Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Open Letter to Director of VJTI

Dear Sir with very long Surname,

I passed out from VJTI with a B. Tech degree in June 2009, so technically I am an alumnus, but emotionally still a student. I happened to visit my alma mater this month after an eighteen month gap and was shocked to see not one, but three completely unnecessary changes-

First of all, what was the need to start moral policing and enforce an illogical dress code prohibiting girls from wearing anything shorter than full pants? You may argue that you don't want students to come to the prestigious engineering institute wearing indecent clothes, but have you ever stepped out in the Quad and examined the general dressing trend among VJTI students? In my four years, most of it spent in the Quad and canteen, I have never seen any girl in VJTI campus wearing anything that can be considered even close to indecent. One popular argument of political parties enforcing dress code in Indian colleges is that they do not want students to get distracted. If that is the excuse you are going to give and if you really want to improve concentration of students, I suggest you invest your time, money and energy in employing good teachers and improving lab infrastructure. Professors who cannot speak two sentences in correct English and lab equipment fit to be preserved in museum are the reasons why students do not concentrate in class, not girls wearing three-fourths and knee length skirts.

Second totally unnecessary exercise started recently is making every student sign a register every time he/she wants to exit the campus with name and reason for leaving. What purpose does this criminal waste of paper, ink and time serve? Have you even once gone through the register and analyzed the reasons why students exit campus during college hours? If you do, you will find most of the students go out to get Xerox copies of assignments and class notes. Is the register meant to serve as a deterrent to this practice? If yes, have you wondered why this practice goes on in the first place? Instead of maintaining a pointless register, why isn't money and energy spent on training professors to teach the students in such an interesting manner that they actually feel like doing their assignments on their own instead of copying from Xerox notes? I am pursuing Masters from a US university and in the last eighteen months I have not copied or Xeroxed a single homework or assignment, something that students, including myself, do regularly in VJTI. Why? Is it because we love copying and are lazy to ? No. It is because most of the times the professor has been either too boring or unsure of his own concepts and as a result, has not taught his topics in a way that students would understand and be interested. So, the majority of the class resorts to copying assignments from a chosen few in the class who studied and understood the concepts on their own, without help from the institute or professors. VJTI, as you are aware, admits the brightest minds from across the state, and these students, if given equally bright professors and interesting study techniques, would not resort to copying and faking assignments.

Third change that I do not understand is the recent paranoia of security threat to the institute. When there are other pressing needs like purchasing new appartus for laboratories, why was a large sum of money spent on fortifying the campus, which already had a decent boundary wall with a new boundary wall higher than the International Border between India and Pakistan? Agreed we live in difficult times and security is a concern, but building that Great Wall of VJTI serves no practical purpose. I can even now point out a dozen other ways a potential terrorist can still enter the campus if he wants to. Another side effect of this paranoia is the recent diktat banning students from taking photorgraphs on campus! Today when most teenage psychology experts encourage students to take as many pictures as possible of their college days to serve as fond memories helping in hard times in later life, and I have experienced this is true, having gone through the collection of thousands of photos of my VJTI days every time I feel low, you are depriving the current students of this opportunity citing security risk. Again, in this age of Google Earth and hi-resolution satellite images, do you really think someone with a malicious intention against VJTI will rely on group photos taken by students to plan his attack? Highly unlikely. 

These are small things, but what saddens me is that the administration of my beloved institute is focussing its time, money and energy on skewed priorities. It would be great if this effort is rather channlized into the right direction to reinstate VJTI's position to the claimed title of "premier engineering institute in Maharashtra state."

A proud VJTI alumnus   


  1. Brilliant post again.

    I have never really understood the concept of getting distracted. Why is it assumed that it is bad? Sure, ignoring studies altogether is bad, but come on, treat students as the adults they legally are. Trust that they have the sense of responsibility to balance things in life, instead of policing them about. What you are then trying to produce are robots, instead of able individuals.

    And the criticism of the state of teaching is absolutely spot on. Except for a couple of profs, I don't think I ever learnt anything from any of them that I couldn't get from glancing through the textbook (Sidebar: Techmax doesn't count as a textbook :P). The most I have learned about engineering was from projects outside the college, where I had to actually apply theory, which required me to really understand stuff, instead of just answering "Explain < section heading >" type questions in the exam.

    Also, things might have changed, but you should have added a corollary/appendix about the Exam section and the Railway Concession section :D

  2. hear hear!

    One more thing - if a rule is made, could the college do us the courtesy of officially informing us ? It's really embarrassing to be pounced on by some watchman for flouting a rule you didn't know existed. Or are watchmen supposed to double up as notice boards now?

  3. yay! I am glad someone raised these issues. There's a fourth point. Alumni have to acquire gate passes even after flashing their old ID cards. This register-signing thing is insane! I saw first year students queuing up before exiting. And the line, which started at the main gate, ended beyond the hub. The sight was sickening. And all the stories I have heard about Pratibimb being converted into a political tamasha...Sad. Period.

  4. Nice post. Very true. Im currently in the third year, and suffering all of the things you've mentioned above. You must also mention the damned exam department.

  5. Totally agree with your post.. Reflects what bad state of affairs are currently prevalent in a college considered to be one of the most renowned in Maharashtra... Sorry to see that students are not able to learn an iota from the college...!!

    Hoping to see some change in the coming years.. :)

  6. That's Great!
    Also one Threat for vjti students is the lady named "Pratibha" in the Examination Section.
    She really deserves a special award like "VJTI Ratna" !

  7. totally agree with your points and let me inform you that even guys are not allowed to wear 3/4ths. And there's no official announcements about such rules. So it is really embarrassing when you show up in shorts and the watchman yells at you! At least the register entry non sense has stopped.


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