I am writing this e-mail not as President of IIT Foundation but to express my personal views on the recent happenings at IIT Kgp, and share an experience I had while a student .
- One death is one too many, and one death that occurs that could be avoided is absolutely inexcusable. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family, relatives and friends of Rohit.
- Where loss of life occurs, it is natural and human for emotions to race out of control, and random and senseless acts of violence are initiated more often by a few from amongst the majority which then snow balls out of control . I ask how many of those who ‘threw the first stone’ really knew Rohit? Immediately upon a flare up, the media gets involved, the professional reporters state the facts, (thank you Scholars Avenue for keeping us informed), the sensational media highlights fire, arson, lawless etc. not the calm and restraint shown before the carnage; and then in the interest of being first to hit the air waves they speculate on the causes and are quick to assign blame based on less than perfect evidence.
- During the next 24 hours, opinions are formed, and it really does not matter whether it is right or wrong . The opponents of the IIt system say look whats happening at IIT Kharagpur an institute of national importance , stop tax payer dollars going to them ..and problems get worse not better. Universities and industry in India or abroad say ” Should we admit/ hire from IIT Kharagpur in the light of how they handle crisis, parents of the next generation say ” let’s not send our kids to IIT Kharagpur”, and aspiring faculty say IIT Mumbai may be a better choice for me and my family . It takes just 24 hours to destroy the brand equity built over the last 60 years.
- Then comes what really matters , the hard work, of putting together a fix to the problem or should I say problems ( i.e providing better medical care, and recovering the IIT Kgp brand) . As engineers we pride ourselves on first having a clear understanding of a problem, and then getting a short term, medium term and long term fix. but this cannot be done in an environment filled with tension or mistrust among the parties . Hence I appeal to students, faculty, administration, alumni and government and industry to work together with wartime like urgency to fix this basic, yet gargantuan problem of providing health care to the students, the faculty and thier families. (I have read the minutes of the meeting held on Monday and am pleased to see the decisions taken, thanks once again Scholars Avenue )
However in the very short term, start by realizing that your health is the most important part of your life (I thought i was invincible as a teenager), use the web to learn about your health ( your investment will serve you in good stead for the rest of your life) . and if you feel that BC Roy hospital, is not in a position to provide you the care you need, go outside the system. I returned to Mumbai my home town in my second year 1970, to seek medical attention for a knee cap injury a week after it happened because I felt the medication I was being given was not producing results and avoided the possibility of a leg amputation.
IIT Kharagpur must continue as a powerhouse not only in academia, but as a magnate to students and faculty because of the excellent environment it provides. I am sure everyone will rise to the challenge and like always… we will overcome . Let’s start by getting Professor Damodar Acharya to withdraw his resignation, who brings a 360 degree perspective to the leadership as student, alum, professor, and having served outside the IIT system.
Roy daSilva, EE/1974/RK