[ In 2007, I submitted this article for publication in the Souvenir of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Dept. of Petroleum Engineering, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. I am not sure if this was published or not. Anyway, I am posting it here for your reading pleasure.]
Dil Maange More…
– Bikram M. Baruah, PE1995
(Sr. Reservoir Engineer, Kelker and Associates, Inc., Abu Dhabi, UAE)
There were 3 options for the discipline in the entrance exam application form of ISM. I filled it up as - Option 1: Petroleum Engineering. Option 2: Petroleum Engineering and Option 3: Petroleum Engineering. My father said – what are you doing? If you do not get Petroleum Engineering, you should keep other options. But, I insisted that if I study in ISM, I’ll study only PE.
I was a proud young man, when the postman delivered the letter from ISM Entrance Exam Section that I got a rank in the entrance test and that I got Petroleum Engineering. At that time, most of the students from my home state got admitted through the state quota system. I was proud to be one of those few who got admitted though direct entrance tests.
I came to the counseling/admission session to Dhanbad with my father. We were in the queue in the booths prepared for the purpose in Diamond Hostel. Just before paying the admission fees, my father asked me again – “Are you sure, you want to study PE? You have got good rank in JAT (the state Joint Admission Tests for engineering colleges). You have the option to study Computer Science, Electronics, and Mechanical etc in some good NIT or the state engineering colleges. Think again!” At that time there was also a rumor that it is often difficult to get job if you study Petroleum Engineering, your career becomes very narrow. But, I was adamant to go ahead with PE. So, I put myself in the factory of making PEs.
I went though the process – “murga banno”, mass-ragging, fresher’s welcome, the most valuable “sex-education”, Bap-Pandy’s classes, the never ending class-tests, the semesters always hanging over the head like swords, the elections to fine-tune our political awareness, the turmoil of 1993-1994 job crisis, the Mondal Commission fast-until-death agitations, mass-cut, exam boycott for restricting a compatriot for poor attendance, the heroic deeds in the local cinemas or against the local goons, the kalakand and samosas of Ramdhani and Laxmandhani, Mani’s edly and dosa, Salil’s Maggy, the “tandavs” of farewell parties, the fairy-tales of Saturnalias, and so many good and not so good things.
After such rigorous processing and reprocessing for 4 years, I became a proud PE in 1995. I was lucky to get a job in Oil India Ltd (OIL) soon after, while many of my classmates faced a grim uncertainty.
While in OIL, we were considered as “elites”, thanks to the degree from ISM. When one comes to know that you are a Petroleum Engineer graduated from ISM, people say tall things about you – very bright future in the company, fast promotions etc etc. Parents, (often your bosses), with eligible girls always have an eye on you. You are the smartest and the brightest among the young cadre of the company. You really feel proud when you hear all these. As I understand from my friends, it applied also to ONGCL and other companies.
Time passed by, after few years with OIL, I had the desire to go abroad. I started to make the efforts and finally landed in a university on the other side of the globe – Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA. The graduate advisor and the chairman of the department were well aware of ISM and the value of its degree. They knew several successful ISM alumni holding high positions in the academic arena of the USA and the industry. They had similar expectations from me. I am again proud to be an ISMite, looking at its global imprint. When you look at the faculty member’s list of the top universities like Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin, you always find an ISMite. There are tones of ISMites in their graduate programs. You see their names all over the SPE publications.
After graduating, I joined a renowned multi-national service company. I opted for an international posting as I like traveling and enjoy different cultures. I traveled to Mexico where I started my first assignment. My supervisor was a Mexican. On my arrival, he welcomed me warmly and conversed with me for a while. He was not aware of ISM. I explained that it is one of the most prestigious engineering colleges of India. He was happy to learn that.
Few days later, I was introduced to one Turkish guy. He is a sharp guy, with a Ph. D. from Louisiana State University in Petroleum Engineering. He was recently transferred to my location. I’ll work with him. We talked about each other. I proudly said – “I did my bachelors from ISM, Dhanbad.” He asked, “Where is it? What does I-S-M stand for?” I explained – “Indian School of Mines, located at Dhanbad, India”. “I see”, he replied without much enthusiasm. I tried to add some gravity by saying, “It is one of the most prestigious engineering colleges of India. It is a famous institute, whose degree is respected all over the world”. He replied, “Really? I never heard about it. I do not recall any SPE papers published from there… what is the name, say it again?”
At the beginning, I thought, he must be a book-worm, does not know anything about the world. I was bit angry and frustrated at that moment.
But, wait a minute! He may be right! ISM is a national institute, most of the educated Indians, particularly associated to the Petroleum, Mining or Geosciences knows about it. Few people elsewhere know about it because of some very successful alumni. However, is ISM, particularly the Petroleum Engineering Department is able to curve out a slice in the global arena? It is true that after obtaining few years of experience in some domestic company, or studying elsewhere one gets a chance for overseas posting. However, how many ISM graduates are directly recruited by a multi-national company for overseas posting? Does it mean the academic curriculum of ISM is suitable or designed for domestic market only? It is true that a number of SPE publications are authored or coauthored by ISMites. But, they represent some other university or company. In the first page, along with the names of authors, it is hard to find the name of ISM. Of course, if you dig into their bio-data, you can find mention of ISM. Their success is attributed to the subsequent studies or works, rather than ISM itself.
Soon, I discovered, my Turkish friend was not an isolated case. In fact, in every subsequent encounters like that, nobody really interested to know where I did my Bachelors in India. They are keen to know what I did in the last few years and what/where I studied in the USA.
After all these realizations, I was still as proud as I was before; however, I started to believe that ISM is missing something that we all wanted it to have – the “global fame”! I, just like all of you, would love to hear the same tall talks, which I used to hear in OIL, anywhere I go in the world! Now, the question is what ISM, particularly Petroleum Engineering Department, wants to be - remain a “prestigious national institute” of India, or become an institute with real “global fame”!
At a time when India is making the world feel her presence as an influential power and “global brain warehouse” by bangaloring so many jobs, acquiring overseas companies, mesmerizing people all over with fantabulous movies, becoming a “nuclear good-girl” and so many such countless good endeavors, I believe, the time is ripe for ISM to aspire more.
My Dear Alma Mater, my ‘Dil Maange More”!!