The Resolute Warrior: Sidharth Ghosh Roy
Sidharth Ghosh Roy is a final year student of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He served as the Chief Co-ordinator of Monday Morning for the academic year 2015-16. His journey from an introverted freshman, to his tenure as a tough taskmaster that earned him the title of ‘Bad Cop’ among juniors, is certainly one with its fair share of ups and downs. From bagging a TATA Steel internship to battling personal issues, to finally regaining peace in his final year – his is a story that everyone has a lot to learn from. Team MM caught up with the low-key, angry young man of Monday Morning.
MM: Since you are a localite, tell us a bit about growing up in Rourkela. Tell us about your school days, before you joined NITR.
SGR: Rourkela is a typical small town and it’s a very safe place to grow up in. As kids, you have pretty much everything you want in the form of open places to play and schools that are decent, even though they are pretty different from the schools of metropolitan cities. I was the topper of my school and during my school days, I was totally completely engrossed in academics to the point that i would ignore extra-curriculars. Had someone called me a GMAT during those times, I probably wouldn’t mind it because I really was like that. Unfortunately back then, since academics was my top priority, I gave up any other activity if it got it in the way. I had my interests in literature and essay-writing, which primarily developed because of my aunt, an English teacher, who used to bring me books all the time. Even though I often didn’t understand the content, I browsed through them regardless and that definitely shaped my interests.
MM: Were you always interested in Engineering in general and Mechanical Engineering in particular?
SGR: When I was very young, my grandmother had an open-heart surgery and there was a few complications post surgery. So back then for a short time I wanted to become a doctor. But by the time I was in my 6th or 7th grade, I had settled on engineering. My dad is a Mechanical Engineer and he used to share his work with me. We used to open up CAD models and discuss things and this developed my interest in Mechanical Engineering from a very young age. As a kid I loved opening up toys and reconfiguring them. Since I had a decent rank in AIEEE, I could choose to go to a better NIT, but I stayed back in Rourkela because I wanted to prepare for JEE Advanced. However, mechanical engineering was an obvious choice and I think I consciously decided upon it, long before.
MM: As a freshman, you were believed to be an introvert. How true or false is that?
SGR: It is very true that I was an introvert in my freshman year. I just used to stay in my room and didn’t participate in any club activities; neither did I make many friends during that year. My sole recreation involved playing games on my laptop. Being a localite, I used to return home during the weekends. And during weekdays, after attending classes for 8 hours, I used to prepare for JEE Advanced. But that preparation was half-hearted as I used to get tired after attending classes. By January, after appearing a few online tests, I realized that I was at the same stage at which, I was a year back - in fact even a bit slower because of the lack of practice, and hence I decided not to appear for JEE Advanced again to avoid all the stress.
MM: How did Monday Morning happen to you?
SGR: After I gave up my aspirations to re-appear for the entrance tests, I decided to commit myself to NITR. When the Monday Morning inductions came around there was this definite buzz that spread throughout the hostels and it made me realize that this is something different from the usual club activities. I appeared for the inductions and somehow cleared the first round. When the allotments for the task round were made, I started taking it seriously. I was allotted to interview Rahul Pasayat for the second round. I contacted him and he called me to VS hall for the interview.
That was the first time I entered into VS and it was nothing less than a maze for me. Somehow I figured out and reached his room and started calling him. After searching for him for quite a long time, I met him just to hear that he wasn’t free and he asked me to reschedule the interview in the evening. I again went in the evening and the interview started in the most unusual way where he accused me of entering into a senior hostel which isn’t allowed as per the Disciplinary rules of our institute. So that was how I kick-started my journey in Monday Morning.
I remember it very clearly that none of the people I knew had recorded the interview and I was considering myself really smart for having recorded the entire interview. Then I came back to my hostel only to figure out that the recording was paused somewhere in between and more than half of it wasn’t recorded. I typed the entire interview from my memory and submitted the task. Then for the PI round, I had done a bit of research by scrolling through the pages of Monday Morning. I was interviewed by a panel consisting of Abhipsa Mishra, Anubhav Patra, and Pratyusha Amanchi and Antareep Sharma. I had a decent PI, and just like that I was inducted.
MM: In your sophomore year, you were also a part of Black Mamba. Tell us about your journey with it.
SGR: Owing to my interests in Mechanical Engineering, I got inducted into Black Mamba towards the end of my Freshman year. I was a part of the Brakes and Management teams. In our sophomore year, Black Mamba got divided because of internal rifts and hence, it was pretty inactive. The team couldn’ t achieve anything significant in that year. I had thought of contributing to the team in my third year. But due to my involvement in Monday Morning as a Chief Coordinator, I couldn’t. Again in my final year, for being busy with placements, I couldn’ t contribute significantly to the team.
MM: As a reporter in Monday Morning, you were closely associated in SAC affairs. In lieu of the restructuring that is underway, can you mention some of the pros and cons of the existing system?
SGR: There are many things that we need to look upon. One among them is the way SAC elections are conducted. Though zonism has declined to a large extent, most of the people winning posts are from one zone or the other. We are never sure if the people winning posts are really interested in working for SAC or they just won these posts because their zone seniors put them up to it. This is definitely something that we don’t want and Monday Morning has been trying constantly to do away with this by calling them to present their manifesto before elections but we haven’t got any concrete results, yet.
Secondly, the club culture of our institute has been declining these days. There are many clubs in our institute which wait around the year for fests and then conduct some random event which is not even vaguely related to their agenda the purpose for which they were started. There are a very few clubs which engage themselves in year-long activities and justify their true purpose but the rest conduct some random fun events during fests and then slack off for the rest of the year.
There is also a problem with the attitude of students. Though each and every student is a stake-holder at SAC, but we have adopted such an attitude that we don’t really care about what’s being done with the Student Activity Fees that we pay every semester. It is felt by a very large fraction of the student populace that extracting your money’s worth from SAC is just not worth the hassle. This further leads to lesser number of students getting involved in SAC activities, which consequently affects the club culture of the institute.
MM: Can you share with us some of the most cherished instances as a reporter of Monday Morning?
SGR: During my tenure as a reporter, I got to interview Dr. V Narayanan, the Deputy Director of the Liquid Propulsions Systems Center, ISRO, who was in our institute for the Foundation Day Lecture. That interview was really inspiring and motivated me to continue working, it was rightly that point in my career in MM when I started getting that “Feel for MM”. That interview would definitely be something that I will cherish forever.
As a reporter, I worked for three out of the four fests and we had real fun working for the same. I used to wake up early and cycle to SAC with my headphones on, from where I would call up my team mates who hadn’t woken up yet, a small group would get together and make plans to cover and participate in events. For many events, we required a registration fee or identity proof, but we slipped into all of these events as we were Monday Morning reporters, and that was definitely a good feeling. There were a lot of people in my batch of MM who didn’t belong to any specific group so all of us would join together for a night out at the end of the day.
The moment when I was announced as the Chief Coordinator of Monday Morning was also during my tenure as a reporter and that was also one of the happiest moments in these last four years.
MM: As Chief Coordinator, one of the first major tasks taken up by your batch was revamping the website. Can you take us through the entire process?
SGR: Revamping the website had started way before we held the reigns of Monday Morning. Our seniors had already started off with the work midway through their tenure. They spoke to Dilip and decided the template and several parameters for the website and were silently working on Project Adamantium. The executive decisions were already made and as CCs we took the work up where our mentors left off. We had our own inputs to give, and we worked through the summer, making decisions over facebook and phone calls. With Dilip being in Nepal, when it was still reeling in the aftermath of the earthquakes during the summer of 2015, it was no easy task. DIlip worked through the powercuts and poor connectivity while we would wait for a call to connect. All of us got back on campus a week before the semester to get down to the final touches.
An unforgettable memory as a CC would be during the first week of my pre-final year when I was working with Gaurav and Anurag for an entire night and I started dozing off at 05:30-06:00 am. The very morning I had to go back to my home to get the DD signed for my student loan. So I decided to leave at dawn. It was very breezy as it had rained heavily the previous night. While returning, just when I crossed Hanuman Vatika, I realized that I was dozing off while riding. I stopped for a while, pinched myself and again started riding. But that didn’t really work and after going another 500 meters, I dozed off again and fell off my bike.
MM: Your batch also had the Freshman Conclave. What were some of the other projects that you undertook?
SGR: We planned many initiatives during our tenure as CCs but we were successful in executing only a few of them. This was primarily because a CC is burdened with the day-to-day activities of the website and it’s really tough to implement everything that they had thought while beginning their tenure. Gaurav took the initiative of including multimedia and Anurag took up the initiative of Student Mentorship Program, which got executed this year.
We had discussed the idea of Freshman Conclave for a long time. We primarily took it up because we were observing that the club culture of the institute was declining and our reach among the freshman was dismal, and with the inductions coming up, we also anticipated a disappointing turn-out for the inductions. Keeping all these factors in mind, we came up with the idea of Freshman Conclave and it got executed successfully too.
MM: As a chief coordinator in Monday Morning, you were often referred to as the 'bad cop', and known for your strict ways. What are some of the unforgettable experiences you had as a CC?
Yes, I was a bad cop and I was a bad cop as it was necessary (laughs). It was forgettable for me but not for the people who faced me. I had to be the bad cop since my co-CCs a little easy-going with the juniors.
I remember it was 3 or 4 AM on a Sunday when one of my reporters had slept off without submitting her article. With all three male CCs we had no reach into the girls’ hostels, so I had to wake up one of her friends in order to go wake her up and make her write the article. Another incident involved a reporter who had accompanied me to the HMC. Once it was over, it had started raining and she probably stopped me to ask me for my umbrella. But since back then juniors mostly referred to me as Bhai or Sir, her calling me by my nickname sounded rather insolent on her part. So I walked up to her and made it very clear that my name was Sidharth, and I was “Ghosh Roy” only for my friends. After this, she stood stunned and I returned through the Hall-4 side gate to my hostel, without even giving her the umbrella having not realized why she had tried to stop me. Now I know I scared her. There are several such other instances from my tenure when I had to be strict to get the job done, and while I am not proud of it and admitting that I have had my blunders, I still do think it was necessary.
MM: At the end of your prefinal year, you bagged the Tata Steel Internship. Could you tell us more about the preparation as well as your work there?
I had an interest in mechanical engineering so bagging the internship wasn't tough. I was good with basic concepts and hence qualified the written test and being a good speaker, I qualified the Group Discussion round and Interview. I didn't prepare anything in particular. This was all easy but when I got there, it was different from what I had imagined. It was an office job, which was something I didn’t expect. The internships we deal with are almost the same in the sense that they’re not very challenging, expect the research oriented ones.
Working with Tata Steel was a different experience. Even though it is a core sector company, it gives high importance to its people. The food, the stay, the security and the rules laid down for safety were a testimony to the value they give to their people. It was really impressive to see the quality they provided. A major setback to my internship, however, was my guide. He was appointed late and I never really had a proper connection with him. This forced me to work by myself without proper mentoring. While guides are usually helpful and approachable, the cards didn’t play out well for me and I missed out on getting a PPO.
MM: You started off with a decent CGPA, slacked, fought back and finally got placed in 3SC solutions. What lesson did you learn from your tryst with academics?
SGR: My CGPA was decent in the beginning but it dropped due to a general lack of interest and even more drastically during my CC tenure due to gradebacks. I guess I had seven grade backs during my tenure as a CC. I wouldn’t blame Monday Morning, as we knew right from the beginning it would demand a lot from us but we were lazy and also the classes were very unimpressive in my pre-final year. I used to sleep all day and then wake up in the evening for my work as a CC because I enjoyed that work far more than I enjoyed my regular course work.
MM: How have you grown through your journey with MM?
SGR: MM came at a time when I had just given up on giving JEE mains a second time, was trying to reset myself psychologically about a possible four years here and with personal problems and depression to boot. So when our first year summer ended and the work as a reporter for MM began, I had happily threw whatever energy i had into the work, just escape the inside of my head. MM simply saved me. I met people who were as different from each other as could be and yet were similar. I started making friends, and second year went by in a daze. I really wanted to be the CC, and at end of the year when I was announced as one of the three, nothing could be happier.
My tenure as a CC brought out of shell. When I was a reporter I could do the needful and then escape back into my cocoon. But that was an impossibility as a CC. When you are being called by a random assortment of distressed students, juniors, professors and team members at all hours of the day, you can’t really stay an introvert. But what the experience taught me was that my introversion is in no way detrimental to the kind of social interaction I needed to have. I could be an introvert and still be able to handle an improptu team meeting without thought.
MM: You’ve observed the institute keenly as a reporter, CC, and mentor at Monday Morning. How would you rate its growth?
SGR: I was clueless in my first year, then I started being aware in my second year, which continued till my third year and now once again I have no idea about what is happening. (laughs) There are a few obvious things I would like to mention, like, the club culture is deteriorating. A major reason is the bare minimum interaction with the seniors. Ragging is not the solution but there should be a substitute for ragging that will enhance the junior-senior interaction. Hopefully, the Student Mentorship Program will help bridge the existing gaps.
The infrastructure has developed but the rate is slow, the obvious reason being the fund crunch. With the appointment of a new director, the change he has been trying to bring about is commendable especially with regard to revamping the academic curriculum. NITR has the best infrastructure among all NITs and it is high time that we focused on our research and academics. I believe that the Director is taking the institute in the right direction.
MM: What is your vision for Monday Morning in the years to come?
SGR: The team will continue to grow. The executive team will have a rough time in the years to come. Change is certain and even though not right away but soon and you could expect a change in the hierarchy and the type of teams. We have been changing the type of articles we publish and they will continue to change. The Alumni Relations should be focused upon in the years to come. With a wide spread alumni network and current alumni-student interactions being at a nascent stage, its time for Monday Morning to think of ways to boost the alumni network. Multi-media will also become a major part of the content on MM in the coming years.
MM: How would you describe your experience with you branch, Mechanical Engineering?
SGR: Ours is one of coolest departments in NITR. Our students are often people who dance to their own tunes and so are our professors. The department though was not really what I expected when I first came into NITR, but one tends to get accustomed to ground realities pretty fast when it is the truth almost every where else in India. However the department has given me friends to last a lifetime. The times in our classes and labs that were hardly spent listening to lectures, the endless crass jokes, lab groups, the unity that we have come to see in our batch in the final year: these are some of the things that I will cherish.
MM: Apart from Monday Morning, what other activities were/are you involved in?
SGR: I do have a blog in which I have written about all of five articles. I thought I would keep writing after I become a CC but then that didn’t happen. I love reading novels and watching Anime. I have watched a lot of series and right now I’ve gotten bored of DC because I’ve pretty much exhausted the content available there. Since I’m basically an introvert, I enjoy nothing more than being able to spend time with myself, sorting the myriad issues inside my own head.
MM: Do you have any regrets so far?
SGR: One of the major regrets I have dates back to the December of 2015 when we were working on the 3rd edition of the print issue. During my stay at NITR I have gotten depressed on several occasions, and at those times I simply shut people out. In December, I was not in Rourkela, and emotionally I was in a very dark place. However, instead of sharing this with my co-CCs, so that they could cover for me, I simply remained absent and this created unnecessary pressure on them. I wish I could have done something about that. Over time now, I realize that I have certainly transformed as a person, and given a chance, that is one thing that I would definitely do differently.
Another regret would be that i haven’t really accomplished anything concrete in the field of mechanical engineering althouh I am pretty passionate about it. I have missed out working with my BAJA team due to my commitments to MM and although it will be a regret but I feel that I have gained as much or even more through my work in MM.
MM: What plans do you have for the future?
SGR: Right now, I intend on taking up this job and continuing with it for the next 8-10 years. Irrespective of what exactly the job offers, it has a decent pay and I intend to save that up so that I can start my own business in the future. I’m not sure what exactly that will be. I feel that i will, especially as an engineer in a 9 to 5 job, never find passion in work. Basically, I want to remain in my core branch, because I still enjoy it. Even though this is a vague plan, I’m sure about one thing – I want to retire early and maybe travel a bit, read lots, write if I can. Let’s what life has planned for me.
MM: What message do you have for our readers?
These four years are the right time to develop yourself. Moulding your personality, developing how you think, your passions; these four years are really all you’ve got. The time and freedom you have here is exceptional – before you come to this institute and after you graduate from it, you live your lives for someone else. A new phase of responsibility awaits as we step out of this institute and these four years should be utilized to make the best out of oneself. Apart from that, never settle for less or whatever life is throwing at you. Always take a chance achieving more and something better, no matter you are confident or not. I have personally seen people who have made the best of the chances they have been provided with, people who didn’t think they had it in them, who then went on to make it big in the field they chose.