On a fateful day last week, I landed in the library, feeling bored sitting in lab. As fate would have it, the library was under maintenance and contrary to the popular screenshots that one will have about a library, it was buzzing with noise. There was not much of scope to browse through the general books section, as it was the place which was the center of all this commotion…where all the maintenance staff were centered. So, I just went and picked a random book from one shelf which was still not sanctified by the staff. This random book happened to be “The IITians” by Sandipan Deb. Seeing the caption for the title, I remembered reading about this book in Hindu or TOI long back, when it was released. I was doing my B.E. then. I liked that review a lot and wanted to read it. Ofcourse, the cost is 425/- which, for an Indian student, is enough to kill even a desire that is very consuming 🙂 Now that I got to read this book for free, with all time in the world with me, I grabbed the chance.
I cannot say that its a master piece. But, never in recent past did I sit in library for hours together reading a single book. It is interesting in parts, motivating some where..and normal else where. All in all, though the author, an IITian himself, talked of some things as being uniquely IITian, they were infact universal. Being from a normal Osmania University college in Andhra Pradesh, and now from IIIT, I too was able to identify myself with many of the statements mentioned in the book. I think it has a sense of universality at places. The book covers everything about IITs from the story of their inception to life there to what alumni did to what are the problems with the system. Its a non-formal history of IITs in essence. You can get an inkling of almost every non-technical aspect that you want to know about IIT, if u read this book. An encyclopedia of IITian life – what happens to your life during your stay there. Its serious and comical at the same time 🙂 I bet it can be an enjoyable reading experience.
This book in essence covered every other aspect that might strike to the reader. In that sense, its this completely written book, which understands the ever-inquisitive & over-curious readers like me. Again, perhaps because its because of the inherent gossipper in me that I was able to enjoy reading most of the book. I don’t see any other dominant reason other than this in my completion of a 350+ paged book with only a single break between the two sittings. Its a simple book, written in a simple, yet attractive way. Perhaps, more than anybody else, an IIT-ian in general and IIT-Kgpian in particular can identify themselves the best with this book, though I still stand by my words that any collegian student, particularly with on-campus life can identify with many parts of the book. The culture and atmosphere might be remarkably different in IITs but then, theres the air of similarity too…after all, college life!
I am amazed at the research that went on in making of this book. You come across so many ex-iitians speaking about themselves, their institution, their work post-IIT etc etc. I can’t help but congratulate Sandipan Deb, albeit in this obscure blog, for the amount of hard work he had put in to make this book what it is. I’d rather say that this is the best book of this kind that I have read so far.
The IITians: The Story of a Remarkable Indian Institution and How its Alumni Are Reshaping the World
Publishing Date: January 2004
Publisher: Penguin Books IndiaNumber of Pages: 392