Going the Distance: Sujit Kumar Mohanty

There is a saying that the ending and outcome of a journey is something that most people look forward to, but that is the fundamental flaw itself.

The result isn’t as important as following your heart, and taking every step in the journey. The very fact that someone went the distance and took on life as a bull by its horns, and kept moving forward is what deserves a 21-gun salute, and not the podium finish. Team Monday Morning brings to you Sujit Kumar Mohanty (SKM), who went the distance on various issues ranging from being an athlete to setting an institute relay record to being a Joint General Convener in Sports to making it to the institute Cricket team to being a Placement Coordinator of Chemical Engineering, and in this beautiful four year journey, the ending is immaterial. This journey has been credited with a Sports Excellence Award and Leadership Excellence Award for the session of 2013-14, on the Institute Foundation Day on 15th August. Read on to know how he went through every barrier set forth in this hurdles race, called Life.

MM: Tell us about your life before NITR.
SKM: I was born and brought up in Puri, Orissa. I attended an Oriya medium school for a couple of years before joining an English Medium school. Early days in my new school were difficult for me due to peer pressure, teasing, and bullying, but my father who constantly supported and encouraged me helped me move past that stage in life. I received my higher secondary education along with taking coaching for the engineering entrance examinations, in Naidu +2 Science College. Just like many other aspiring engineers I wanted to get into an IIT, but as luck would have it I joined NITR. Although I was interested to study Computer Science but my parents and relatives wanted me to take up a core branch, and so Chemical Engineering at NITR happened.

Ever since my childhood, I had less inclination towards studies and more towards sports. Cricket and athletics were what interested me the most. In my first school, we were given ample opportunities to participate in sports and hone our skills but in the English medium school the emphasis was much more on academic excellence than sports. Even when after my schooling, I never had much time for sports because of the strenuous schedule involving both coaching and college. At that time I started participating and representing my school in zonal debating competitions which also helped me later in life.

MM: How did you adjust to NITR? What were your early days like?
SKM: I interacted with a very few seniors in my first year, because I was afraid of ragging and being forced into a zone and zone related activities. In my first semester I was the ideal student, regular to the classes, taking notes, and asking doubts. At that time we got very few chances to play sports. After the first semester I realized that CGPA was not the end of the world; extra-curricular activities and sports too should be given their due time. I joined Clarion in my second semester, when my seniors suggested that it would be a good club to develop my skills. That was the only club I was associated with in my first year.
In my second year I wanted to take up some responsibilities, like organizing events and fests. The late Soumya Baral, who was like a brother to me, suggested that we take the responsibility of organizing the sports events of ISM 2k13. That year ISM was a complete hit and we had great participation in games and sports events. I also coordinated the first ever Sports Fiesta. The conception of Super 8 also happened during the fiesta and it was a grand success as well.

MM: What brought about you contesting and winning the election to the Games and Sports Society? How was your experience as an elected representative?
SKM: Towards the end of my 2nd year, a few of my friends asked me to contest the elections for the Games and Sports society. Although I wasn’t a member of any zone, I had quite a few friends who supported me and I had also done some work in organizing the Sports Fiesta. That helped me win the elections and I became the Joint General Convener. It was a position of huge responsibility and during my stint I feel that we delivered as we promised. Sports Fiesta 2k14 was an unprecedented success with around a thousand participants from nearly 25 different colleges and we successfully brought Ranjib Biswal to our campus. We had to overcome a lot of hurdles and even after doing all the hard work, because of some misunderstandings, it was going to be cancelled initially. Then we went to the Director and convinced him of our plans. Finally when all things fell into place, we were overjoyed. Besides that, we had year-long activities with active sports clubs, institute team vs freshers matches in every sport and so much more. We provided the freshers with so many opportunities to prove their mettle with camps and institute vs fresher teams in every sport.

MM: How was your experience with SAC?
SKM: My experience with SAC, showed me that in order to successfully work inside SAC, one needs to be responsible and patient. The SAC authorities do not sanction budgets or clear documents with the press of a button, you have to be persistent and patient. During my tenure, we had officials who believed in us and supported us, even the staff at DTS were equally hard-working and made whatever we accomplished possible.

     The most neglected society is the Games and Sports Society though it carries out events throughout the year.

We weren’t able to conduct many of the events which we had planned because of the limited budget that the society is given. The elected representatives have many ideas and plans which greatly improve the quality of our fests and the participation, both of which are showing a steady decline. But they are not given ample opportunity to put these ideas and plans to work.
MM: What were the sports activities you were involved in as a sports person throughout your time at NITR?
SKM: I could not make it to the Inter-NIT athletics events in my first year, due the gap that I had in my sports activities over my school and college days. In my second year I trained harder and I came 2nd in the 800 meters and 1st in the 400 meters race and qualified for the Inter-NIT competition where we gave a good competition. Cricket had always been my passion and since the first day at NITR I wanted to make it to the institute team. Never having played with the deuce ball made that target very hard to achieve, but I got inducted into the team in my final year and we participated in the Inter-NIT cricket tournament held at MNNIT, Allahabad. I have also been a member of the hall teams for athletics and cricket for DBA and VS halls and we have won quite a few trophies along the way.

MM: Who is your favourite cricketer and why?
SKM: Being a left hand batsman, my favourite cricketer is Sourav Ganguly and I also love to watch Yuvraj Singh bat. The best thing about Sourav Ganguly is his pull shot, which also happens to my favourite shot. Also until 2007 World Cup, he was the best captain that India had. I tip my hat to him for leading the team to the finals in 2003 because that was an extraordinary feat amidst all the challenges he faced.

MM: What other hobbies do you have?
SKM: I don’t have many other hobbies other than sports. I listen to a little music and my favourite singer right now is Arijit Singh. His songs are soothing and I listen to them when I am in a pensive mood or in order to lift up my spirits. This year I have hardly had time for any other hobbies as most of the time passes in doing my work and fulfilling my responsibilities as the placement coordinator. Any of my free time is devoted to playing cricket.

MM: What led to you becoming the Placement Coordinator of your branch?
SKM: I didn’t want to sit idle in my final year after having worked for fests, sports events and SAC for two years. After getting placed you will mostly be sitting in your rooms and so I thought of taking up some responsibility. I backed my capabilities and was confident I could perform the role of a PC. I was supported by my friends as well.

MM: What was being a Placement Coordinator of Chemical Engineering like? How do you think the scenario can be improved in the future?
SM: This branch of NIT Rourkela does not have a good reputation outside. Most companies have a bad notion about us, because most of our alumni have opted out from their jobs after a very small time; this is what I got to know while calling most of them. Most core companies are in the Gujarat and other far-off areas like Shell, Schlumberger, Hindustan Unilever Ltd and so on prefer people from those areas, and did not opt for coming all the way to Rourkela for recruitment. Another primary reason being the bad connectivity of this place. A few companies had called people from here for off-campus recruitment.
Our people should take part in the various competitions hosted by the various companies, and grab the attention of these companies thereby facilitating the campus recruitment of these companies here. Once the Bhubaneshwar office of our TNP is set up and the connectivity of Rourkela is improved, our placement stats are bound to get enhanced.

MM: What will be your message as a PC to future aspirants to the post of PC?
SKM: If you are selfless, if you want to undertake the responsibilities and if you want to achieve something by helping all your branch mates then Placement Coordinator is a good post for you. But one has to set aside many of your own goals for this purpose. If one wants to crack any competitive examinations then becoming a PC is not ideal as there is no time left after doing your job. It will inconvenience both the person and his branch mates as well. If you are hard-working, patient, smart and enthusiastic than the fulfilment of seeing your batch mates cheer you on and getting them successfully placed is the best feeling one can get.

MM: What according to you are the best and worst things about NITR?
SKM: Life at NITR is the best thing about it. The atmosphere, the friend circle, the facilities and infrastructure, the outings with friends, all these shall not be available after 2-3 years and that’s when we will repent not enjoying our time here to the fullest. The worst thing is the attendance system and the cumbersome academic rules.

MM: What are your plans after graduation?
SKM: For the time being I have got placed in Affine Analytics, and I plan to get 2-3 years of job experience there. After that I want to go for an MBA. As for sports, many of my friends are going to Bangalore for their jobs and corporate cricket is a big thing there. If I get a chance I will definitely participate in such events although I don’t know if Affine Analytics participates in such events. Cricket however shall always be my passion and I will always want to be a part of it.

MM: Tell us about some of your special memories of your life at NITR.
SKM: My best memory of NITR would be getting inducted into the institute team at last in my final year because of it was a dream I was fighting for since my first year.  

     Four of us, in my third year, broke the institute record in 4x100 meter relay race.

They were Dibya Shankar, Prashant Tibrewal and Sushant Dungdung. Along with these, winning those cricket tournaments with my hall team and other such winning moments are all very special to me.

MM: Any regrets that you still have now, almost at the end of four years?
SKM: One was at the very beginning, when I chose Chemical Engineering over Computer Science, after heeding to the advice of others. I had no interest in core, so I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I was placed at Affine Analytics, as I knew it was a rare non-core opportunity that I just had to grab.
Another would be, I had started out with an 8.9, and with each passing semester, my grades have been constantly decreasing. Basically now, I am struggling to remain an 8 pointer. One 7.5 followed by another 8.04 followed by another 7.5 has kept me struggling around 8. I could have gotten a better CGPA in the first year. Still, it’s not much of a regret, considering that I was involved in a lot of activities ranging from sports to being a PC, and I did whatever I loved. I followed my heart and I didn’t allow anything, not even grades, to pressurize me. One should take risks in life, as without that element of risk, we can’t gain anything.

MM: Do you consider anyone from this institute to be your inspiration or something like a role model?
SKM: Not a single one, I had multiple inspiration. In athletics, it would be Dibya Shankar. He was truly inspirational. Also, I greatly looked up to the pre-final year students in the cricket team, as they were very friendly to us, and they gave us opportunities and showed some faith in us. They called us every day whenever they would play, till late in the night, in my second semester. It was because of them that I realized my dream of making it to the institute Cricket team in my final year; a dream that I harbored since my first year, though I used to play in the hall teams earlier on.

MM: What are the final days in NIT like for you? Anything to be still checked off from the bucket list?
SKM: In the last two months, I will try to play as much cricket as I want. It has been a passion for me throughout. I will try to go out and spend as much as I can with my friends. I still have my Placement Coordinator duties left, as some people are still left without a job offer, in my batch. I want each and every one to be placed, so that later on they will remember my name, and state that there was this one guy who worked a lot for us day and night to build our future. I would also like a few conversions of jobs to take place of people to core, from non-core in my branch.

MM: What message would you like to pass on to your juniors as a final year?
SM: Don’t be idle and be just a bookworm. These are the best 4 years of your life. Don’t concentrate just on your CGPA. If you don’t live your life to the fullest now, you are going to regret a lot. Get into some extra-curricular activity and develop your soft skills which are very essential in bagging a job. CGPA ranging from 8.5 to 9 is more than enough if someone is job-oriented. Higher than that is for those who would pursue higher studies. Be bold, be strong, take up responsibilities and always remember,

     You are the maker of your own destiny.