A note from Vishal Gupta, IIT Kharagpur 2013 batch.
As soon as you walk into those gates proclaiming the big bold letters INDIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY you know your life is going to be changed forever. You are no longer the passionate geek who enjoys pulleys and complex numbers. Now, you are a part of a heritage. A heritage which allows you to make a choice about where you wish to go in your life. As soon as you enter the gates of IIT, without you realizing, every gate in the world opens for you. It doesn’t matter whether you have it in your heart to be a poet or a scientist or an entrepreneur or an Olympian or the Prime Minister of the nation. IIT will give you every opportunity to strive towards what you wish to do and make a life out of it.
An opportunity to make a life out of doing what you enjoy? How many people in the world get that opportunity? To make a life out of going up on stage every day and making people laugh? Or designing the state-of-the-art technologies on which the world will come to depend?
But it doesn’t come for free. There’s a catch. There’s something IIT asks from you. You know you can work hard. You know you’re intelligent. And you’ve proved that you understand ideas and concepts better than most in the world. You’ve already come a long way. Now it’s time to go the extra mile,IIT will demand that you really strive towards what you believe in. Be it making money or making music, you need to believe in what you do and you have to do it well.
You’ll fail. You’ll get the most cynical feedback one can ever get. You can trust that you will not be appreciated for bad work. You will never get a IITian applaud for horrible art. People will walk out in the middle of your concert if they don’t like it. Your work will be a public joke if it is mistaken. If doesn’t matter if you’re A R Rahman or Raghu Dixit. Bad art is simply not tolerated.
Do not be daunted. These are the most valuable experiences you’ll ever have. Try to remember the most moving speech you’ve ever heard. The story which inspired you. The tale which you go to when you look for motivation. It’s never a story of success. It’s always a story of bouncing back. Success never breeds without failure. Perfection never precedes mistakes. And this campus will give you the opportunities to as many mistakes as you can imagine.
- Want to give up when it gets too tough? The campus helps.
- Want to get drunk, desperate and depressed at the same time? The campus helps.
- Want to work on a long term project before an immediate problem? The campus helps.
- Want to spend the last night before the exam writing about the campus? The campus helps.
The campus will support you in every mistake you wish to make. And the campus will help you to correct those mistakes. And when you give them their time’s worth, they stand up in admiration.
Every decision you make here may go a long way in defining the direction of your career. It might be as simple as going for a Hall-dramatics practice or as big as contesting for the position of the VP. Your decisions will define what you become later in life. Do not let this worry you. As long as you take decisions, they will be correct.
As Steve Jobs famously said, “in the end it all makes sense. But only in the end.”
Having left that small world of boundless energy, I realize what I’ve taken along with me. I went in curious. I’ve come out more curious. I went in looking to follow great footsteps. I’ve come out leaving some of my own. The campus gave me an opportunity and I’m grateful to it.
As I move out of the shell which is IIT which protected me from the outside world for so long, I do miss my alma mater. But I know it’s there for me when I need it. And it needs me to go out and show the world what its patron is capable of. What it is capable of. How it can change a life which can change the world. I feel myself standing on the edge of a new world. Behind me lies a glorious past with a rich heritage. Before me is darkness and I can only know what lays ahead by walking into it. As attractive the light may be, my time has come to move on. My lessons at IIT do not let me be afraid enough anymore.
And so, I walk on, leaving a legacy and carrying a heritage. I found my story in campus and lived my life. My only hope is, everyone finds theirs. The rich environs of IIT have lots to give and ask nothing in return except for a little love.
As Sam Cawthorn said in my final semester at Kalidas Auditorium,