MCKVIE Commencement Lecture – 10

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Aug 2014

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Commencement Lecture at MCKV Engg College, Liluah, Howrah
Good Morning. Distinguished Guests on the dais, respected professors, lecturers & teaching-staff,
respected guardians and my dear students, I am very happy to be here today. We have had some very fine
opening day lectures just now. The last speaker Mr. Amitabh Mohan is indeed a very engaging speaker.
You see, I keep attending many programmes, where I keep on sitting and listening to innumerable
speeches; so when I say some lecture is very good, there is lot of value in my judgment!
First of all, in the name of the Almighty Lord, whom different people call by different names, I
welcome you all to this wonderful college. All the speakers spoke about today being a new beginning to
you all. Some of the students also spoke about how they wanted to become Engineers. There was clarity
in their decision.
You know, I too have often asked myself what it means to becomean Engineer. Let me explain
what I understand by that. Today’s world is entirely an outcome of Engineering. Everything you use in
your daily life is the product of Engineering. The clothes you wear, the chair on which you sit, the
microphone I use, the speakers that are bringing my voice up to you, the phone you use, the spectacles
you use, everything! Now, since our birth we have been using all these. We are comfortable in using all
these things. As soon as we see a new phone, our first thought is ‘how can I get one for myself & how can
I get to use it? Perhaps it will make my daily life easier.’ This is the first thought that comes to us as soon
as we see anything new around us. We are programmed as it were to see everything as a user, as it were.
From today onwards, that attitude will change. From today onwards, you will see everything from a
manufacturer’s perspective. You see something and you will ask yourself, ‘how could this thing have
been manufactured? How does this thing work? How does it make the user’s life more comfortable?’ You
see, this attitude changeis what it means to become an Engineer. From today starts your journey towards
this attitude change in yourself. It is not a small job. What starts today will continue for many, many
years. After a decade or so, this attitude will become natural in you.
Who will help you in bringing about this attitude change in yourself? Your learned professors
here; your wonderful college with so many excellent facilities; these two will help you. But these two
have one small demerit. Your professors need you to come to the college for them to teach what they
know. Similarly, your college holds that if you come to this college, you will be allowed to use the
wonderful facilities. So, the long and short of the argument is that you need to attend college regularly! I
was talking to Mr. Kejriwal here today. He informs me that you need a minimum of 75% attendance for
writing the qualifying exams, as per norms. Students do that, you know. The first thing they do is find out
the least minimum attendance with which they can manage. Some universities and councils are happy
with 60%, some go for 75%. So, students are simply hooked onto the bare minimum. Alright; but you
know what I say to that mentality? I say, if you are ok with 75% attendance in your college, then be bold
enough to apply it elsewhere in your daily life too. At the Petrol Pump, pay for 10 liters of petrol but
accept only 7.5 liters! Pay for 1 kg sugar but take only 750 gms! Do you see the absurdity?
I hold that attending college regularly is a basic requirement. You see, tomorrow you will have to
work in some factory or office. Take off as and when you get the fancy, or go out of the campus willy-
nilly then! I challenge you! You will get thrown out of work in no time! So, you will need to practice that
here in college. Further, look at your professors and lecturers. They all have many years of experience.
And you plan to absorb all that from them in just six months! Can you imagine the intensity of your
attention needed in college?! Yet another argument I have for you to attend college regularly and staying
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inside the college campus from morning till end of the day is – you see, this college has some really
marvelous facilities. These facilities won’t use themselves! You need to use them! Make use of every free
period to go to the library, browse through the different books, discover the different machinery the
college has, and stuff like that. You know, I sometimes jokingly say that the only facility that most
college students use completely is the Wi-Fi connection! Go beyond the Wi-Fi and the damned Facebook!
You are here to be an Engineer, for God’s sake; not a stupid love-struck Romeo or Juliet!!
Ok; alright; today is your first day in college, your ‘birthday’ here, as Mr. Mohan just now said. I
shouldn’t get all worked up. Today, it will be only nice words. You see, I have an observation about
engineering education in India. Let me give you the example of Medical education to drive home the
point I wish to make. You see, the IMA gives accreditation to a Medical College only if the College has a
Medical Hospital attached to it. In fact, the number of seats in a Medical College is directly linked to the
number of beds in the attached Hospital! How wonderful! But, how is it with engineering colleges? You
can open an engineering college in the middle of a desert and AICTE will be only too happy to give it due
accreditation! I don’t know where the policy blindness is in our country! Anyway, this college has a
vibrant connection with industry. Use it to the fullest. You see, an engineer who develops himself without
connection with industry is a nobody. Always place your education from today onwards in sync with the
industry. If you are not useful to industry tomorrow, your degree is only a piece of paper, totally
worthless!
How do you make yourself useful to industry? What exactly does industry want in you? Let me
tell you very precisely what the industry wants. I ndustry wants a good man who is a good engineer.
Both are required. You must be a good person. You must also know your subject. You just saw Dr N R
Bandopadhyay, Material Science Expert from BESU, Shibpur speak. Now, that is the kind of expertise
that industry wants. But you also need to be an intrinsically good human being.
You have all heard of Sir C V Raman, the Nobel laureate. The Indian Govt asked him to set up a
Physics Research Laboratory in Bangalore. He gave advertisements for research assistants. Many
attended the interview. After the interviews were over, he went to his room for his lunch. There was a
knock on his door. When he opened it, he saw a candidate standing. He gave Sir C V Raman a 50 rupees
note and said, ‘Sir, I collected my TA and saw that I had been given this amount extra. I went back to
return it, but the cashier had gone for lunch. So I am giving it back to you.’ C V Raman looked at the
young man and said, ‘Don’t go back. Stay. I have in fact selected you.’ Later on, Sir C V Raman told the
other Directors that he had selected that particular young man. Some of them objected saying that there
were other candidates who were better, who knew better physics than this guy. Sir C V Raman said, ‘I can
teach him physics; but I cannot teach him honesty! And this fellow already has it. We must have him.’
You see, industry also is like that; it is ready to teach you when you join them after completing your
degree. But you need to be a good person. This college has provisions like the Swami Vivekananda Study
Circle which will help you in these lines too. Use that opportunity.
But as I said earlier, it is not enough to be a good person. You must know your subject. You
know what they say about good people? ‘He is so good…he is so good…that he is good for nothing!’ we
don’t want such people. You must be good, but also have a complete grip over your subject. There was
once a great scholar in chemistry. While returning home one day, he saw a puppy suffering on the road.
Somebody, perhaps a cyclist, had hit it and it was bleeding; there were cuts on its body. His heart suffered
greatly for the dog. He took it home. His books had taught him that carbolic acid cured cuts and bruises.
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So he dipped the suffering dog into a bucket containing concentrated carbolic acid. He also applied
various different formulations of carbolic acid onto the dog’s body and waited for it to get cured. But, two
days later, the dog died. Somebody explained to him that dogs have a natural technique of licking their
wounds and their saliva is antiseptic and they cure themselves. This great scholar had generously applied
concentrated carbolic acid and the dog had ingested the concentrated acid which becomes poison in the
stomach; hence the dog died! So it won’t do to just have a good heart; you must know your subject really
well.
Well, it looks like I spoke for quite long now. But I actually spoke about just four points; I will
summarize them for you. Firstly, becoming an Engineer means bringing about an attitude change in
yourself. Till now you were a user; from now onwards you will start becoming a manufacturer. Secondly,
attend college regularly and stay inside campus from 10 to 5. Don’t absent yourself or loiter here and
there. Thirdly, use every facility this college provides you. Always keep yourself aligned to the needs of
the industry. Don’t develop yourself divorced from the industry. That sort of engineering education has
absolutely no meaning. Fourthly, you will need to be a good person apart from knowing your subject
really well.
There are so many guardians here today, Mr. Kejriwal told me. I have just one thing to tell all of
you. You see, I see a very dangerous trend in our country now-a-days. Parents think that they have paid
the fees and have enrolled their kids into a school or college and their job is now over; it is the college’s
duty to see that their child gets educated. It does not work like that. There is a proverb that says ‘It takes
an entire village to educate a child’. See how they express it! In order to educate one child, the entire
village will have to contribute. Parents will have to collaborate with the college; regular contact with the
college, with the professors; that is essential. You simply can’t subcontract your child’s education.
Education of one’s child simply cannot be delegated to others! I hope you will keep this point in mind
and help this college work on your child.
Before I end, I just can’t help but comment on one more issue that was raised by Mr. Mohan; that
of ragging. I am given to understand that this college has sensitized the seniors regarding ragging. You
see, the seniors would have been told bluntly that not even an allegation will be tolerated. Directly an FIR
will be lodged and the senior’s career will get destroyed once for all! The seniors know that very well.
But then, I often feel that the freshmen too need to be educated regarding how to behave in campus. There
ought to be a natural relationship between the freshmen and the seniors. Just because somebody asks
you your name or from where you are doesn’t mean you are being ragged! When two strangers, it is
natural we ask each other sundry details like that – name, previous school, etc. Be natural. The seniors too
are as afraid of you as you are of them. They too are afraid that one noise from you and their entire career
gets jeopardized. Let me end by telling you a story. You see, a man once had to go out of station for a
couple of days. He had a dog and had no one to take care of it. So, he kept food for two-three days in his
bedroom, locked the dog inside his bedroom and went away. Two days later when he returned, he saw
that the dog was dead. There was a life-size mirror in his room and that was shattered; those glass pieces
had pierced the dog and it had bled to death. He understood what had happened. He said, ‘Oh! If only you
had wagged your tail, you would have found a good friend in the mirror! You poor fool!’
I pray to the Almighty Lord that your dream of becoming an engineer gets fulfilled here. With
these words, I end my speech today. Hari Om! Tat Sat!
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