Photograph of Anil Chawla

COMMENTS ABOUT
EFFECT OF UNLIMITED BROADBAND INTERNET ON CAMPUS LIFE AND CULTURE


AN OPEN LETTER TO DIRECTOR, IIT BOMBAY

Author - Anil Chawla



My open letter to Director IIT Bombay about Effect of Unlimited Broadband on Campus Life and Cutlure attracted some interesting comments. I reproduce here all the comments received. In some cases, I have added a brief introduction of the person at the end of his comment.

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla

16 January 2006


From: K Ramasubramaniam

Sraddhaaspadesu,

Neat presentation of a `serious' problem! Good observations. Kudos!

Regards,

K Ramasubramanian
IIT Bombay


From: Arun Saxena

Dear Anil,

It was sad to read your observations about IIT, Bombay.

Its even more painful to see how today's youth in India are wasting more of their time in party, disco, and playing games on internet.

I agree with you that during 70s and 80s IITB had a lovely atmosphere. I passed out from IIT Bombay in 1984, and stayed in Hostel 5, which was one of the most chirpy hostels of all. When I had visited this hostel last year, it looked as if its haunted by ghosts. Very few students were seen around and even the notice boards did not have that punch that they used to have.

The students are moving towards a very superficial lifestyle, which is being boosted with daily doses of degraded publications (including reputed newspapers) and TV soups. Even the internet games are all about fights, killings, and such imaginations that are far, very far away from realities.

Best regards,

Arun Saxena
President
International Consumer Rights Protection Council
www.icrpc.org


From: Mohammed Omer Majaz

Dear Anil,

That is a very good observation you have made.This is a serious problem and it needs immediate attention.I myself being in IIIrd year realise that I have wasted one year in such stupid gaming(I used to play all time in my second year).

I have also observed that my seniors who passed out in the last two years were much better than us in all fields.The standard of outdoor games has also come down badly in our institute and there are health problems too because of this .Take for example that we have been winning inter IIT since last many years.........this year we have lost it .This is because LAN and internet came in our hostels just last year before which students used to concentrate on outdoor games,putting fart etc.

Let me point it to you that some people though are using internet for useful purposes also but the negative side of it is being used extensively.

I think trying to make the students realise that it is nothing but temporary fun which you gain out of games would be better than anything else.I am thanking my god that atleast I have realised it now........otherwise i can't imagine what I would have lost .

We need alumni like you who are concerned about India to create an awareness against this disease.

Thank you for the article.

Mohammed Omer Majaz
III year, Mechanical Department
IIT Madras


From: Ajay Singh Niranjan

Dear Anil,

Nice letter

You have forwarded bottom-up information which is facing our young generation or our education system, definitely we are moving at the age where Information is blasting in turbulent way and extract the right information is not easy task. So we should push more emotional and spiritual, physical strength with mental strength in the culture of learning.

This is not for only particular institute but I think that every institute is facing that problems. Because when playing computer game is becoming number one hobby and interaction with friends are shrinking due to transition of Indian culture. And may be learning environment of institute are shifted in which students are more concentrated on grades and leave other aspects of development which makes them leader in coming years.

Your questions are remarkable, but how much we participate for wellness of students, It is working space for all citizen because CULTURE can be influenced by synergetic or integrated efforts of all of us. I think that final solution is how much we are aware and spread awareness of true knowledge with different channels.

with wishes

ajay


From: Samir Kelekar

Hi Anil

I am moved by this letter. We have a yahoogroup called umang_counselling where we are trying to work with the IIT B authorities to do something about this.

Your advice and suggestions and contributions would be invaluable.

regards,

Samir Kelekar
BTech IIT B 83


From: Niranjan Gandhi

Anil

That was an excellent letter. You have forcefully put across the points and hope this acts as an eye-opener for those who should be concerned.

IITs should not become factories that produce zombies who are total misfits in the society. Else, things can become tragic, like in the case of the guy who committed suicide.

Niranjan


From: Mukut Meena

Hi anil,

i have read your entire mails and cocluded to couple of points.

You are blaming to internet and computer facility which is true up to some extent. You are not able to find the main reason behind all these.

I would like to point some of the main reasons which are responsible for all:

Inter hostel/intra hostel activities banned by DEANs. Some of the activities as the starting point for initiating the interactions and enjoyable to new students.

You go to hostel again ask them student to name the intra hostel activities/inter hostel activites..I will be surpriced if they are able to tell name which u could tell.

All the activities was stopped because ragging. Now the rules changed for new students, all the new students occupy only h-3/h-2 for one 1 year. I don't know still hostel allotment is the same of changed, but i am sure that most of the popular activities for the fresh studnets banned or I would say stoped but the intiture. After 1 year senior students loose the interaction with them goes on.

Regards,
Mukut


From: Prof. Sitesh Dutt

Dear Mr.Chawla,

I read your comments at karmayogi and was impressed with the sequence of thoughts expressed and your lucid style - one I would not normally associate with an engineer who I thought was more attuned to "machine thinking"!

I am a Management teacher myself after retiring from P&G and your comments confirm what a Doctor at one of the IITs told me.Rather grim but what is shocking to me is how this was not anticipated by the Directors of these premier institutes.Let's see what corrective steps are being taken.

Good luck!

Prof.Sitesh Dutt


From: Raj Bapna

Dear Anil ji,

You are a genius and I wish all of your talent finds a greater avenue to influence India.

This open letter deserved to be published in all magazines in all languages or otherwise distributed to all students and management of educational institution.

I hope India can benefit more from your talent, perceptions and communication skills.

Best regards and best wishes,

Raj Bapna

Mr. Raj Bapna is a well known author. After completing his post graduation at IIT, he moved to US. A few years later he moved back to India.


From: Alan Rocha

Dear sir

the article is excellent an a proof that in a world of hippocrates and psychcofants (i hope I got the spelling right) you have the guts to speak out against a plague which has not only infected the corridors of the iitb hostels but the hostels and homes of our country, where even pleasures of reading a newspaper and novel have long been forgotten.

Fond regards and happy new year to you , mrs chawla and all at home

alan


From: Varun Arya

Dear Anil

I have gone through your mail with interest and concern. I appreciate very much your taking pains to write down in such detail a matter which should be of great concern to everybody who has anything to do with IITs, in particular and our country, in general. What you have written is unfortunately very much true and applies at least to IITs & IIMs, the premier educational institutes of India. Being an alumnus of IITD (1981 batch) & IIMA (1983 batch), I have myself personally witnessed and am aware of this malaise afflicting in an increasing manner in these institutions.

I know IITB Director Ashok Misra closely for the last around 30 years. Also two of my batchmates Devang Khakhar and Pradipta Banerji are Deans at IITB. I do hope and sincerely believe that they would take the requisite actions and decisions to redress the issues mentioned by you.

Thanks and best regards

Varun


From: Amulya Athayde

Hi Anil:

Your observations show IIT to be an extreme case of an unfortunate phenomenon that is global - adolescents and even adults retreating into a machine environment devoid of genuine human contact and stimulation - as true in IIT today as anywhere else in the world.

So what can we do to change? I offer a few brief suggestions and am open to your comments:

  1. More homework, fewer tests - and especially the kind that has open-ended questions, and forces creative and collaborative thinking. Let's move away from tests where students are challenged to regurgitate the results of theory to the 4th decimal place and move instead towards group assignments and creative problem solving.

  2. An emphasis on leadership - we were among the last of the 5 year batches with the luxury of such classes as "abnormal psychology" (I still remember Anil challenging Rehana that statistically it is abnormal to be normal), ethics, philosophy. How many of these type of classes that introduce us to concepts not transcribed by an equation or algorithm are still taught today? How can we expect IIT to produce leaders if its inhabitants to do not study human behavior and interaction?

  3. Encourage innovation - why not have a contest that fosters invention and innovation - make the scope large enough that it takes 3 people a semester to complete - and no business plans or anything that requires the use of Powerpoint.

Amulya

Mr. Amulya Athayde is my batchmate and hostelmate.


From: Ravathi Kasturi

Anil,

Thanks for the insight....When I went to H10 ..I too missed the noise and bustle...but I thought it must be the holiday season ..... Both in H10 and the boys hostels we met lots of students all busy on their computers...no clue whether it was games..or work...

Anil..I know u have a daughter too in IIT Chennai so your comments must be based on more than the two day visit to campus.

Are students not hanging out enough with each other and discovering the joys of debates..physical games....et all...? Interacting with others ..participating in all the activities in the hostel/campus were key in shaping and building our personalities and character... we matured..

IIT was a wholistic experience for us...the academics and the learning of life's lessons...

How do we help ???

What happens in other high tech campuses in the west?

Revathi

Ms. Revathi Kasturi is my batchmate. She owns and heads a software company in Bangalore.


From: Jaggi Ayyangar

Good topic and points by Anil and Revathi.

One way to get the kids out of their rooms into the common areas is to have Wifi coverage.

At many US colleges, Wifi coverage is growing. Some are better than others. At Princeton where my son goes, it is not as good as MIT (where everyone including visitors are allowed access everywhere). But while hanging out there, I noticed that the spots which have coverage like the student Union and the eating houses have more kids congregating than the ones that dont.

Soon kids learn that 'deep' knowledge is only a few clicks away, and can converse effortlessly on any topic under the sun, anywhere. They also learn that the art of the debate still remains the same, even if you have all the facts, it is more than the facts that win arguments.

This phenomenon is ubiquitous. At homes, it is now possible to have computers at the dinner table, we have one nearby since invariably we are pinged by my son during dinner time. Instead of fighting it, we try to be well connected, and keep conversations going both on the table and off.

-- Jaggi

Mr. Jaggi Ayyangar is my batchmate. He migrated to USA after graduating from IIT Bombay.


From: Nitin Borwankar

Hello Anil,

Since I didn't make it to the reunion, your letter informed me of a number of issues of which I was unaware. While the state of affairs you describe is sad, it might be relevant to note that this is a global issue with this generation. Real life leadership, as you point out, involves people skills that computer games cannot provide. Moreover, the isolation from real life that computer games create, makes the person incapable of even functioning in the local community, let alone providing global leadership. So, if unaddressed, these conditions will create human automatons that can only survive when connected to machines.

We are not creating global leaders, we are creating biological appendages to the global computer network, where the human is secondary. We are creating menial laborers in the someone else's empire of the mind. This is not the IIT brand that we represent.

But all is not lost. In every problem is the seed of its solution.

The power of technology is both liberating and captivating - I write this on a Mac laptop sitting in a bookstore, while taking a break from work. Technology makes this possible. So let's use the power of technology as a servant to address the problem.

Thanks for writing the open letter and bringing this issue to the notice of those of us who were not there. My personal opinion though, is that we need an active ongoing conversation on what is needed in the learning environment at IIT to create global leaders. So perhaps we as alumni can use the global connectivity of the Internet to begin a direct conversation - over the Internet - with current students, recent graduates of the last 5 years and much older alumni like ourselves and even more senior people in higher places. When directly communicating as a community perhaps we can spark a change at the grass roots that policy changes, quotas and usage restrictions can not even begin to address. It needs to be clearly communicated to the current students that they are losing out on the experience that we got and that their value in the market and in the world is far less than that of earlier graduates. When this sinks in, my belief is that students themselves will begin to change and demand more from their educational environment. Current students, faculty and alumni need to be part of this conversation.

Nitin Borwankar

Mr. Nitin Borwankar is my batchmate and hostelmate. He migrated to USA after graduating from IIT Bombay.


From: Sarban Agarwalla

Well done boss. You put it right. I must congratulate you for the nice and well thought letter.

Job well done.

Best regards

sarban

Mr. Sarban Agarwalla is my batchmate. He is from Bangladesh. He migrated to USA after graduating from IIT Bombay.


From: Rajeev Upadhye

Hello,

Congatulations for the bold and balanced thoughts.

It convinces me why Desmond Morris thinks of modern civilized society as "Human Zoo". By same token IITs are turning to be academic poultry farms. You hatch eggs, grow them by feeding by formula food (curriculum) and send them to market ...

Regards,

Rajeev Upadhye


From: Tahir Khan

Dear Anil

I'm glad that someone brought up the topic for discussion but I would like to differ from some of your observations. Internet today has indeed become a great necessity. So the question isn't why the access has been given to students but how can it be directed towards something constructive.

I was the last batch of students who graduated from IITM which did not have internet access in our rooms. But was the batch in madras any different from the other IITs? The answer is a big NO. The average standard of students - academic or extra-curricular - has been on the decline for some time now. We could see it so clearly ourselves, we just did not stand a chance when compared to our seniors. The question is much deeper than just the influence of computers and internet. It can be traced back to JEE when students are literally trained in sweatshops (Coaching institutes) which somehow convince them that passing JEE is all they have to do in life. And when a completely drained out student reaches IIT he realises that the journey has just begun. I would say more than 50% of them just loose it as the branch of study is governed not by our interest but on the JEE rank. This, I feel, is the single most important factor in demoralising the students.

Now coming back to internet. Its introduction in the hostel zone is a big boon to a person looking for almost anything on any topic. Frankly speaking, I just cannot imagine how people did research before the advent of internet. And I think everything does try to balance out itself and the students will start using it responsibly. And in the case of those who keep wasting their time online, they would've done so anyways on something else had it not been the internet. I would emphasise by narating a small incident which took place in one of the Insti-General body meetings.

There was a small place adjacent to hostel zone outside the IITM campus called Vellachery. It was the location where you could get a coffee at 2 in the night or get a xerox place open till 12.The Institute decided to close that gate permanently just because of some unfortunate series of events caused by a student or two. Now at a meeting the respected Dean of students was explaining the decision when one of students said -- Sir, closing of the gate will not deter such students who will go through the main gate 4 kms away to go to velachery for the same incidents. So closing the gate is actually punishing the students who were using the place lawfully.

It was so true indeed and taking away internet from the hostel zone will be a similar and hasty decision with no far-sight. We have the best & brightest brains at IIT. So lets just think of a solution rather than go the 'Dubya' way -- striking everything down which comes in our path instead of going around it.

Tahir Khan
'04 IIT Madras, Elec
(Currently pursuing my PhD at RPI, NY)


From: Sidharth Mohan K

Dear Anil

I am a third year student at an IIT. I suppose the problems you've listed, very insightfully i might add, are not endemic to just one IIT but all of them. Yes, the situation is grim and yes, if unchecked this could have detrimental rammifications to the very brand that is garnering India a lucrative niche in the world of academia. But,

I am a third year student in an IIT which has, in my opinion, has dealt with this situation extremely well. Simply put, we have no internet access in our hostels from 8 AM till 5 PM on working days. Also enforced is a 75% attendence clause. These two simple measures when dealt in a very strict fashion have eliminated one of the problems you pointed out.

Yes, Interpersonal skills here leave a lot to be desired and yes, the group dynamic here has veered slowly from , what I presume, was effusive fraternity to smaller goal oriented codependence. Regional cliques will always exist of that I'm sure.

What I want to convey is that the situation is not as hopelessly morbid as you portray it. Yes, people stay up all night and play games but are forced to go to class due to attendence. At one point or another, everyone wakes up and smells the grade sheet. By, the third year, GRE, CAT and looming campus interviews force a major overhaul of communication skills in the majority of students.

I have very little real world experience. I have never worked out there. But from what i have pieced together, The IITian is one who will persist. An innate level of intelligence which has guaranteed admission to this place ensures that. Be it slogging the last two days before an exam to convert a disturbingly possible F to a DD, or finishing a semester's project in the last week - The USP of an IITian is soaking up pressure.

I "feel" aiming for every single IITian to be rock solid bulwark of integrity and resilience is a bit too optimistic.

This is just what a present day IITian has to say.

Regards,

Sidharth Mohan K
3rd year,
IITG


From: Ravi Ranade

Dear Sir,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a third year Civil Engineering Student at IITB.

I sincerely thank you and appreciate your attempt to show the "other side" of the broadband connection in campus, to the world, through your letter to the Director. It even makes me feel guilty as I am also a part of the system and a "former" Counter-Strike Player.

But, I am writing this letter for the completeness of the matter. I will try to explain the reason for that. This need not be considered as a justification.

Actually it (Gaming) is not an intentional act at first. It starts when the "pressure of studies" (it involves assignments, practical record completion, quizzes, end sem, concurrence of deadlines for many projects, and other routine work, etc.) builds up, and Counter-Strike enters as a thrilling, exciting and recreating game just a "mouse click away" (This explains why it is preferred over physical games). So, the student plays it for the first time and that "pressure" is released. Now the student actually "remembers" the enjoyment and relaxation, which the game gave him. Next time, a pressure even smaller than the starting one makes the student play it again and like this it becomes a loop, each time requiring a smaller forcing function to initiate and finally becomes an addiction.

But, what I have said above will have an obvious question from you that why only Counter-Strike (as a recreation, since it is unhealthy)? Now, I can not explain that tempting condition in words (I mean you can not appreciate what I m saying - for that you will have to be a student here once again !!). No other game or thing or act gives us (i have experienced it myself) the pleasure as Computer Gaming that "easily" (as I said earlier - "just a mouse click away") at that critical time. It is related to the human nature of deriving pleasure and relaxation in the easiest way, especially when he is in tension and pressure.

The condition is more serious. You may think that students here are not aware of the "bad" effects of Computer Gaming. This perception is wrong. Generally speaking, most of us are fully aware of this and we often discuss that with each other.

It is not intended in this letter to say that we are overburdened by the studies (not at all). Infact, I would say there are some very important courses which are taught abroad and also in other universities of India in addition to what is taught here and I wish those courses also to be included in my curriculum. Pressure is always there in life and we need to continuously fight it and learn to live with it.

I do not know how to conclude this letter in a suitable way, but I would like to urge you to give a thought to it, and look at it in a more complete way. (Please excuse me for my poor english - I just wanted to convey my feelings to you).

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Ravi Ranade
Junior Undergraduate
Department of Civil Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay


From: Abhinav Jha

People like you are nothing more than a bother. Stop interfering in our lives by writing irritating letters to the director of iitb. We know you are plain jealous. What next? will you tell them to remove the water coolers? or the fans?? just because in your times you used to sleep outsides in summers?

I respect you coz you're an elder.But i also despise you for being such a dork. You got way too much free time for such bull. You really need some life.

Abhinav Jha
IIT, Guwahati


From: Deepak Farmania

Dear sir,

let me take this opportunity to thank you for what you have ciruclated. I assume the letter definitely reflects the views of the Alumni and not just your personal emotions. I'm deepak farmania, 3rd yr. Btech. student in chem. engg. dept. I don't know why i'm writing this mail to you, but definitely felt like doing so after going through each and every word of yours.

Coming directly to the point, i'm one of the wingies of "Late Vijay kiran nukala" who committed a suicide in H-13. I felt that in the light of just blaming the PC in your mail, this incident got faded. Basically i would like to share my feelings about my hostel.

Mr. Nilekani got a brand name for Infosys for funding this article, IITB got a lot of appreciation by making this hostel and they boast a lot about it. But what about the students. I agree totally with you on the point that today generally people outside have a notion that IITians have the dullest personality; they don't know how to talk and lot more.

These all coming just because students are just dumped in this hostel but the authorities are not able to visualize the outcomings of putting 500 students in one hostel. The rooms are made such a way that people neednot interact with each other. They can just sit inside and do whatever they want. That's why the suicide case happened.

From my batch of total 525 students 175 of us are in H-13 only. Now i guess, you must be knowing better than me that what a senior-junior interaction means. Now when we will go out again 175 from the coming batch would be just dumped in this hostel.

Today IIT people have restricted our activities by cutting down our main GC events so that we get time to study (as per their opinion). But i feel sorry about their such a foolish thinking. Instead of cutting the roots they are just cutting the branches of the tree.

Now i guess, you being a big person would not be having so much time to go further. so just finishing up...by saying that i feel the alumni can only change the present facet of IITB and untill and unless you people keep pushing things, then definitely the future of IITB would definitely go into such dark ages that are difficult to imagine.

I would be pleased to contibute in any kind on this issue and related ones.

Regards,
Deepak Farmania


From: Gaurav Singla

Dear Anil,

I have just gone through your letter and comments by students, faculty members and also some of your friends on this issue. Sir, I sincerely feel that the ongoing increase in the gaming activity in the institute is lowering our standards of everything and on this point I think no one should disagree.

But, I think this is not only the institute but the whole of our society. If you take a look at the children they must be devoting quite a lot of their useful time before TV screens or monitors. And this applies to the younger ones also.

And I think that today Indian brains have their value because technology reaches here much later.

Sir, I do feel that a solution for IIT is not in any way going to effect people living outside as it is rightly said "Elimination is a better option than problem solution".

I invite your sincere comments on my views.

Regards,
Gaurav


From: Shouri Kamtala

Dear sir,

I found myself agreeing with most of the views articulated in your article. Opinions such as yours were expressed by quite a few people in the recent past. I wonder why no action has been taken though. Being a current beneficiary of the broadband, I sure would be very sorry to see it go for it acts as a very effective stress reliever, mind.

I have always feared the possibility that every year which passes us by renders the current 'IITians' progressively less worthy of bearing the 'IIT' tag. In a moment of sudden clarity after I had read you letter, I realized that my fears have been confirmed. My own experience on the campus stands me in good stead-it shames me to admit that I do not 'know' the guy next door or for that matter, some of my wing mates.I am not wise enough to figure out what the solution to this exigent problem is but probably broadband is not the only reason though it might judiciously seen to be at the crux of it.

It is high time then, if not too late, to undertake desperate measures to rectify what has gone wrong, for the consequences of inaction are much too high.

Shouri Kamtala
Mechanical Engineering
IIT Bombay.


From: Ankit Singla

Dear Sir,

I am happy to know that the alumni of the IITs are concerned about the welfare of future graduates emerging from these coveted institutes.

I am myself a sophomore student at IITB. I beg to differ with you on the subject. First however I express my agreement with the fact that a lot of time in the campus is indeed being spent on LAN games (counter-strike, yes I am a fan too and played a lot during the 3rd semester myself) and movies. However this enjoyment is essentially a relaxation from the grilling curriculum rather than being an end in itself. Agreed that some students do take to LAN games big-time, but you must concede that future developers of games have to have good gaming experience if they are to excel. All right, not all of the players are future developers, but I have developed a keen interest in artificial intelligence and graphic applications only due to these games! And in any case, the remaining section of people who are not just interested in anything other games will find other (possibly more disruptive) means of entertainment if they are denied their enjoyment.

Another thing I would like to bring to your notice is that, had it not been the internet facilities offered I would have never come across this letter addressed to the Director. Also my reply should be testimony enough that our generation of IITians is keen on stepping into a good debate (now as I write this response, it does become a debateÖ.) as and when they get to lay their hands on one.

Also, the argument about student inactivity in other spheres doesnít have solid foundations because people are still following their interests. People do compete fiercely at the inter-IIT tournaments, there are dramatics and literary activities on a scale larger than you might comprehend. You are welcome to witness for yourself one such instance in IITBís annual technical festival, TechFest, which is entirely student managed. Please refer www.techfest.org for details (I purposefully give here the web address rather than detailed information to highlight the uses of todayís high technology).You will be pleased to see that your legacy is in safe hands.

In the end, I ask forgiveness for anything you might see as rude, but that is not my intention.

Thanking you for your valuable time.

Ankit Singla
Sophomore Undergraduate Student
Computer Science and Engineering
IIT Bombay


From: Rajat Sharma

Dear Mr. Chawla

The observation that you have made is probably correct as you percieve it on the basis of the recent visit that you had but Sir as a student studying here at IITB I can assure you that there are still 'infinite' students who can match upto the calibre expected from IITians in all departments.

The problem as you have mentioned the computer games for instance have always existed, in your days it could have been something else but problems have always existed. I am sure even in your days there would have been students who would not have been a part of the discussions/activities taking place in the lounges of the hostels.It's always upto the student to select his priorities and there are many at the campus who utilise internet far more than just a tool to outplay his wingmate in some virtual battle.

Regards

Rajat Sharma
IITB


From: Ankit Bhati

Hi,

Sir you might not be remembering me. I was the (acting) alumni secretory of hostel 5, the one who with you talked about the dinner. Hope you recall me, or even otherwise, it was heartening to see that you did not only visited the hostel but also, noticed the phenomenonal changes in hostel environment and moreover, wrote that beautiful article.

The problem you pointed in the article is really serious and as you pointed it somewhere, the problem, indeed, was noticed by not only authorities but by students also. It was also discussed in the newsgroups of IIT Bombay. But its ironic that there isn`t much for the authorities to act upon.

I mean this tendency of students won`t be changed by forcing or restricting them. There should be a change in the attitude of students. Banning isn`t a solution. As peace cannot be restored by force, the same analogy fits here. Only when the perceptions of the students change and when they begin to comprehend the fact that there is much they are losing by sitting in front of the idiot box than what they are getting, there can be a change in the scenario. Only when they look beyond the facade and appreciate that there is more to this world than what meets the eye, the things will change.

The solutions of the problem may be things like encouraging more cultural activities and things like intra competitions. But I am still appalled by the decisions of the authorities to ban socials ( a sophomore + fresher dram production ) and freshers` General championship (Freshies` GC).

Other solutions may be like mild restrictions on unlimited use of 'inter+intra'net, flexibility in academic curriculum i.e. more choices for exploring new intrests and pursuing fields of intrests and things like that.

Lets hope we`ll find soln`s to the problems and will begin to redeem the glorious social culture that used to prevail in insti.

Ankit Bhati
Mech. Engg.
IIT Bombay.


From: Arvind Sriraman

sir,

if u remember, i was the guy who met u in the hostel 5 lounge. the point u have raised is, indeed, a major concern for the iit students. we too are aware of the alarming rise of computer games and movies etc in the campus.

But, the reason for this trend is partly due to the restrictions in the inter hostel events plus allocating freshers only in 3 hostels.this has killed the spirits of most of the seniors. there should be some corrective measures taken soon, or else, the situation will worsen.

lets hope that this problem is aptly tackled.

Arvind


From: Ratna Khemani

Subject: why are we pushing children to learn computers, i have been talking about it to schools & educationists, for years..

this is a serious problem persisiting in all walks of life. i see these zombies in every walk of life it is time we gave it serious thought...

i learnt to use computers a few years ago & am able to function & do my work spanning the globe. i have wondered why we have to push children to learn computer usage....it is hooking them for life and making them unsocial and most uninterested in what is life around them.

Ms. Ratna Khemani
Academy of Natural Health & Beauty
Centre for Personality Development
Pune 411 007


From: Parikh, Ojus K

Nicely written and thought provoking article. Interestingly, a survey on executive communication (attached below) shows similar trends !!

'WE NEVER TALK ANYMORE':
Survey Reveals Few Executives Use Telephone or Meet in Person at Work
Wednesday January 18, 8:00 am ET

MENLO PARK, Calif., Jan. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Executives today may be just as likely to make introductions as small talk around the office water cooler. That's because they are spending less and less time conversing with colleagues by phone and in person, a new survey shows. Only 13 percent of managers polled use the telephone as their primary means of communication, down from 48 percent five years ago; just 14 percent rely on face-to-face meetings, compared with 24 percent five years ago. Instead, e-mail has become the most common form of dialogue at work, according to 71 percent of respondents.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 senior executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies.


From: Kannan Moudgalya

Hi,

IIT Administration does know whether the internet access should be curtailed or it should continue as it is. The reason is that there seems to be enough support for both sides from the faculty. The student representatives seem to convey that the majority of the students wants the current system to continue. Only a poll will tell what exactly is the public opinion...

I am marking this mail to some Administrators at IIT.

Kannan Moudgalya,
Faculty Member
IIT Bombay


From: Prof. C. Amarnath

Dear Kannan,

The situation is bad - agreed - but I beleive there is always a self-correcting mechanism. Just walk around to room 211 M.E Dept on Thu - 19 Jan at (9.30 pm) and watch a rotating display built by IITB kids - all freshies - and you know what they are capable of doing. These kids are participating in the activities of UMIC and meet late in the evening twice a week to build:

A rotating display - stating "Welcome" made of a spinning disk with about half a dozen LEDs - the LEDs being triggered at the right moment and what you have is a moving display based on the "persistance' effect of vision.

A vehicle to ride the railway track and detect loose fish plates etc. etc.

The turn out of IITB freshies at Techfest is also going to be a record this year - I know because I move around late at night in the IDC workshops, ME Dept. prototyping lab, and several other labs where the kids are working, watching, helping arrange things.

I rarely advice the kids - as my motto is "let them burn their fingers and learn". (A few of them did do so due to wrong handling of the soldering iron.) The glow on their faces and their uninhibited exhibition of joy when things work is to be seen to be beleived.

Move around the Mech. Dept. lawns during Techfest and you will see these devices being exhibited - also move around the competitions and you will see the numerous freshie teams and their machines. Your spirits will soar.

I might have taught Anil chawla - it is so long ago but I bet he will go back with the thought that all is not lost.

WHY SO ? - You might ask - because these days these freshies are being mentored by seniors and these young ones will mentor next year's freshies and so on.

When one of them teams comes over to me and tells me "Sir, we found a better idea than what you had suggested" - my day is made - as I know they have crossed the line.

We shall overcome!

amarnath
Prof of ME
IIT Bombay


From: Salil Kader

Dear Anil,

You have raised a few important issues through your open letter.

The changes that you saw a quarter century down the line, in terms of the infrastructure in the hostels, are along expected lines. Most institutions of higher learning have undergone such changes, IITs more so being Centres of Excellence. There should be no complains on this issue.

However, every progressive step or change (for the better) in technology always has a flipside. The Internet has brought in a revolution in the field of communication and information technology. The fact that I am sending in my response to your open letter in a matter of minutes after having read it, certifies my statement. But on the flipside, the Net and the PC are sure shot addictions for a lot of people, age and sex no bar.

Broadband connections have entered most homes today, thanks to cheaper PCs and those 'unlimited access' offers. Teenagers at home are no different from the IITians when it comes to getting stuck on the latest online game, or making new 'friends' thru the Yahoo! Chats.

Now it is a big debate out there. How does one control it? How does one draw a line between academic/informational use of the PC/Net and 'recreational addiction' (if I can put it that way). I for one donít agree when a student tells me that there are hardly any other recreational sources. I have been part of a University campus since the past decade and can tell you it is all up to an individual (or group) to take initiative and ensure that you have drama, music, literary, quizzing clubs etc (the list is endless and the possibilities immense) on every campus, which provide entertainment and act as stress busters. Time, I am sure is not an impediment. If one has time to sit and play computer games, I am sure he/she also has time for outdoor, extra-curricular activities.

The administrators (esp someone like the Dean of Students' Welfare/ Activities) and student leaders on our campuses have a major role to play here. Intra and inter-hostel activities are an absolute MUST. Games and Sports facilities provided at the centralised sports dept should be decentralised and sports equipment provided at hostels. The Wardens have a major role to play here.

Prof.Amarnath, as a non-IITian I can tell you that the no one in his senses will doubt the academic abilities of the present-day IITian. That surely isnít a matter of debate. They are capable of the redefining innovation. However, Anil's concerns are of the IITian as a person, a human being and an individual who is part of this society (or social laboratory, which is more complex and dynamic than the ones in which our IITians carry out their experiments). It is these questions, which need to be addressed urgently. Anil has fired the first salvo.

May this debate bring about some results, which benefit the entire present generation of youth in our country. Amen.

Regards,

Salil Kader

Doctoral Research Scholar
Department of History
University of Hyderabad
Hyderabad. A.P.
India.


It does not stop here. For more comments, please click here.



For the original article "EFFECT OF UNLIMITED BROADBAND INTERNET ON CAMPUS LIFE AND CULTURE, AN OPEN LETTER TO DIRECTOR, IIT BOMBAY", Please click here.

Please write to me your comments about the above discussion.
anil@samarthbharat.com
hindustanstudies@yahoo.co.in



ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.


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