected by the Joint Entrance Exam (IITJEE). SO, I decided to make one! Note that I could not find the logos for IITs Punjab, Patna, Mandi and Indore and hence, I assume that there is no logo. Below the question marks placed for their logo is the logo of the mentoring institute: Delhi for Punjab, Guwahati for Patna, Roorkee for Mandi and Bombay for Indore.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Privatize Air India to save it

Air India is in a pretty nasty state: the national carrier has over Rs. 10,000 cr in debt, fuel prices are rising, consumers are avoiding it, its service is terrible and its employees are going on strike! Can it get worse?

As a matter of fact, it can. The worst case scenario would be if the Government of India bails out the company using taxpayers' money. That would effectively tell the employees that they can continue their 'who cares?' attitude forever and continue to work in an inefficient, troublesome, uncompetitive manner, knowing full well that a big government package is just around the corner of any crisis in the future!

Lets face it: the first nail in Tata Air's coffin was Nehru's disastrous decision to nationalize it. And any government bailout will be the last. Air India is not competitive because the Government owns it. Now, as the company grapples with the worst crisis in its history, there is only one solution: privatize.

First, lets eliminate the dogma: Air India is not India's pride and joy (rather, it's India's shame), it is not a symbol of the nation's prosperity and people-in-power need not be given a free or subsidized Business-class ticket. The Government only represents the people of the nation, it is not the nation by itself; consequently, the Government need not own an airline company, private individuals are more than competent enough to provide that service. And lastly, privatization is not a bad word. Only after mass privatization of TV and Telecom took place did we see an eruption of TV content and mobile phones: the Government was never able to do anything worthwhile.

Air India should be privatized. Firstly, it will eliminate the Unionists, the staff who refuse to work efficiently and to their full potential because they are guaranteed a Government salary after every month. These are the people who have no dedication towards Air India, and they will not go away until it is privatized. Secondly, it will take the burden off the Government to run a loss-making company when the net fiscal deficit of the nation stands at around 13% of GDP. Thirdly, it will make Air India more competitive as the company will no longer laze around on a big Government cushion. Lastly, as a private carrier, babus will not be able to have their way and 'freeloaders' will be eliminated.

Privatizing Air India is the only way forward. Anything else is a temporary fix and the company will head back into trouble once again. Let the Prime Minister and the President have a special Air Force plane to ferry them around; apart from that, the Government has no business in owning an airline.

Feeling Indian

One of the greatest things about living in DPT-IITR (Department of Paper Technology-Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee) is the fact that we have people from every part of the country.

If you include all the students from all the years, the campus represents every state from the North East to Gujarat, from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. Of course, the people from Andhra Pradesh (the 'haddus') outnumber the rest, but still, it's here in DPT that we get to sense a feeling of Indianess: where our difference bring us closer together.

We have Tamilians living in Mumbai, Mallus in Delhi and... Bengalis who've lived in too many places to be classified into any one place :) Then we've got the guys/girls who've never been out of their respective states and are experiencing a sort of culture shock: this is India in the making!

If you ask me, every university in India should have this system. South Indians must learn Hindi while North Indians must learn to like South Indian cuisine. That's how we come together as one country, when we realise that our country has so many similarities that the differences really don't matter.

In addition, there is also the need to understand the 'real' India: those in rural areas and slums. The National Service Scheme (NSS) is just that: when we meet children and families from not-so-well-off backgrounds, we understand just how little we have seen and how far we have to go as a nation. NSS is a wonderful experience and every student must be a part of it.

PS: It amuses me when people find out that I'm a haddu, but can't understand Telugu. Then, they find out I'm Bengali, can't speak Bengali fluently, find Durga Puja boring and am vegetarian. Thanks to me, a redefinition of haddu has been necessitated in the first year! What's the point? Avoiding regionalism. I have seen too much of this country to be tied down to one place: I am Indian. That's enough.

From IPT to DPT: the New Malviya Bhawan

It's been two months since we started living in Old Malviya Bhawan: that sorry-excuse-for-a-hostel created with Swedish money. The bathrooms suck big time, most of them overflowing and then fixing themselves on their own accord. The rooms also suck, most of them infested with lizards. We've caught two snakes so far, and there might be many more to come. Toads enter our rooms freely and the campus' stray dogs consider our corridors their bedrooms. Having a roommate is a great thing, but there are few other positives.

Then, out of nowhere, comes the announcement: STUDENTS OF OLD MALVIYA BHAWAN MUST SHIFT TO THE NEW ONE BY 26-09-09! Finally!

So, the new rooms are single, with a connected balcony for two rooms (except some). The rooms are big enough for one person to live in and entertain some friends for bakr (DPT lingo for gossip). The bathrooms are ooh-la-la! Triple the size of the ones in Old Malviya Bhawan with fittings that actually work! The corridors are tiny and learning room numbers is difficult. There's no WiFi on any floor except the one for Foruth Yearites (they need it for educational purposes, that's why). Still, the great view of the Saraswai Temple, plus Deepak sir's wonderful morning bhajans (I don't know why people dislike them: they're soothing), make the new hostel perfect.

Of course, we're on the third floor and there's no elevator, but that's a price worth paying. New coolers have been ordered, but till they arrive, we need to climb down a floor to get them. The common room is in a mess but good enough to chat in. We have to walk really far to the mess, which gives it a famine-like aura, but the technical block is really close (that's not a good thing).

All-in-all, the new hostel is really nice and feels like a hostel (the old one felt like some Government staff quarters). Sure, there are the seniors right below us, but somehow, it doesn't shock us anymore. I just hope that they send us to a lower floor for the summer, before we fry to death!

Dilli!


Believe it or not, I went to IIT Delhi for their Cultural Fest, Rendezvous 09. Yes, right in my first semester, I was part of IIT Roorkee's Dramatics team that went to perform at IITD's fest.

OK, so we lost the prelims, along with Hindu College. But, so what? We got to see IITD.

IIT Delhi isn't really that big - we could walk from one corner to another (it's rectangular) in under one hour! That's impossible in IIT Roorkee (the main campus), although it's very easy in the SRE Campus. An interesting similarity does exist between IITD and DPT-IITR: while we at DPT are interrupted very few minutes by a train, IITD is interrupted by an airplane: the Safdarjung airport is right next to the place and the aircrafts fly really low!

It was a cold, cloudy Thursday morning when we - three freshers and some from second and third years - boarded an auto for the station. Like good students, we forgot the tickets, but a phone call and some prayers later, we got them. The compartment was a typical reserved coach in UP i.e., it was unreserved. The coach was packed to the brim and we had to get the TC to clear the ticketless people from our seats. Not much luck - two or three of us had to stand all the same, so we took turns.

We finally arrived in New Delhi - hot, tired and dead hungry. So, we went to Connaught Place (CP in case you've heard of it before). The veggies (like me) went to McD's and the meaties went to KFC. We met at 3:00 PM (okay, so we really met at 3:20 PM!) and took a bus to IITD.

My first impression of IITD was - average! It wasn't all that great, although it was visually appealing. The admin building looks like some big World Trade Centre or even a giant Library, but otherwise, it's just grass and a lot of litter. Oh, the IITD profs were on hunger strike ('Unionists'?), but apart from that, it was a pretty boring campus. We left our bags in Shakeelul's friend's room (him name was Nitin, really nice guy) in Kumaon Hostel (yes, the same as the one in Five-Point Someone).

IITD is crumbling: the hostels aren't very good, they're holding too many students (three for first year, two for second and one for the rest)! The construction is also strange, with a wall partitioning the roomies and one single cupboard allotted for two people! Still, their Open Air Theater (OAT) and auditorium are really good!

So, after freshening up, we went for the prelims. We loved our performance. At midnight, we found out that we lost, and the judge's reason was that we lacked practice (bang on!). So, we were dejected. But before we got the bad news, we saw Spectrum '09: the Group Dance event. Quite a spectacle, and the three LCDs were a great idea. If only the stupid noodle ad were removed, it would have been a perfect event.

We ate at a neat little restaurant, where I was being administered some gyaan on how a Polymer student behaves (thank you, Anuja ma'am!). We had to walk for about an hour before we could eat (thanks to Shakeelul), so the net intake of calories was about zero. However, in protest of our loss, we decided to hold a night out. What a great time we had - from Mohit sir's suspense-filled story to DC sir's theories to that silly street play, I'll never forget all that. So while Sambhav sir slept and Sneha ma'am damned cigarettes, we caught a glimpse of bats and birds illuminated by IITD's lights - a spectacular sight indeed.

I had a cup of iced tea at about 5:30 AM, chatted with Prem Sir and the girls and then went to sleep. However, me being myself, I was wide awake by 8:00 AM. I sat doing nothing, met some nice guys from IITD and finally got a call from Sambhav sir, who was going back to DPT. A queer auto ride to ISBT (Kashmiri Gate, felt like we were actually travelling to Kashmir; I got to see the Red Fort on the way) and then a rocking (literally) bus, and I was back home.

And that was how I spent about 30 hours, almost non-stop, for IIT Delhi. It was great - seeing the campus, meeting new people, getting some info from the seniors. Hopefully, Thomso will be even better!

For pics from Rendezvous 09, visit me at facebook.com/sushobhan.sen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm going home... for a while

Two months here, and I'm already into loads of stuff. Tomorrow, I leave for IIT Delhi's Cultural Fest, Rendezvous. We're performing a play over there (Cut by Ed Monk). The Prelims are tomorrow, but we, The Freshers, need not participate in that, since they only need to show the first 15 minutes.

If, by some twist of fate, we do get selected (quite unlikely), I'll be giving my performance on Friday. I play the role of an old, arrogant workman who hates the world and is there to fix a bulb!

Well, honestly speaking, I'm going there for two reasons: it's a great opportunity in Sem 1, even though the role is minor, and I get to see IIT Delhi and buy a T-Shirt from their fest (imagine wearing that in Hyderabad!)

Now, another thing is happening: they're shifting us to the New Malviya Bhawan. That involves quite a lot of re-packing and it has to be done fast, because most of us have to leave. There is also the idea of living with the seniors at last - a mixed bag indeed. Although there has been a lot of interaction with them, who knows... well, there's always THE AFFIDAVIT!

And lastly, we've got this cheap EVS project to do. The subject sucks, the teacher is crazy and yet we get stupid projects and home assignments! Doesn't she realise: NOBODY CARES! Well, we're sure that she is so technologically challenged that she will NEVER use anti-plagiarism software (I bet she doesn't even know how to spell that!). Hence, we're following the old mantra: cut-copy-paste!

I'll be bringing a lappie after the mid-sem break, so there'll be more updates then. Till then, keep reading!