Ayush Mukherjee graduates this year with B. Tech in Electrical Engineering. He has been heavily involved with the community through the Community Welfare Cell (CWC). In his own words, he has some strong views on aspects including but not limited to gender and economics. A lot of things unfolded in the conversation that ensued.
Why EE IITK despite having a below 50 rank in JEE?
I was exposed to microelectronics right after +2, and CSE did not interest me as much as microelectronics did so that is why EE. Choosing IITK was more random. IITB was too far away from Jharkhand so the choice was between IITK and IITD. Had seniors here who suggested IITK but I later realized having seniors here does not matter much. In fact, never met them again. But I have decided not to continue in EE and I will be taking up the role of an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Comparing Expectations from IITK and the Reality.
You expect a very intellectual crowd. Which you do not exactly get. This is true across IITs. Then again it has to be traced back to different kinds of reasons. What kind of intellectual crowd you expect and how right you are in expecting a certain type of crowd you have to live with and not just study with. These things have to be considered. Expectations are way above what you really get. A lot of people feel similar things and they do voice it through different means but we seem to be going nowhere.
On Issues in Campus.
There are a lot of things which happen with students when they come in the institute. The very same students who’d be good outside, might not be the same inside. There are a lot of issue and each one of them needs to be seen from a different view. Interestingly, when talking about campus community, what we often do is restrict ourselves to UG boys. Campus community includes a very diverse community of faculties, professors, students and workers and not all have the same role to play in any of the issue we need to solve. We need to figure out how the problem persists in a dynamic campus. Batches come and go but a few things are normalized. The campus needs to engage in figuring out the answer to these questions. Say for ragging, there are two very different and problematic stances that people take. One being this always happens and will continue to. The other being that this is about a few bad people who did something. The middle ground where we figure out questions and answers to why and how, that’s where the student community has not gone yet.
When we talk about conversation on issues that are significant to us. Issues such as ragging, drugs, sexual harassment. What we end up doing is conversation only with the people who have power over us, the administration. The other aspect is completely forgotten. Does the student community have proper forum to discuss this and then take suggestions forward? For instance, Vox comes up with an article, do people pursue it? If the article says students didn’t do these things right and the administration didn’t do these things right. What happens after that? These are the questions which have always been important to us but are not answered. We’ll have to engage students to be more perceptive of what is happening around them. Students do not feel that these are their issue. Issues become very localized. We need responsible stakeholders. Things become much more vague when you talk about things which are distinct. Environment for example. Sexual Harassment out there happens with people, ragging happens out there with people, environment doesn’t happen.
What changed your perspective
IITK should somehow be responsible for its immediate surroundings. IITK should be responsible for Kalyanpur, Bala Sirohi, Nankari. This comes from my strong background with my school. Where the school was responsible for its surroundings. Strangely, this was not something the institute did in IITK. There were a few things which were there like Prayas but this were student run. There is a difference between the institute taking the initiative and a student club doing the same.
One thing which I learned is how to talk to people. I was kind of this arrogant guy who did not talk to a lot of people when I came in. I think I have improved in that aspect. You learn to make interpersonal relations. Not only for a more fulfilling process but also to get work done. This changes the personal trajectory.
Are these changes spontaneous or Gradual?
There have been multiple things that make you question a lot of things but then because every time something happens, you build on what already has so it becomes a gradual process in that sense. For instance, in our second year, the professor who taught us microelectronics said silicon technology is driving the entire industry and such. That was how a microelectronics class should be. However, when you start reading up on silicon industry you realize the kind of problems it intrinsically has for the environment and workers. Then you start questioning things. This is the side of things which is not shown. What IITK ends up doing is it restricts the kind of education that you are receiving. If you don’t engage with these issues now, it will be even more difficult to do it later. This not just true about IITK this is true about most institute in India. Then you start thinking about since I am not being taught all of this but I have to learn all of this and then you start looking at other aspects of your life at IITK. And then you start looking at entire student body and the problems it is facing. So all these things start becoming relevant to you. Once you start engaging with these forums. So any event that happens in these forums become your events. And these stuff become turning points in your life.
What ahead? and Why?
I am taking up a job at Goldman Sachs. It was pretty good to be placed in a good firm. Goldman Sachs comes on day 1 slot 1 so didn’t have to sit for the other firms. It is a good firm and pays well. Probably it is in my nature that I will keep looking for things. I could probably venture into Social Entrepreneurship. If not that, at least the academic domains that focus on these studies. The entire arts field. sociology and related disciplines. These are disciplines where you can study about these issues. Eventually where I will go is still a difficult question to answer. What I eventually realized is that I will have to understand why I want to make this switch a little better and the best way to do this is to give yourself time. I will have to figure out if how and where I want to make the switch. The job in that sense becomes something that I do during this time.
Things to change on Campus
There is a lot that needs to be changed. What is our perception outside. The kind of money the alumni put back in the campus. The issues of student community. Such as ragging, sexual abuse and some threat of drug abuse. The student community faces the issue of legitimacy in front of the administration. We need better journalism, Nirvaak has to come out very strong. There are issues with workers that we need to solve. There are issue of access. Who can come in and who can not. For students, when people can go out and when they can’t. Alumni complain that they are not being kept in the loop. I personally think that Students’ Senate spends a lot of time talking about things that might not interest the GBM as much. I understand that these are procedural things that have to be done but as a general body member and not a Senator, they do not interest me.
Friends @ IITK?
Friends outside IITK are all of similar age. Friends in IITK are more spread apart. In UGs I have friends from Y7 to Y16. And then there are PGs as well. You get to talk to people from across age groups and you have different perspectives. Outside of IITK my friend circle completely identifies with who I am. Most of them are Bengalis, most of them live around the same place, have the similar background and the kind of upbringing we had. In IITK you have people from across states, across backgrounds. This gives you a varied perspective. People here are very focused on research, at least the people in my vicinity. Outside, the focus is on job. Thanks to forums like Facebook it would be easier to stay in touch.
Only one advise. Look at what is happening around you and probably react to it. Even if you have to be a mute spectator, at least be a spectator. Even that will take you somewhere. The problem is that we choose not to see. We start by defining campus community in a restricted sense. If I define the community as my wing, then there will be a lot of things I won’t be able to see. That is not how things should be. Very rarely have I seen mute spectators on campus. People choose not to see. Seeing what happens around you is very important. Because if people see, they’ll come out and act on it.
Edited by – Smit Chaudhary