Who was Nehru?

“Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India.” This is how every child born in independent India comes to know of Nehru first. This is how I came to know of Nehru first. We are born with a sense of pride for our freedom fighters — Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad — and countless many, people with amazing bravery, people with enormous patience, people with the highest intellect, and what not. ¬†And thus we grow, enriched by the fruits of the efforts of these great people, and nurtured by the glories of the Indian culture.
But who was Nehru? I came to know about one “Chacha Nehru”, who was the favorite of all children. The man with the most beautiful of roses perfectly inserted into his coat. The man whose birthday we celebrate as Children’s day and remind ourselves that there is a child in every one of us. A child who is still pure in his heart. A child who can still make the world around him happier. A child who cannot harm anyone in any sense. A child who need care for no one, yet gets the care of everyone. And thus we live, hoping that the child in us comes to the fore and takes away all the sorrows and burdens that our life has bestowed upon us.
So who was Nehru? I also came to know about a Congressman who would not give up prime-ministership. The diplomat who believed in the deep similarities between the ancient civilizations of China and India so much, that he could not see the former coming to attack our borders. The strategist who failed to see the consequences of taking one of the biggest unsolved problems of our times to the United Nations, instead of solving it then and there.
Yet the visionary who had the know-how of taking a poverty-ridden country, together as a nation, on the path to development and success, without aligning with any warring force on the planet. The leader who was capable of admitting his mistakes and moving ahead with enhanced zeal. The prime-minister who planted the seeds of freedom for everyone, of every kind, including the freedom that I utilize even after 52 years of his death to write an article about him.
And who am I? I am a believer — I believe that the tailor who inspires the people who wear the clothes sewn by him to appreciate the art of clothing, is the best tailor. The servant who inspires his master to devote his life serving the whole humanity, is the best servant. The teacher who inspires his students to keep learning till their death-beds, is the best teacher. The doctor who inspires his patients to believe that nothing is impossible given trust and patience, is the best doctor. The soldier who inspires the whole nation to
forfeit their ego and their selves for the common good, is the best soldier. The writer who inspires a reader to write only after reading 25 pages of his artifact, is the best writer. And hence I say, with pride and confidence, while reading a gem (The Glimpses of World History): “Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is my favourite author”.

Let not the value of the word decrease.

Here is my first poem of 2015:

Good times come, and bad times go.
Will is the arrow, and courage is the bow.
Pledge to stand, but not to freeze.
And let not the value of the word decrease.

A flowery path, may lead to a treacherous rath.
A covering of lath, may not hold the wrath.
So bid the easy bait an expeditious peece.
And let not the value of the word decrease.

Hopes are plenty, need hearts to be keen.
Ways are many, need eyes to be seen.
One good day, the devil must decease.
Just let not the value of the word decrease.

Give not up, nor pull one down.
Truth & beauty, reason & harmony; together form the perfect crown.
Let the mother embrace ALL with her healing breeze.
And let not the value of the WORLD decrease.

rath: an enclosure; peece: a farewell remark.

The Phoenix

I write poems, occasionally though, in both Hindi and English. This art is passed on to me as a heredity from my mother.

Here is a poem written by me in 2008:

The Phoenix

There is a bird
sitting silent on a tree,
gazing at you when you see.
In her eyes is a levee

The levee wants to tell
stories of the past,
sorrows of the last
people, left out in a blast.

The blast was to show
skills of the man,
which due to no ban
annoyed a great Pan.

The great Pan’s anger burst
and the world did shake,
forcing people to make
a yell “for heaven’s sake.”

The yell for heaven’s sake
could not stop the groaning.
After years of mourning,
at last came a morning.

The morning brought the Sun,
who made the night to hew.
A nice breeze blew.
And that Phoenix bird flew!

levee: a scene, Pan: a nature God, Phoenix: a mythological immortal bird

My experience with GATE-2013

(This is a copy of the actual post dated June 13, 2013 on http://manasthakur.blogspot.in)

In this post, I would describe my experience with GATE 2013, the colleges I applied to, the decision I made, and also advice to other aspirants.

I have always been inclined towards teaching and learning, so getting a good rank in GATE was my first priority during my final year B.E. I believe that for GATE formal coaching is not necessary (I didn’t take it), but having a formal attitude (opposed to the casual one) is a must.

I secured AIR 780 in CS discipline of GATE-2013. I had less idea of what I could get with this rank, but the Post Gate Guidance group at Facebook helped a lot. Actually, I realised that I was more interested in research courses a little later, so I didn’t apply for MS and PhD at many places. I applied to a number of institutes, and got calls for the following:

1. IIT Madras MS and PhD
2. IIT Jodhpur MTech (ICT)
3. IIT Patna MTech (Mathematics and Computing)
4. IIT Roorkee MTech (CSE)
5. IISc Research Programme (MSc Engg/PhD)
6. IIT Mandi MS
7. IIT Indore PhD
8. IIIT Allahabad MTech

The first call I got was from IIT Madras MS, and I became very sad because I had my university exam on the same day as the written and interview. Till this time I had realised that I actually want to go for research, and was surprised to see a new mail in my inbox after a couple of days, which was for IIT Madras PhD. This time, the dates didn’t clash, but the written and interviews were scheduled between May 6th-8th (at Chennai), and my university exam was on 9th. In this regard the IITM professors were very helpful and they agreed to put my interview on May 7th, if I get shortlisted after written test.

IIT Madras Campus is very beautiful (you can feel being inside a calm forest with deer and black bucks all around). They also provided accommodation for outsiders, which was a big source of relief.

The written test comprised of two parts: the first was a 30 minute test comprising of short answer questions (with 1/4th negative marking), in which we had to answer 10 out of 15 questions. The paper was of moderate difficulty and had questions from Digital, C and Data Structures, Computer Organisation and Architecture, and Engineering Mathematics. The second part was the difficult one. It had 5 subjective questions (all compulsory) and was for 60 minutes. The questions were from TOC, OS, CAO, DS, and tested how far you can think of within the topic, as some of them had two bits: the next depending on what you answered in the previous. I answered 4 out of 5 questions, and could feel a sigh of relief when my name was shortlisted for interviews (48 were shortlisted after written; 37 who were already PG and 11 who were undergraduate like me).

The interview panel had 12-13 professors, whom I regard as the best academicians in the country. First I was asked about my undergraduate education, institute etc. Then I was asked to choose two subjects out of a list of 8-10; I chose Data Structures and Compilers (also these were close to my research interests). Then only two professors asked me questions – each for a subject. The questions tested how deep one can go inside the said subjects. The professors put constraints after I answered a question in one way. e.g., if I told a way to reverse a stack using queue, then a constraint was put that no queue can be used; if I used recursion, then I was asked to solve without recursion. Overall, I enjoyed the interview as it felt too good to think over the issues in my favorite subjects and do board work in front of such an eminent panel.

The result came after a week (total 15 people were selected), and it saved my fees of applying to CCMT, IIITs and a lot many places. I would advise the following things to other GATE aspirants:

1. Have a positive attitude and read from standard textbooks.
2. If you want to be in industry after your PG (but in better companies and/or job profiles), then apart from IITs, you should put your options open to various IIITs, top NITs, BITS, and the like.
3. If you want to go ahead in research and/or teaching, or wish to study abroad, then you should try to get research courses only in the IITs.

I wish all the best to my friends and readers of this blog; and thank everyone who helped me and I wish to be in touch with, and blessed by them, always.