Quintessentially quiet and sincerely studious is what your first impression would be about Sourav Pattanayak, final year B. Tech, from the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. Yet, our ex-Chief Coordinator, current Chief Mentor and ‘Once a Hall 7ite, always a Hall7ite’ is everything but that. Popularly known as Harry among his friends for his Harry Potter fanaticism and nicknamed Garam Bhediya by a chosen few(for reasons best known to them), he has played a pioneering role in changing the Monday mornings for most of us here at NITR. The final interview in our series of ex-MM coordinator interviews sees Harry open up like the Golden Snitch, before taking the Hogwarts Express back home, one last time.
MM: Describe your journey with MM thus far. How and when did you first get to know about MM and what made you go for the inductions?
SP: The first I learned of MM was through notices put up on the GD Birla Notice Board. Even then, I had a pretty obscure idea about MM. I guess I must have ventured just once or twice into the then Monday Morning Beta page before I appeared for the induction. The decision was pretty straight forward – other than degree361, MM had something to do with writing which I felt comfortable with, so I wanted to be a part of it. Also, Anubhav (Chief-Coordinator to our batch), who had been my friend since my +2 days, had asked me to come for the induction.
My second year in the institute, as an MM reporter was filled with activity, what with handling TNP, SAC, Metallurgy department and sometime chipping in with Campus articles. Around the end of the year, Bala, who became the next Technical Coordinator, introduced a fresh new MM site with many additional features like commenting on articles, social networking plug in, flash on top, etc. When we i.e. Amitpal Singh Bhatia, Aradhana Nayak and me became the CC, with an improved site, and a wonderfully hardworking team in hand, we had a wild year, where MM readership rose by leaps and bounds. In the summer of 2011, Prateek '.' worked to get the latest website rolling, and since then we have had an average of five thousand visits a week.
Now after three years, I can proudly say that Monday Morning is the best thing that happened to me after Harry Potter. There’s just so much I have learned in life from my association with MM. The value of time, the value of team-work, the need to know your members personally, the idea of being selfless and as Hermione Granger puts it- ‘doing something good in the world’.
MM: Compared to when you got inducted and now, when the first years are getting inducted, how has MM evolved?
SP: Earlier, Monday Morning was more of a notice board kind of newsletter. "Monday Morning has less number of readers than editors" - that's what people used to say back then. Over the years, we have given it a completely fresh face – in looks as well as in content. The popularity has soared hundreds of times. Nowadays, we raise issues through articles, enlighten students on onging research work as well as opportuinities in the placement sector, try finding solutions to problems, more than once through poll of the week, get student opinion on anything and everything; and not just student, we have now a readership that boasts of student, professors and alumni alike. We get readers not only from India, but so many other cities around the world, that shows NIT Rourkela's alumni base. Monday Morning is all set to move on, and take NITR along with it. The time has come; it’s growing into a phenomenon.
MM: How has life at NITR been in these last 4 years?
SP: I never had the best of school days. Come to college life, and well, those were spent pretty much out-of-college. Then came NITR; came ‘insti life’. And I have bloody loved this campus, more than even my home town. I love the mountains, the greenary, the long and lonely roads, and the hostel life, to which there can be no substitute. Yeah, I wanted to be a perfect 10 pointer in the first month of my first semester here. :D But, after four years of fun and toil, from hating Electronics in first sem to hating Metallurgy in most other sems, and now with a decent CGPA, I can only say this, life here has been worth it.
MM: Today, when you look back at the last four years, do you have any particular regrets with regards to MM?
SP:Just one, a certain Prof. K. K. Mohapatra article shouldn’t have been published as it was. We should have been more careful rather than truthful about it.
Other than that, these were the best years MM had. And anything that chanced, be it good or ugly, was all part of the greater success that MM is at present. So, no regretting; but rejoicing.
MM: Share with us some of your most cherished moments in these past few years and some bad memories.
SP: Talk of cherished moments, and these four years have had numerous such occasions, with friends, seniors, juniors and my batch mates, which I’ll cherish all my life. Other than that, the first time I saw my poem getting published in degree autumn issue, back in my first year, was one memorable day. Winning the HB Hall Super Six towards the fag end of my eighth semester was another such moment.
The rest half (or rather major share) of moments come from my days with MM; one Confluence article of piabu memories when MM hits soared the highest ever in a single day, the first time I interviewed the director, the dozen odd MM meetings at SAC, the day I was made the Chief Coordinator, first issue as CC, the first two months when we struck a chord with the NITR crowd, the day we hit 2000 likes on the MM fb page, when careers360 featured MM in an article, the night-outs on Sunday, fighting for the first vote on the latest poll, a hundred refreshes to note the slightest rise in number of votes for the week… in a nutshell… everything.
No bad memories as such.
MM: You have been placed in 3DPLM, an IT company. What are your plans for now? Higher studies or a job? If you go for the job, what are your expectations from 3D PLM?
SP: What if 3D PLM people are reading this? Well, I will go for the job right now. Two years hence, I go for MBA. Then I might take up another job. Somewhere in between, I marry, and then I move around the world and do everything that I have always dreamt of doing. I visit Kings Cross, Orlando, Spain, Italy; learn some musical instrument, learn how to sketch and paint, especially beauty and the female face (always end up drawing faces that remsemble a boy no matter what!). And then I take to writing stories for my son and daughter, in between teaching them to play cricket and football and every other thing they want to learn. I go on long walks with them and teach them everything they should learn from nature. There’s just so much more to add.
Last part of the question is pretty boring, I am not answering that.
MM: What other activities did you indulge in, these past 4 years?
SP: Other than MM which comprised the bulk of my extra-curricular activities, I have been a part of the Degree 361 Team during my second year. I have contributed articles for every single degree issue that came out during my stay here, something which I feel good about. I had been part of the Media and Publicity Team as well as Website Content Writing Team of Confluence and Exordium.
I had briefly been part of the Alumni Relations and Resource Generation(ARRG) Cell, but decided to leave owing to the some pointless manual work being assigned to us. It was like wasting my good time on empty purposes. That is one thing students should be really wary of i.e. avoiding manual work after a certain stage, especially the workaholics, who bog themselves down with lots of activities instead of focusing on the ones that fit their skills and allows them to employ creativity.
Other than these, I played a lot! I played cricket, then tennis, then moved on to table tennis, and Counter-Strike, of which I’m a great fan. In my final year I started playing football and cards. And yes, I got into our branch cricket team for the Champions Trophy. Hopefully we can win it! :)
MM: How do you think your juniors in MM have performed and what are your expectations from the forthcoming batch?
SP:An organization is only as good as its people. If there’s a fall, every member has a contribution in it; if there’s a rise, again does everyone have a contribution in it. Something that’s expected of every new team – first to maintain the present standard, next to take MM to newer heights. Speaking of that, the past two batches have done exceedingly well in bringing MM to the position it is today. The amount of work load has increased manifold times over the past couple of years, and to maintain that alongside continuing with academics is no mean feat.The present coordinating team comprising of SekharBarpanda, SamikGhosal, Mahesh Goenka and Prateek '.' have worked relentlessly hard for two semesters straight to take MM into such heights that I’m in awe of them. Sometimes we feared they were being over-worked. But well, all’s well that ends well.
The freshly inducted first years are a talented and humble lot. They need to carry forward the good work done by the past and present batches.
MM: Everyone knows about your Harry Potter craze and you have been nicknamed ‘Harry’ as well. Take us through your journey with HP and how has it changed your life.
SP: I took to reading Harry Potter on the first day of September, 2005. And since then, happiness has never left me. I have read each of the books numerous times, and even recited the whole series one-by-one to my +2 time hostel mates to create fans out of faces. I absolutely love that exercise; gives me the whole first time reading experience all over again. Maybe I won’t do that with my kids. I’ll gift them one book each starting from their eleventh birthday.
The Harry Potter books have had a significant effect on me. You can relate to characters, events from the books with certain stages of your life and then you “What would Fred Weasley have done in such a situation?” or “What would Dumbledore have advised in face of such adversity?” That simplifies the matter. The Greater Good idea by Dumbledore, I have strongly believed in that. And it has in many situations helped me reach at the right decision. I have a dying wish, to die with the words “Harry Potter” on my lips.
MM: Say you were made the Director of this institute for a day, or a week. What would you have done?
SP: (Chuckles)That reminds me of Anil Kapoor’s Nayak. Forget the attendance, jogging, hostel issues, examination issues; I would have first wanted to bring changes on the academic side. I believe all practical courses should be made into 3 credit courses, resulting in an imminent demotion of 4 credit theory courses into 3 credit papers. Most practical courses are wasted in here; I am speaking for and of a greater majority of the students. There’s a fixed set of experiments which have been kept repeating for the past few years, the students aren’t allowed to handle or deal with most instruments, half the times the labs are taken by assistants who have little knowledge to share on the subject, and of course, there’s an inadvertent focus on completing lab records and getting it signed in time, that’s all there is. Experimentation is shunned in our lab courses, especially for B. Tech students. Supposed to be continually evaluated, most lab courses are graded with an end-of-year test/viva.
Now coming to the examination system, clearly, the semester system fails in its attempt to gauge the students’ knowledge gain. With very few professors able to set thinking and challenging questions so as to tickle the grey cells, it’s better to scrap the mid sems for a full fledged viva in every course. That’s a far better way of professor’s gauging how much the student has learnt.
Coming to the students concern of teaching, if we can have so many conferences, seminars, guest lectures organized throughout the year, we can surely have some seminar/lecture for the teachers, guiding them on “how to teach”.It’s a completely ridiculousnotion that once past the school stage the role of the teacher in a student’s life is minimized. No matter at which stage in life, they are the ones who can best encourage us, bring the students back to the classroom, and so they must.
Faculty Advisors in NITR Rourkela exist for namesake only. That idea behind the post is good, but if the system has to work, the faculty advisors must get to some business. They are the ones who should have the biggest effect on the future of the students. A faculty advisor should make it a point to know the students under him/her, advise them right from their first year, meet up with them once in a while and not just on the registration days.
MM: Any final message for the juniors?
SP:Whatever you do, enjoy your time in the institute. Study to get knowledge, not to vomit EX and A’s over your grade sheet. And do study. Always keep the smileys on and lead a good man’s life.
As for MM juniors, I’ll tell you what your CCs keep shouting at you in the team meetings: feel for Monday Morning, feel for the work you do.Once you become a member of Monday Morning, you have a responsibility towards this institute, its students and everyone alike. And that responsibility is of doing them good, leading them in the right path. As MM members, you must see yourself as setting examples for the rest of them to follow. Throw dirt in the dustbins, switch off lights and fans before leaving the room, participate in the hall elections, fight when you see some wrongdoing, lead the mob in a right path, make the world a better place to live in.