Rohit Kumar, a third year B.Tech student recently passed away under unfortunate circumstances. (For more information please see The Scholars’ Avenue - a student run campus newspaper which has on-going coverage on this and related matters)
I am saddened, like I am sure alumni around the world are, by his tragic and untimely death. My prayers and thoughts go out to him, his family and friends. No words will ever fill the immense gap that is left behind by his premature passing to his family and friends.
Much negative has been written in the press about the violent protests that followed Rohit’s death. Violence and vandalism are not acceptable and cannot be condoned. What I would like to highlight, which perhaps has been overlooked by the media, is that over 99% of the students protested peacefully that day and every day following that, even when there were 3000-5000 students in the gathering. For that I commend the students and student leaders for demonstrating immense control, presence of mind and wisdom.
I hope we can turn this sad and disappointing turn of events to quickly and permanently improve the healthcare services at IIT Kharagpur and processes for addressing similar grievances with the administration.
It is important that we, the alumni, students and administration, work closely in this matter. I know that several alumni leaders are actively trying to assess the issues and develop comprehensive plans to address those. However, from my experiences as Past-President of IIT Foundation, it is clear that our best and perhaps the only chance of making significant, timely and sustainable improvements will require not just the active participation of IIT Foundation board of directors and alumni leaders around the world but a vast majority of alumni contributing their expertise, relationships and financial support.
Rohit’s passing away and the events in the aftermath are a wake up call for us to be more active and engaged with IIT Kharagpur. I believe that alumni are trustees of their alma mater - trustees of its legacy and trustees for building a stronger foundation for its future. We must step up and help students and administration improve the healthcare services, quality of life, and additional areas. This is fundamental to our collective and shared aspirations of making IIT Kharagpur a world-class education and research institution and a preferred destination of choice for faculty, students, staff and external partners.
I hope we can bring such a vision to reality sooner than later, and remember Rohit’s legacy in this journey.
Shailendra “Shail” Kumar
Past-President, IIT Foundation
1987 ME RK