Friday, January 22, 2010

Criticism for TOI

Recently, the newspaper guy has been delivering the Times of India once or twice a week instead of the normal The Hindu. This has given me an opportunity to evaluate the low standard it sets for itself.
Semi-naked 'stars' and gossip forms a core around which some news is bundled. Last year, the Government took some TOI reporters to court for allegedly lying in a report on Chinese Border incursions. The Editorial of TOI lacks any debate on important issues and touches up on the trivial instead. Page 1 of TIMES GLOBAL qualifies as a porn show, while the business page is mostly irrelevant.
Truly, a newspaper that exists solely for the purpose of selling itself.

Cognizance 2010: IIT Roorkee's Tech Fest

The Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee presents Cognizance 2010, the annual Technical Fest of one of India's best Tech Universities. The event will see students put their engineering skills to use in a series of challenging tasks, as well as several guest lectures, workshops and a paper presentation event.
The event will be held department-wise and simultaneously at both the Roorkee and Saharanpur campuses. Departments will make a point to create insutstry interface to give an edge to IITR's academic courses.
The Department of Paper Technology at the Saharanpur Campus will be celebrating the event as Cognizance Evolution 2010.
Coming soon in March...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Return of 'Real' Engineering

The second semester at IIT Roorkee, SRE Campus seems to be a semester of engineering as we know it. The greatest example of this is the Manufacturing Techniques Lab ("workshops") where we get to play with metal, fire and oxy-acetylene flames, among other things.

The first semester gave me a sense of disconnect with what I expected of engineering. Instead of learning how to apply scientific ideas in real life, we were stuck to reading "standard" textbooks and working to pull our grades up. For example, I got a C+ in Electronics yet I have no idea how to can be applied in real life. The same goes for Chemistry and Thermodynamics. Only Engineering Graphics seemed something like an engineering subject.

This semester however, we have four labs: Electrical Science, Computer System and Programming (aka, C++), Manufacturing Techniques and Physics (the only lab with an exam attached to it). This allows us to really try what we know. Although the Electrical Lab is still a little 'artificial,' it's much better than the Electronics lab where nobody seemed to know what they were doing.

The MI lab is really the creme-de-la-creme of all labs: think of how great it feels to cut metal with fire and wood with metal, and turn a lanky rod of iron into a magnificent hook! It takes quite a bit of physical strength, but it's fun. The C++ lab is nice, if you know C++. If you don't well... there's Solitaire. And the Physics lab is very serious on the face of it, although you can manipulate the readings to your heart's desire.

Now, lets see what grades I get this time. However, I feel confident that another Electronics is not on the cards this time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Truly Blissful Library Sojourn (TBLS)

Last Saturday, we had our Textbook Loan Scheme (TBLS) session in the library. This was the second time we had it, the last time being in the previous semester. Like last time, it was a great opportunity to socialize.

I was pretty lucky this time as my token number was 2 (it was 49 last time). Token numbers are decided by a draw of lots and it represents the order in which students enter in batches of five to get three books from the many available. Naturally, the first five students have the widest options.

My selection was a very common one: Theraja, Grewal and Sadiku.

The real fun began after I got my books. TBLS is the only time when you can sit on the tables in the library, chat as loudly as you like and shout across the room. We chatted about a lot of things, including taking some pointers from Ms. CGPA=9.83!

A funny thing about TBLS is that it signals the demise of regular visits to the library. Now that we have three books in our rooms - and also those of our friends in the same wing - why go to that silly library? Of course, before the exams we do realise the need to refer some other books (and sometimes we don't). But the exams are pretty far away for now!

On a closing, I am glad to say that this semester does not have an Electronics-like subject. While EC-101A, PH-101 and EE-101 are challenging, they are not herculean subjects to clear. In fact, EC-101A is quite fun, while BT-101 feels like putting a maths student back into biology class. The infamous subject, MA-102 (which has a record for maximum number of failures) seems simple as of now but it is already more complex than MA-101.

More campus talk in my next post!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No More Gloss

It's time to talk taboo. The demand for Telangana and other smaller states, in my opinion, is a first step to ultimate secession from the Indian Union. There are several ways to demonstrate the truth in this.

Consider a statement by Shibu Soren made last year to his supporters, in which he said "I gave you an independent Jharkhand, what more do you want?" Note the word "independent." Here, he implied that the region of Jharkhand was being ruled by the "foreigners" in Bihar and hence they achieved Independence. How can anybody think of a fellow Indian as a foreigner?

Now, consider the Telnagana question. Separatist politicians have now dumped the idea that they are fighting for a separate state for development, because development is exactly what YSR was giving them before he died: now, they say it's for the sake of 'self-respect.' People from Andhra and Rayalseema are called 'settlers' and 'migrants.' How can an Indian be a settler or a migrant in his own country? And don't even let me get started on India's North East.

Clearly, the idea of a state as an instrument of administrative convenience is gone. Instead, states are beginning to behave like sub-nations and regionalism like sub-nationalism. How much longer before sub-nationalism in regions turns into aspirations for a separate country? Many commentators and politicians cover up this question by saying that they are asking for a separate state, not a separate country, but they continue to use the example of Indian Independence from the British to substantiate themselves. A clear contradiction!

How long before the people of a state say that they do not wish to be ruled by a Prime Minister from another state? How long before they declare that they should have a separate country? These questions cannot be brushed aside because there is a very real chance of it happening, that too in the near future. They must be answered. Nationalism is falling apart while regionalism is taking over. Our country seems less like a nation and more like a Union of States (Countries?)

Regional aspirations must not be stoked. It was a mistake to reorganise states on a linguistic basis, let's not take that forward by stoking sub-national aspirations. There is no such thing as 'foreign rule' in India and there are not settlers here. Self-respect exists in imbibing nationalism and nationalism alone.

A Big Improvement

The first week of the new semester has almost come to an end and my initial reactions is that it's going to be much better than the last one. For one, the new subject from the infamous EC Department - EC101A: Computer System and Programming (or just C++ for short) - is something that I can actually understand to a great extent without any help, unlike it's counterpart ELECTRONICS, which felt like absolute hell.

Most of the professors are quite nice and seem to know what they're doing. Some, like our new HS teacher from Roorkee, just don't know how to tackle a rebellious class. Others, like our MI professor, are totally oblivious of their classes (we haven't had a single one yet). Overall, it's pretty light as of now.

And here's the BIG story: Physics is back in my life! The subject that I wanted to avoid the most has made a dramatic comeback with a full five credit course... as expected, I understood very little in the beginning but I'm getting the hang of it now. Let's hope I don't go the Electronics way in this!

Oh yes, talking about Electronics... I passed! And what's more, it's not like I got a D... in fact, I got a C+ (that's 6/10) which is amazing for a stupid subject that I thought I was going to fail in! But disappointment is my middle name since I got an A in MA-101, missing A+ by 2 marks, and a B+ in CY-101, missing A by 1.5 marks. Oh well, one must lose something in the grading system.

Now that the new semester has started, people are in the 'ab main zaroor padhoonga' mode again. So, you can find a Vishal perpetually in the library and a Tarun running behind every professor. It happens, but doesn't last long. By next week things will go back to normal.

Currently, the common room is gyrating between TT room and a CS Gaming room, while a major bout of movie-addiction is evident. But that's the way the diode moves!