Hi Everyone,

Here are this weekend's thoughts. The editorial comments are by Sidhartha Mohanty, and the article is by Dr. Chitta Baral.

Have a great weekend.

Editorial by Sidhartha Mohanty

Teachers are the greatest asset to the society and often they are also forgotten the earliest, their achievements hidden from the world. If you examine your life you will find that sometime in your early days there was a teacher who influenced you, changed you, and encouraged you to be what you are today. In this context I am reminded of a stanza from the collection of Sant Kabir, the great Indian poet. This is a "doha" from the rich collection of Kabir which I still remember from my school days; and they have had a very big influence on me. The doha is in Hindi and I will translate it:

"Guru Dhobi Seesh kapda, saabun sirajnahar,
Surti sheela par dhoiye, nikshe jaati aaphar".

Kabir says: "Guru is like a Dhobi, the student (sheeshya) is like the cloth to be washed. Using the soap of knowledge, and the scriptures (as the stone), he transforms the life of the student".

What follows is a tribute from Dr. Chitta Baral to the great teachers who transformed his life and made him what he is today. I am sure everyone reading this tribute from Chitta Bhai can identify teachers in their life who have made a big difference. Let us say this is a tribute from all of us to the great teachers who gave us the invaluable education and made us good people.


Sidhartha Mohanty August 16, 1996

Author's Self-Introduction

Name: Chitta Baral
E-mail: chitta@cs.utep.edu
Biography: After BJB college, I did my B.Tech M.S and Ph.D in Computer Sc in IIT KGP and U of Maryland respectively. Since 1991 I am teaching at UT El Paso.

A Tribute to my Teachers

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to some of my teachers in Orissa.

During my I.Sc at BJB college (1981-1983) I was strongly influenced by the dedication and teaching of three teachers:

Dr. P. K. Satpathy and Dr. Ramakrishna Panda both of whom taught Mathematics, and Dr. Raghunath Panda who taught Chemistry.

Dr. P. K. Satpathy was a no-nonsense teacher. Stressing on the fundamentals of calculus, he would keep the entire class on their toes with his questions and make sure every one was alert and paying attention. (He once walked upto a student who was writing the stuff being taught in a diary, and threw the diary away.) I learnt a great deal in his class and from his motivational outbursts.

Dr. Ramakrishna Panda had a completely different style. He was a gentle and caring teacher and I learnt my college algebra and trigonometry from him. He was the nicest teacher I ever had.

But most of all, I would like to thank Dr. Raghunath Panda for his selfless efforts. Those were the days when the ISc Chemistry syllabus (particularly the part on Physical Chemistry) was completely outdated compared to the CBSE or IIT JEE syllabus. Those were the days (it may be still like that now) when many lecturers finished about half the topics in the syllabus and left the rest for the students to study on their own. Dr. R. N. Panda, from the very first week he came to teach us, to the last week of classes, over a period of one and half years, taught extra classes (at no cost to students), every weekend, covering advanced materials from `structure of atoms' to `organic chemistry'. His enthusiasm was so much --- he would recite the periodic table in the class from memory; and I also memorized the periodic table during that period. He taught us how to remember (note -- not memorize) properties of different organic compounds (alkalis, alcohols, etc). His method was so good that I used his technique to remember properties of compounds that he did not give a formula for. The material he covered in the class and in the extra classes were beyond what was in the I.Sc books and motivated me to get B.Sc books on Inorganic and Organic Chemistry and study them. In summary, I would say that it was because of the selfless efforts of this great teacher that I came to like and enjoy chemistry (especially Organic Chemistry) instead of my earlier (in class X) attitude that Chemistry is a `ghoshaa' subject. And, that was a big factor in the various entrance exams after I.Sc.

Dr. Panda, on behalf of our class, thank you very very much for all the selfless effort you put in.

Our I.Sc class had 384 students. I was one of the anonymous faces and Dr. Panda never knew me in person and I have never had any personal association with him.

Before B.J.B, in my days at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Bhubaneswar, the following five teachers left lasting impression on me:

(1) R. P. Mallick, our physics teacher in class IX and X. He was like a scientist taking a small break in his career to teach in a high school. In reality, he joined our school just after his M.Sc. Later he left our school, did a Ph.D at Institute of Physics and the last time I heard he was at I.I.Sc. He was the one who helped me get through the difficult stage in physics where I did not understand how we now have 4 different formulas (s = ut + 0.5t**2, v = u + at, v*2 = u*2 + 2as, s_n = ??) instead of the only one we were using so far, which was: speed = distance / time. His extra classes and selfless efforts were very similar to the ones by Dr. Raghunath Panda.

(2) Mrs. M. Banerjee, the librarian during my class VIII, IX and X. Those days we had one library class per week and taking home one book per week was not enough for me, especially, since I did not have any other source to get non-text books to read. (I really get envious when I walk into the public libraries here. But, I am also aware that there were many schools in Orissa that were much worse off than our school.) Initially, she let me borrow and return books at any time I wanted. Later, she also allowed me to hang out in the library whenever I could, including the 30 minutes of the morning assembly, which I did not like that much. I was also introduced to Bengali literature by her.

(3) Mrs. S. Satpathy, our Sanskrit teacher. We stopped studying Sanskrit after class VIII, but she was always there for every one and she also helped build my character. She also encouraged me to read both Oriya and Bengali literature. Her translation of `Datta', a Bengali novel, into Oriya was the first Bengali literature (translated) I read. I later read the original.

(4) Mrs. P. Panicker, my math teacher in class VII and VIII. She was a nice person and really challenged us to solve problems fast.

(5) G. S. Tripathi, our history teacher. He made history fun. Before him history was boring; a subject where we were forced to memorize dates and facts.

I have never had a chance to personally thank any of the above teachers. I will probably never meet some of them again. I will have this tribute in my homepage and request Debasmita to include them in his pages on famous Oriyas.


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Your comments are always welcome...

Chitta Baral

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