My Experiences at Nirma University
Time Line: June, 2005 to June, 2008
I am writing about the detailed description of my personal experiences during my stay at Nirma University from June 2005 to June 2008. I was the first student to get admission from HSCGSEB in Nirma University’s first Electrical Engineering class with my above excellent academic records. One of our faculty members, Sir Chintan Patel, who still considers me his most favourite and obedient student till date, was used to call me “The Branch Opener” of Nirma Electrical. Till fifth semester’s midterm exams, I remained among the top 5 rankers of my class. I never bunked a single lecture or laboratory practical during my coursework. But to be very honest, Nirma University has given me nothing except Schizophrenia during my tenure at the institute and that led me to be on lifelong medications. The entire group of senior faculty members of Electrical Department know this serious catastrophe that happened to me in November 2005. Actually this entire problem’s root was the Summer Learning Program (SLP) held in summer of 2005. (My Story starts here.) (June, 2005) At that time, students were given a notice that they could do any kind of project work if they wished and a project presentation competition would be held at the end of the program. My best friend and classmate Darshit Shah and I were very much enthusiastic about that and we took up a project titled “Speed Control of DC Motor Using Phase Locked Loop” under the guidance of Late Professor B.B. Kadam Sir and Chintan Patel Sir. We worked hard for days and nights and finished that project quite before the deadline. Late Professor B. B. Kadam Sir gave us 10/10 for that project. But there wasn’t a single student except us in the department who had done any kind of project work during SLP, so the project presentation competition got cancelled. This was the beginning of my frustration. The main reason for my Schizophrenia shoot up was that I was not offered the elective subject “Modern Control Theory” by our Head of Department, Professor U. A. Patel Sir just because there were only six students of the class who elected that most difficult subject. Sir Chintan Patel inspired me to take up that subject due to my strong mathematical and analytical ability. As per his opinion, this subject could help me in my post graduation very much. All the six students who elected this subject were among the top 10 rankers of the class. When got denied to elect that subject, I led those six people including me and wrote an application to Professor U. A. Patel Sir requesting him to offer us that subject. At that time he gave us the reason that there was no faculty in the department who could teach us that subject. We all knew that he himself was an M.Tech. with specialization in Control Systems. Then we wrote another application stating that we would study that subject on our own provided institute gave us the syllabus. But he was very much firm in his decision. Everybody except me accepted that and moved on but I was very much shocked. If the institute can check my 5th semester Electromagnetics’ midterm exam answer sheet, then it clearly states that I secured the highest marks (40/50) in that exam. In 5th semester, I was very much inclined to that subject. After denial to elect the subject, my Schizophrenia shot up like anything and I started reading that Hayt and Buck book of Electromagnetics in detail putting aside all the other subjects. During that course of time, my hallucinations and delusions started. But they were a bit real in a sense that the technology that I was thinking and working on in my virtual world at that time was not there but it is nowadays accessible to common man. Still I was able to solve all the out-of-the-syllabus unsolved problems of first 8 chapters of that Hayt and Buck book and kept reporting to Chintan Patel Sir about that who was the faculty of that subject. (I found two notebooks written by me having all those solutions from my shelf last month and I disposed them off immediately as I still consider that was one of the reasons of my illness.) My parents understood my situation at very early stage and I was immediately admitted to a mental rehabilitation centre. Because of that I missed my exam of 5th semester. After getting discharged from the hospital, the first target for me was to clear the repeating exam of 5th semester in May, 2006. Due to very much heavy dosage of medications, my entire body got so much stiff that I wasn’t even able to write. So January and February were the months in which I used to take a single paragraph from “The Times of India” and tried to write it just like a 6-7 years old kid who starts learning writing. In May, I cleared the exam maintaining my grades just above 6.0. The next task was to sit doing nothing at home and waiting for the 6th semester to be started in January, 2007. I used to visit my psychiatrist every fortnight, so he felt that I am getting myself socially isolated. So I came up with a solution that I would join institute again as soon as possible and make new friends. My beloved father liked this suggestion and I was also keen to make new friendships with my juniors who would be my classmates later on. So my father and I decided that I would start sitting in the 5th semester’s junior class though I had cleared that semester already. By that practice, I could make new friends, learn more things in Electromagnetics and that would finally help me to start my sixth semester with a bit of confidence in myself. We met Professor U. A. Patel Sir regarding this and he refused by saying that institute didn’t have such kind of provision. We then met A. S. Patel Sir and M. D. Desai Sir and got the same reply. We found this very strange and we thought to let my psychiatrist meet these people, but by the time my family had already started knowing the rigidity of Nirma University, so we didn’t take that step.
Like other students, I was also very much keen to get a job from the campus placements. I still remember when I was writing exam of Infosys, one of the volunteers came in the class and he wrote the answers of questions on board and everybody copied that. I was very much upset with this attribute of the institute that I left that exam without writing answers. Then came a company called Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd (TCE). I was able to reach its final technical and HR round. My interview went very well and they even offered me the job with an intimation to post me at Bengaluru. But suddenly they went through my marksheets and found a drop year in that. They asked me the reason for that. I was advised by my relatives that: “Whenever somebody asks you about your drop year, then tell him/her that you were hospitalised for the treatment of Malaria for 2 weeks and hence you missed your exams. Never tell anyone about your mental illness.” But I never took this advice due to my 100% honesty which was inherited from my Late Grandfather Mr. Premshanker Maganlal Vyas and his elder brother Late Mr. Kumarprasad Maganlal Vyas. So I told the TCE people the true reason and even showed them the original medical certificate. So they rejected me by saying that there were “FF” grades written in all subjects of 5th semester of my marksheet. If I was absent in the exam, then it should be written “Ab” instead of “FF”. I never regret for losing that job just because I still consider myself right in telling the truth. After this issue, my father and I went to M. D. Desai Sir and requested him to give me a certificate from the institute that stated that I never failed in any of the exams till that date and the reason of my drop year was due to medical issues. But he refused to write that telling us that institute did not have such provision.
During my 8th semester, I wanted to build a Light Sensing Robot, but the department did not accept my synopsis as it found the project was not fitting in the domain of Electrical. So I went to Late Professor B. B. Kadam Sir and he encouraged me to pursue that project and he himself became my project guide despite of my drop year record. I was the only one in the final presentation of the projects who was able to run his hardware and software exactly according to the functionalities described in his synopsis. Finally, despite of a drop year, I managed to get my degree with a distinction. (End of the subplot of my story.) (June, 2008)
When I get some time to think upon, I always start with: Why did this catastrophe happen to me? Finally I found the answer from within: Shaunak, It’s just because you stay in a hypocrite country where value of education, ethics, morals, passion, learning and teaching are at the least priority and value for money is at the highest. Those hallucinations and delusions could not engulf me if I could have been offered that subject. I was not at all day dreaming for that subject due to Schizophrenia. I had earned the highest grade in a subject just in the previous semester that was the foundation to that subject that was not offered. I was aspiring to pursue M.Tech. with the same line of subjects. (I have already pursued my M.Tech. with that line of subjects with above excellent academic record.) Even if those so-called teachers could not offer me that subject, They could at least allow me to go for a vacation by writing “Ab” instead of writing those “FF” grades in my marksheets. This is the normal marking method in every foreign university that if a student is absent in an exam, then it doesn’t conclude that he/she has failed. They put an “Absent” remark in his/her marksheet. Even after they knew about my illness, they were not ready to support my family and me by just allowing me to sit in a class of that 5th semester. During our orientation at the institute that happened on October 11, 2003 (It was also Sir Amitabh Bachchan’s 61st birthday), we were forced to pray some Sanskrit Shloks that meant that teacher is god. We were forced to sing that prayer every morning during all those course years. If I would have been born in any other country of this world, I bet these all could not happen ever to me. But there aren’t those positive “if”s in my life and that led me to become an another beautiful mind. I have become a better human being and I am happy with that. All is well that ends well. It’s the Dawn of Justice.
Shaunak Agastya Vyas [TINU]