A Perspicacious Wit: Wasim Sajjad
A quizzer, an ardent physicist, a techie and a jovial person, Wasim Sajjad is one of those celebrated individuals of the institute who has gone on to win countless national quiz competitions starting from the Tata Crucibles, the biggest quiz fiesta to other reputed ones like Mindfire Debasish Das Memorial IT (DDM IT) Quiz. Team MM caught up with this successful yet humble final year student to strike a conversation with him.
MM: Tell us about your childhood and life before joining NITR.
WS: I was busy exploring my interests and passion throughout my childhood. That was the time when I took part in many competitions and experimented with my interests to dig out my inner talents. I was a part of the school football team and later on, I started developing an interest in badminton. I had a nice circle of friends during my school days. We were really enthusiastic in taking part in Olympiads and various other competitive examinations, which later made us realize our potentials. Art was also one of the things that fascinated me, but I couldn't do much in developing those skills. I also took part in quizzes. So all in all, I made sure I explored all my fields before entering the college phase.
MM: Did you always want to study Physics, or did it happen to you by chance?
WS: I have always been enthusiastic about learning physics. My inclination towards physics, maths, and science, in general, was more than any other subject in school. When I was in my 12th grade, the simplicity and the ease with which my teacher made me understand the concepts propelled me to take up physics. So when I had a choice of choosing my branch, physics was the most preferable.
MM: How has your experience been in the department of Physics, so far? What do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the same?
WS: I have undergone massive transformations, in these five years. My perception of the world was very different before I joined the institute. In my view, life at NIT is like a preview of what life has in store for you in the future. Coming to the physics department, as a freshman, one would expect the same kind of teaching and learning process as in school, but that isn't the scenario here.
The professors are not to be blamed; it's the obsolete system that snatches away a student’s zeal to garner knowledge. Physics is a subject that needs to be studied, experimented and understood in detail and cannot be finished in the four month time given for each semester.
This system has a humongous number of credits and many subjects are repeated over the course, which had left me dejected at one point of time in these 5 years. Talking about the strengths and weakness, every department has its own pros and cons. The old and established ones have a very strong say in the administration. So small departments like ours would just accept the institute rules and follow them, but other departments are opinionated and put forth their ideas which are taken into consideration. But with the recent change of HOD of our department things have definitely begun to change in an affirmative way.
MM: What do you think has been the institute's contributions in nurturing the physicist in you?
WS: As far as my understanding of Physics is concerned, it is the closest representation of reality and an explanation of all kinds of phenomena that are occurring around us. The way physics was approached and analyzed here has made us mechanical beings who just study for the sake of exams and not for gaining knowledge which is why I started showing interest in the start-up culture and business management. Most of my subsequent internships were also based on management and marketing. Due to time constraints and attendance problems, starting a venture was difficult for us. But as soon as my friends graduated, they worked towards materializing their idea, and I have also contributed in my own little way. Personally, I am not only elated but also thrilled to be a part of this initiative.
Physics, on the other hand, will always remain interesting to me because of its clear-cut approach towards problem-solving. Right now, I am trying to implement physics in the business domain in order to garner more experience and skills to carry both these fields forward, together.
MM: Were you always a quizzer? What intrigues you the most about this hobby?
WS: As they say, once a quizzer always a quizzer, likewise quizzing has been a passion since my sixth grade. Science quizzes fascinated me a lot and I was motivated to participate. My friends and I even took part in Bournvita Quiz, which was a challenge amongst the schools in India. This was something I will cherish all my life. Quizzing is mostly about solving or cracking a problem in the simplest and easiest manner. This is what made it more interesting. It's a mind sport that has evolved a lot during the past few years in India.
The strategy and the divergent ways that we find to solve something and the adrenaline rush we get while taking calculative risks in the game and the way the game keeps getting better intrigues me to keep quizzing. Also, the lucrative prizes that come along have inspired me to work more.
MM: You have represented our institute at the national level and have participated in a lot of quiz competitions and have emerged as the winner of DDM IT, Simply Finance Quiz National, XQuizIT at IIM Raipur, quiz competitions held in Spring Fest, IIT KGP and have become the finalist and winner of Tata Crucible National Quiz Competition and many other national level contests. Can you share your experiences about winning so many national level competitions? What is your most memorable achievement?
WS: We never aimed to win all of these competitions; the major goal was to take part, gain knowledge, nurture and polish our skills and to enjoy what we are doing to the fullest. During my first and second year, the quizzing culture was pretty good and we used to challenge our seniors and they even supported us to take part in more competitions. This has helped us to go out and win competitions.
It was in our first year that we went for the Tata Crucible National Quiz competition, the biggest quiz contest in our country spanning about 38 cities. Initially, we had no expectations of reaching the top 8 teams but accidentally we did beat one of the previous season’s winners in our first attempt itself. We reached the zonal finals in the successive year and finally reached the finals on our next attempt.
The best part was we got an all expenses paid trip where we flew to Mumbai, Bangalore and stayed at 5-star hotels. Even in Simply Finance Quiz National, we reached the finals and went on to win the competition in the last question and were deeply exhilarated. Even in Spring fest, we won 5 quiz contests out of 6 and it was amazing.
MM: You are an active member of Inquizzitive. How do you think this club has helped in nurturing your talent and giving you more opportunities?
WS: We had a talented bunch of seniors in our club who used to quiz for fun and used to give us tough competition because of which we were always enthusiastic to compete and grow. But when the rules for taking students through JEE mains changed, there were a higher number of academically inclined students thus reducing the club enthusiasts. Recently there has been more enthusiasm that has been observed in the recent batches for quizzing. Although we have few people, they are still good enough to keep the spirit of the club and to carry on the quizzing passion forward. Obviously, there is a lot of scope for improvement - the enthusiasm needs to grow, the students should be made aware of the fact that quizzing is not all about general knowledge and mainly they should devote some time to extra-curricular activities.
MM: How do we fare against quizzers from other institutes? What can be done to improve the acumen of the average NITian?
WS: During our time, we had pretty much maintained the standards and had even proven our capabilities at different levels by securing first place consistently. The level of the quizzes held in Rourkela is good but not sufficient to help the students in competing at the national level.
By expanding horizons, communication skills, research work and by mainly raising interests in people about quizzing, we can improve the status of quizzing in our institute.
MM: What other extra-curricular activities were you involved in, during your five years?
WS: As a fresher, I was a part of many other clubs. Leo was an integral part of my earlier years at NIT. I even got opportunities to join Rechargers and Monday morning. As we become older, we understand that prioritizing is very important for a balanced life due to which I had to leave some clubs. Finally, I decided to leave Leo too because I wanted to focus all my efforts towards a single club and be a perfectionist at what I do. Hence quizzing became my first and foremost priority, besides academics.
MM: In your five years at NITR, what significant changes have you observed?
WS: We have seen a decrease in senior-junior interaction, club activities etc. Though the technological and machine up gradation has been massive and everything is automated these days, NITR still needs to improve a lot on the student-professor interaction in order to help out the students in any kind of problem. I would also like to add, however, that the infrastructure has definitely changed for the best.
MM: If you could change something about the institute, what would it be and why?
WS: There are a lot of loopholes in our system and it should be changed. There should be a proper interaction between the administration and students, the institute should support and encourage the students for whatever extra-curricular activities they want to pursue and the students should be persuaded to take part in inter-college fests. Revamping the attendance criteria is one major thing that would completely change the current scenario of the institute.
MM: What are some of your most cherished memories on campus?
WS: I do have some really cherished and memorable moments when all our friends came together and decided on getting the same open electives, shifting rooms in order to get the whole group together and many more such reminiscences with extremely talented people. It was all about taking part in club activities, studying together, going out together and actually growing into better individuals.
MM: Where do you see yourself five years down the lane?
WS: Currently I am placed at Mu Sigma. As I am interested in business analytics, this is a very good opportunity for me. This company is a research company that deals with business problems and crisis management. I know the work is going to be rigorous and hectic but on the other hand, I am eagerly waiting to start working, and I am excited to learn more about data analysis.
MM: Who have been your strongest inspirations who have helped you supersede any failures?
WS: Keeping it real, I don't have huge role models as such. It’s my friends and my mother who have inspired me supported me and motivated me in all phases of my life.
MM: What is your final message for our readers?
WS: Keep following your passion and dreams. Never kill the zeal to explore new things. Whenever you get an opportunity just grab it because when you grab opportunities, they multiply.