Shailaza Singh, author of best seller Faith-The Mystery of the Missing Girl at Aaftaab, IIT Jodhpur

A tryst with multi-tasking creativity @ IIT- Jodhpur

 A peak into the world of IIT, Jodhpur is not just about endless studying but also pursuing and developing passions for a lifetime.

The very mention of the word IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) conjures up different scenes from Aamir Khan’s movie ‘Three Idiots’ . For most people, IIT is a stressful place where students are kept constantly on their tenterhooks or are incessantly cramming from their text books for an upcoming exam or practical. That is the impression I had before I visited IIT, Jodhpur fondly known as IIT-J.

I had been invited by the students of IIT- J to participate in a panel discussion about paid news, which was just one of the events which was organized as a part of Aaftaab, a two-day literature festival. The other events included a kavi sammelan where famous poets like Sampat Saral, , a book launch by Arpit Vageria, creative writing workshop by Ishita Dey and a performance by the band Exile Diaries and much more. Nivedit Jain, who had initially contacted regarding my participation in the event told me that he could only speak to me in evenings since he and his classmates were busy attending lectures and lab sessions in the day. When I inquired, he told me that their lectures sometimes continue even till 8 or 9 in the evening.

When I reached on the first day, I saw many students attending these lectures. There were some who were busy making notes in the library. In my experience, literature or all such festivals in colleges meant that the academics were brought to a standstill. However, this was not the case here.

Shubham Pandey, a faculty of chemistry in IIT-J said, ‘We always encourage the students to pursue their passion while studying. We tell them to take up at least one additional activity like singing, writing, film making which helps to take off the pressure of the studies. In these festivals, the students not only manage the festival but also continue their day-to-day studies because we believe students or anyone for that matter can develop multi-tasking as an ability.’

Parichay Batra, who is a part of the department of humanities and social sciences and teaches film making in IIT-J opined, ‘Every student is required to select at least four humanities subjects from a long list of electives every year. Some students choose film making, others choose newly introduced subjects like digital humanities or digital publishing or social connect as their electives. ‘

I wondered why was it important for a student to choose these additional humanities subjects when he was already grappling with his regular subjects in the institute. Parichay Batra said, ‘You have to understand that preparing for IIT entrance examination is no mean feat. The students forgo all their hobbies and passions for a year or two just to ace this examination and get into IIT. Now, when they come here, it is important for us to help them rediscover their passion along with their regular curriculum so that their creativity is not lost in all this pressure. Hence, we have a very active student gymkhana which has different societies like the literary society or photography society or the cultural society and many more which help students to focus on their passion. In fact, there have been some students who discovered their passion for film making after taking an elective film making course in IIT. They then completed their four-year B.Tech course and cleared the entrance exam for FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) to become film makers. ’

I saw the students enjoying all the events in the literature festival with fervor. They cheered in the Kavi Sammelan and participated in the discussion and also sang with the band.

As I bid adieu to the students of IIT, Jodhpur, a thought came to my mind. Perhaps if director Rajkumar Hirani was to remake ‘3 Idiots’ again today, his protagonist Farhan Qureshi played by R. Madhavan would not have had to drop out of IIT to pursue his passion for photography on the behest of Aamir Khan’s Rancho.

Shailaza Singh’s article was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit Section on November 17, 2019

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