Of Morals, Of Multitudes : Nishant Thacker
Hardworking, sincere, purposeful and principled are the words that come to one’s mind while listening to this person speak about himself; which in itself is a rare thing, given his humble nature. Meet Nishant Thacker, a final year student belonging to the Department of Civil Engineering of NIT Rourkela. Team Monday Morning caught up with him one fine morning for a conversation on his life and principles.
LIMELIGHT ON HIS LIFE
Brought up in a way where he learned to put his family first before everything else, Nishant Thacker always introduces himself by his full name, making sure that his family name never went unnoticed. He explains why he does this; family never leaves you alone in difficult times, never judges you and family comes first. He attributes what he is today to his upbringing and lessons that he learned from his family; their actions, camaraderie and so much more. Living in a joint family comprising of fourteen people and growing up with five siblings certainly taught him many things in life and polished his many qualities; like sharing. Eating and celebrating festivals together; surely helped strengthen his familial bonds. Having seen his father and uncle experience, handle and combat tough situations, he has learned to look at adverse situations in life in the eye, and face them without being afraid or having second thoughts about not being able to face them.
It is the people who matter.
He explains this view of his by narrating one such experience. He had once witnessed his father helping a friend whom he had not met in 20-25 years, who was going through an adverse situation; without giving it a second thought. His father told him that irrespective of how much money one earns or how big a man one becomes; it is the people who you keep close to your heart that matter. People bring happiness. This philosophy of his makes him help people who might be in a better position if he were to help them.
He did his schooling from Loyola School, Bhubaneswar. According to him, one of the best parts of getting an education in a convent school is that one is taught how to be a person and a proper human being. They were taught how to behave, speak, sit and to love God; not fear him. They used to say their prayers daily. He is thankful for his education which helped in boosting his communication skills and other soft skills. One of his very fond memories from school days is topping the eastern zone in the Secondary Board examinations conducted by ICSE. He loves studying and giving exams are fun for him. He has always loved learning new things and venturing into the unknown and facing challenges. With people telling him about how difficult boards examination are and how difficult it is to score marks in the examination, he decided to take it up as a challenge and came out with flying colours, topping the list in the Eastern zone. I did not study much, he says; all he did was study regularly instead, and that was the key to his success.
Before his matriculation exams, everyone was busy comparing, contrasting and choosing between the various streams of Science, Commerce, Arts, etc. Living and studying in Bhubaneswar, he never witnessed people, desperately wanting to get into IITs. He had always given his school and schooling more priority and so, never gave much thought towards getting some sort of proper coaching. Science had always interested him; so he took that up in high school. He joined Vidwan, a premier coaching institute in Bhubaneswar. One year into it, he realized that getting into an IIT was not as easy as it seemed. He was the kind of a person who read for seven days a week, but only for an hour or two; and not someone who studies for twelve hours at a stretch. Getting involved in the coaching institute meant disregarding and not giving enough importance to school work; a situation which he was not comfortable with. Getting into an IIT was secondary to doing well at school so he left the coaching institute. And soon after appearing his entrance exams, NITR happened.
However, Civil engineering was something he had always wanted to pursue. He has been brought up looking forward to the day when he helps his father with his business and takes it to greater heights. And considering the fact that they are into real estate and construction, he was of the opinion that pursuing a degree in Civil engineering will serve well for his interests. As he puts it succinctly, he wanted to make houses.
FROM HELPING HAND TO GUIDING LIGHT
Nishant has been closely related to the fests and events at NITR. From being a volunteer in his first year here, Central Coordinator in his sophomore year and Secretary of the Film and Music Society in his pre-final year; his name is logically intertwined with most fests. After getting that first taste of organizing an event (his first being Urban Crusade) and working in SAC and enjoying it, he has not looked back, ever since. As people told him that working in SAC was not easy, he again took this as a challenge. Organising events was exciting for him, be it in Multi-ethnic, Innovision, Nitrutsav or ISM. His reasons for being so proactive in extra-curricular activities as such is that they teach you a lot; how to handle adverse situations, how to work together as a team, how to interact with different kinds of people, how to lead people and other similar life skills.
During his sophomore year, the music band ‘Local Train’ visited the institute for celebrity night. Nishant fondly recollects the time when he got an opportunity to interview the band after their performance since he was a post holder in SAC. The energy and camaraderie among them were so infectious that he fell in love with the band at that moment.He mentioned that his love for the band was not only because of their soulful melodies and meaningful lyrics but also due to the fond memories attached to it.
When asked how NITR’s fests can be improved, Nishant replied that it is a misconception that our fests are not qualitative. The problem with NITRUTSAV lies in its timing clashing with that of the Spring Fest at IIT, Kharagpur(IIT KGP). And seeing as IITKGP, and other institutions like it are capable of providing the participants with cash prizes upon winning the events, due to higher number and amount of sponsorship received and a SAC controlled exclusively by the students, students prefer going there rather than coming here.
It has never been a problem with the quality, it is just bad timing. Innovision, however, has been garnering more number of participants each year and it is one of the largest techno-management fest ever seen.
A thing that has always bothered him is the halfhearted participation of the students of NITR. In his opinion, in order to attract them, giving them proper value for their talents is required.
Nishant had been elected to the post of the secretary of the Film and Music Society in his sophomore year, in the third year constituency. He was inclined towards that society because of his own interest in movies and music. He describes his experience as mostly good. His tenure saw the organization of the final editions of the Multi-Ethnic fest and Celebrity Night. He and other members of the society had to run around a lot to get the funds sanctioned for the Celebrity Night as the newly appointed Director, Animesh Biswas was not a strong propounder of a musical night. But in the end, they succeeded in organizing it. His job description also included supporting and helping clubs that came under the society.
Up till this year, students were nominated by the Deans to the ISDC; mostly students with a high CGPA were selected and nominated. This year, however, the selection process was made more open. Forms were available and interested students who made the required CGPA cut could apply; which Nishant did. The ISDC requires student members to ensure that their voice is heard and to hear their side. He has always advocated for discipline; for which he wanted to be a part of the ISDC. During his tenure, there has not been a lot of cases, but he has done his best to make sure that they are properly solved, he iterates.
Nishant has always been actively involved in elections, especially because for positions at SAC, it is very important to make sure that legitimate and genuine people are chosen as they are the ones who will conduct, organize and manage fests and events. In NITR, a candidate is, to a large extent, supported mostly by the fellow students belonging to his/her area or region. Nishant believes that sometimes a more deserving candidate loses out on a post because he or she did not have enough support, due to this. This can be decreased by conducting platforms and events like the Soapbox. Also, when asked about how this change can be brought about, he replied that such a change can not be brought about instantaneously, it is more of a gradual process.
Nishant is also a part of the TED club of NITR; which is a platform where people with inspirational stories, come and share their tales and experiences with the audience. .In his first year, he realized that being a part of any kind of club in NITR, meant that he had to wholeheartedly give all his time for that club only, and considering the fact that he is somebody who likes to do a lot many things and venture in many directions, this was not possible. So, he decided to not join many clubs.
Nishant was one of the two students selected from NITR by Larsen &Toubro for an internship in his pre-final year. He describes the two months that he spent interning for L&T in Balasore as one of the most difficult and hectic times of his life. He went to the construction site at 8 AM in the morning and he stayed there until 8 PM or 9 PM in the evening. But ultimately in retrospect, when he looks back, it was also the most fun he had and he got the opportunity to learn a lot of things about the corporate and civil engineering world. He never had any free time, as his entire day was spent in learning and working but that worked well for him.
It was all about staying in a construction site for twelve to thirteen hours, coming back to the lodging and eating tasteless food and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar territory.
Facing all these and doing his project well was hard, but he never gave up and successfully did it all.
Being the recipient of the O.P. Jindal Engineering and Managerial Scholarship (OPJEMS) is no small thing, and Nishant has bagged this prestigious scholarship as well. Awarded only to the first three toppers in four branches of engineering, studying in one of the forty premier institutes of the country, this scholarship gives a one-time hefty amount and also helps nurture entrepreneurs. Nishant is a proud recipient of the same, what with being the holder of the second position of the Department of Civil Engineering here and showing exemplary leadership, managerial and organizational qualities. The selection process had three rounds; a psychometric test, a written quiz on the Jindal group of companies and a gruelling personal interview. Recipients of this scholarship can also apply to work in any company under the Jindal group of companies in the future.
Despite getting an on-campus internship, Nishant refused to sit for placements. His ultimate aim in life is joining his Father’s business and take it forward. He sees it as his responsibility to work on something that his father has taken years to build and nurture, and he can not just let an existing structure be.
I did not sit for placements because I know that I do not want to work for anyone else; I want to work for myself and with my family. Another reason why I did not want to sit for placements was that, if I got selected and then did not join the company, then it would be a problem for our institute as well as the company; the companies recruit the exact number of people that they require from a particular institution. I also looked at it as me taking away the job of one of my fellow batchmates.
BALANCING THE YIN-YANG
An avid fan of Harry Potter series, FRIENDS and Game of Thrones, he stated that each of the three TV series represented a phase of his life from his childhood till present and hence remain an indispensable part of his life.
Being a master of several traits, holding several positions of responsibilities and yet doing well in academics is an appreciable feat achieved by Nishant. According to him,
The method with which subjects are taught in our institute requires us to pay undivided attention in class and maintain clear notes. Apart from that, spending about an hour daily in one’s hall of residence trying to brush up the concepts taught during the day will be of great help too. Trying to solve all the assignments helps in better understanding of the subjects.
Additionally, he believes that interacting with people from various ethnicities, states and cultural backgrounds in college challenged the conservative and rigid ideologies that he inculcated since childhood. New experiences and new people have helped him become more balanced and have broadened his mindset, hence helping in his overall personality development.
One of the most surprising aspects of his personality is his willingness to treat his close peers on demand without hesitation. When asked about the same, he reiterated the fact that the moments of laughter and joy that one has during a meal with his/her friends overshadows the cost of the meal.
FITNESS AND MUSIC FANATISM
His inclination towards music also requires a special recognition. Motivated by his father's love for the tabla, he began taking tabla lessons during school until his 10th standard. Quoting his words,
I think everyone must learn to play a music instrument. Apart from being a way to relieve stress, playing a musical instrument has also helped me connect with myself. In a world where everyone is so busy trying to socialise, we sometimes forget to spend time in solitude. Playing a musical instrument has helped me to do so.
Physical fitness is one thing that Nishant strongly advocates and encourages students. In fact, his story of weight loss is nothing short of incredible and his passion for jogging is commendable! Taking inspiration from his uncle, he began jogging in his first year. While all students would jog two laps twice a week for credits, on the other hand, Nishant would jog three laps five days a week! He has already run the Standard Chartered Bombay and Kolkata half marathons and is currently in the registration process for this year’s NYC Marathon. When asked about the reason for his interest in jogging, he said that it helped him think better and introspect.
In addition to jogging, Nishant can play almost every sport. Lawn Tennis, Basketball, Table Tennis, Cricket, Badminton and what not ! He was also a very good cricket player during school until 10th, during which he had to give up sports and focus on academics seriously. Nishant is a part of the college badminton club and has won several awards at the Intra-Hall as well as Inter-Hall competitions in badminton. Having always prioritised running, he was not able to represent the institute in the various sports. The motto that he follows is:
A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Hence, physical fitness is of utmost importance.
LIFE BEYOND NITR
His honesty and forthright personality was perceived when he stated that one of the main goals of his life is to “earn as much money as possible”. His plans for the near future are to join his family business and pursue MBA, after which he would decide on joining any firm or coming back to home. He has an appreciable clarity and focus on eventually taking responsibility for his father’s business.
According to him, the present Nishant Thacker would tell the Nishant Thacker of four years ago to be open to new experiences and to be prepared to learn more because he was in line for experiencing things that he never knew before both, physically and mentally.
While concluding, Nishant Thacker said,
Everyone that comes to NIT is someone who must’ve worked really hard. But once they get admission into the college, the freedom there gets into their head. This must not happen. The freedom and time that we get in college must be utilised to the fullest. Students must remember to maintain their focus and determination. Give your best and leave the rest to god or luck. Also, make sure that you’re physically fit.