Wednesday, September 4, 2019

What the hell happened in 2007

I was watching this video when I decided to write this blog.

Thomas Friedman is one of my favourite authors. He was interacting in a Intelligence Squared debate - again one of my favourite shows.

He was talking about his book Thank you for being late and specifically talking about a chapter which shares the title of this blog.

What happend in 2007? Most people remember the financial crisis in 2008. Here are some events which took place in 2007:

  1. Steve Jobs introduced iPhone, the first smart phone in the world
  2. Google bought Youtube
  3. Google launched Android
  4. AT&T introduced Software Defined Networks (SDN)
  5. Amazon introduced Kindle
  6. Air BNB was conceived in an apartment in San Franscico
  7. IBM built its cognitive computerWatson
  8. Intel introduced non-silicon material in chips
  9. Facebook opened up to public a few months before 2007
  10. Twitter started a few months before 2007
While the world went into a tailspin because of the financial crisis, the events of 2007 augured the beginning of the tech driven world.

Coincidentally, IIIT Bhubaneswar started around this time.
  1. The foundation stone was laid in 2006
  2. The Institute started functioning in 2007 and M.Tech. programme started in 2007.
It feels great to be in company of such tsunami like events and hopefully we created small waves in our own environment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

RIP message of a Student : A Strong Lesson for Others

Sushant Mishra

“Death” is the answer which nobody questions, and “life” is the question which nobody can answer. Death is inevitable, nobody can avoid it. But reasons could have been avoided.

The unnatural death of a 4th Year student, Himanshu Rathore at Paradeep  on 28th Feb 2018  due to drowning  came as a shocking news to the Institute.

Students prefer to ignore advice / warning of the Institute. They prefer to take certain adventurous actions, which may result in fatality. They do not visualize the consequence of error. For the daring actions, they may get temporary satisfaction; even this might have gotten them brownie points from friends. The temporary provocation or temptation sometimes results grievous consequences.  

Apart from venturing into sea for bathing, doing acrobats in bikes or high wall jumping or Spiderman stunt or taking Selfie pic in vulnerable positions are some bright examples. But fatal results will leave tears in the eyes of your family and well wishers.

Life is very precious and delicate. There is no re-take or un-do. You don't have exclusive right on your life. A major part of your life belongs to your parents, relatives, and friends. So one should not dare / take risk on his life, which you have no complete ownership. Parents have many expectations, wishes and dreams on you. Don't dishearten them. They get pleasure from your smile, so keep them smiling, not crying.

The Institute has witnessed half a dozen unnatural deaths in its brief period of existence. A few had miraculous escape from the jaws of death. They got new lease of lives. The stigma, traumatic feeling of the survivors will last for their life long. They ventured into the water despite warning from the Institute and from others.

Off late some mischievous students get sadistic pleasure by breaking fire extinguisher system.  Fire extinguishers which are meant for protecting them will be no use in case of  a fire.

Death due to drowning is one kind of willful death or shadow suicide. Any kind of daring instinct and challenge should be avoided which will cause sorrow to family. Being aspirant of a bright professional career, you should do certain action for which your family, friends, Institute, nation should proud of, not to feel sorry about.

The Institute expressed condolence to his bereaved family. We know the Institute will back to normal within a day or two. Friends will mourn for a week or so. But we understand the heartbreaking feeling of parents, whose tears will not dry.

May the soul of Himanshu Rathore rest in peace. And it will be great tribute to him, if all other students learn a strong lesson from this irreparable loss and they should vow not to venture into life-risk actions beyond protection limit.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Yellow Line

I have seen a yellow line in the airports at the metal detector near the security check area. The queue starts from the metal detector and one must stand behind the yellow line.

I have often wondered what purpose the yellow line serves.

Recently, I visited USA on a vacation. I noticed yellow lines every where. Even in the coach we traveled, there was a yellow line in the aisle near the driver. The driver will not start if some one has crossed the yellow line.

Queues are a very important element of civilization. In operations research, queuing theory is a tool in optimization. In computer science, queues are a very important data structure. In nature, we find ants achieve seemingly impossible things by following a queue.

I have noticed the futility of jumping the queue in the airport. We need to stand several times in a queue: when getting into the airport, check in, security, boarding, getting in the bus which takes us to the plane, deplaning. No matter who is ahead of us, we all reach the destination at the same time. It seems like a small victory in being ahead in a queue but there are no benefits. Following the queue helps in completing the process faster.

I have also observed how people respect a queue in a temple. In Jagannath Temple in Puri, queues are rarely formed and the Darshan is a traumatic experience for many. In south India, the queues are more regularly followed in temples.

I have observed school children meticulously form and follow a queue in school or when they visit a zoo or a museum in a group. But, as adults we often are too impatient to follow a queue and end up being chaotic.

I do not know why we hate queues but some reasons may be a. feeling more important if you do not stand in a queue, b. a feeling that you will achieve or acquire some thing out of turn, c. the VIP culture.

I hope to see more queues and less chaos in the Institute.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bad News First

Everybody loves a good news. Be it in exams or job or family, or health, we welcome the good news.

I was chatting with an IT executive and he told me that he wanted to hear about bad news first and good news later. The logic was simple: you can do something if you hear the bad news early. He narrated incidents when he broke the bad news to his clients early and was appreciated for that.

That discussion got me thinking. It is said that before the truth takes off, the lie travels around the world. It may also be true of bad news and good news. I have often shared the bad stories with students and parents first. A few of them have appreciated the idea.

In our culture, the bad news is often not shared but the good news is gloated upon. Personally, I think no news is good news and bad news is worse news. One has to keep both eye and ear open for the bad before it becomes a news item.

Here are some good news and bad news jokes.

A man receives a phone call from his doctor.The doctor says, “I have some good news and some bad news.”The man says, “OK, give me the good news first.” The doctor says, “The good news is, you have 24 hours to live.” The man replies, “Oh no! If that’s the good news, then what’s the bad news?”The doctor says, “The bad news is, I forgot to call you yesterday.”

Here are some quotes about good news and bad news.

“It is much, much worse to receive bad news through the written word than by somebody simply telling you, and I’m sure you understand why. When somebody simply tells you bad news, you hear it once, and that’s the end of it. But when bad news is written down, whether in a letter or a newspaper or on your arm in felt tip pen, each time you read it, you feel as if you are receiving the bad news again and again.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“There's good news and slightly less good news.”
― Joanne Harris, The Gospel of Loki

“The bad news is nothing lasts forever,
The good news is nothing lasts forever.”
― J. Cole

“In my experience , big words ornament bad news.”
― Roshani Chokshi, The Star-Touched Queen

“Bad news has good legs.”
― Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley  

First Convocation

There is something special about First. Often in the family, the first child is special. In movies the First Day First Show is special. The first day of your life is special and is celebrated as the birth day.

For the Institute the First Batch will always remain special. They have gone through a lot of hardship but got a lot of attention from the faculty and administration. The First few faculty members will also be special as they have built the Institution.

Our first convocation will also be special. It is the most important event for the Institute became an University.

The Institute became an University in Jan 2014. Therefore, the students graduating in 2014 were awarded degree by the Institute. However, we did not hold the Convocation in 2014 and 2015. The reason being the we were working on many formalities demanded by the University Act. In the last board meeting, it was decided to hold the first convocation in 2016. It was also decided that Hpn'ble CM Sri Naveen Patnaik will be the convocation speaker.

We started preparing for the Convocation by seeking a suitable time from the HE Governor and Hon'ble CM. Once the dates were finalized, we prepared the long check-list of thinks to do. The check-list was long and included items like stitching the robe, medals, tent, and many other items. We wanted this event to be memorable. We wanted the event to be executed to perfection. We wanted the event to be crisp and precise.

We started the event on time and finished in an hours time. The timing was nearly perfect considering that it was the first convocation.

We has unexpected last minute challenges we had not anticipated. The security requirements of the Hon'ble CM had to be complied with at the last moment. The certifications - civil, electrical and fire - for the temporary structure had to be obtained at the very last moment. The police demands for frisking had to be complied with at the last moment.

There were disappointments also. Some students inspite of our clear communication came late and were not given the robes and the certificates on stage. Many parents commented on non-serious nature of a delay by a few minutes and the Institute's undue hard stand on the same. While we have our sympathies with them, I believe that they failed in their professionalism in not reporting one time.

All Student volunteers, staff members and the faculty members did a wonderful job. I thank each one of them for making the First Convocation an event to remember.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Dhanada Mishra and his wife Babita Mishra are my good friends. Dhanada is slightly crazy (which may be an underestimation). He studied in India, USA and worked in Australia. Then he returned to India and now plays politics in AAP. But the couple do wonderful things like running Spicmacay chapters in Odisha.

Here is an extract from Wikipedia about SpicMacay

SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) is a non-political, nationwide, voluntary movement founded in 1977 by Dr Kiran Seth, Professor-Emeritus at IIT-Delhi who was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’ for his contribution to the arts in 2009.

SPICMACAY’s intention is to enrich the quality of formal education by increasing awareness about different aspects of Indian heritage and inspiring the young mind to imbibe the values embedded in it. It seeks to inspire youth through experiencing the mysticism embodied in the rich and heterogeneous cultural tapestry of Indian and World Heritage, with a hope that the beauty, grace, values and wisdom embodied in these arts will influence their way of life and thinking and inspire one to become a better human being. For this, the most accomplished artistes of the country render programmes of Indian classical music and dance, folk, poetry, theatre, traditional paintings, crafts & yog primarily in schools and colleges. In 2011, SPIC MACAY was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana award in recognition of its contribution to youth development.

I had my brush with Spicmacay in IIT Kgp in 70s, IIMB in 80s and XIMB in 90s and 2000s. I always made it a point attend the Spicmacay programs and witness some great performances by icons of Indian classical music.

It has been my dream to start Spicmacay programs in IIIT-BH, This year we had three classical performances - the latest being by Sarod Maestro Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar. The programme was enthralling. The claps from the audience reflected their appreciation.

We hope to have many more such programmes and more so from local artists.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tragedy Strikes Again

In my interactions First Year students and their parents, I often narrate many tragedies that have struck the Institute, its students, staff and faculty. The objective being we learn from those mistakes and prevent such tragedies in future. While some learn from such narratives, others do not.

The tragedy happened again this Monday a day before the Republic day.

Five of the First year students went to Puri on Monday. This was a working day. They took an auto rickshaw to go to Puri. They went into the Sea, There was a huge wave. They lost balance and were being dragged into the sea. The Life Guards swung into action and rescued four of them. One them could not be rescued. He went missing in the sea. His body was discovered 2 days later in a lonely beach 7 kilometers away from the main Puri beach.

Sourav Kumar was a decent, studious and honest boy. He was in his full senses when he went into the sea. He and his friends went into the main Puri Beach where hundreds of tourists, shop keepers and life guards found. Many people take bath in the sea. While accidents are rare in this beach, they happen with distressing regularity.

The Institute truly saddened by the loss of life of promising young boy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving family members of Sourav's family. We hope they will learn to live with Sourav's loss quickly.

However, I am concerned with us missing lessons from such tragedies. To my mind following are the lessons for the Students and their Parents:
  1.  The students must keep their parents abreast of their movements and coordinates when they go out of the campus.
  2. The parents must keep track of their wards at all times.
  3. We feel powerful in a group and underestimate the risks involved in our actions. Being aware of risk and having a plan to mitigate the risk is important