Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"My student days" with Hans India

Mr. Rajasekher of Hans India wanted to talk to me last week in Hyderabad, since I was there to give the CSIR Foundation Day Lecture. This is because it is my home town and they have a weekly feature for young people in the newspaper. We had a long chat and the article was written as if it were in first person. There is a slightly embarassing masala element to what we talked about, but overall the effect is nice. I have the pdf file, but I will try and cut and paste it below.

Update: Here is the pdf.

Title: State Board syllabus helped me in IIT days

My father was posted to Hyderabad from Gujarat when I finished my Class I. As my cousins were studying in St. Paul’s School, Hyderguda, he put me in the same school. School was fun as it was a place to meet friends and play together. I hardly remember times when I despised going to school. There was no pressure on me either from family or teachers to struggle with academics. Teachers were extremely good and taught us with care. Teachers mentored us with a lot of love and affection. Surprisingly, we were never scared of any teacher. We had many inspiring teachers like Sakina Mirza, Rasul for Mathematics, Krishnamurthy Sir for Physics and Chemistry. I was studious by nature and did well in Mathematics right from Class III. I was also good in Science subjects. I passed out of Class X in 1978. The atmosphere at home was congenial for me to do well in academics as my mother was a Professor with a Ph.D in Education and M.Sc, in Chemistry. We were encouraged to be inquisitive, learn and ask questions. Today I find that children are goaded to study and score better marks all the time. While at school, we had time for sports, games, dance and music. We also use to go to the library and read different books. Today children don’t seem to have time for any leisure activity. I loved Maths and excelled in the subject throughout school. The fundamentals my teachers taught, especially in Science, help me even now. I was a topper in mathematics and science subjects throughout school. The Andhra Pradesh Board syllabus was extremely challenging and mastering the science subjects has stood me well in IIT days and also for my Ph.Ds. Unlike today’s children, we pursued many hobbies and developed the habit to experiment. Most children think that only excelling in studies is the whole aim of going to school. This is because parents put a lot of pressure on children to keep on studying school text books, while this may fetch marks but there will be no all-round development of the child. Though we did not have internet or computers then, we were taught to gather knowledge through reading various books. Out teachers were our role models and we interacted with them constantly and absorbed every word they told us. As they were our source of our knowledge, we have high regards for them. This interaction with teachers led to my respecting people with knowledge. My schooling in St. Paul’s laid the real foundation for what I am today as Professor of High Energy Physics. From St. Paul’s I moved to Little Flower Junior College where I got State ranks both in Class X and Class XII. Later, I did B.Tech and Chemical Engineering from IIT, Chennai, MS (Physics) and Ph.D (Physics) from University of Delaware and post doctoral fellowship from University of Bern, Switzerland. I work on many aspects of Elementary Particle Physics.

(As told to KV Rajasekher)