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THE FOURTH ESTATE

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY MADRAS NOVEMBER 2002


IIT Madras November 2002 (Vol. 3 No. 1) * For Internal circulation

Editors Ajit Narayanan (351 Godavari) Rahul Pratap M. (360 Godavari) Vipluv Aga (161 Alakananda) Acknowledgements We would like to thank The Dean of Students, Prof. S.S. Gokhale for providing us with the substantial financial support required for this production. The Institute Gymkhana for allowing us to use its facilities and for giving us access to back issues of older campus publications.

*Not a priced magazine

Quotable Quotes “Everyone in the class should be above class average…” -words of inspiration in the Mechanical Engineering Department, in the context of ME105 and ME106.

The Fourth Estate wants you to contribute

The Fourth Estate is also available online at www.iitm.ac.in/thefourthestate.

Send in articles, poems, short stories or any piece of original writing to the editors. Amusing or informative forwards or even unforgettable quotes heard on campus, such as the one above, are equally welcome.


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November 2002 IIT Madras From the Editors, We feel greatly bound to make a departure from what tradition has established as the first sentence of this column. That done, we may now observe that yet another new academic year has begun! For the first time ever, Dual Degree students in IIT Madras sit back to tiredly say that for the fourth time! We at The Fourth Estate would like to welcome all the fresh entrants to the institute. As always, the possibilities of untowardly interaction between freshers and seniors were a matter of concern early in the year. Although it appeared that having a majority of the freshers in Sarayu by themselves would alleviate this problem, IITM had its annual share of ‘ragging’ issues to deal with. Notably, some sophomore students of Godavari Hostel were banished from the Hostel Zone for ‘ragging’ M.Sc freshers two years older than themselves. This issue of The Fourth Estate addresses the many questions raised by the rather unusual and unexplained scheme of allocation of freshers in the various hostels. Meanwhile, the end of the previous semester saw the advancement of the ban on powered vehicles on campus. A set of desperate solutions to the transportation problem were put forward that were, however, a lot of good publicity for the institute if nothing else. Student disillusionment reached new heights. In this issue we look at this move by the management as well as several others in the previous semester that seem to suggest that we as an institute, are steadily marching backwards without so much as ever looking back, or more correctly, forward! Last year also saw what was, relatively speaking, a very cleanly contested student election. The newly elected Academic Affairs Secretary and his Core Group got off working double quick on the first ever odd-semester Shaastra. With the scrapping of Bharat Utsav, the Cultural Secretaries, who had rather miraculously been elected unopposed, have one event less on their hands, and one diversion less from Lit-Soc. Meanwhile, both Shaastra and Saarang have been shortened by a day. The Fourth Estate looks at the Shaastra just gone by – the most successful ever. And finally, phase one of the hostel networking project that we all thought was never to be, began a few weeks ago. Once the intranet is in place, students hope it will entail the next logical step, namely internet access. Perhaps they hope for too much. In closing, we would like to reintroduce The Fourth Estate with its all new editorial team. Between its inception in November 2000 and the present, the magazine has had one constant editor, and four others rotating to fill the posts of the other two editors. November 2002 sees the first generation of correspondents take over as editors. On the facing page is our first ever advertisement calling for correspondents. We chose to retain the name of the publication. We hope you enjoy The Fourth Estate in its new form for old reasons and new. Ajit Narayanan Rahul Pratap M. Vipluv Aga

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The Future Beholdeth... Vipluv Aga

As the new year starts, having gazed into our Fire of Knowledge Ball (FOK Ball), we shall predict what the future holds in store for some of our Hostels. Some may be cataclysmic, some may be plain boring (like they've always been) Please take these prophecies with the due respect they deserve and if you want to change the future in anyway, payment to the astrologer with a follow up of relevant rituals and sacrifices shall suffice. Alakananda Alakananda, has been having Lit-Secs for the past few years who've been promising to discombobulate themselves unless they win LitSoc, but thankfully due bodily harm has never really happened. This time the Lit Sec will injure his brain by banging it against the walls of his room only to find himself in deep shit. The FOK Ball further foretells the rise of a Phenomena on the sports field called 'Cheer Hajaar Under Threat', this happens when the Big Boys of the hostel have to threaten the little guys into going to the sports field and cheering for the Schroeter matches because otherwise the only people on the field would be the players, a prominent characteristic of Alak. Threats shall manifest themselves into vociferous ranting of Hostel patriotism and physically dragging freshies to the field and preventing them from escaping even if the Alak team is losing 10-0 in any sport. The FOK Ball has spoken.... Jamuna Ashes to ashes,Dust to dust, Bash up someone Jamuna must. Jamuna will continue to make its presence felt even without being there on the Schroeter field. Rival hostels having realised the brute brawn of the 'Angry Rapacious Student Encounter Specialists' that Jamuna so copiously produces will draw upon their services to render rival athletes incapable ....physically of showing up for play. They will be remunerated through an arrangement where some LitSoc points will be given to Jam by the hostel that used their service. The cataclysmic prophecy is that Jamuna will again be the hostel with the highest points but no Schroeter, because most of the hostels will have lost their athletes to the above mentioned phenomena of rendering each other incapable. The FOK Ball has spoken....

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Ganga Ganga will think up a proactive policy to make its residents study harder and RG their classmates. Ganga will lose the drive to participate in all non-essential activities and shall collectively set up mechanisms so that every resident concentrates on his acads(sic!).'Mug Until God' shall be the motto of the Gangaite, (Muggum tathaha Ishwarah) emblazoned in Sanskrit on his T-Shirt too. The security will have the power to whip any student trying to play in the field or be found outside his room during study hours at night. Lights shall not be switched off before 3 am, any offenders' rooms will be broken into and cold water poured on his face. The LitSec shall block most of the books from the Central Library at the starting of the Sem and put them in the Hostel Lib so that only Gangaites may have access to them. Consequently, the average CGPA will still be around what it was because half the denizens will pass away or go into a coma during end sems and get U grades in every course. The other half which get 10 pointers shall return to IIT Madras as Professors. The FOK Ball has spoken.... Mandakini Taking a leaf out of the Gangaites, Mandakini residents will chalk up a 'Should Have All Girls' Association. The unified plan will try to get a girlfriend for every Mandakite and RG other hostel junta to it. A special liaison set-up will be created with Sharavati. A referendum shall be taken in mid October whether to extend this liaison cell to cover colleges like Stella Maris , WCC, Ethiraj etc. All colleges except Ethiraj shall strike down the plan with derogatory remarks about the size of an IITians brain. Ethiraj gals shall be more than happy but will terminate the dating service in a month on realising only Mandak junta are available through this service. At the end of the year a lot of Mandakites will be going steady. The LitSec shall say in his hostel night speech " The 'Should Have All Girls' Association has worked wonders, initially we had to spend hours and hours chatting up girls who later turned out to be ugly, but what the hell...now everyone has an ugly girlfriend without all that chatting and computer time". The Dean shall support this scheme because now due to reduction in chatting, all over speeds in the Insti would have increased ten fold. The FOK Ball has spoken.... Godavari Godavari shall become the Politics capital of the insti. With a plethora of M.Scs and Gults and the present Cul Sec, Godav adjusts to its exalted position of the politics powerhouse. The only hostel with an optimum 2 LitSecs to inspire 50 odd mataks to take part in LitSoc now realises why 2 LitSecs were required in the first place. Enthusing mataks can be quite a task. The Soc Sec will have the added responsibility of hosting 'Lofty Uninitiated New Delegates' who are basically the politicians of tomorrow and their hemming and hawing will be attended to and deals made Marlon Brando ishtyle by the powers that be in Godav. Nights will signal the in and out movement of the various shrouded figures. In the ensuing confusion Saarang will be forgotten and all the 50% coords (who were non-Godav) will try to run the whole show. The FOK Ball has spoken....

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Sharavati With a fresh influx of freshies, Sharavati is the only hostel about which the FOK Ball foretells glad tidings. Being the cynosure of all eyes becomes too much for Sharavati. A special pavilion will be created outside the gate with barbed wire electric fencing across which visitors can chat up till whatever time they desire with their heavy sighs and spurned advances. Contrary to expectation, freshies in Sarayu won’t get much of the action. After a few intital days of starstruckedness, they will lose interest and concentrate on creating what many people self-deceive into believing is their career and future and other such blah which only looks good when your parents talk about it. Sharavati girls won’t remain the closeted beings who walk in shadows all the time. They will become much more outgoing. 14th February will see a lot of fried humans on the electric fencing who inadvertently tripped the optically activated plasma cannons protecting the perimeter of the hostel from 'Majorly Overactive Romeos Of No Sense'. The FOK Ball has spoken.... More Hostels in later issues... The astrologer can be contacted at 161, Alakananda. Please make personal appointments. Credit cards accepted. Matching horoscopes also done.

This "brain-damaged" epithet is getting sorely overworked. When we can speak of someone or something being flawed, impaired, marred, spoiled; batty, bedlamite, bonkers, buggy, cracked, crazed, cuckoo, daft, demented, deranged, loco, lunatic, mad, maniac, mindless, non compos mentis, nuts, Reaganite, screwy, teched, unbalanced, unsound, witless, wrong; senseless, spastic, spasmodic, convulsive; doped, spaced-out, stoned, zonked; {beef, beetle, block, dung, thick} headed, dense, doltish, dull, duncical, numbskulled, pinhead; asinine, fatuous, foolish, silly, simple; brute, lumbering, oafish; half-assed, incompetent; backward, retarded, imbecilic, moronic; when we have a whole precisely nuanced vocabulary of intellectual abuse to draw upon, individually and in combination, isn't it a little <fill in the blank> to be limited to a single, now quite trite, adjective? -- Unknown

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. -- Albert Einstein

What is research but a blind date with knowledge? -- Will Harvey

In the first place, God made idiots; this was for practice; then he made school boards. -- Mark Twain

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What's This ES Funda? Arjun N. Chennu

Meet ES (El Sarayuite). A pampered, (over) protected, and over provided female with too many forgotten, unprovided-for guys after her. WAIT! Time check. That's history. Now: just a peppy, pimply teenager with an attitude problem and an identity crisis that he diligently shares with 239 others; each trying not to show it, to be happy to be rid of that S-word. S.E.N.I.O.R.S.

ES 'knows' more femalish seniors than the male-type ones. (Pardon my blurring of accuracy.) Mess A lot of the aforementioned 'interaction' (how ever one-sided or imagined it might be) occurs at the new experimental Mega Mess. In the beginning, the mess squeaked, cringed and sputtered, however, moved on like the quintessential overloaded bus. Why? Firstly, the parental influx. Secondly, the parental stay over. Thirdly, the under preparedness of the mess. And oh, did I mention the parental influx and stay over?

Come fall 2002 and IITM launches it's first "All-freshie Hostel" - Sarayu. Previously, a girls' hostel, but now forsaken in favor of the mini-resort which has come to be called Sharav. The situation is comically in contrast with the other hostels, and that is what this reporter hopes to highlight.

This overwhelming parental entourage brought in its wake rather strange (unheard of and downright intolerable!) dress codes. Those poor girls, all tired and worn out from the day's labors NOT allowed to wear shorts? Or flimsy nightgowns? How unfair! And ES not being allowed to flaunt his virility by displaying his thick bushy mane, which extends all the way to his feet? This cannot go on. That's exactly why ES rebelled and now enjoys the 'ambience' in the mess. Especially on the NSO days. Somewhere in between all this interplay between the sexes, comes Food. Starting out with nutritious and rather entertaining, rubber idlis and vulcanized chappatis, ES' diet has now sobered down to the usual dishes like Gobi Manchurian, PBM and a variety of non-veg extras (served in the top floor with extra viewing cubbyholes er, balconies.) I'm sure readers from the other hostels will agree that ES is missing out on the thrill that comes from knowing that you are risking life, limb and workshop attendance just by eating mess food!

ES' life was rather confusing, complex and directionless at first. (Thankfully, it's only directionless now.) In order not to lose myself in the narrative from that vivid 'first day' (when we had Paddy, Mao, DDT etc come put fundaes) to 19th September when ES had the pride of attending his first GBM, I shall try to deal with the topics as isolated as I can make them to be. Sharavati No beating around the cliched bush, let's first get to the topic of our dear neighbors (the operative word being de..). 'Tis perhaps the only point of envy by the seniors (apart from the paltry single rooms), although some opine that it's a further setback. Nobody's waiting to find out, however. ES, although exceedingly shy, has, if not spoken, at least frequently glanced at some of the supposedly fairer sex. ES, thus, harbors this edge over the other hostel's freshies in the "Total Leching Time" category, which they get only during classes! It must be strange to the other freshies that 7


now called the notice board. (Ironically, it was more in notice then!)

Parental Influence "Arre! There is no fan in my little beta's room! Does your beta's have one? Does it work at speed 5? Does it make noise? Does your beta have a clothesline? Does your beta have a balcony?" These remained the burning questions, language and style notwithstanding. ES witnessed all this literal washing of dirty linen in public with practised silence, and a hope that someday some fine day, parents would leave and he can discuss these crucial issues himself with his esteemed colleagues.

A lot more shouting, ranting, chanting and long ballot paper later, the secretaries were elected; credit to the hallowed democratic system. On what grounds only they know or are still to be found out. The secretaries, however, could not entertain any of ES' cribs until (Drum roll and light-flash) THE GBM! Recently, the GBM was held and the secretaries announced their budgets and proposed items with lists containing strange items like "100 ping pong balls", "3 pairs of football shoes", "3 cricket bats and 50 tennis balls" etc. The proceedings are yet to materialize. Perhaps, ES' dream of a REAL TV with more than 3 channels, a SAC and a TT table will come true. Sometime soon.

ES wakes up early (yes! At uncivilized hours like at 4 am on weekdays and 7 am on weekends!) And goes about his chores trying to ignore the guy trying to poond ahead of him in the bathroom line. ES' first lesson in relativity: The length of a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on. Some of his smarter inmates got wise. They didn't visit the place at all. Talk about adaptability!

Seniors Any non-sharav senior, and ES' spine quickly simulates the low-temperature lab and tries to attain sub-zero temperatures. He nervously starts edging and soon exits stage left. A lot of ES' friends have no idea what Quark looks like or where it is. Gurunath also is dared upon only when (moral, physical, psychological and lately financial) strength in numbers is assured. This reporter does not know how the seniors feel that ES is different to um, 'chit chat' with and perhaps to extend a quick invite "to my room" compared to the other freshies. (Feedback invited as long as I don't have to go to any room to get it!)

Elections All this good food. How in the name of arc welding did that happen? Of course! The mess sec did it. It's not clear (to the diplomatic such as article-writers) as to which mess sec was responsible. Yes, Sarayu does happen to have its own hostel council for those of you no up to date on recent humorous happenings. ES, being the conscientious citizen and politician that he is, not only ran in the elections, but also nominated one friend (sadly, that was the max allowed) for every other secretary post. ES and his friends are also very socially active creatures. During election campaigning, they formed gult groups, tam groups, mallu groups, northy groups and other varieties, perhaps depending on certain preferences. Result: Chaos. And a notice from the Dean forbidding such regionalism and to put a stop to the sloganchanting and nearly-panting processions that roamed the hostel and mess at rather weird timings. "All campaigning in English." Really put a damper on all the interesting stuff one got to see on the graffiti board,

Lingo Mind you, ES is NOT a coward. He just isn't acclimatized to this new environment, and especially, the lingo. He bulbs whenever shady junta put jod-level fundaes about poonding a slysha fufa RG er, buster. He feels like deeshing when such haiffunda level things are put to him. He prefers cupping a quiz to deciphering such cuppax level lingo type things. Peace? Hazaar peace. It's not very ob-like, but better believe it, Vokay. You can't expect ES to stoop to such derogatory levels. He

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DOES NOT like pondy-type-things as he 'comes from a long line of decent and honorable ancestors'. Period. The truth? Well it is yet "apocryphal", and what little is speculatively known is rather unprintable.

exercise (in the mess), healthy and extended discussions about which detergent is better, ES is sure destined to go far. Far off to another hostel next year where he becomes both ragger and raggee. How good is this system? A warped isolation from seniors, a changing of hostel loyalty, no proper fundaes, no facilities - well, ES perseveres on with the same tenacity that got him to clear his (genuflect) JEE.

So, all in all he's just another brick in the wall. With such good habits as early to bed (as early in the 'evening' as 10pm) and early to rise, 100% attendance, good eye-

Dear Ms. Postnews: I couldn't get mail through to somebody on another site. should I do? -- Eager Beaver

What

Dear Eager: No problem, just post your message to a group that a lot of people read. Say, "This is for John Smith. I couldn't get mail through so I'm posting it. All others please ignore." This way tens of thousands of people will spend a few seconds scanning over and ignoring your article, using up over 16 man-hours their collective time, but you will be saved the terrible trouble of checking through usenet maps or looking for alternate routes. Just think, if you couldn't distribute your message to 9000 other computers, you might actually have to (gasp) call directory assistance for 60 cents, or even phone the person. This can cost as much as a few DOLLARS (!) for a 5 minute call! And certainly it's better to spend 10 to 20 dollars of other people's money distributing the message than for you to have to waste $9 on an overnight letter, or even 25 cents on a stamp! Don't forget. The world will end if your message doesn't get through, so post it as many places as you can. -- Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette

checkuary, n: The thirteenth month of the year. Begins New Year's Day and ends when a person stops absentmindedly writing the old year on his checks.

We Americans, we're a simple people... but piss us off, and we'll bomb your cities. -- Robin Williams, Good Morning Vietnam

Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you're at it. -- Unknown

People who claim they don't let little things bother them have never slept in a room with a single mosquito. -- Unknown

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On the Cool Side of Sarayu Dhanya P. Satyashree Srikanth

Darkness engulfs me. With sweat dripping, I try to seek a safe shelter. I retreat, not taking my eyes off the ghosts that had not haunted me even in the worst of my nightmares. I’m cornered. I hope in vain that the walls eat me up. It’s playtime for them and all they’ve got is me to play with. Jeez!! They scream… jeering at me. I can hear my death knell toll loud and clear. There is someone shouting, “Turn your damn alarm off!” I am awake and who am I? I’m the ghost now!

Senior: Take her for a ride on this scooter. Freshie bulbs. Senior: This scooter here… can’t you see it? Well then, take her to Khandala. Vrooooooooommm… BRAKE! Screeeeeech…. BANG! There goes another of those harmless interaction sessions – the subtle spice of our mealtime. But not all the freshie guys take it in the right spirit. While half of them consider it below their dignity to talk to girls, the other half want to make the most of it. How far will this attitude of theirs take them?

These were the first few days of our freshie year. A year has zoomed by. Things haven’t changed much – scared freshies justturned-bully seniors, sadistic laughter, and humiliation – only the people have changed. People – the measly few girls who turn up every year (a bulky package from Gultland as always) and of course, an ex- “girls’ hostel” full of guys!

Going back three years, Sarayu witnessed the creation of a ‘timeless’ piece of art – a T-Shirt which must have been inspired by the work of the costume designer of one of the most popular serials on DD – Shaktimaan! A bright yellow sunflower sending forth the message – “Life in Sarayu is life on the cool side”!

Exercising our self-bestowed ‘privileges’ as seniors, we set out to our den – the Mega Mess, our eyes all reserved for our juniors. Senior: Hey freshie, come here. Why don’t you join us for dinner? There’s place for one… PUT INTRO…

Unfortunately for the hostel’s SAC, it didn’t captivate the attention of too many of its beholders, and the SAC suffered a loss, only to recover its market three years later when the boys of Sarayu bought them all. Can we say then, that we’re better con artists than our seniors were?

15 minutes later… Senior: Why don’t you go call one of the freshie girls to keep you company?

Halfway down the semester, the fun, frolic, and interactive sessions may have died down, but even now… Life in Sharav is life on the cool side of Sarayu!

The guy is all smiles at being clubbed (at last!) with one among the better half, er, better onetenth of IIT.

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Informals - Must the Show Go On? Rahul Pratap M.

Timing is everything. Or so they say, not very inaccurately. It very definitely is, in the case of this article. Just after Saarang 2002, this would have seemed like a host of bad excuses from who else but the sorest losers of the festival! Just before the Cul Sec election that eventually wasn't, this would have become food for false promises, and its central issues conveniently discarded later. Just after the constitution of the Core Group and appointment of Coordinators, this would have been lost in the hopes, dreams, and general atmosphere of positive faith that typically pervades their minds early in their tenure. There could hardly be a better time than now, when for the umpteenth time, it has begun to be discovered that reality bites. And yet it isn't a moment too early, as reality would otherwise go on to annihilate. Full circle. This article would then be due from my juniors! Excessive contemplation would once again see the right time pass them by. Full circle. So it has been established that this is indeed the right time. And at this time, like any other, the mention of "Informals" instantly conjures images of failure that one today finds perversely amusing! And I have been part of both the episodes that constitute what many are quick to call, 'The Decline of Informals'. I was an Informals Volunteer in my first year. I had heard of Saarang 2000, and the great hit that Informals was at that time. That was our inspiration. We had only to follow methods well tried and tested. The Informals Coordinators for Saarang 2001 were full of ideas too. Our bunch of volunteers wasn't without hopes either. All plans were full of promise. And then the Sify stall happened, heralding the debut in IITM of mindless professional entertainment that is automatically justified by the volume of free prizes. Informals took a beating. More importantly, the spirit of students trying to entertain their fellows was reduced to less than a nice try. Maybe in already having once said 'nice try', I find myself at a loss for words to attempt to encompass the greater tragedy that was to come. I was an Informals Coordinator for Saarang 2002. Once again, Informals 2000 was sung about a great deal, particularly by the Core Group members who had themselves been part of it. Informals 2001 was a bad mistake that wasn't to be repeated at any cost. It's a pity that we deluded ourselves into thinking it was ever in our hands. Informals in my year got off to a very jinxed start. And people were waiting for us to do it again at Saarang; waiting to see again the failure that one today finds perversely amusing! And Saarang 2002 did finally begin. Informals was planned right down to the last minute of 'five times seven' hours. That perhaps was our mistake. We ought to have been more flexible. What if we got only two hours on stage a day? That seems very probable, doesn't it, especially without prior notice of at least a week! And I say 'probable' because it eventually happened! Day One, the promised backdrop had not arrived. The elaborate Informals Inauguration was trashed for want of a sound system. Informals only saw numerous pots being broken. But people were entertained nonetheless. We were happy in a strange kind of way. Day Two, the bomb dropped. Globus wanted our stage for one hour a day. Sony wanted us nowhere within a half-mile radius of the stage, for the two and a half hours a day when Karaoke was to enthrall! Of course, these negotiations were secret, and all that people were given to see, was that Informals was absconding for three and a half hours a day. Add to this the fact that the audio system arrived one hour late every day. Our seven hour plan broke down, what with us barely ever having more than one hour between scheduled sponsors' interruptions. But the little victory remained that for the miniscule fraction of the day that we were on, the crowds were drawn away 11


from all competing stalls and nearby events, to our own stage. Those were Days Three, Four and Five. They all hurt, and if it is any consolation, in the same way - no new torture methods were being tried on us! However, this isn't to allege that Informals was solely victimised. All Events Coordinators have their problems to deal with. Of course, the general pandemonium that results keeps us thinking on our feet and other similarly incapable faculties! And I cannot claim that we as a team dealt with our own problems in the best possible way. Saarang 2002 feedback showed that Informals was voted the least enjoyed event. I must respect the opinion of those 17 people who chose not to politely leave that question unanswered! I'm sure that our own inability to recover from the initial setback that disrupted our entire schedule, and our inability to come up with a Contingency Plan that would be to everyone's satisfaction are equally responsible for the disaster that we turned out to be. And it was probably no help that our attitude was one of vengeance - "Circumstances won't allow us to entertain the masses. So we'll entertain ourselves and be happy to do at least so much!" I cannot try to ease the blame off ourselves. I can only hope that there are no further five-day emergencies in the future. That will be enough of an account, insufficient as it may be. I feel a great deal of reflection is due. For two years, we have seen how Informals has suffered the consequences of having been completely neglected, and I dare say spurned by the Core Group and Sponsorship Coordinators. Informals has always had to do its own sponsorship. And in both my years, I have seen good deals being lost because we don't have the authority to make certain promises, and because our higher-ups don't have the time for us. Informals seems to be the lowest on the priority lists of GA and PA coords. In general, the Informals effort has always been that of orphans. When I first advertised Informals as a 'Parallel Universe at Saarang' in an IP early last year, I didn't realise this is how true it would turn out to be! Perhaps the concept and philosophy of Informals as it was originally conceived, needs some pondering over. And I mean the concept and philosophy before they were lost to mindless commercialisation of Saarang. Informals is meant to be a platform for us reputedly dull IITian students to try and entertain the rather large crowds at Saarang who at a given moment are neither participating in any event nor watching one. It is for their entertainment, but more so, their entertainment by the hosts, by students who don't make a living out of it. This is a concept that is already lost in the other well known college festivals where for the most part, Informals as a student effort is either extinct (in which case professionals run sponsored stalls) or has degenerated into a Jukebox stall or an endless JAM session, as it may otherwise be called. It's only in IIT Madras where we sit on the sad line between clinging to Informals just for the sake of Informals, and reaching out to the hand of Providence that the sponsors extend. This is finally where I appeal to the Core Group and other similarly powerful Coordinators who have it in their hands to make or break Informals. If you must have Informals, please support them, because they need a great deal of it. If you must extract all you can from your sponsors, let it not be at the expense of any principles that you, in having Informals at all, officially claim to endorse. Otherwise, it probably is better not to have Informals run by students at all. All those threats to scrap Informals are threats less than they are promises of liberation. After all, when it does happen the way it has for the past two years, starting against all odds, and eventually succumbing to them, it only makes for a lot of blood, sweat, tears, shattered hopes, battered plans, and failure that one today finds perversely amusing!

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Group Discussions for Dummies v1.01 Gautam Kumar Raja

Considering that a large number of students from IITM will be writing the CAT this year and also considering the dismal nature of the group discussions that took place during the placements I feel it necessary to dispense some much-needed advice. Here then is Group Discussions for Dummies (GDFD) – a patented technique practiced by hundreds of successful candidates and meant for use only by the aforementioned category of people known as Dummies. Not sure if you’re a Dummy? Here are some sure-fire indicators that you are:a) The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the letters GD is any of: Grand Dialogue, Game Da, Group? Duh?, Gail Devers, Gastric Digestion, Gold Dust or God Damn! b) You failed to understand the relevance of any of the pairings above. The GDFD method does not guarantee success in normally-defined terms (Dummies read – it’s not guaranteed to get you through to the next stage) but it does guarantee that if used effectively and in the proper manner it will help you hide any Dummy characteristics you might possess at least for the period of the GD. Firstly, let us address some preliminary issues:1) It is always a good idea to dress neatly, if not formally, to any GD. Though the conductors of the GD are not likely to base their judgements on your attire, it must be noted that most Dummies tend to act like they’re in a fish-market during a GD and if coupled with this they are also dressed like people in a fish-market…let’s just say the overall fish-market effect stinks. 2) Remind yourself before the GD begins exactly what the letters G and D stand for. Then forcefully forget the first thing that came to your mind and ask your neighbour. 3) Try and remember the Golden Rules (GRs) of GDs : A. Silence is better than Nonsense. B. GDs are not merely extended JAM sessions…or in other words… C. Over Objection is objectionable. D. Ogling at cute man/woman across the table is rarely useful – it only helps those truly exceptional Dummies who are better off remaining silent throughout the GD. Without further ado here is the GDFD technique. Dummies, please follow the instructions if not word for word at least in spirit. 1) All GDs have a topic of discussion that is either communicated verbally to the participants or in the form of a written dialogue/story. Whatever the case may be, the first thing a Dummy should do is put his/her hand on one’s own forehead and pretend to mull over the topic for some time. To add to the scholarly effect one might even dabble some nonsensical verse on the provided sheet of paper. It is highly advised that Dummies do not indulge in playing tic-tac-toe or drawing any large lascivious diagrams at this point of time. 2) In the highly unlikely event that all members of a GD are Dummies trained in the GDFD technique, the GD will never get started and the method adopted has already succeeded. Hurrah! Unfortunately the real world is a cruel place and in all probability someone (Dummy/other) will start the GD off in a logically flawed and inconsistent 13


direction. In such cases, allow the Speaker to talk till he utters the word ‘Therefore’ or any of its synonyms and at such time you must quickly and vehemently shout out ‘I object’. 3) At this time all participants will turn to you. Remain impassive. More importantly, remain silent. When the others realize you have no intention of speaking, a participant who has actually realized what exactly the logical flaw in the opener’s statements is will take up the reins and point the GD in the right direction. Technically, the objection to the flawed argument is still yours and with any luck you will be credited with changing the direction of the GD. Hurrah! 10 points! Note: The above method which I’ll call the Objection Method (OM) actually illustrates a prime characteristic of all managers i.e. using the talents of others effectively to one’s own advantage and (though it can’t be confirmed) it has been stated that some management schools look for the exhibition of exactly this sort of a skill during GDs. In which case, Hurrah! 20 points! 4) You are now well and truly in the lead. You may thus take a short break to quickly revise the Golden Rules. 5) You can now do one of two things – Try your luck once more with the aforementioned OM or more sensibly move on to the second of the pillars on which your success is based – the Iteration Method (IM). 6) Suppose there are N participants in the GD and you have already expressed agreement with the viewpoints of M of the participants (n1, n2, … nM). Wait until a speaker other than n1 to nM speaks. Listen carefully to what this speaker says and at a suitable point of time, interrupt. 7) Say something to the order of “Carrying on from what X was saying I would like to add …” and then paraphrase what that speaker had to say. 8) If M + 2 < N go back to step 6. 9) For good measure, repeat steps 6 and 7 one final time and then move ahead to step 10. 10) The IM is based on sound management principles and illustrates yet more of the characteristics appreciated in managers – namely, your openness to look at an issue from various points of view and the impression that you’re quite an agreeable fellow. Hopefully by the time you’ve done all this, the GD is over. Hurrah! Success! By using the GDFD technique you (Dummy) have given yourself the best possible chance to make it past the GD. More importantly, the GDFD ensures that Dummies remain harmless to the cause of non-Dummies like myself and thus gives the rest of us our rightfully deserved opportunity. In other words…you help yourself and help others as well. So do remember…It takes all N members of a GD to make it a success…but it takes only one untrained Dummy to make it a failure for all involved.

We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough. -- Niels Bohr

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. -- Mark Twain

14


Learning to Pass (To be sung to the tune of Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd)

Vipluv Aga

Into the distance a board in black, Look on straight into the prof’s back. His own fancy in a confused field, At those equations my senses reeled. A fatal Cup and U holding me fast, How can I escape its irresistible grasp? Can't close my eyes, I am going to die, Tongue tied and twisted a sure fail misfit, I. The U is taunting from my teachers side, Laughing and sneering, he has my hide. No cog sheets to find my way home, Classmates not helping, turned to stone. A soul in tension that’s learning to pass, The brain is screwed up, must be all that g..., Can't close my eyes, I am going to die, Tongue tied and twisted a sure fail misfit, I. Relative grading has put me through prayer, The mugpots won’t vanish into the air, Across the class I see them raising their hands, Dazed and confused the professor stands, I want to cry, I don’t want this, My music and laughter has gone amiss, There is no sensation to compare with this, Complete helplessness, an end of wits, Can't close my eyes, I am too young to die, Tongue tied and twisted a sure fail misfit, I....

audophile, n: Someone who listens to the equipment instead of the music.

Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage. -- Publilius Syrus

15


The Lonely Planet Guide to IIT Madras Ajit Narayanan Kaushik Raghunath Sriram Subramaniam

The potential of IIT as Madras’ ultimate tourist destination is vastly unexploited! In the last several years that we’ve spent in this place, we’ve seen some of the most amazing natural beauty, coexisting with the bizarre and the offbeat, punctuated by labs that seem like alien monuments. It isn’t difficult to find hi-funda places in IIT! All one needs, is a little courage to ‘rough it up’, so to speak, and a Calvin-and-Hobbes attitude towards adventuring. In this column, every issue, we hope to feature about 3 to 4 spots that are definitely worth visiting in the institute; some of them are on the roads that we use everyday, and some of them are pretty far removed from civilization, but they’re all worth a visit. Some are best explored with your best friends; some with a person of the opposite sex(!), and a few are most beautiful when they’re visited alone. But each of these places makes us proud to be students of this strange and wonderful campus, that is a forest masquerading as a college, and it will be very rewarding to see more and more people feeling that kind of pride. So here’s to our first IIT expedition!

- Part One Down the SAC Road

The road that leads down the Swimming pool and the SAC is one of the most amazing roads in IIT – a veritable goldmine lies on this long and twisty road. The easiest way to access it is to walk down from the SAC, but it can also be reached from Sarayu and Sharavati, by moving into the stadium and across, and also from many sideroads that branch off from the old Library road. If you should choose to go down the SAC, the road will branch very soon into two; a left turn leads to the stadium and eventually to Sarayu, but a right turn is the more interesting adventure. In the rainy seasons, such as now, there are vast pools of water that form below the trees, covered with carpets of moss, behind which the deer graze. A short walk down that stretch takes you over a bridge that apparently flows over green water! There are very few places that we’ve seen that are as beautiful as this bridge on an early morning after a rain.

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There are all sorts of wondrous trees along the road – for instance, a short way down, there’s a tree that had actually started growing, then changed its mind, did a U-turn, and buried itself back in the earth again! Around this tree, there were several unfathomable craters. We later realised that these craters, almost perfectly carved out of the ground, were in fact trees that had been burnt down by lightning! A little farther along the road takes one to a small clearing on the left of the road. There are three benches, arranged in an almost perfectly equilateral triangle. We have no idea who put them there, or for what purpose. The most romantic suggestion, subscribed to by at least two members of faculty whom we asked about it, seems to be that there was once a garden here, for courting couples, equidistant from Sarayu and the other hostels, but far from the madding crowd. Of course, it isn’t very feasible that the institute would be so thoughtful in its architecture… The benches are now grown over with thorns and vegetation, and people who attempt to recreate the old magic will definitely find it a painful and prickly experience! A right turn at the correct spot, just a few meters from the triangle, leads one along a dirt road to the famous Oxidation pond. An ancient map of IIT that we dug up showed not one, but two oxidation ponds, huge big squares behind the SAC that no one seemed to be able to explain. We found only one – the other is still a mystery. But for a place that is the final destination of all the sewage that IIT produces, the oxidation pond is surprisingly very beautiful to look at. You’ve got to hold your nose, though, the smell is a little strong, especially during the rains! There are many more amazing places along the SAC road – for instance, there’s a semiabandoned old hut where some security chaps keep strict vigil, and a pile of bricks that leads one over the wall into Taramani (or some distant part of it). Definitely worth exploring! Instead of following the road, you can also choose to leave it at any point of time and head off into the jungles. Following such a path would lead to the lake, which lies in a vast leg all along the left side of the road, about 20 meters away. In drier times, it is possible to scale the lake, walking most of the way and wading in ankle-deep water in a few stretches, but in the monsoon, the lake swells up and is pretty much inaccessible. A view from the lakeside, onto the other bank with its depth gauge and rickety pier, is a nice way to round off a good 3-hour expedition on a lazy Sunday morning.

17


Backward March Editorial

We, the new editors of The Fourth Estate, cannot claim to have caught the new academic year while still fresh. However, there have been enough changes, and of enough significance so they never really become stale. February 2002 may be considered the beginning of IIT Madras’ colossal, and elaborately calculated stephop-and-leap backwards in time and evolution. And even many months later, we students seldom tire of reflecting upon the how and why-on-earth of these changes. Some students among us make it their business to curse IIT Madras and the circumstances that brought them here. They now almost revel in the amount of slander that IITM is helping generate for itself, thereby grounding, and furthering all their freshman year theories about conservativeness as a function of latitude.

they are inferior beings, reminiscent of some kind of Big Brother suppression? The one act which really takes the cake was the Talibanesque restriction on the movement of girls last semester. Apparently, if a girl returned to the hostel after 11 o’clock she would have to sign in a register. If she signed in late five times, a letter would be sent to her parents saying she was late. What are parents supposed to think, with an Institute letterhead diaphanously hinting that their daughter is up to something? “If you want to work late in the lab get a letter from your prof… if you are out for a movie... ummm… then it is a bad thing isn’t it?” What did the girls ever do to deserve such vague, definitely sexist submission protocols? Wisely, even that autocratic ruling was revoked, but not until the girls finally raised their voice, sometimes literally. But even now, girls are not allowed in boys hostels after 9 o’ clock, while previously such a time limit was never set, in fact, never required.

Whatever be the theories that attempt to encompass the dynamics of this bundle of contradictions, one fact is simply too evident to ignore – the management has absolutely no trust in the students and their sense of responsibility, and feels compelled by some as yet unknown logic, to control their freedom and power.

Sometimes the powers that be never realize what students want. Most of the time, the student body is clueless about the diktats read out to them at SAC meetings. There might as well be a SAC IP. There is no discussion, only unilateral communication. Is it any surprise that IITians, always ready to lap up a freebie how much ever trouble they have to put up with, do not come to SAC meetings to get their free soft drinks?

A glaring example of how little the authorities think of the students was amply exhibited last semester when the all famous “11’o clock rule” was imposed. Students were to sign a register if they returned to their hostels after 11 o’ clock at night. The reason for being late was to be given too. Wisely it was discontinued. It had to be - the registers were filled with reasons like, “Had gone out”. Like we wouldn’t have known! One of the best reasons we saw in a register was, “Saw a light... went out to investigate. It was an alien spaceship... made friends with extra terrestrial intelligence.” What good did that whole exercise do, except make the residents of the hostel feel like

The problem is that most of the time it is only the students’ diatribe against the authorities that is always heard. If only there were no regular breaches of the discipline code that we saw so often last year. The Dean especially had an unenviable job of trying to maintain semblance among some real flared up egos and tempers. 18


Simple message to students: You be good, we’ll be good.

awaited. The issue of Internet connectivity is still mired in indecision. The Alumni have long been promising to buy us 34Mbps of bandwidth and yet, during class hours everyday, one isn’t to be surprised at speeds of a few hundred bytes per second.

But then again, the one development or the opposite that doesn’t seem to be reasonably backed by instances of students’ irresponsibility with freedom, is the advancement of the ban on powered vehicles on campus. The historic SAC meeting called to discuss, or as earlier noted, dictate the rule, remains probably the best attended and most heatedly argued ever. Entrants of year 2000 and later were reconciled to not being allowed to drive powered vehicles on campus, and prophecies of doom to our cultural and technical festivals abounded.

Agreed, work towards the proposed intranet has finally begun in a few hostels. Students, who feel blessed that even so much is coming their way, very uncomplainingly put up with up to three days of drilling in their walls, and all the dust liberated in the process. That’s the small price we must pay for living in hostels which are a few decades old. What one fails to comprehend, however, is why Sharavati Hostel, which was built only in 2001, was built with absolutely no forethought, and it must now break a few hundred hearts to see holes drilled in those precious tiles and walls!

But the sudden advancement put a lot of entrants of 1999 in a fix as they had just bought vehicles since they would anyway be permitted to use them for one more year. But not a single plea of the students was heard at the meeting, and some of the lamest solutions ever to be suggested, were offered by the management. Your most ridiculous fancies involving autorickshaws and taxis may just be concurrent with what they thought would solve the imminent Saarang and Shaastra crisis. And about the electric vans, the less said, the better. So much for an institute of technology - not content with not solving the world’s problems, we seem to further want to create problems that we cannot solve, so that in short, we cannot solve anybody’s problems – not the world’s, not ours.

And yet, even this is a great improvement over the situation two years ago. One isn’t sure whether to commend the improvement or lament what in absolute terms is clearly a pathetic state of affairs. The only resort a student has in the hostel zone is the moon lab, now reduced to a monument to the depressing callousness with which students maintain a facility that’s entirely under their control. The coordinators have done an admirable job in keeping it running against all odds. It is the users, however, who have seen to it that barely one or two computers have both a working keyboard and a working mouse.

Meanwhile, the promise of any form of networking in the hostels is two years old, and remained just as far from fulfilment as ever throughout these two years. So there are problems in implementation, and we are expected to be sympathetic. But we are supposed, again, to be an institute of technology, and are supposed to overcome. Instead, we remain the only IIT without room-to-room connectivity. Surely the others had their problems to deal with too. An intranet was promised, and is still eagerly

And now coming to the new academic year, some of us were sufficiently forewarned, that Sarayu was to become a fresher hostel for boys, thereby upsetting what was the best scheme for interaction and mixing. However, the sudden reallocation of new students out of Godavari and Mandakini made for a great amount of disillusionment. Godavari now has 54 M.Sc students, and Mandakini has 45 Preparatory Course students. And in being denied a regular, randomly chosen batch of

19


B.Tech students, they have had to suffer a one-year-wide chasm in what has been a strong Lit-Soc tradition in both hostels. Of course, it may be understood that Lit-Soc futures are clearly the last thing on the minds of the Hostel Management. But even the randomness that usually ensures fairness seems to be suspiciously absent this year. It almost seems like some shadowy figures there are chuckling in self-satisfaction at creating what they hope will pass as a curious coincidence. But what is one to think when all but two or three freshmen out of sixty in Saraswathi are localites, leaving two wings deserted every weekend?

Finally, lest we carry the mood of dissatisfaction too far, we must acknowledge the few changes that mildly offset the barrage of seeming punishments. All of them somehow, have to do with the places that we eat in looking and feeling better. The boys have rather well renovated messes. The girls have a very sophisticated, if nothing more, new common mess. We all get pure water to drink. And everybody has a brand new Patisserie and Nescafe stall; same old Quark, though. And life goes on, caring little for whether or not, at the end of the day we are a happy lot!

"I quite agree with you," said the Duchess; "and the moral of that is -`Be what you would seem to be' -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- `Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'" -- Lewis Carroll, "Alice in Wonderland"

Q: A:

What's tan and black and looks great on a lawyer? A doberman.

The Czechs announced after Sputnik that they, satellite. Of course, it would orbit Sputnik, not Earth!

too,

would

launch

a

Tact is the ability to tell a man he has an open mind when he has a hole in his head. -- Unknown

If you are honest because honesty is the best policy, your honesty is corrupt. -- Unknown

A hermit is a deserter from the army of humanity. -- Unknown

Advertising Rule: In writing a patent-medicine advertisement, first convince the reader that he has the disease he is reading about; secondly, that it is curable.

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Response to the Editorial Prof. S S Gokhale (Dean Students)

Turn around by 180 degrees and the ‘Backward March’ mentioned in the Editorial would appear as a forward step in the right direction. Responsibility must necessarily be earned, proved and time tested. IIT Madras students are given sufficient latitude in administration and organisation. But at times the students handled it in a shoddy fashion. May it be the trivial and petty thing such as stealing the mouse ball in Moon Lab in SFC or misuse of coffee vending machines in the Hostels? These might be exceptions but the rules are framed essentially to handle such exceptions. Every civilised society evolves its own rules and regulations for smooth and orderly daily business. For example, the 40kmph rule for the city traffic or the ban on smoking in public places are not to be challenged or argued under the disguise of personal freedom or liberty. Incidentally, not a single word from the Editorial has been edited or modified, respecting the freedom of expression. One cannot always turn blind eyes under the mask of childish pranks towards misdemeanour and as a matter of fact the responsible citizen will never feel the pinch of the just law. Last semester 11 O’ Clock rule was merely restated from the Hostel rulebook for the hostelers. You and your parents have signed it at the time of admission to the Institute. These are not new draconian laws made for the pleasure of exercising power over the student body. Just last month during Shaastra one student met with a serious accident inside the campus at ‘midnight’ while riding supposedly banned ‘powered vehicle’. He lay there in pain till a security patrol party (and not an alien) rescued him. Major operation in Malar Hospital did cost nearly Rs.l.00 lakhs and as is understood the student will not be able to ride two-wheeler powered vehicle for quite some time. Medical and Personal accident insurance coverage – certainly not a backward step and a facility provided only by IIT Madras would salvage the financial burden to some extent and is appreciated by the parents. Incidentally the father was unhappy and concerned about this late night powered vehicle ride of his son. The agony and anguish of the parents and running around done by the Warden was quite unwarranted. The irony of the situation is that when something goes wrong, Administration is blamed promptly without even an attempt to understand the ground realities. There were attempted attacks on some of the girl students and hence the 11 O’ Clock rule. I wonder whether flouting the rules signed and agreed to or being argumentative is considered manly by the student general body! And with the same yardstick pointing out the already existing rules or basic norms of civic decency – (read dress code in the Mega Mess), has been seen as infringement of civic liberty. The less said about student participation in the administration, the better. EML, SAC, Institute functions, Hostel GBM go a begging for attendance, quorum and decorum. When Dean Students has to issue notices making attendance compulsory for the first years in these events, it hardly reflects positively on the attitude and values of the seniors. There is marginal accountability in student organized events. There are coordinators of all kind some of whom are merely for the glamour of it but functionally not effective. India’s latest failed monsoon is attributed to the increased pollution from coal as well as vehicles. The battery-operated Electravan is the first experiment of its kind of this magnitude in the country and other IITs are inquiring about it. Even though the intentions are right, there are bound to be minor hiccups as everyone is trying to understand the logistic. According to a rough estimate, due to these electric powered vehicles, Institute buses burnt about 2000 litres less 21


diesel last month. The battery vehicles which run 10,440 kms consumed 7500 units of electricity and the cost worked out to be Rs.30,000 whereas the consumption level of diesel engines to the same number of kilometres would be 2500 litres of diesel and the cost would have been multiple amount. This measure would have reduced the pollution marginally on the campus but definitely a step in the right direction! The statistics would have been much better if students had curtailed using their power vehicles. The Bajaj and TVS used by the then secretaries did not improve the financial or operational performance of Saarang 2002 anyway. As a matter of fact we lost whole lot of money. Even before commissioning Inter/Intranet facility in the hostels, Institute had to send out two students from the Academic program as well as from the Hostels this semester as they violated the cyber law. Couple of students were sent out as well as fined for prohibited substance abuse in the Hostels. Talk about responsible student body! We are aware that these are not merely stray incidences and similar things are going around. Classic suggestion is administration should catch them and take strict action against the guilt â&#x20AC;&#x201C; certainly not for the enlightened and intelligent IIT community, as policing is not the correct solution. Rules are primarily guidelines as any intelligent person should understand and follow. How do we make the student body into learning, civilised and socially well adjusted community is indeed the main challenge. Prove yourself to be worthy of trust and faith of your teachers and mentors. Join us in this task. Evolve a code of conduct within the framework and abide by it and you will be proud to be identified as students of IIT Madras.

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The Crazy Things We Do with Our Computers (From The Linux Gazette)

This happened a long time ago, when a 20-megabyte hard disk was a giant, both in capacity and size. My friend had a Corvus 20 megabyte drive that was shared among five PCs which were used to run the accounting department of a small manufacturing business. The owner of the company was extremely pleased with my friend and the efficiency of the computerized accounting group. One day, in the middle of month-end processing, the electric motor on the Corvus burned out. Payroll and Accounts Receivable needed to be done by the end of the day, and there were no backups of the data files. Since the Corvus had never failed, my friend had not bothered making backups. Not having anything to lose, he opened up the case and removed the burned out motor. He then took an old electric hand drill with a variable speed motor and chucked it directly to the hard disk. I wrote a quick and dirty program that read one sector of data and displayed a message when the read was successful. He ran this program while squeezing the trigger on the drill until it reported successful reads. Once he had the speed right, he used black tape and taped the trigger so that it would not move. The accounting group finished their month-end processing using the drill as the hard disk motor. He continued to use the drive with the drill for several weeks, after carefully making backups of the data however.

In the broad and final sense all institutions are educational in the sense that they operate to form the attitudes, dispositions, abilities and disabilities that constitute a concrete personality...Whether this educative process is carried on in a predominantly democratic or nondemocratic way becomes, therefore, a question of transcendent importance not only for education itself but for its final effect upon all the interests and activities of a society that is committed to the democratic way of life. -- John Dewey (1859-1953), American philosopher

It's hard to drive at the limit, but it's harder to know where the limits are. -- Stirling Moss

Test-tube babies shouldn't throw stones. -- Unknown

23


In the Second Before I Died Rahul Pratap M.

Is this Death’s hand that I wish to take in my right, And put to my head while I savour my last sight? Is it Death that I so impatiently Wish will become dear to me? Wait so I will, come when it might. The peace appears worth it. But will it be, certainly?

Eleven thirty seven twenty eight. The time shall haunt my Memory Ultimate. Soul’s packed and ready, almost getting late, And now another memory to try and accommodate. But what of this soul that I am so sure Sits waiting, pushing a button inside? The button to take it to a higher floor, While I rot with time and tide. And what of these floors in Salvation Towers, And those intermediate Judgement hours? To ever know if they’re real, I must first be brave, Not waste my time, speculate, contemplate, (While my patience lay flat after a turn in its grave) Whether the board will reset after this impending checkmate.

To try is useless, or so it should seem, My life’s purpose or its worth to redeem. So I shall reconcile, while I picture hopelessly The only miracle that can possibly save me – Towering over the scope of practicality, Dwarfed by the zero of probability. All while struggling in a storm at sea – The sad and sorry sea of reality. And one last time on my life I reflect – The story hardly unfolds but rather unwraps To reveal a collage – completely imperfect. Yes, imperfect at worst, ugly at best, perhaps. To everyone I’ve ever known and loved, (Though not love do my actions bespeak) The sun shall rise over one fool less, Your midst shall be cleansed of me. Goodbye. When you hear a shot, a thud, but no shriek, The time will be eleven thirty seven twenty ni..

But my beliefs I can surely At a better time question, Dig out, dust, and study In the daylight of reason, Than in this moment of half-misery, Half-peace, sunset, self-destruction. But must this really be the end? Does my suicidal mind really intend To finish what it started? This plan for the brave-hearted (Or is it cowardly) departure?

Those who can, do. Those who can't, write the instructions. -- Unknown

If the aborigine drafted an IQ test, all of Western civilization would presumably flunk it. -- Stanley Garn

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When the Gras Used to Grow Vipluv Aga

This one is for the benefit of all those people who didn’t quite come for the little talk that Prof. L.S. Ganesh gave to all the Saarang coords.

college band was tuning up. As the streakers ran from behind them and so were not noticed by the band members, they thought that the crowd was cheering so loudly for their act…and were quite pleased. Yeah, until they realised that it was all for the streakers who made good their escape since they had a car waiting for them.

Presenting some choice recollections of the time when Mardi Gras used to be the prima dona of cul fests in India. Mardi Gras in IITM actually used to have a carnival, where every hostel would present a stall and then have their people dress up in colourful costumes a la the Rio carnival (without the nudity of course!) and then parade all over the place….Man that must have been a sight!

Apparently, in the 70’s sometime, Sarayu had this totally stunning model for a student. In Prof LSG’s words, “Imagine…!” Imagine indeed! As with most good looking girls she gave more KLPD’s than most people could count. Uriah Heap, the British rock band actually played at a pro show in Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras was the place to be if you wanted grass. Marijuana, dope, ganja, gee, stuff…the works! The OAT concerts had so much grass fumes in the air that the smell could be noticed all the way till HSB. This was one of the main reasons why Mardi Gras was considered to be too western and the name was subsequently changed to Saarang to give it a more Indian image. Incidentally, suggestions were invited from the students and the new name was chosen quite democratically.

An interesting incident of deft artist handling was the one of Pankaj Udhas. According to the agreement, he would get to stay in Park Sheraton, while his musical troupe in Taramani House. Just 5 minutes before the show was about to start, he threw a tantrum asking for his whole troupe to be given rooms in Sheraton, else he would not go on stage. The then Director, determined not to give in to such unreasonable and arrogant demands, told him in clear words, that there was no such agreement and so the demand was quite unreasonable. Still if he would not perform, the Diro would go on stage and inform the huge audience that Pankaj Udhas would not be performing and also…the reason why he would not be performing. The artist sheepishly gave in without further ado.

Once, when Prof LS Ganesh was a PA coord at the Western Music competition, one girl who was totally stoned and absolutely out of her senses, went right up to the judge and started chanting, “come with me…come with me”. The judge helplessly looked at LSG and said, “You! Handle her!”. LSG was flabbergasted until help in the form of Sarayu girls arrived and took her away.

Well, that was just a little history lesson. For more interesting stories please contact Prof. LSG.

A more famous incident was of two guys who streaked …stark naked while a

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Twice Bitten Thrice Shy S. Prashanth

came out. Our man mopes around in a semi-daze. A couple of apathetic students walk past and out. Then a more sympathetic guy walks up, and guessing what happened, tries to console our guy by saying, “Take it easy yaar. I lost 3 pairs this sem.” After regaining a little composure, he walks up to the security guys and tries to explain – in broken tamil to one guy and broken hindi to the other guy – what happened. They can’t do anything, of course. Another student suggests he speak to the CC supervisor. So our hero does so, and twenty minutes later, is wiser by the knowledge that there have been a lot of suggestions made to curb this ‘menace’, from setting up lockers to even allowing students to carry their slippers with them in a plastic bag, but none were feasible. Apparently some brainstorming is still going on. And of course, he learnt that the supervisor himself lost a brand new pair of slippers last month, so rest assured, he will see to it that the issue is resolved.

If you have ever stayed behind during the summer holidays you will understand when I say that the best place to spend one’s free time is in the CC. For one thing, its one of the few places where the temperature is a little tolerable when the Chennai summer is at its peak. Besides, there is always something to browse for. It so happens that localites, such as myself, are also in the habit of frequenting CC in the hols, treating it like a free browsing center. So one fine afternoon our hero (me, in case you’re wondering) walks into CC and browses for a couple of hours. The next part of the story should be familiar to most of you. Our hero is ready to walk out when he realizes that his floaters are missing. He’s a little perplexed and a little more frustrated because this has been his most faithful pair, having lasted him for over two years and it still looks new. Of course, as with anybody who finds his footwear missing the first time, he assumes someone wore them by mistake, and he goes barefoot back to the hostel where he can put on his shoes.

Our guy gets so depressed he doesn’t buy a fresh pair for another 3 weeks, and all his friends who see him meantime comment about the fact that he’s become so pseud he wears shoes everywhere. Such is the state of mind of our hero that he tries to make weak parries like, “These are not pseud shoes, these are suede shoes”. One friend makes the observation, “Twice bitten, thrice shy, eh?” when he sees our guy leaving his shoes in his vandi the next time he came to CC. Anyway, I’m happy to say our hero has finally moved on to a new pair of quite regular looking floaters, though he swears that if he ever goes to CC again, it will be in bathroom slippers.

Now comes the sad part. Our man is visited by a cousin from out of town. He shows him around town, and by chance takes him to Lifestyle, Mylapore. Here a really nice looking pair of Lee Cooper floaters catches his eye and he buys them on a whim, though they are ridiculously expensive at a price of 1k. He reasoned, however, that Mihir Mysore (of Dramatics fame) owns a pair of floaters that cost 4k, and since our guy is about a quarter as pseud as him, he can afford to buy floaters that cost a quarter as much.

On a more serious note, I wish to request the management to do everything they can to speedily resolve this problem, as it affects the entire student community. There is no point conjecturing as to whether

So, two days after the historical purchase, our hero is back in CC. And don’t flatter yourself if you predict what’s coming next. Of course they were missing when he 26


the footwear is being stolen to be sold or to be worn, or whether it is being done by students or workers. The solution, when

arrived at, will probably be independent of that.

Rhode's Law: When any principle, law, tenet, probability, happening, circumstance, or result can in no way be directly, indirectly, empirically, or circuitously proven, derived, implied, inferred, induced, deducted, estimated, or scientifically guessed, it will always for the purpose of convenience, expediency, political advantage, material gain, or personal comfort, or any combination of the above, or none of the above, be unilaterally and unequivocally assumed, proclaimed, and adhered to as absolute truth to be undeniably, universally, immutably, and infinitely so, until such time as it becomes advantageous to assume otherwise, maybe.

The light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming dragon. -- Unknown

Confidant, confidante, n: One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, confided to himself by C. -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

A gangster assembled an engineer, a chemist, and a physicist. He explained that he was entering a horse in a race the following week and the three assembled guys had the job of assuring that the gangster's horse would win. They were to reconvene the day before the race to tell the gangster how they each propose to ensure a win. When they reconvened the gangster started with the engineer: Gangster: OK, Mr. engineer, what have you got? Engineer: Well, I've invented a way to weave metallic threads into the saddle blanket so that they will act as the plates of a battery and provide electrical shock to the horse. Gangster: That's very good! But let's hear from the chemist. Chemist: I've synthesized a powerful stimulant that dissolves into simple blood sugars after ten minutes and therefore cannot be detected in postrace tests. Gangster: Excellent, excellent! But I want to hear from the physicist before I decide what to do. Physicist? Physicist: Well, first consider a spherical horse in simple harmonic motion...

For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiments. Astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. -- Sir Arthur Sullivan, message to Edison, 1888

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. -- William Blake

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Life at IIT – A Student’s Perspective Gautam Kumar Raja (The extract below is a modified version of the author’s Lit-Soc Elocution speech and as such the author feels it must be read with leeway for a certain degree of overstatement.)

Life at IIT. The quintessential oxymoron? Some would say so. To them, directly, I’d say “Gee yes – you’re so right” and then I’d avoid them for a few weeks. Here’s why:Some days ago a rather strange thing happened. I was sitting quietly in my room, minding my own business, reminiscing of times gone by when there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and before I could say “Jamaica” a man – a stranger - came bounding into my room, throwing me flat onto the bed in the process, looked around, sniggered, snickered, stuttered, stammered, stifled a smile, spotted my favourite book, stuffed it into his pocket, spun around, stepped over me and sailed on through. Sassy! The whole thing took, oh, not more than 30 seconds. Anyhow, having regained my composure, I screamed! Naturally! It has always been a tradition in my family that no matter what other body parts may or may not perform under pressure at least the vocal cords are always up to the task. The gift of gab. And so…with all the erudition that comes with 3 years at IIT I screamed. Having exhausted all 57 possible combinations of my limited Telugu vocabulary I proceeded to exhaust my trademark Hindi. Finally, I gave chase. Admittedly, the chase was a short one. For no sooner did I step out of my room than I spotted the thief. There he was, the Ras …sitting on the ledge reading? Hah! Not much of an escape I thought! And what’s this… in the freshie wing? Could he possibly be? I thrust my chest out, tucked in my stomach, walked up, breathed in and said in the most superior tone I could muster “Oooi! What’s all this?” At that very moment out of the neighbouring room came the Dean. That, I’m afraid, was the last I saw of my book. Times have changed. In my first year I paid a tidy sum to extricate myself from a rather embarrassing position with some seniors. Ironically, today I’d willingly part with that very sum for an almost entirely opposite purpose – but that’s a different matter. It has only now struck me that in reality, it is the freshies who have always held all the power. The only difference is – today’s freshies know all about it. One can only hope that these freshies understand what happens in a year’s time. Immunity may be intoxicating but the hangover can be debilitating. My parents - and I’m sure some of yours - are of the view that IIT is nothing but fun and games and if something is not…then what of it? “It’s all only for your own good after all” I can hear my mother saying. They claim that IIT will make a man out of me and will prepare me to face any adversities in the outside world. Bloody hell, everybody knows that! I mean after going through four years here, I’d be ready to face the Spanish inquisition with open arms. But then again, they don’t live here.

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One friend of mine who spends his days immersed in comics expresses it well. Every time I ask him what he’s doing at IIT he says “I don’t have a clue… but I hope… no… I believe it Builds Character.” And what do I think personally of life at IIT? Well I don’t know really…it’s all gone by too fast. Life is full of such silly and irreverent incidents as the one with the freshie. I guess I’ve been too busy living it to ever stop and think about it. But if you pressed me further for an answer and it had to be a good one – then here’s what I’d say. Life at IIT? I don’t think it’s all that different from extraterrestrial life. It’s out there – but it’s up to you to find it.

"If you'll excuse me a minute, I'm going to have a cup of coffee." -- broadcast from Apollo 11's LEM, "Eagle", to Johnson Space Center, Houston, July 20, 1969, 7:27 P.M.

Meekness is uncommon patience in planning a worthwhile revenge. -- Unknown

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. -- Unknown

For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiments. Astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. -- Sir Arthur Sullivan, message to Edison, 1888

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. -- Albert Einstein

The early bird gets the worm. The early worm ... gets eaten. -- Unknown

If the future isn't what it used to be, does that mean that the past is subject to change in times to come? -- Unknown

Neurotics build castles in the sky, Psychotics live in them, And psychiatrists collect the rent. -- Unknown

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The Defining Shaastra Sriram Subramaniam

workshops were undoubtedly the best of the lot.

When I was told that Shaastra was shifted to the odd-sem, and consequently we would have two Shaastras in this one year, my reaction was simple – to have two Shaastras this year, the people concerned must be amazingly dedicated, extremely hardworking and exceptionally stupid!

Despite the amazing amount of hype surrounding them, the lectures and demonstrations were disappointing. The MS Raghunathan lecture was the biggest of the disappointments as a much vaunted talk on The Ten Unsolved Problems of Mathematics degenerated into a talk on The Three Theorems of Euler. Add to this an absconding Dr. Anil Agrawal and the Lec-Dem sob story is complete.

But alas, there are times when stupidity does work wonders, and this Shaastra is an outstanding example, if ever there was one. Far from being boring, Shaastra kicked so much ass that it is being rumoured that it is being rumoured that the core got itself a temporary Roberto Carlos left foot transplant.

Unfulfilled promises seem to be a part and parcel of Shaastra. After the Lord of the Rings episode of Shaastra 2002, we had Project X with Professors, along with the MSR and Dr. Anil Agrawal lectures and an Open House getting added to the list.

I guess the display of podal power had a lot to do with the availability of a substantial number of people in the first place! And numbers were clearly Shaastra’s biggest gain this year. For far too long, Shaastra has had the problem of poor attendance, but this Shaastra actually had more outstation participants than last year’s Saarang!

Obvious as it may seem, The Greatest Thing in the World was undoubtedly the greatest thing at Shaastra. More than being the world’s largest paper bridge, it seems to have played a role of a catalyst. Even as I saw the applauding crowd looking at the bridge in wonderment, I realised that the average IITian had lost his scientific temper over the years. But maybe the bridge will rekindle the temper. Maybe we will realise that The Spirit of Engineering is worth celebrating.

The events, lectures and workshops were well received. A few new events, especially Rocketry and Aeromodelling were particularly liked. Among the old favourites, Main Quiz, How Things Work, Bulls Eye and Project X lived up to their reputation. The Robotics and Intelligent Environment

The Fourth Estate salutes

the

Shaastra effort

and celebrates The Spirit of Engineering

30


How Things Work Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s question: Why are old photographs black-and-white?

31


The Fourth Estate Contributors to this issue Arjun N. Chennu 213 Sarayu Dhanya P. 248 Sharavati Satyashree Srikanth 243 Sharavati Gautam Kumar Raja 312 Ganga S. Prashanth 362 Godavari Sriram Subramaniam 344 Godavari Kaushik Raghunath 348 Godavari The end-of-article quotations were all obtained as output of the command /usr/games/fortune. This should work on most Linux installations. Alternatively, one may run the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Wanda the GNOME Fishâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; applet. 32


Fourth Estate