Student-Professor Relationship at IIT Gandhinagar

Different people have different ways of describing the same situation or topic and this is my version of the tale. Hello! I am an M. Tech student in Biological Engineering at IIT Gandhinagar and I would be giving you an idea of my life here. To add spark to my narrative and increase your interest, I would go with a little bit of suspense by dividing my story into small parts. Yes, you guessed it right people! This is going to be a short series. Why I chose this topic? Well, because I wanted to share with you, all the beautiful things about this IIT: qualities that make it different and special from most of the other institutes. Starting off with my first brief write-up of this series, today I will talk about the relationship between a student and teacher at this place.

Late July, 2016: It was my first day and as expected I was nervous. I had managed to secure a seat at IIT and was scared about what would happen next- how tough would be the studies and what would be the teachers like. After the orientation program which gave a brief introduction about this institute, our batch had the first party given by our seniors. What surprised me the most was the presence of all the profs of our discipline there! It was not only us students but also our teachers who introduced themselves and talked about their hobbies, likes and dislikes. We all had a tea-party together. That was the first time when I realized about another whole new dimension of student-teacher interaction that was not just limited to and was beyond the classrooms, lectures and examinations.

This exciting encounter was immediately followed by my first day of classes- as you all know, most of us have the habit of greeting our teachers by standing up when they enter the class. This is exactly what we did and received another shock! All of our professors made it clear that we were to behave like their friends. That day I came to know that standing up to greet them is not the only way to show our respect towards them.

Now, let me tell you a secret about our Director- he is our best friend! Instead of dictatorship, he strives to achieve democracy in the IIT Gandhinagar community. We students are always free to meet him and express our views on any topic of our interest over a cup of tea or coffee. He is open to all kinds of suggestions and treats all of us like his own children, giving us advice where ever necessary. He is never the kind of person to restrict our thinking to short-term goals and always encourages us to have a broad and optimistic outlook towards our lives.

An interesting fact about my thesis supervisor- he never lets his students call him ‘Sir’; we all have to call him by his name. I am inspired by his thinking that we all work for science, nobody is working under anybody and we all are working together- for the betterment of society. He invites us all to his house for small get-togethers frequently. Together we go for outings with his family and enjoy a lot. Same is true for all our teachers- we have lots of fun on lunches and dinners together! Our relationship with them is more like that of family members. They even celebrate our birthdays and support us like anything- in our happiness and sorrow. We are always free to share our problems with them and the best part is- there is no boundation of time! We can connect with them easily over mail, call or message; they always respect our privacy and provide us with feedback from time to time. They also motivate us to spend some of our time in extra-curricular activities for our overall development.

I have always observed and noticed how the student community takes all this freedom. All of us relish this new form of independence but never forget our duties. We all know how to respect our teachers and try our best to fulfil their expectations from us in academics. After all, a successful relationship is a mutual one. As they say, we can’t clap with one hand!

There has always been a unique blending of professional and personal lives in the connection between students and their professors at IIT Gandhinagar. It is an unusual yet mesmerizing combination of discipline and love, strictness and tenderness. This balanced amalgamation, which is a stark contrast to the traditional viewpoint of keeping these two fronts separate, brings out the best in our community. This IIT has taught me the ‘expanded’ definition of student-teacher association- how it is not just about the notebooks and formal meetings and why a ‘desk’ that separates a teacher from a student is never needed here! Like every other Indian institution we have well qualified course-instructors who are dedicated to ‘strengthen the ultimate’ in their students academically but unlike them we also have this perfect teacher-pupil attachment which every student craves for when away from home. As rightly said by Caposey: Great teachers focus not on compliance, but on connections and relationships!’

This is one of the reasons why we have our own completely different and uniquely pretty world. A small world in which no-one is superior to anyone, where we all understand each other, where the bond we share with our Gurus is above all other relationships!

So, this is it from my end today guys. Will see you all soon with yet another topic of this series so that you can explore all the excellence that can be possible in other Indian institutions. This is the place which to me has proved that dreams can come true- that there really can be a home away from home where our professors are our parents and we are their kids………..

– Apeksha Srivastava, M.Tech