Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Prof. V.S. Rao...some memories

Jotted down the memories that came after reading this article - Prof VS Rao of BITS Pilani to join NIIT University as its next president

Prof. V.S.Rao (Pic courtsey: BITSAA.Org)

Oh, well!

Sorry to see our Prof. VS Rao leave BITS, Pilani family after serving close to 40 years. Awesome institution builder. So, it is only natural that he is moving on to build the next (hopefully) great institution.

During our time, 90-94, he was our hostel warden for the first 2 years and the chief warden for most of the decade along with being a chemistry prof etc. Awesome guy. Strict disciplinarian. Terror for anyone wanting to do anything illegal or monkey business. Ragging? Well, you don't want any junior going up to him and complain about you. You can kiss goodbye to at least one semester. First good yelling, bashing, then before DISCO (Disciplinary Committee) and then bye bye for one semester.

In my first semester, once I got so fed up with constant irritation by a senior that I just yelled at him, 'I am going to VS Rao man... I can't take it anymore!' Dreading the worst he disappeared but his wingies (fellow hostel mates sharing the same wing) were all over a good friend of mine to dissuade me from going to the super cop VSR. I was not anyway going to complain. It was just a ploy to get rid of the annoying senior who had asked me to watch his dirty mattress dry out in the sun!! That too on a nice Saturday afternoon when all I wanted to do was to nap.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. But here was this mosquito of a senior asking me to do donkey work. As a junior in ragging period, I agreed to do but he was insistent that I sit right in front of his stinking mattress and watch it as if it contained diamonds. That's when I snapped and dropped the bombshell, 'I am going to VS Rao man!!' I don't think we ever made peace! No big loss. He was one guy who was really on my back from the get go. From my dress to hairstyle, he had problem with everything. Arbit idiot!

When we became second year students, for the first time I saw Prof.VSR in action. Shouting at a classmate for forcing the juniors to do donkey work of lugging the crate and shifting it to his room. In summer, all students pack their belongings in a wooden crate and leave them in the common room so that rooms can be cleaned and whitewashed. So, when you return from summer holidays, it is a backbreaking chore to shift the crate to your new room. Sometimes, as part of ragging, seniors use juniors to do the heavy lifting and donkey work. One of my classmates was unfortunately caught in the act. As our warden doing the rounds, Prof. VSR saw him making the juniors lift and lug his crate. He ordered them to just drop it. Just drop it. Freshers, what can they do? That too being ordered by the all powerful chief warden. They just dropped the creaky wooden crate from a few feet. It came down crashing and total gone case. The wooden crate was totally broken, stuff inside all on the floor and screaming warden to face. My classmate had met his nemesis on that day. I think that year ragging was even less, at least from anyone who saw Prof. VSR laying it in properly. Any of us who witnessed that showdown hardly ragged juniors in our remaining 3 years as seniors. Such was the shock treatment of Prof. VSR lambasting our classmate!

Another incident when he had shouted at us en masse was during the process of hostel wing allocation for the second year. Some disgruntled elements who either did not get the wing of their choice or had problems joining a wing had complained to VSR that the wing allocation process owned and carried out by a few students was not done fairly. It was unfortunate that a few innocents had to bear the brunt of warden's wrath. After yelling at all of us for messing it up, he let that go. Thank heavens for that.

I met Prof. VSR only once. We had a Kannada association. Small one with a few professors and students of Karnataka origin and more importantly Kannadigas. We wanted to hold our annual function in our hostel mess and needed warden's approval. I went to VSR's house which was next to the hostel. He was courteous. Took the application, scanned and signed then and there and sent me back saying 'you all have fun!' We indeed did.

Faculty members and students from BITS, Pilani going to NIIT is not new. In late 80s, then ex-director Prof. CR Mitra left to NIIT and took a large crowd along with him. Loss to BITS faculty but NIIT was transformed and became the premier computer training institute, thanks to the brain-drain from BITS. Now after 30 years history is repeating with Prof. VSR leaving to build a new university for NIIT.

Good luck Prof. VSR.

Good old memories!