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Interview | Dr. S.C. Dutta Roy, IIT Delhi

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“Always listen to and go by your conscience”

DTU Times interviewed Dr. S.C. Dutta Roy, former Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, who was the Guest of Honour at the 1st International Conference on Signal Processing, VLSI and Communication Engineering (ICSPVCE - 2019) organised at DTU.

Your lectures on Circuit Theory are considered one of the best starting points in the course. Almost every student has watched them before attending the classes. What according to you is the best way of learning, a teacher teaching physically, a lecture series or reading about it from a book?

You must combine all of these. But the most important thing is not to accept any notes from anyone, be it your father, peers or your teachers. Many ask me the reason for this tip. Unless you are satisfied, don’t give up! If a teacher says something which is not appealing to you then ask why. If the teacher is clueless then don't stop, instead go on asking again and again until the teacher is forced to explain. The same is the case with your parents or for that matter anyone else. Unless you are satisfied, never stop trying. Always listen and go by your conscience. Your conscience can never be wrong!

The main motto behind learning is to never give up or stop trying and go on asking why until you find an answer. There is no shortcut of learning, i.e., the path of learning always requires hard work.

How do you think that the field of Electronics and Communication Engineering has changed over the years?

"There is no field in the industry which hasn’t been enriched due to the development of the electronics sector."

Well, firstly it was a composite branch. All the branches grew larger in size and bifurcated into parts such as Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Engineering. But Electronics and Communication Engineering is still a composite discipline. It has its wings in all fields such as mechatronics, power electronics etc. The branch has diversified by giving rise to many souvenir disciplines.

Communication has gone through such a revolutionary change that even Communication Engineering is a discipline on its own. It has progressed much beyond our imagination. Speech-to-text conversion, Facial Recognition, Interpretations of mood of a person, Biometric Identification, even Classical music has also undergone various changes with the advent of electronics in its field. There is no field in the industry which hasn’t been enriched due to the development of the electronics sector.

It was rightly pointed out that the field of Signal Processing has seen a valley. What are your comments on this?

Most of the research that has been done carefully avoids the current problem. They are wandering on the periphery and the applications. I’ll be talking more about this during my lecture.

Institutions are giving autonomy so that they can perform better. But there are various unnecessary rules and regulations that govern research at these institutes. What are your views on this?

Any level of freedom must be coupled with self-imposed discipline. And therefore autonomy doesn’t mean that you can do anything. You must on what the autonomy is given to you for. Similarly, in life, you are a free person but you must be bound by some self-imposed rules and regulations either by your parents, your friends or your service. Try to be original rather than copying from someone.

Do you believe that the 75% attendance bar is necessary for students?

I have worked in institutions where there was no such rule for attendance. If the teacher is good, then attendance doesn’t become a problem. So personally I am not in favour of such attendance rules. But I also realised after teaching in IITs for quite a long time, that the students who come from school find a lot of freedom in college and they tend to go wild. So at least for the first two semesters, I feel that the attendance rule must be upheld and they must not be allowed to go away from the purpose for which they came there.

"I saw, in those eyes, the problem right away."

Let me give you an example. There was a boy whose AIR was 4 or 5. I found out that he had  somehow managed to just pass his semester exams. I decided to approach him, and so I went to his room. Unfortunately he wasn’t there and on being asked, his roomate revealed that he is in the library. I found him out there and I told him to look at my eyes. He wouldn’t. I said again “Look at my eyes”. When he finally looked, I saw, in those eyes, the problem right away. He was lost. He was caught in a bad company in the hostels.

His parents came the next day to my home. His mother’s eyes were filled with tears.  There was only one solution. I told him to come to every class from now on. He would come and sit on the last bench. I would call him to sit in the front and ask him what we had covered in the last class. I would call him to solve problems on the board. It was really surprising to see a student of such great calibre not being able to solve the problem on the board. As time passed, his condition improved. He passed his B.Tech with 9+ GPA and got admittedly immediately to Belgian University. Before going, he seeked me for my blessings. But we lost contact.

4 years later, I received a package from him. It had a note which said, “I was able to do this, all because of just one man. You!” I got very emotional about it. After that we met quite a few times and I am happy that he is doing really well.

Posted by Parangat Mittal

@thesciencestudent