My name is Raja Babu, from IIT Kanpur. Oops, I think most of you would be knowing me. I feel grateful for the love and support that I received because of my website. A sophomore from CSE IITK, Alok Gautam, contacted me to share my experiences, and I was thinking about what to share. So, I requested him to ask the questions which he wants to get addressed. It is 04:42 AM, and I am sitting on the study table with my love, i.e., my laptop, to give wing to my words.
Alok: In short, how was your stay at IIT Kanpur?
Raja: On 20 July, I joined the IIT Kanpur family; it was one of the best days of my life. The first week was enjoyable due to the orientation session, but after that, lows & highs became part of life.
Alok: What is your view about the mental health of the students?
Raja: After clearing JEE, you joined IIT. You have excellent knowledge in the field of Engineering, but I request you to take care of your health. The environment was stressful & I had also suffered from Depression & Anxiety. Later, I learned to cope up with the situations and to make things healthy. Mental health issues are prevalent among the students, but it usually is overlooked by many. Although the number of suicides had decreased, the suicidal attempt persists. My two close friends had attempted suicide last year. One of them had taken a very high dose of Sleeping pills. They were reported to CS and are luckily in better mental condition now.
On the day when Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide, I was in conversation with Prof Praveen Kulshreshtha, Department of Economics, IIT Kanpur. He shared something, and I want to forward it to you. “One of our Economics students (5-yr Integrated M.Sc.) Ankit Wadhwa was suffering from serious depression throughout his five years stay at IITK. Besides CS, he talked to me often, and all that helped him, I think. He felt much better as he was leaving the institute. He kept in touch even after he got a job. Sent me a gift from his first month’s salary (a coffee mug, which has ‘World’s Best Teacher’ engraved on it). He gave up that job 18 months later to prepare for higher studies. But something had happened. His depression seemed to have returned. He jumped from his flat 23 stories above and was found dead. I still cannot believe that he is gone. I cherish him through his memories and the priceless gift of love he left with me. Rest in peace always, Ankit.”
We had always learned to be successful; that’s a good approach. But we must also learn to accept failure and rise above it. Our physical & mental health is more important than achievements. At some point, we must stop chasing something if it does not align with our health & other situations. Knowing when to quit, change direction, leave a toxic situation, demand more from life, give up on something that isn’t working and move on, is a very important skill to learn/possess. Don’t quit because it’s hard, quit when it sucks.
Alok: When and why you hosted your website? How do you feel about it now?
Raja: I was interested in IT-related stuff from my school days. One night during summer, after the end of my 2nd semester, I could not sleep. I thought of hosting my home page. As a first-year student, it was challenging to get the previous year’s lecture slides, questions papers, and assignments. So, I made a simple website comprising of two web pages, my details, and of Notes. The aim was to combine all available study materials in a single hub and to help others. Initially, I was not very serious about the site. In July, when the new session started, first-year students found it very useful. I got many requests to update more courses. I asked my friends to contribute. In the last three years, the website had been updated numerous times, and it managed to receive a vast user base from within the campus and from outside. Initially, it was just a static page, but later it started accepting public submissions.
I feel great when I receive a message or email saying that the content was helpful. It had happened many times that students used to discuss among themselves to have a look on my web app for the content of courses without noticing that I was sitting beside them in Lecture Hall / Library etc.
Due to an increase in the traffic & to handle the simultaneous connections with high load, Notes Gallery WebApp is moved to Amazon Web Service, with a new domain name to provide more availability, up-time, speed, database & computation capacity.
Alok: How was your Foreign Internship, can you share a few details about it?
Raja: I was in Russia for my Internship on Machine Learning. During the Internship, we developed an algorithm based deep learning method for semantic segmentation of aerial images or road scenarios, which allows determining objects on images with acceptable accuracy and inference speed close to real-time conditions.
I felt amazing to experience the extreme weather of -35°C with snowfalls most of the time. The park beside my dormitory was made of Ice Artwork. The communication was a bit problematic as I do not understand Russian, and they don’t know English. They were very helpful, and we used Yandex Translator to communicate. We visited Frozen Tom River in Tomsk, Red Square in Moscow, and other historical places.
Alok: In short, any final suggestion for the juniors?
Raja: Follow your interest, take academics seriously, keep yourself physically and mentally healthy, improve Emotional Intelligence (EQ), be social, get comfortable with the opposite gender to communicate, and lastly, always be happy!