Anil Singh's Report - Visit to BIT Sindri on November 23 - 24
Anil Singh December 6, 2014
Report - Visit to BIT Sindri on November 23 - 24, and Bokaro Steel City on November 22, 2014
I visited BIT Sindri on November 23, 2014 to participate in BIT AA Sindri Chapter Annual Alumni Meeting, and then again on November 24, 204 to meet with students, faculty members, and tour of the girls and boys hostels, department buildings and look-around of general infrastructure. On both days I was accompanied by my wife Radha, Braj Kumar Singh (life member of BITS AA of NA) and his wife Indrani, and Kumar Arun Singh (Honorary Distinguished Alum of BITS AA of NA). On November 22, we had a Grand Reunion at Bokaro of our 1964 batch mates to celebrate our 50 year of graduation from Sindri.
SUMMARY OF OBSERVATIONS
Below is the summary of what we observed at Sindri. Amongst all the gloom and doom that we have heard in the past I found some good news. I will share those with you first, and then the items requiring improvements.
- Girls Safety: Based on our conversations with scores of girls, we gathered that girls feel safe in their hostels, and in and around the campus. They walk in groups, a minimum of two together. They do not go out of hostels after 6 PM, and no visitors are allowed in hostels after 6 PM. (This may not sound good from Western standard). The girl hostels boundary walls are 8/10 foot high. There is a doorman in each girl hostel.
- May 2014 incident when a boy attempted to molest a girl on way to her department, they feel, was an aberration.
- The girl students were smart and well dressed, and looked very professional. I wish I could say the same about my spices.
- Drinking Water: Water filtration system has been installed in hostels. This addressed the drinking water issue.
- Ragging: Ragging of the first year boy students, and girls is no longer a common occurrence. First year boy student hostels have also an 8-foot boundary walls, and gates are closed after 10 PM. However, final year students are involved in ragging the third year students, and the ragging is usually physical in nature such as slapping. The administrations must bring this issue under control. In the front garden of the Admin Building there is sign that reads Ragging Free Campus”, not entirely true.
- Lab Equipment: Dr. SC Roy, HOD of Mechanical Engineering, claimed that he has been able to fix all lab equipment and machines in his department, and they all are in running condition. He also indicated that he could help other departments to do that. Administration should take up on his offer and get the project going in other departments to fix the lab equipment.
- Students indicated that the faculty members are available after class hours to if students do seek help.
- Students Involvement in Community Issues: We saw two booths manned by students during the alumni annual meeting on November 23. The first one was the Prayass. We all are familiar with their good works especially coaching the poor neighborhood children after school hours. The other one was Swatchh Bharat (not sure about the name). The students belonging to this group wanted to put trash cans on the side of campus roads for trash. This one was probably in response to the call by the Prime Minister Modi for clean India.
- New Director: Prof Dey is the new Director of the institute. He is a fellow BIT’an, a graduate of 1980 Batch. We found him very engaging, well aware of the issues and very willing to work with alumni for betterment of BIT. We can do business with him.
Items Needing Improvements
- Hostels: Toilets and bath rooms in the hostels, both for boys and girls are in very bad shape, and so are the sewer lines. These create unhygienic conditions and health hazards. This requires immediate attention. All buildings including hostels, auditorium and department buildings should be inspected, and made fixes as needed.
- Hostels: Broken glasses in majority of windows were observed in B Section boys hostels, creating safety hazards.This requires immediate attention.
- Over Crowded Hostels: Presently 3200 students are living in hostels with 2200 capacity. Girls are living 5/6 to a room, they stay that way even in the final year. Boys are living two to a room that was meant for one student. Hardly one foot of space in between the two beds, creating safety hazards. Was told that two new hostels will be built shortly. That may not ease significantly the overcrowding.
- No Bookshelves in Girls Hostel 21: There were no bookshelves in rooms in this hostel. Books were kept on beds and on the floors creating safety hazards. We were told that rooms in other hostels have bookshelves. This requires immediate attention.
- Power Failure: Girls in hostel 21 complained that when power fails there is no back- up plan, and requested that generators should be installed in hostels so that their studies are not interrupted. This should be looked into. By the way, entirely on a different situation, power situation in Bihar has significantly improved. Since October this year even villages get round the clock electricity. This is due to new power plants coming online, and increased production in existing power plants.
- Sports Facility: There are no outdoor sport facilities for girls. Such facilities should be provided to girls; will require significant funds.
- Deshpande Auditorium: ~ 5% chairs have no seats, creating safety hazard. In fact, I fell down while trying to sit down on one as that chair had a missing seat. Also, bird droppings were observed on several chairs. Should be repaired and/or cleaned as soon as possible.
- Shortage of Faculty Members: Teaching faculty members number ~ 80 against the sanctioned 290. This amounts a teacher/ students ratio of 1:40. This is not conducive to proper teaching. This ratio has to be better, may be 1:10 in order to improve the academic standards.
- WiFi Connectivity: Students do not have WiFi connectivity in their hostels as well as in many other buildings. It is hard to imagine any students these days especially engineering students without internet access. IT department HOD thinks fiber optic cable should be laid out for the WiFi connectivity. This may cost several crores of rupees. In contrast, some of NA chapter members have earlier said this could be done by erecting the replacement tower that was damaged by lightening a few years ago. And this this would cost only a few lacs of rupees. Dr. Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL Jharkhand, (TELEPHONE no is 0651-2211100) attended the Alumni Annual Meeting on November 23. May be some smart IT guy amongst us should get in touch with him, and see if erecting will do the trick.
- Almost all the hostels, department buildings and all facilities buildings need repairs, renovation, facelift, and are crying out loud for a fresh coat of paint.
- Encroachments: At the main entrance gate lots of small shops have cropped up. The gate does not look impressive.
- B Section hostels looked barren. More trees and garden needs to be planted.
- Massive infusion of funds will be required to address several of items listed above. I do not think Jharkhand Government will be able to come up with such funds in near future. In that case, only option is that BIT being selected to become a central government controlled institution such as IIT or NIT. Jharkhand already has an NIT, and IIT (ISM just became IIT). I believe there could be one of these types of institution in a state.
There is another type of centrally funded technical institute namely Indian Institute of Engineering Science & Technology (IIEST). This type of institution is ranked below IIT but above NIT. This is meant for taking over of the established engineering colleges such as BIT.
Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur became the first to be upgraded to become IIEST in 2014. Other three engineering colleges are scheduled to be upgraded to this level in the next year or so.
They are as listed below.
Cochin Univ. of Science & Technology
Andhra Univ. College of Eng., Vizak
Osmania Univ. College of Eng. Hyderabad
- BIT Sindri may have a shot. But, the State Govt. and the Central Govt. have to work together to make it happen. That is where strong lobby effort is needed.
- I learnt that the central govt. provides for 5 years close to $ 800 million for infrastructure, and $500 million for general funding. We need this level of funding to make BIT of our dream.
- (I know many will say that we have gone through this path before. But, I do not see any other way if we want BIT to become a top notch engineering college in India). It needs a “sugar daddy”.
- If for some reason we do not want to work with BIT Sindri Chapter for repairs/innovation work, BIT Administration including the Director said that we can do that independently.
- Dr. Dey sought our help in teaching some classes as visiting lecturers.
- Kumar Arun Singh, an Honorary Distinguished Alum of BITS AA of NA, has agreed to be our eyes and years, and enforcer at Sindri. Starting January 2015, he has volunteered to take classes in Metallurgy Department.
Observation Details of Individual Day
BIT AA Sindri Chapter Annual Alumni Meeting, November 23, 2014
~ 300 BIT Sindri Alumni were in attendance. Out of that 100+ were 1964 Batch Grand Reunion participants (65 BIT’ans plus ~ 40 spouses) assembled to celebrate their 50th year of graduation. That included Braj Kumar and I with our wives.
Alumni annual meeting, in my opinion, was pretty good. There were lots of good food for breakfast and lunch. The meeting was mostly celebratory in nature. Scholarships including those sponsored by BITS AA of NA members were handed to the recipients. There were some speeches including a short one by me. I did raise some issues about the infrastructure and general deterioration of academic standards. As a representative of BITS AA of NA, my wife and I were presented with small gifts. That was nice of them.
Dr. Dey, the Director, did mention that two new hostels will be built shortly, and also talked about the increasing enrolment of students in post graduate classes.
I did not quite figure out who was the chief guest. Dr. Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL Jharkhand, (TELEPHONE no is 0651-2211100) received the most attention. Sweta was virtually begging him, Sir please, please kuchh kijiye WiFi ke liye. May we should contact him also for the WiFi connection at BIT Sindri
Ms. Sweta Kumari was the organizer, MC and was definitely in command. She was ably supported by her husband (another BIT alumni) and Shashank Garuryar (Partner, BITS AA of NA).
I handed over personalized coffee cups with the inscription, Partner, BITS AA of North America to the following to the following individuals.
- Dr. Girijesh Kumar, Registrar
- Prof. D. K. Tanti, Treasurer
- Prof. Ravi Shankar Prasad
- Shri Shashank Garuryar
General Comments: There were a few commercial stalls. However two stalls that grabbed our attention were manned by student volunteers representing PRAYASS and SWATCHH BHARAT. Glad that now students are involved in community activities. I do not think in our time we did that, Shame on us.
BIT Sindri visit on November 24, 2014
We spent the whole day at the BIT campus. The following summarize our meetings with the Director, Head of the Departments, boys and girl students, and general observations of department buildings, hostels, Deshpande Auditorium, Alumni Building, roads, athletic field etc.
Dr. Girijesh Kumar, Registrar: We discussed in general the safety and sanitary/hygiene conditions, academic deterioration, issues/concerns related to BIT being upgraded to IIT, NIT etc. He agreed that the department buildings and hostels are not in optimum conditions, and also the academic standards have probably declined from those when we graduated. But, he said that still BIT Sindri is ranked 25th engineering college in the country by Outlook Group. It is hard to believe. But, I googled, and it checked out.
Dr. Kumar was our guide for hostel and campus tours. He lives in the same quarter where Dr. Rajendra Prasad, HoD, metallurgy in our time.
As regards to the upgrading the institute, he mentioned the resistance by the faculty members. But, If I remember correctly, the reason was that the reported untimely salary payments in NITs. He suggested in passing that we should look into the possibility of BIT being upgraded to IIEST (Indian Institute of Engineering Science & Technology).
I gathered the following information on Google. In 2014, Bengal College, Shibpur became the first to be upgraded to become IIEST. Other engineering colleges are scheduled to be upgraded to this level in the next year or so. They are as listed below.
1. Cochin Univ. of Science & Technology
2. Andhra Univ. College of Eng. Vizak
3. Osmania Univ. College of Eng. Hyderabad
You can find additional details on Google. BIT Sindri may have a shot. But, the State Govt. and the Central Govt. have to work together to make it happen. That is where strong lobby effort is needed.
I learnt that the central govt. provides close to $ 800 million for infrastructure, and $ 500 million for general funding. We need this level of funding to make BIT of our dream.
• Head of the Departments
The following Heads of the Departments were present during the meeting.
1. Dr. SC Roy - Mechanical
2. Dr. U. Prasad - Electrical
3. Dr. RK Srivastava - Production
4. Dr. R.N. Gupta - Metallurgy
5. Dr. V. Pandey - Civil
6. Sri Amar P Sinha - Electronics & Communication
7. Sri SC Dutta - Information Technology
8. Sri AGP Kujur - Computer Science & Engineering
9. Dr. G. Kumar - Geology
We had a very frank and open discussion on topics ranging from staff shortage, lab equipment not maintained properly, poor infrastructure, broken toilets and sewer lines in hostels, girls’ safety. They had varying opinions and priorities. Most agreed that students’ welfare including safety and poor hygiene are main concerns. Some thought lack of maintenance budget should be addressed, while some stated academic environment need improvement with better quality of teachers, and improvement in students/teacher ratio. There was also mention about improving the infrastructure/facilities at the institute for which the financial help is needed.
One mentioned once a while some grants are made available from time to time for the equipment maintenance. However, the grant is distributed to all departments. The distributed amount ends up being so small that not much can be done with that money. May be it would be better the whole sum be given to a specific department so that some meaningful maintenance work can be done. Next time it would be the turn of another department to receive the grant.
Lack of WiFi connectivity was also discussed. Shri SC Dutta will come up with an estimate of the cost involved related to laying the fiber optics. That will probably run into several crores of rupees.
One thing that stood out during the meeting was Dr. SC Roy of Mechanical statement that he had all machines and lab equipment in working conditions as they are regularly attended to. There was some resentment by a few present when he made that statement. I will call Dr. Roy to find out how he is able to do all this maintenance works done while others cannot.
Prof. Dr. Uttapal K. Dey, Director
We met him in his chamber. First order of business was to present him the personalized coffee cup and certificate for being elected as the Honorary Distinguished Alum of BITS AA of North America. He thanked us for honoring him in such a way.
First, Prof. Dey is a very humble, pleasant and straight forward person. He is a fellow BIT’an, 1980 Batch Mining graduate. I believe we can do business with him.
Prof. Dey was very candid about the need for improvements in various areas including academic standards, hostel overcrowding, infrastructure including hostels etc. He specifically sought our help in teaching assistance in the form of visiting lecturers. We suggested that lectures could be arranged via video conferencing. Of course, for that we need WIFI connectivity.
He confirmed that for repairs and maintenance type of works, PWD involvement is not required. If money is there, we can do the work independently. He said BIT Sindri Chapter has done such work in the past, we can work through them. He also said that we do not necessarily have to work with BIT Sindri Chapter in order to get the work done. I will find out some additional details on what is involved if we decide to go this route.
Braj Kumar and his wife had to leave as they were driving back to Ranchi. Arun went to Metallurgy Department to sort out his volunteer teaching assignments starting in January.
DL Deshpande Auditorium
What a beautiful and large auditorium building! However, lack of maintenance is visible everywhere. Inside, at least 5% of chairs have either no seats or broken seats. In fact, I fell down in one of such chair. Mind you, this is an engineering college, even chairs cannot be fixed. Big bird droppings on large number of chairs were also seen. Men’s’ urinals tubes are just tangling over the holes. Significant amount of urines stay out, causing foul smell.
Boys Hostels (B Section, Shahrpura Road)
Hostels 12 - 19 are situated at this site. Not a pleasant site, mostly broken window glasses, broken/dangling sewer lines, little or no grass, flowers/gardens. My wife and I decided to go inside Hostel 16, no faculty member present. Third year students reside in this hostel. There were only a few students. We asked why so few.
They told us that just ~ 1/2 hour before we came, the final year students came there and started ragging them. According them ragging was almost always physical, and it involves slapping sometimes as many as 20 -25 slaps. They said that in the past such slapping have resulted in damage to ear drums in a couple of cases. So, most of the Hostel 16 student residents of have run away when they saw final year student coming to their hostel. We were told students run away to Jharia and Dhanbad. Sometimes they will not return for days. We asked them that this way they would miss classes. We were surprised with the answer that as such they do not go to many classes as the lectures are not very useful.
The hostel warden must have gotten the wind. He was standing outside. We enquired about the ragging. He was aware of it. He said he had complained to higher ups, but nothing happens as
nobody is willing to be the witness for fear of reprisal. (In front of Ad building there is poster that reads Ragging Free Campus, not entirely true).
Dr. Kumar informed us that ragging has been pretty much nonexistent in all of girls' hostels, and boys' hostels housing first year students because of high boundary walls and no visitors after 6 PM in girls’ hostels, and after 10 PM in first year boys’ hostels.
As that happened to be ~ 2 PM, the boys insisted that we should eat lunch. Radha and I eat the mess lunch. Not bad. It consisted of rice, dal, fish curry, aalu-gobi sabji and salad. The fish curry was yummy.
Other observations: Bath rooms in really bad shape, doors not closing, broken pipes, filth all over. Courtyard is all dirt, no grass or flowers. Two to a room meant for one. There is hardly a foot of space between two beds. Space for one small table and, broken window glass. Broken and exposed sewer lines. Similar broken/open sewer lines visible from outside in some of other hostels as well.
Girls Hostel No. 21
What a contrast to that of boys' hostel. 8 foot boundary walls, white cheerful paint outside, some well-dressed girls sitting outside but inside the boundary walls. This hostel houses third year students. A door man was there. Five girls to a room. Room is clean, neat beds. Girls complain that there are no book shelves, so books are on beds. They said other girl hostels 20 and 22 have book shelves in the rooms. Kitchen area appeared clean. Bath rooms clean as well, but some bath room doors do not close properly. Strong lock in the metal folding gate separating the main hostel from the mess. Girls complain about lack of WiFi, and frequent electricity cuts. Would like to have generator installed for back up. They thought safety was adequate. They walk at least two together. Not allowed to go out after 6 PM. Also, no visitor after 6 PM.
Football field looked good. We were told that there are no functioning tennis and badminton courts. No outdoor sports facilities exist for girls.
Only building looking good from outside was the administrative building. It has nice garden in the front. All other department buildings looked not all that great, and are crying out for a fresh coat of paint.
Unfinished Computer Science Building
An unfinished computer science building, without doors and windows looks so ugly. Apparently the building remained incomplete due to a dispute between the contractor and the Jharkhand Government. This building is on the west side of the main approach road to the Administration Building. Nobody has any clue if this building will ever be completed.
This is small building, not very impressive, with 8 finished rooms, some with American style toilets and some with Indian style. Rooms are maintained well. A suite is being built on the 2nd floor. Besides the Ad Building this is the only building that has well maintained garden in the front.
In general, we thought roads were in OK condition. The road from Ad Building to B Section hostels was barren. Some trees should be planted on sides.
It was sad to see so many small shops e.g. tea, pan, barber etc. have cropped up near the main gate. Not a pleasant site.
Kumar Arun P. Singh
In response to Prof. Dey call, Arun has volunteered to teach classes in Metallurgy Department starting in January, 2015. He has informed Prof. Dey and Dr. Kumar he has adopted BIT Sindri, and will do his level best to help BIT in whatever way he can.
Arun has also agreed to be our eyes and years, and enforcer at BIT.
After the day long visit, Arun dropped us off at Dhanbad train station where we boarded the 7 O’clock evening train to my village Bariarpur, Munger.
Golden Reunion, 1964 Batch Graduating Class, Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand, November 22, 2014
We had a Grand Reunion of 1960 - 1964 batch mates to celebrate the 50 year of our graduation from BIT Sindri. Over 60 batch mates and 40 spouses were in attendance. It was a very emotional reunion. In many cases we have met after 50 years. We shared lots of stories about BIT and families. Dr. Girijesh Kumar and his wife Smt. Pushpa Kumar represented BIT Sindri administration. We had lots of fun, great food and music. Yours truly was the Master of Ceremony (MC). I also made a short presentation on the degradation of academic standards and facilities at BIT Sindri. Dr. Kumar also spoke.
I also had meeting with Ms. Sweta Kumari and her husband, and discussion on many topics including cooperation between Sindri Chapter and North America Chapter. She indicated that if no money is demanded of the state government, repair and renovation works can be done at BIT without involving Public Works Department (PWD). She had contractors lined up for such jobs. She mentioned that all scholarship moneys have been accounted for. She had nothing but praises for Dr. S.K. Singh, the former Director of BIT. She somehow came to know that we will be presenting Honorary Distinguished Alum certificate to Dr. Dey, and thought I will do that during the Alumni Meeting on the following day. She said that it may not go very well with other faculty members who are senior to him in terms of graduation years from Sindri. I made it clear to her that this is my Chapter award, and we have certain criteria for such award. And it is ours and ours only to make the selection. I told her that I am going to present the award to Dr. Dey in his chamber. That eased her mind somewhat.
On 23rd we all went to BIT campus to participate in the BITS AA of Sindri annual meeting. Many took tour of the campus, went to check out their departments and hostels they had lived over 50 years ago. Almost everyone was saddened to observe the deteriorating academic standards, infrastructure, and filth.
Many have expressed their strong desire to help in the betterment of the Alma Mater. Some promised to raise funds, and gave their suggestions how to improve the conditions. These suggestions are similar to what we have been talking about for sometimes expect the one which I am quoting below for your information. (By the way I am not endorsing this.)
Since the campus (@400 acres) is being heavily encroached, let us sell off about 50-75 acres to a big company like Infosys or TCS or like with a responsibility to adopt BIT Sindri, improve its infrastructure and academic standards etc. in due course. A private partnership like this could be developed.
Unless the UG teaching is up to a certain standards again and the faculty is qualified, Post Graduate teaching is of no value. Why spread yourself too thin when you have very little material to spread around. There are enough buildings as it is. The stress should be on replacing old dysfunctional equipment with modern teaching, learning and research facilities.
The Govt. of India provides highly subsidized NKN (National Knowledge Network) facility where you can receive broadcasts on many standard UG/PG topics including online Q/A hours once you tie up with them. IIT Patna is using it in their class room. We can take help of young faculty at IITP who have recorded their standard course material and lectures and will be more than willing to share it with BIT Sindri.