Some thoughts that came out of my wish to see the missing vibrance in the IISc community, and it being unfulfilled.
Recently I was in an interesting conversation (separate ones) with two of my friends. The topic revolved around our standing as a research institute vis-a-vis other places. We were of course, not talking about ratings and all. They are rather transient and shallow. We were trying to look at things from the view of insiders.
One issue was regarding students' magazines. A good magazine, with a regular release of hard-copies and a web-edition, does a lot in establishing the university to outsiders and insiders alike the strength of its existence. It's like the institute is so important that its events and life regularly gets documented and published for the peresul of everyone. IISc is pathetic when it comes to such funky things like magazines and other extra curriculars. We all personally agree that being a so-called premiere institute, it's rather expected that we should have a nice periodical of our own. Quite lamentably, IISc doesn't have a jazzy periodical. We do have something called 'Voices'. It's a very simple single-coloured newspaper style magazine. I am in the editorial team. Till recently, I also used to do the cartoon for that . Off late due to work pressure I have retired from that work. We do manage to create a 4-6 page monthly issue. I am sure we have been doing a good job at that. But, we are a pathetically small team. In fact, the general impression among ignorant IIScians is that there's some big team doing a horrendous job. When they come to know that we are just 3-4 of us who have been continuously toiling to bring out this magazine, they get surprised. I understand that we work under severe resource crunch in this respect. Guys at Stanford and Harvard have dedicated staff to publish their periodicals. We are in no such luxurious conditions. But, I don't feel bad about that. What's disappointing is that people just crib. There are matters people notice which need to be brought to the public notice. There are thoughts in each person's mind. But they come to the canteen, bitch a bit about the administration and general research quality etc., and then forget about it. The realisation is missing that putting a one-time effort in putting those thoughts together would go a long way in creating a more aware and alert IISc community, which will be ready to respond to its issues.
Ironically, the various regional groups in IISc are doing quite well in that respect. Especially the Bengali Cultural Group called Spandan is very active and powerful. They organise very good cultural programmes and bring out quite a respectable bi-annual magazine in Bengali. I know they too manage all this with tremendous difficulty. But they succeed in the end. Similarly there's Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Mallu, Gujju, etc. etc. cultural groups, all more active in themselves than the overall IISc community.\n
We have been hard at work in trying to beef up Voices (IISc monthly) to a better shape by getting more people, and by getting others to contribute guest articles. I am hopeful that we will get some fruitful results.
The other discussion I had with my friend was regarding how we in IISc usually are far more tensed up and self-loathing compared to other institutes of the world. Through our interactions with various people, we are rather confident at one level that individually, we are very much at par with the best of the lot. Nevertheless, IIScian's generally behave like dorks overall. We work hard, we toil, but our productivity doesn't reach the desired level. I attribute this to our unreasonable inferiority complex. I feel (and many here agree to that) that we should get up and start living our lives well. We should feel genuinely proud of ourselves. The sense of false urgency under which we always are is unnecessary and counter-productive. I am sure that each one of us has this onus on himself to figure out how each brick of confidence can be laid around himself. Brick by brick we can found a castle of confidence and productivity.\n
I am a believer that one valid way of solving a problem is to start solving it at one's own level. Successes and failures come in the way. But things change over a long time, bit by bit. The name of the game is: Never lose hope!
Jodi tor daak shune keyo na aashe, tobe akla cholo re.
(If noone responds to your calls, move on, alone!)
The Lost Researcher