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Alumni Corner

I find very much similarity in life of Mr. Pi Patel from the Bollywood blockbuster "Life of Pi" and in the life of a research scholar (RS): an existential threat to both makes them explore the spirituality and the practicality. Anyhow both have to survive. But there comes a slight difference. The latter has to get trained to train others for the same: a Ph.D. some day helps others in getting a Ph.D. actively and genuinely. Unlike Mr. Patel, just telling the story does not suffice.
For some, this journey may be super easy, but for the rest it is challenging. Learning according to a given syllabus, as it generally happens during under graduation, is comparatively easier than doing research. Going through chapters of books is simply replaced by diving into the research papers and its references and then into their references. You neither have a syllabus nor a class teacher. Often, you forget where you began and end up in a completely lost terrain or come up with better solutions than you have ever imagined. The sequence of sorrows and surprises continue and it alienates you from the world. Struggling with your own code for many days until you find that bug sometimes makes you feel dumb. The pain does not end here. Once you got some results, it's is difficult to convince your supervisor about its goodness, and very often even its validity. In the process of improving on your work---submitting your findings to a journal, getting a rejected message in your inbox, relooking at the suggestions, and resubmitting it once again--- you fetch new terminologies like NOVELTY, NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKER, etc., which will keep haunting you in rest of your life.
By the time, the maximum pressure is built by your supervisor(s), you start becoming little rebellious to your guide, the system, and most importantly to yourself. A philosopher suddenly takes birth in you and your area of interest diffuses to nothing. You start taking interest in politics, religion, international issues, the art of living, etc. None of these are wrong and unusual. We all have to go through the same process. Nevertheless, it can be simplified with a little tweaking of the gamut.
The goal of a Ph.D. is not only to do a quality research, or only to be a knowledgeable and learned person. The holistic professional development as a researcher, an educationist, and above all as a future leader to serve the society should be the actual goal. You will find Ph.D. holders roaming around with quite good research publications, but they hardly mean anything when they speak. I am not only concerned about the language skills but specifically the rationality. Doing things in a predefined and algorithmic way cannot be the goal of scientific education. The entire effort of your Ph.D. goes in vain if an independent and a rational thought process is not your way of life.
Here, in our department, we all work in isolation and face several difficulties. The following points, I feel worth noting.

  • Your supervisor(s) hardly have time to teach you small but important things like using some softwares/tools, learning to compile your papers in LaTeX, and uploading the same on a conference portal, etc. (DEPENDENCY)
  • Many a times, you may search on internet but why to waste time and not take the help of someone sitting beside you who has already done the same. (lack of FAMILIARITY among us)
  • Why not consulting with professors who may not be your guide but can help you out on many occasions? They all are the resource persons of the institute and often are happily willing to help and collaborate if approached properly. (lack of faculty-student INTERACTION)
  • Why to subscribe dozens of websites to get notified of the job / internship opportunities if a single webpage on the department website can be maintained with the same information? (not being WELL-INFORMED of opportunities)

There are many other issues that can be better dealt if there be an ecosystem among the RS. The prime question is: Is there a mechanism in our department to train RSs that helps achieve these goals? The answer was not affirmative until very recently, Research Scholars ForumEEE (RSF-EEE) was formed. Being the first Chief Executive of the Forum, the efforts of our then seniors, now alumni are still fresh to my mind. The long hours of discussion while convincing the department head, the dean, and the director for the need of RSF-EEE and various related issues like getting a seed fund, a web space, authority to organize events within its bylaws, etc. can never be forgotten. Since its inception, RSF-EEE has been working to achieve its goals. But, miles are still to be travelled. I request all my dear fellow researchers to come to this platform and make use of it for our mutual benefits. I congratulate the new executive team and wish them the best of luck for its further journey.

Santosh Kr. Yadav (Signal & Image Processing)
Position- Visiting Assistant Professor, Thapar University, Patiala, Punjab
E-mail: y.santosh@iitg.ac.in
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