Down Memory Lane

Priceless Memory

Sukhwant Singh, our CGO – Kolkata Branch, shares a precious memory of this day.
26th January is a day when India celebrates and honours the momentous event of India’s Constitution came into force in the year 1950. For me, this is the day when we showcase to the world our military strength, our rich cultural heritage, our achievements as a nation, and our unity in diversity.
In the year 1989 I had the privilege of participating in the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi, as part of a marching contingent of the Sea Cadet Corps. We left Calcutta (as it was called then) in the first week of January, filled with excitement and joy and somewhat prepared for the harsh and cold winter weather of New Delhi. We were provided lodging in the Single Sailor Complex near Chanakyapuri. To add more spice, our camp beds were neatly arranged on the 9th floor balcony of the building, with adequate insulation and heating arrangements to cope with the zero degree temperature conditions. The administration had taken special care to ensure that the dining area was on the ground floor, so for each meal we had to go from the 9th floor to the ground floor and back. And since there were were no elevators, all that climbing up and down made sure that we had enough exercise to keep ourselves warm and fit.
Every day we would get up around 4 a.m. and post our morning routines and a quick cup of tea, we would board the Army 4 tonne truck to reach Rajpath. We would practise marching from 5.30 a.m. to 7 a.m. We would then return to the base by 8 a.m., have breakfast and take rest. We would have another round of practise post lunch, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. This was the routine for two weeks to gear up and be ready for the big day.
The dress rehearsal was on 23rd January and it is on this day that the winners in the various categories are judged and finalised. Finally, after weeks of rigorous practise, we were all ready for the D-Day, and on Thursday 26th January, 1989 we proudly marched down Rajpath, while synchronising our steps with the beat set by the band. All the VIP and dignitaries present in the gallery applauded and cheered loudly as we saluted President R Venkataraman, who was accompanied by the Chief Guest, General Secretary Nguyen Van Linh from Vietnam.
This day will be forever etched in my memory as the beat of the band, the music, the marching boots and the cheering crowd reverberate in my heart whenever I think of this day…. JAI HIND!!
Down Memory Lane

A Teacher’s Thoughts

Professor Manoj Kumar Ghosh, one of our members, retired professor and Dean, Academic Affairs, IIT Kharagpur, shares some unforgettable memories during and after his tenure at IIT Kharagpur with Mousumi Gupta.
“The teacher student relationship is the key to success for both teacher and student,” says Professor Ghosh. For teachers, it is their satisfaction in the positive impact they create and for students, it is a successful preparation for the journey to face the challenges of life. The relation between a devoted teacher and a motivated student is one of the most fundamental relationships that has a great impact in the formation of our society.
Every student has different strategies for learning and achieving his/her goals. According to Professor Ghosh, a teacher needs to understand the capability of each student and set the teaching standard accordingly. A teacher needs to be approachable and communicate with students in an agreeable manner, so that students are able to share their views and queries— this is very important and helps teachers to understand the ability and intellectual capacity of students. Teachers need to continuously monitor their students to be aware of any difficulties, problem, fear, or confusion they may be dealing with.
Professor Ghosh is filled with pride when he speaks about some of his students, who have passed out many years back and are now settled across the globe. One of his students, who is now well established in the US, invited him to his house during the professor’s personal visit to the US. Professor Ghosh was pleasantly surprised to find that his student still cherished his years spent at IIT KGP and the relationships he shared. He still harboured sentiments of great respect and affection for those who mentored him there. This shows that mutual respect and trust are the foundation of any long-lasting relationship.
Due to the strong and amicable relationship Professor Ghosh shared with his students, he actively advocated the anti-ragging policy in the IIT KGP hostel campus, During his tenure he was in fact in charge of one of the ladies’ hostels. Behind the facade of welcoming new students, seniors who tend to show their power and rag newcomers. Though often friendly and fun, this can also veer towards being exploitative and unhealthy. Once, when Professor Ghosh was going around the hostel, he saw a gathering of senior and junior students in one of the rooms of the hostel. He enquired into it. The senior girls said, “Sir, we are summarising the rules of IIT to the newcomers to integrate them into the system. If they don’t abide by these rules, they will have adjustment problems in coming years.” Professor Ghosh’s strict admonishment stopped the untoward incident that could have happened otherwise on that day. Of course, he had to face strong resistance from his students, when he tried to stop ragging, but he took it in his stride as he had the support of the IIT authority.
He was both strict and caring towards his students, to whom—he was more of a father and guide. He aptly summarised the relationships in these words, “I treat my students as my kids because in the time we spend together, they are not just names on a class list, they become a part of my heart. And on their part, their young mind rejuvenates mine, making me mentally young and contemporary”.
He is currently associated with a college in Kolkata and teaches MTech students and devotes major time in mentoring teachers. “The role of a good teacher in an educational platform is the same as that of a good mother in the society,” says Professor Ghosh. His immense enthusiasm, passion and concern for his students is palpable and very inspiring.