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September 9, 2006

Volume 3, Issue 2

Page 1 of 8 www.scholarsavenue.org

IIT Kharagpur

The Scholars’fortnightly Avenue yours, forthrightly yours.

Change of Guard at the highest echelons of Kgp’s administration

DEAN STUDENTS’ AFFAIRS

Inside... Gymkhana Roundup Gymkhana events for this academic session are under way. A look at what’s been happening so far. Page 5

Khoj

H R Tewari

V R Kalvey

This year’s incarnation of Azad hall’s widely popular treasurehunt. Page 2

R V Rajakumar

DEAN UG STUDIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

Teachers’ Day R K Hall’s traditional celebration of Teachers’ Day. Page 2

Change of Guard Interviews with the outgoing deans, - Prof. R V Rajakumar Page 3 - Prof V R Kalvey Page 4

The Decline of TFS The second of out two-part story on the history of the Technology Film Society. Page 6

B S Sastry

DEAN ALUMNI AFFAIRS M Chakraborty

Cyberyllium A Chakraborty

Pages 3 and 4: Interviews with the outgoing Deans (Prof. V R Kalvey and Prof. R V Rajakumar), on the state of affairs at Kgp, upcoming changes, and their tenures.

A short story contributed by Prof. Rimi B. Chatterjee, formerly of the HSS Department. Page 8

Institute Foundation Day

Bhaat Avenue It’s about nothing in general and everything in particular. Page 7

TnP Placement statistics for the 2005-06 placement season. Page 6

Toon Avenue Page 8 Visit our website www.scholarsavenue.org to read and post your comments on any of the articles in this issue. Web hosting provided by IndiaLinks


Page 2 of 8

The Scholars’ Avenue

September 9, 2006

Editors’ Avenue September: an eventful month in the history of the world. An eventful month for KGP too, as it is synonymous with the Mid-semester examinations. It’s the time for ‘peaceful’ KGPians to wake up and get back in touch with academics.

an IITian be? Does every IITian write a success story or are we basking in the glory of a few individuals who would have still made it big otherwise? Does this system drive us to achieve bigger and better goals?

It amazes me always, to see the amount of hard work we put in just before the examinations. Makes me wonder as to what we could achieve if these efforts were sustained over longer periods of time. This obviously brings us to ‘the question’ – does the system actually do justice to our talents?

If the stories about the many successful entrepreneurs and CEOs the IITs produce are to be believed, it would seem so. As it stands, an IIT campus, and not only the Institute main building, is responsible for making IITians IITians: well-rounded individuals as comfortable acting in abstract plays or tying diyas to a chatai as they are solving complex differential equations. This might make us successful managers or CEOs, but not great academicians, which might require a student to predominantly focus on studies.

Yes, we are the creamy layer of the youth of India – we enter IIT as intelligent students capable of analytical thinking and problem solving. But, does every individual get the best of things here? What would the average success rate of

Letters to the Editor “Kudos to the team for the issue. The time and effort that has gone into the publication is very much visible. The layout, the selection of the font, the paper quality, the style of the text, the coverage and the arrangement of the items are all very nice… “ I have not seen any of your earlier issues, so I may need to be corrected… On this issue, I saw many issues being covered, which unquestionable are pertinent. However, there was no discussion on anything remotely related to the academics. Does this mean

there are no worth mentioning issues related to academics? Or, they are no longer newsworthy and 'uncool'?” - Prof. Chhanda Chakraborti, via email. Thank you for the encouragement. We do cover academic related issues as and when they happen. Please refer to our older issues for academic related articles. - Editor With increasing intake, students may be asked to find accomodation outside campus: Director (Aug 14, SA)

Khoj

KHOJ started when an enormous crowd assembled at the gymkhana, the nerve center of the event. And then slowly, cycles were seen buzzing around the campus as the clues that pointed to different locations inside the campus were cracked. People resorted to various kinds of techniques to crack the clues. Where some summoned the Lance Armstrong within themselves, others used the genial smiles of their 'bandi' teammates to extract the hard-earned clues from others. After a tiring two hours, the tempo did debilitate a little, but some really 'tempo' guys actually managed to eke out energy till the end.

Coming back to September, its Illu season again! This time around the general interest in Illu seems to have lessened, so we at Scholars’ Avenue decided to conduct an online opinion poll regarding this issue. Make sure you visit the site and share your opinion with us. And yes, do mug well for your examinations. Best of luck!

environment" and "personality development", will they hold true if a student is asked to find his own accommodation miles away from hostel? Will the claim of 24/7 connectivity hold true? How will these students cope during the placement season, has any thought been given to this, arguably, the most vital time of a student's life?” - mask Send your letters to: editor@scholarsavenue.org You may also post it as a comment on the SA website, www.scholarsavenue.org.

“Our pamphlets, given pre counseling, advertise about an "intellectually stimulating

News Avenue

Just a month into the first semester and the newcomers got their first grand look at KGP with KHOJ, organized by Azad. The event was marked by a sudden increase in the number of cycles going haywire on Scholars’ Avenue and elsewhere, in the amount of enthusiasm flowing in the air and as a result of all this, also in the number of people falling in gutters thus making the situation a bit too precarious.

So the question we must answer is, is an IIT primarily a crucible for researchers or a breeding ground for well-rounded personalities (read: managers)? I cannot seem to find an answer. I leave it to you to ponder upon this question. Maybe an overnight bhaat session will shed more light on this topic than this long and highly confusing editorial.

Lots of prizes were distributed in the end to people in unique attire like pink Tshirts or red shoes along with the usual winners. Meanwhile, continuing with the tradition, the organizers found themselves at displeasure with the administration. One of the students got severly injured due to a bicycle collision, and as if that wasn’t evil enough, had to be admitted to BC Roy. This made Prof H N Mishra, Chairman, HMC see red and the event had to be called off immediately. Finally, after the prize distribution cheered and jeered equally by the crowd, the night’s adventure came to an end. Although KHOJ was a major success, incidents like the accident do throw up a few questions. Scholars' Avenue had questioned the safety issue last time around also, but the big question now is that with an ever increasing number of students being enrolled every year, how is the event going to be organised, and how safe would it then be?

RK celebrates Teachers’ Day Radhakrishnan Hall of Residence continuing in its tradition celebrated Teachers’ Day as yet another batch of students imbued with the spirit of this hall and its association with the occasion worked to make this day a success. Like previous years, the ceremony was a colorful musical affair with variegated performances. Graced with the presence of esteemed members of faculty, the evening saw soulful performances in eastern music and western dances. The Antakshari, with teams comprising of a mix of students and faculty, provided a different flavour to the proceedings as members of the faculty had a rollicking time, pitted against each other, singing songs. An exceptionally enthusiastic and vocal audience, largely comprised of first year students, made the atmosphere all the more festive. The evening culminated with the presentation of mementos to faculty participants. Bonhomie and laughter seemed to ricochet off everything as the Netaji Auditorium bid goodnight to a crowd merry with the spirit of a day laden with history and rich with tradition.


September 9, 2006

Page 3 of 8

The Scholars’ Avenue Features Avenue

Change of Guard Prof . R V Rajakumar talks to SA Scholars’ Avenue caught up with the outgoing Dean (Undergraduate Studies), Prof. R. V. Rajakumar to discuss the upcoming changes in academics, and for a look back on his tenure as Dean. SA: Only 5 students have enrolled for the BTech + MBA course. What do you say about this? RVR: We had more than 15 students who had applied for it, but only 5 turned up for the interview, and we did not want to deny them the course. So they will continue with their 5 years course. Actually, the interview was conducted very late and there were not many days left for the registration, so many students did not apply or did not turn up for it. SA: What is your plan regarding the semester-wise course laid out for this course? RVR: These students need to cover their required BTech credits as well as their requisite MBA credits. For this, we would get them to select breadths amongst VGSOM subjects, just the way a minor is done. So, some of the courses would be done from between their 2nd to 4th years. In the 5th year they would study the remaining credits of the MBA programme necessary. SA: Given that they have to complete the BTech as well as MBA credits, wont there be an additional burden on them? RVR: Yes, there will be to some extent. Compared to the Dual Degree programmes, they would be doing somewhere from 20 to 25 credits more. The introduction of MBA subjects amongst breadth subjects is done with a view to reduce this burden to some extent. SA: Given the low turn up this year, will this course continue next year? RVR: Yes, we have the plan ready, it's been started, and it will continue. SA: What are the other major Academic Changes that have been implemented, or are in the pipeline? RVR: For the Dual Degree programmes, we have made all the 2 year MTech specializations available for quite a few

departments. The present DD students can change their specializations after the third year. We now have 41 DD programmes. The Dual Degree programmes were started in IITs in 1991, but we started them later in 1993. This time we have taken the "Next Step First". Also, the final year students have been given more flexibility. Since many of them complained that they could not take many breadth courses, they now have the option of taking a breadth amongst their own department courses. Apart from that, we have also done a revamp of the curriculum, especially for the first years. We have looked into the World's best UG programmes while designing the new curriculum. We have incorporated ideas from western universities as well as some very nice oriental programmes. Compared to the west, we have more credits per course. As the Chairman of this Committee, I would say, this is "the Best" and "the Strongest" Package that a JEE qualifying student can get. SA: What are the changes that would have the most impact on first-years? RVR: The first year students will be benefitted the most. The maximum number of changes have been in the first year curriculum. We have stressed on making the 'Foundation' courses stronger and have split some of the courses into two semesters. More emphasis has been given to lab work. We have realized that we need to give more emphasis towards Communication Skills. So we have altered the English for Communications course from being a 3-1-0 to being 3-0-2 with a Communication Lab included in it. A l s o a s u b j e c t o n Te c h n i c a l Communication Skills has been included as an elective. There is a lot of news that I can provide. You may need more than a few pages to write it all down! A First Year Lab Complex is going to be built beside Vikramshila, and there will also be a new lecture complex only for the first year students. It will be a complete first year academic complex. All the first year labs and classes will be conducted there. The Lab Complex is only waiting to be built, its upto the PWD section. All the first year labs, i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Engineering Drawing, Computer Graphics, Programming, except the Electrical Technology Lab will be shifted there. It will be completely air-conditioned except for the Chemistry Lab. I have also made a completely new prospectus for the incoming students, that will give them all the detailed information. It will

be on a CD and will be distributed amongst all first year students. The draft is ready. SA: Sir, can you give some details about the students who have come to IIT Kharagpur on an exchange programme from Germany? RVR: Yes, I am glad to inform you that two UG students have joined us this year from Germany. They will be doing one semester at our institute, and the teachers will grade them. Those grades will be absorbed by their universities as their academic performance for this semester. Though it is an exchange programme, no students have gone from our institute to Germany. SA: Sir, this is your last week as the DEAN. Looking back at your tenure, how do you feel? RVR: My term ends on 31st August. I have just about a week left. But I am happy for myself. I had come with an agenda for my own alma mater and that has been 'almost' accomplished. I worked on the new academic changes, and also did a lot for different fellowships and scholarships, including the MCM scholarship. Thanks to the heads of the departments, the faculty, and the director, I could accomplish my tasks properly. Professor B S Sastry (Dept of Mining), who is also the GATE chairman will be taking over my seat.

The Scholars’ Avenue team. We had the pleasure of welcoming four very talented individuals to our team this week.

Executive Editors Swati Sunny Somani, Nitin Basant, Chintan Thakkar Editors Aneesh Jain, Aravind R. S., Riti Mohapatra, Rohit Shankar, Saahil Bhanot, Samya Mandal, Shishir Dash, Umang Jain Reporters Aditya Marathe, Anuj Dayal, Arish Inam, Sheekha Verma, Sreeja Nag, Suvrat Bafna Jr. Reporters Anup Bishnoi, Deepak Cherian, J. S. Deepthi, Mithun Madhusudan, Pranesh Kumar, Srinath Sinha, Vinayak Pathak


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September 9, 2006

The Scholars’ Avenue Features Avenue

Change of Guard "Many careers are made after 5 p.m." - Prof. V R Kalvey SA: When you started as DOSA did you have something specific in mind? How much of it is in place now? VRK: There isn’t anything specific as such that comes to my mind. I have always felt that ragging/misbehaviour must be stopped and it has been curbed to a great extent. I have always wanted that there be comfortable accommodation for the students. To a certain extent this has been fulfilled, but a lot of factors are external and beyond our control. A drastic increase in the intake has been a major impediment to implementation of comfortable accommodation for each and every student. In fact over the years the space requirement per student has also changed. Nowadays a computer per student is the norm as opposed to the situation 6-7 years back. SA: You joined the Institute in 1980. Have you noticed any change in the student community over the past 26 years? VRK: Nowadays the students are more informed, alert and more aware of their rights. They are more assertive and moreover communication between the authorities and students is more conducive. Earlier students were more obedient and more conforming. When I came, there used to be a large collection of students and faculty at various events. Today that has declined. Teachers too are hard pressed for time with more international and national seminars to attend other than regular course and research work. In fact insufficient teaching staff is also an associated problem. We're short by at least around 150 teachers as per the present requirement. Good and qualified people are hard to come by as hardly anyone wants to become a teacher these days. I'd be happy if more students would take up the profession. SA: IIT Kgp is the only premier institute which hasn't witnessed any demonstrations on the reservation issue. If there were to be such a situation imminently, what would you do? VRK: I believe that individual views are to be respected and everyone is entitled to one. But we as an institution cannot take a stance on such issues. We're funded by taxpayer’s money and thus we cannot take any side. SA: The gymkhana and the various departments organise many fests which receive participants from outside colleges. Why isn't there any system in place which can enable students from IIT Kgp to attend such fests organised by other such colleges?

A: Firstly, here the academic session is extremely tight and everything takes place in accordance to a pre-planned routine. In spite of that if a certain group wishes to participate in some event at some fest, permission can be granted if asked for. But then again it should be a controlled exercise. It may not be a wise idea to overdo participation. Fests or competitions by other IIT's or IISC can be attended but not beyond that. Also the problem of a single group going to all the fests may appear.

VRK: Again, everything depends on personal choice. From the CGPA point of view the first year is the most important. The distribution of credits over the years has been given a lot of thought and is designed this way as we believe that in the first year the student has a considerable amount of "tempo" leftover from his JEE days. We thus expect that he will study with similar intensity. They should limit their extra-curriculars to a certain extent as there are many opportunities in the senior years.

SA: Like the Scholarships announced for the Inter IIT prize winners don't you think something similar should be introduced for the people working for the fests (considering the amount of time and effort they put in) ?

SA: Is there any incident which you would label a letdown by the student community? Something that disappoints you?

VRK: The Inter IIT scholarships are mainly tokens of appreciation for the students as they win something for their college. The money is hardly much of an incentive. Moreover the people working for the fests do get rewarded ultimately: companies sponsoring the fests often pick up the students organising it during placements. There cannot be a better reward than that. SA: Don't you think that there is an unnecessary excess of events organised in fests? For e.g. almost every fest has some sort of a quiz. This unnecessarily leads to a loaded calendar? VRK: Yes a lot of attention needs to go into this. There isn't any central regulatory body which may regulate the sort of events organised by various fests. Then again, departmental fests and gymkhana fests operate at very different levels too. SA: What do you have to say about the clash of dates of the Inter IIT meet and the final year placements? VRK: We have given this a considerable thought and in fact we are the only IIT to start placements this early. We, as compared to the other IITs, are at a disadvantage in terms of location. If we were to start placements along with the other IITs it would be to our own disadvantage as a company has to be notified well in advance about the dates. Moreover in terms of location normally Kharagpur is towards the end of the list of IITs a company visits for recruitment. That way the intake volume suffers. Starting early negates that possibility. An alternative could be having the Inter-IIT in the last week of December as most companies have year end vacations then. A postponement of the recruitment schedule is quite not possible for us SA: How would you advise a first year to prioritize his activities between academics and extra-curriculars?

VRK: I would personally have liked students to have adhered to the motorcycle ban. I sometimes feel compelled to take a course on Traffic Norms. I have seen many students blatantly violating the least sensible of rules and given the nature in which they often drive, almost anything could happen any day. Someone’s actions in a public place should not affect or cause harm to others as everyone has an equal right to the place. We as authorities can carry out checks and impose fines but keeping and riding bikes is still pretty much existent. Students should be more self disciplined. SA: High-point/best time during your tenure as DOSA? VRK: Winning the Inter-IIT sports meet at Roorkee and both the staff and student contingents doing it at the same time. There isn't a happier thing than seeing your students and staff bring glory to the college. Also, there isn't anything that’s difficult to handle in this institute. I have always received full cooperation from students, faculty, staff, my own colleagues... everybody. I'm a happy man. SA: How would you like to sum up your term at office? VRK: Excellent! SA: So what next? VRK: I am here for a while. Maybe after that I'll head out to my hometown of Benares or maybe my second home Pune. Both are centres of great learning. SA: Any message to the students? VRK: Pay attention to your academics. At the same time integrate amongst yourselves… communicate. You learn a lot from your fellow students as well as your teachers. Don't limit yourself just to your books or routine course work. I strongly believe in the saying “Many careers are made after 5 p.m.” Take full advantage of whatever benefits this college has to offer.


September 9, 2006

Page 5 of 8

The Scholars’ Avenue News Avenue

Gymkhana Roundups Soc-Cult The Soc-Cult season got off to an ominous start with the freshers’ events turning out to be no shows - a lot of them had to be cancelled due to abysmal turnout. The participation in these events is an indicator of tempo among Kgpians, which unfortunately is on a decline. The last fortnight saw the fresher productions of the three dramatics societies - BTDS, HTDS and ETDS. The HTDS freshers put on a good performance with a likeable theme, and some of the guys did make fans of the audience. But as fate would have it, power went off in the institute in the last 5 minutes of the climax. Still, kudos to the freshers as they maintained their composure and completed the play under two dim lights. The slapstick comedy that ETDS presented was quite unlike the kind of plays one sees in Kgp. The level of enthusiasm was high among the first years and they seemed to be having a good time on stage oblivious to the ruckus being created by the audience. The BTDS production, called “Ballavpurer rupkotha” (the secret of Ballavpur) was a story about a ghost. There were 11 first years in the cast and the third years did a commendable job with the editing and the direction. The performances by the actors were decent enough, but the lead actor Shubomoy Bhattacharya in a double role was the one who stood out. A new addition to the soc-cult scene this year was the HTDS Annual Production. Though it did not receive a very warm welcome, hopefully this tradition would gain popularity in the coming years. Several Open IIT events were held in the last fortnight, comprising mainly literary and fine arts. Open IIT WTGW (What's The Good Word), one of the most popular events, was disappointing. Lack of strict enforcement of rules and the erratic nature of clues left a lot to luck. Coming up ahead is the Open IIT English Dramatics. For a change, it shall be held in the brand new Kalidas Auditorium, which would help explore the

It is that time of the year again...

possibilities of conducting dramatics events there in future. We are awating the results for Creative Writing and Fine arts; the other Open IIT results are listed below: Open IIT Debate 1. Shubhomoy Bhattacharya (PH) 2. Kapish Saraf (LLR) 3. Amit Kr. Jha (RK) Foundation Day Debate 1. Shubhomoy Bhattacharya (MS) 2. Abhishek Ghosh (RP) 3. Kapish Saraf (LLR), Himangshu Hazarika (RP) WTGW 1. Abhishek Dasgupta, Kaushik Saha, Soumyajit Mitra (AZ) 2. Arindam Mukherjee, Divakar Ghosh, Sandipan Choudhary (Patel) 3. Aditi Amrita Sarangi, Amrita Sarma, Borna Ghosh (SN) Western Vocals 1. Apurva Gupta (Patel) 2. Vishal Singh (RK) 3. Mukul Singhee (LLR) Eastern Vocals 1. V. Gopikrishnan (Nehru) 2.Kumar Satyam (Patel) 3.Rituparna Dutta (SN), Satyam Agarwal (LLR) and Ashish Kumar Srivastava (Patel) Quiz 1. Aneesh Jain, Rahul Nanda, Siddarth Sen, Kapil Subramanian 2. Nishant Katoch, Aravind R.S., Bharath Shekhar, Pradipta Bora 3. Anant Singh, Himangshu Hazarika, Shamik Ganguly, Shuvo Banerjee Bengali Elocution 1. Soumya Kundu (AZ) 2. Swagato Chatterjee (NH) 3. Shouvik Chatterjee (NH) Bengali Elocution was marked by an unusually low attendance. Merely 21 participants turned up. The annual ritual of events getting postponed also got off to a start with Open IIT Antakshari and English Elocution being put off already.

Sports The sports season for the year started with the Aquatics and Water Polo events giving the new hall members the first glimpse at ‘Hall Tempo’. Aquatics was almost a repeat of last year, Gyandeep Momi (LLR) was the individual champion again with 31 points, way ahead of Saurav Das (RK) at 26 points. But Nehru outshone RK this time round, with 58 points to their 46. LLR was third, thanks mainly to Gyandeep’s one-man show with 33 points, but it was given a run for its money by Patel, which was fourth with 28 points. Azad managed a paltry 8 points thanks to the newcomer Siddharth Karkare. RP chose not to field any team. In water polo, the four semi-finalists have been decided at the time of writing - Nehru, RK, RP and Patel. The results of the league stage are: 1. Azad 16 - RK 2 2. Nehru 22 - RP 1 3. RK 10 - Patel 2 4. Nehru 23 - LLR 2 5. RP 11 - LLR 1 6. Patel 11 - Azad 2

Tech 120 participants in Maths Olympiad and 180 in Ad Design-sometimes stats do reveal the true picture. Freshers' tech events, be it the Biz and Tech quiz , Maths olympiad or Ad design, were great successes with huge turnouts. The freshers’ adaptation of Ad Design had a written elimination round, followed by four ad-spoof-like rounds in which the teams of three acted out ads. The Open-IIT Biz and Tech quiz had some quality performances with the top honours going to seasoned campaigners. This was also the first instance of an Open-IIT event in the tech calendar. Case study, introduced for the first time this year, seems likely to be postponed as the problem statement has not been declared yet with just 4 days left for the event.

The Scholars’ Avenue poll

Illu Ya No Illu? Visit www.scholarsavenue.org to make your voice heard.

Rekindling the eternal debate


Page 6 of 8

September 9, 2006

The Scholars’ Avenue Features Avenue

2005-06 Placement Statistics No. of Companies paying:

No of people getting paid: more than 10 lakhs, 19 8 - 10 lakhs, 29

8 - 10 lakhs, 5

less than 2 lakhs, 11

more than 10 less than 2 lakhs, lakhs, 1 3

6 - 8 lakhs, 14

6 - 8 lakhs, 71

2 - 4 lakhs, 48

2 - 4 lakhs, 326

4 - 6 lakhs, 45

4 - 6 lakhs, 260

No of companies hiring: 11 to 25 people, 12

more than 26 people, 1

6 to 10 people, 30

Schlumberger’s 16.65 lakhs was the only instance of a company whose starting salary averaged more than Rs. 10 lakhs per annum. They also hired 19 people, more than most other employers.

IBM Global Services was the only company which hired more than 25 people - in their case, a whopping 110 people. Their starting salary however, was between 2.75 and 3.95 lakhs.

1 to 5 people, 73

Technology vs. the Film Society This is the second of two parts of our feature on the golden age, and decline, of the TFS. Despite half a century of popular viewing and stellar records to its backing, the Technology Film Society (TFS) has lost its shine in the more recent turn of events. No brownie points for guessing that the LAN has laid siege to what used to be arguably the best managed society in the history of the Institute. With DVD quality movies available at the click of a mouse, students have conveniently stayed away. Quips Rajiv Dandotiya, a final year student, “TFS was an attraction in our first year when we didn’t have a computer. Who would now want to wait for TFS to screen a recent release? We can watch both English and Hindi flicks on our desktop at 3 in the night. It doesn’t get any easier!” Although TFS still has loyal viewers like Sagar Goel, who even in his fifth year at Kharagpur spends Friday evenings at the Netaji Auditorium, student members any older than the first years are hard to find. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the membership, which only as recently as in the year 2000, boasted of virtually every person on the 10000-strong campus, has dropped to

1550 students and 1700 members of the faculty and staff. Mayank Verma and Parag Jain, TFS Secretaries of the TSG, for the years 2004-05 and 2005-06 respectively, commented on the reversal of fortunes. “The Manager and the Vice-Chairman have repeatedly said that the students' show would be scrapped and only staff shows should be continued. Of course that's impossible, until the post of TFS Secretary exists!" says Mayank. “Things went awry for TFS in 2004 when Netaji Auditorium was being revamped for the Convocation at which Dr. Manmohan Singh was supposed to be the Chief Guest. The event kept getting delayed (5 months to be precise) but all along, TFS was not allowed to hold shows. The Director suggested that TFS be shifted to Kalidas Auditorium but its construction was still incomplete then”, he mentions. The Prime Minister never turned up but quite clearly, TFS was the biggest loser. Not too long ago, there had also been talks with of Netaji being spruced up with a state-of-the-art lamp-house projector and Dolby Digital sound system, at a cost of around Rs.28 lakhs to lure patrons back to the auditorium. While Mayank says

that the investment was too large for the proposal to be implemented, Prof. T. K. Chaki, Vice Chairman, TFS, opines that since there continues to be a dilemma over TFS moving to Kalidas, there is precious little that can be done to Netaji. A common grouse has been that TFS does not sell individual tickets and makes it imperative for everyone to buy semester passes, most of which they might not end up utilizing. “If semester passes are not made compulsory, the number of members will decrease even further”, says Prof. Chaki. On the issue of screening new releases, he adds, “It is not a financially feasible option, since new prints come at a huge price.” The initiatives that TFS has been taking lately include selling guest cards to relatives of staff and vacation guest cards to students, which amount to around 50% of the additional costs for the latest movie prints. Prof. Chaki is happy that the situation is not as dismal as it seems and points out that in the last year, membership has gone up by 50% among the students and 20% among the rest, both sizeable numbers. His optimism might not indicate the resurrection of the TFS of yore, but could definitely be the first step of many to stem the rot.


September 9, 2006

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The Scholars’ Avenue BHAAT AVENUE

F-127

The Shah-Shank Damnation

life in the shadow of the F-16

More questions and some answers as well:

Observations on the nature of reality by Ali Da - thinker, prophet, and the guiding light of billions.

V O L U M E

Q. I scored 1580 in the GRE, and I didn't expect anyone to be able to top that. Now, some rocket scientist has gone and scored 1600, and suddenly, he's everyone's darling. Nobody even cares about me anymore. Help! Dear reader, we understand that you're feeling unappreciated, and looking for c o n s o l a t i o n a n d s y m p a t h y. Unfortunately, you've come to the wrong place. This is just the first of a long line of failures that you are destined for. You will be second best to your conscience, at your birthday parties, your wedding... even your funeral. We’ve also consulted with our in-house astrologers, who've informed us that since your GRE score is divisible by 158 (a very inauspicious number, according to them), you'll never get a chance to play the world's favourite sport (not football) either. So what we suggest is to find a way to get to the top of the insti tower. Q. I recently had my academic transcripts made, to apply for a job a t McKinley's (No spelling mistake here). To my horror, I realized that my chest hair is visible in my photo. I've enclosed a copy, so that you can see for yourself. Is this a bad thing? Will it affect my prospects?

2

Q. The mid-sems are drawing near, and there's no way I'll be able to get decent marks without er... taking inspiration from those sitting around me during the exams. But I've never done this kind of thing before, and I'm scared that I'll go speechless if I get caught. You guys look like you're experts at this, so I thought I'd ask you: What are the things I can say to save myself if I find myself in such a situation?

Just a very religious devotion to the belief that whatever happens in the ‘outside’ world does actually have repercussions on us though can be a potent push to help us on our way to break out of that mould.

Dear reader, Thanks for the compliment. If you ever do end up in such a predicament, we suggest you try one or maybe more of the following, preferably not at the same time:

Q. My life's a mess. I don't think I'll be able to get a job, and I have nothing remotely resembling a love life. What can I do?

Dear reader, You're not the only one who's sent us such a lament. We conducted a few investigations about these problems, we have reached some interesting Dear readers, we'd like to take this conclusions as you can see in the table. opportunity to point out what can happen to you if you spend too many So, if you really want to achieve all the years in Kgp. What's disturbing is not success you've ever wanted, you should that your chest hair is visible, but the have a couple of K's in your name. (hell, fact that you're more concerned about we're thinking of changing our name to the chest hair than the numerous Ds shah-shankkk damnations.) But as for and Ps that you've accumulated over your love life problems... sorry, there's the years. Anyway, we suggest spray nothing we can do about that one. painting the chest hair out, pasting a After all, you're still just an IITian. new photo on top of the previous one, or more sensibly, therapy (not the kind we offer). Best served with Tinku

There is one particular half-truth all KGPians have invariably believed in, some time or the other, for brief spans or longer ones. Psychologists term it the ‘black box’ syndrome. It afflicts most populations that live in artificial, class-specific environments. Living in this cloister of a campus we might several times tend to believe there is no world outside those walls.

There could be several examples which could illustrate the campus’ relationship with the rest of the world but there is one that all of us know somewhere within ourselves. It is about the recent spurt of usage of the institute reading room, a.k.a. F-127. Reading spaces in the central library which to any ‘outsider’ would seem comfortable and warm are suddenly losing in popularity to the otherwise claustrophobic F-127. This trend points to a few newfound personal requirements of students. Such changes in mass behavior can not certainly stem from individual good fortunes; it would have to be something more encompassing. Something that changed how we look at each other and those more distant. The need to be closer together, to have a few moments devoid of authority or rules sprung from what we all believed to be a ghastly outrage against mankind: the American War on Terror. Remember the time it began? The campus was speechless. Residents were so hapless, angry and despondent we thought it would be pointless to organize a protest or something similar. Whether it was plain luck or a strongly thought out plan is something we will never know but it was extremely fortunate that F-127 happened. F-127 served to reaffirm our faith in the essential goodness of the human spirit. In those days when belief in virtues, principles or love became akin to living in a Fools’ Paradise and we could find solace only in books (or magazines), the virtual world or with ourselves F-127 acquainted us with the irrepressible human urge to reach out and touch each other. Lennon’s lyrics for ‘imagine’ which had begun to seem utopian suddenly regained meaning especially the line that goes “Imagine all the people... Sharing all the world”. F-127 also presented a softer image of authority. Institute guards dropped their gas mask image and began to seem more soulful as their enthusiasm in sharing matchsticks for lighting mosquito coils and other more divine stuff became increasingly apparent. It was fortunate that F-127 happened, not only because of the social boundaries it shattered but also as the paradigm for future human relationships it has become. Graph illustrating the obvious relation between the amount of stuff being done in Iraq and in F-127

Send your questions, answers, unwanted social commentary, suggestive photographs, and haiku* to bhaat@scholarsavenue.org.

Fine print: All the characters in this issue are fictional, including those who sent us emails. Team Bhaat Avenue takes no responsibility for loss of life, property damage, or insanity caused by this column. No animals were harmed in the creation of this column. There was, however, considerable brain damage.

*a seventeen syllable Japanese Poem

Innocent women & children killed in Iraq

Students doing stuff in F-127

The anomalies are due to biased data collection


Page 8 of 8

September 9, 2006

The Scholars’ Avenue Features Avenue

Cyberyllium P A R T

1

- Rimi B. Chatterjee Rimi B. Chatterjee: if you are in your fifth year at Kgp and the name rings a bell, let's say you will cherish this issue. Yes, we traced her down and it may interest you to know that your first year English professor is now the author of a couple of well acclaimed books - Signal Red: A Novel, published by Penguin India in 2005, and Empires of the Mind: A History of the Oxford University Press in India During the Raj, published by OUP India in 2006. She is presently working on her next novel The City of Love which is forthcoming from Penguin in 2007 and is set in early sixteenth century India. She is a currently a lecturer in English at Jadavpur University in Calcutta, and blogs at http://rimibchatterjee.net She has contributed a three part story to Scholars’ Avenue. Here is the first part.

A

nand very carefully watched his mother drinking her tea. He was looking for clues as to whether she’d go out this afternoon with Aunty Keya. Keeping his face carefully casual, he said, ‘Yes, Ma,’ when she asked him to make sure he got his homework done before she got back, watched her get ready, fuss with her handbag, phone down for the driver, pat his cheek and leave. He was on the computer in a flash. Sweating, he double-clicked the Demon’s Kingdom icon on his desktop and sat back, trying to breathe. His broadband icon flashed into life as his machine logged him on automatically. He savagely cut the intro and entered his Den. ‘Welcome, Hellslayer!’ Armor: 48/50, Health 100/100, Weapon: 97/100, Gold 3,000, Status: Combat-ready.

Four fight challenges from pipsqueak starter demons: he was a level seven and only fought the lesser beings when he was bored. He was after the biggest fish of all — Cyberyllium.

‘Damn you!’ he screamed, and savagely logged out. ***

He clenched his teeth, clicked the top icon in his challenge menu: a long, thin, red stringy demon with huge fangs. Then he was in the Plaza of Burning Bones. He spared only a cursory glance for the kickass renderings of burning white towers, drew his plasma sword and headed for the Forbidden Temple - Cyberyllium’s challenge ground. As he reached the temple’s blood-drenched arch, he heard the little insinuating giggle that always heralded Cyberyllium’s coming. Flash! The creature was throwing Damnation Grenades! You only got those if you were a level 10! Roaring, he sprang forward and raised his shield just in time to stave off a fatal blow. Then the thing was on him, towering above his head. It flicked aside his shield as if it was tissue paper, leaned down and breathed into his face, ‘Go home to Mummy, little boy.’ The great green jewel in the centre of its forehead glowed. He jumped high in the air and slashed furiously at its head, getting in a puny stab in its ear and a shriek before a claw swatted him into the maw of a burning tower. Then he was back in his Den, the echo of manic laughter rumbling out of his speakers.

When the three of them met, they all had long faces. They were in the Skytop food court in the Mall next to Abhyuday’s apartment block. The Puja holidays were a week away, but even that failed to lift their pall of gloom. Abhyuday had his notebook with him. Actually it was his elder brother’s, but Abhyuday usually charmed it out of him. ‘Here’s a screenshot of my last battle,’ he said glumly. They looked at the screen. It was mostly blood-gouts and bits of flesh flying around in the middle of a huge burst of energy. Over the chaos stood Cyberyllium, swinging a huge axe and smirking. Debanjan gasped. ‘That’s a Hellfire Labrys! It costs 2,000 gold pieces!’ Anand groaned. ‘This guy is too good. He’s got stuff I’ve only ever heard of in messageboard rumours. I looked up his stats: his level display says 1337, which I’m sure is illegal. His avatar doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Do you think he’s a hacker? He says he is.’ ‘Could be,’ Abhyuday scratched his head. ‘I tried again to trace his IP. Last time I only got a generic APNIC result, but this time I struck lucky. My bro was doing some contract work for some firms in Bangalore. That block of IP addresses was licensed to a group in that city called Beryl Network Associates. Sound like a coincidence to you?’ ‘Wow!’ said Debanjan. ‘What do they do?’

Armor 5/50, Health: 2/100, Weapon: 3/100, Gold: 44. Status: Critical.

Abhyuday laid three tickets on the restaurant formica in front of them. ‘That’s what we’re going to find out.’

Toon Avenue

And a message: ‘SuX0/2!!!! U hv bn PWND by h@X0R CYb3rY//ium!’

To be continued...


Sep 9, 2006