A note to the parting batch-2012 by Prof. Phatak
The time: 5:30 PM. A handful of students, probably if we had to put them together, they would just fill up the first row of the main auditorium of VMCC. T-shirt counters were set up and the podium was empty. People other than the students discussing on the lines “ Just these many? It was`nt this way last year!!” Within no time ( read as 10 to 15 minutes) the hall was full of noisy students in clusters discussing about what was coming up. The lines “Just these many?” converted to now “So many?” . To keep the noise level to nil, the CEO of IITBAA Mr. Shirish Potnis had to step in to introduce the guest of honor Prof. Phatak. When this was done, it was obvious that all ears were towards the man who could keep the ears attentive towards him throughout. So started the good gyan from a senior, experienced teacher to the amateurs who were soon going to fly out of the cozy nest to the real world where the search would begin.
Such finesse was it that the noisy audience was mesmerised and there was pin drop silence in submission to this man. Self confessed, frank & strong-opined would aptly summarize the speech. He started off with his own humble experiences & value systems that have made him the towering figure today & then went on to describe the dream of an independent & self sufficient India. To add to the glory of the evening, 5 members of the alumni were felicitated for their service towards Alumni Association. The following are the names:
Arpit Oswal ex Institute Alumni Secretary, ex-Overall Coordinator, Student Alumni Relations Cell – 2010-11
Piyush Nagle - ASMP Core Team Member - 2010-11
Swaroop Vajrapu - Web and Softwares Core Team Member - 2010-11
Kriti Bhargava - Phonathon Core Team Member - 2010-11
Pooja nagle - Phonathon Core Team Member – 2009-10
‘Build India Where Dreams Come True - Journey to an exciting professional career
by Dr. Deepak B Phatak, at IIT BOMBAY, Mumbai ,on 3rd May, 2012
[Summary of the address to passing out batch]
Dear Graduating Students,
My talk today expands on the childhood dreams of our post-independence generation. We all wish India to be an adobe of prosperity, providing her citizens with a life full of health, wealth, love, harmony and happiness. A nation with opportunities to bring out the best in us, enabling us to live with our heads held high. A nation which ensures that her citizens live as equals amongst our own society, and also within the polity of nations of the world. Building such a nation, amidst the greatest of diversity that prevails in India, is an onerous responsibility. In IIT BOMBAY, we had a great opportunity to learn, and have developed a better ability to put that learning to effective use. I believe that we should share a larger proportion of this responsibility.
The learning process in a human starts from the childhood, and continues till death. Only the human species has established an institution called ‘teacher’, to help the youth learn systematically in early years. But after stepping out in the professional world, we essentially have to be our own teachers. Equally important , but often underplayed , and sometimes forgotten, is the need to develop and sustain good values in life, and an iron will to abide by these in the face of any temptations.
It is useful to identify desirable attributes to achieve excellence. Should you later wish to introspect, you may find this summary useful.
Achievement Measures: Your achievements in early years have mostly been measured by the marks you scored in examinations. Further achievements will require possession of practically useful knowledge, not just bookish knowledge and marks. You need to keep acquiring knowledge continuously. You will also find that success is a measured not only by material wealth you generate , but also by the professional heights you are able to achieve, by the character you build in yourself, and by the positive impact you make on the society around you.
Thought Silos: Real life problems always span conventional knowledge boundaries, and artificially defined fields of study. We forget that such classification is done to effectively handle the ever growing body of human knowledge. Most real life problems do not come with ‘filed’ tags. Their solutions require understanding of multiple disciplines. Knowledge, classified as belonging to ‘other’ fields, may actually be vitally important in our ‘own’ field. The best examples of good engineering, for instance, occur in nature. Such examples are not studied by engineers, being classified as ‘life sciences’ or ‘biochemistry’, and not as engineering. We need an open mind, and acquire knowledge that is required to solve a problem efficiently, effectively, and affordably.
Research Mindset: Many of you regard PhD as an additional degree obtained by spending some more years in the conventional educational process doing ‘research’. PhD D actually represents a mindset which develops some key abilities to near perfection. These include: understanding of the broad contours of a problem, an intense spirit of inquiry, ability to critically analyze available options, a rigorous and disciplined approach, ability to articulate ideas succinctly in verbal and written forms, meticulous hard work, ability to synthesize, to experiment, to solve problems innovatively, and to persevere in the face of many failures. Achieving and refining such a mindset is the objective of the entire educational process, and also that of your future professional career.
Rat Race: You have so far witnessed and participated in a severe rat race for marks. You may have come to believe that the only way to get recognition is your performance relative to others. Remember that every human child learns a foreign language at an early age, without any exams, marks, relative grading, or certificates. A child does this by using its innate attributes, viz. curiosity, boldness, perseverance, and passion. Competing against yourself brings out the best in you. After each activity, ask the question: “Could I have had done it better?”. The answer is “yes”!
Cardinal Principles for a professional: Most are well known, I am listing some of these here.
1. Reset attitude: Rediscover the child in you, and build a great human. Add the human values of ethics and humility, to your innate gifts of curiosity, boldness, perseverance, and excitement. Perfection in ethical standards is itself a journey, often lifelong. Defining boundaries for self is the first step. Introspecting on each action, to examine whether a boundary was crossed due to temptation, is next. You must resolve to avoid repeating such mistakes, if these occur.
2. Acquire knowledge: About your domain, as also about other domains. Solutions to real life problems need knowledge from multiple spheres. Demolish silos in your mind.
3. Master the skills: Be proficient in the methods and techniques of your field .Perfect your articulation. Ability to put your thoughts succinctly and clearly, counts a lot in life.
4. Be meticulous: Execute all actions carefully. Be the God of little things. Avoid sloppiness. Remember that disregarding one small factor can negate your major efforts.
5. Work Hard: People cleverer then us have tried to find a substitute for hard work, but have never succeeded. Hard work is the only way you can attempt to solve complex problems in life.
6. Learn to commit: Do not take ambiguous stand. Think hard before taking any responsibility. Once taken, honor it with all your might. Respect the word of mouth.
7. Respect Deadlines: Workflow in any organization critically depends upon everyone finishing the assigned job within a stipulated timeframe. Learn to manage your time optimally.
8. Face failures squarely: Failures will happen in life. The hurt is inescapable, but the resulting frustration is curable. Learn to recover quickly. There is much more to do in life than sulk.
9. Be a trusted friend: A friend is one who can politely but firmly tell you where you are wrong, suggest what can be done to correct you, and will stand by you in bad times.
10. Be a good leader: Basic leadership traits can be developed, even if you are not a born leader. Acquire these as you grow. For example, a leader always takes a little less credit than due, and a little more blame than deserved.
11. Enjoy giving: Giving is not (only) about money. Give others a portion of your heart and mind. Give others some of your time and your advice. Make them part of your concern. A very important thing to give is plain courtesy. Learn to say “Thank you”, ‘please’, and ‘Sorry’, is especially difficult, but will reduce the burden on your heart, and will enhance your stature.
12. Emulate what is good: You do not have to go far, to search for great virtues only in great names and role-models. You find these in people around you. Try using Phatak’s hypothesis. It consists of selecting any ten colleagues randomly, and making two lists. The first consists of all the desirable and virtuous characteristics displayed by these ten. The other consists of all the avoidable ones displayed by the same ten. The hypothesis says that the first list will describe a perfect human. It is up to you to decide what you emulate from whom. Strive to become a role model yourself.
For a successful Career and a beautiful life: you must develop division and values, knowledge and personality, and professional competence. Work with excitement and passion, but imbibe humility and ethics. This will lead to a highly successful career, and also to significant contributions to nation-building. Let your life be as the dew-drops you see on flower petals in the morning. For an old teacher like me, the full form of DEW would be:
Dream big, as your dreams will limit your achievements.
Enjoy life, since each moment in life is precious, and comes only once.
Work hard to create history.
Treat these in IIT style: many two of the three is not an option, so you have to practice all three.
Become a great professional, and be the change agent to build such a nation for all of us.