Memories of my Alma Mater
Vikram Waman Karve
The class of 1972, who graduated in1977, the first IIT-JEE batch, had organized a reunion at our alma mater, ITBHU, Varanasi, in the first week of January 2008. I had planned to go, but couldn’t make it, owing to a sudden unexpected job relocation. I’m sure all my classmates who were there revived fond memories of our student life at Banaras, so here is my nostalgic piece on my alma mater.
ITBHU [Erstwhile BENCO – Banaras Engineering College]
Institute of Technology
Banaras Hindu University
Let’s begin with the college song
IT BHU Chorus
HAND IN HAND WE GO TOGETHER,
HAND IN HAND WE ARE SINGING ALONG.
SIDE BY SIDE WE FACE THE MUSIC,
WIN OR LOSE WE ALWAYS SING A SONG.
WAVE THE FLAG, WE’LL KEEP IT FLYING,
TILL THE SUN SHINES O’ER THE LAND.
IF THE LUCK IS GOOD WE’LL ALWAYS SHARE THE CHEERS,
IF THE LUCK IS BAD, WE’LL GLADLY BEAR THE TEARS.
TILL THE DAY WE TURN THE CORNER,
WE’LL KEEP ON AS LONG AS WE ARE HAND IN HAND.
IF YOU KEEP ON SMILING AT THE RAINBOW,
YOU WILL NEVER MIND A SHOWER OF RAIN.
KEEP YOUR HEAD ON THE CLOUDS,
DON’T GET LOST IN THE CROWDS.
ALWAYS KEEP THE SONG IN YOUR HEART,
AND SHOUT HIP-HIP HURRAH.
Prof. Charles. A. King
The First Principal of the
Banaras Engineering College (BENCO)
On what basis do you judge an educational institution – an Engineering College or a B-School? In today’s world there is just one criterion – market value – the starting salaries and campus placement the students get – the more outrageously astronomical the pay packets, and the greater the percentage of lucrative campus placements – the better the institution. And with the increasing commercialization of education, many institutes blatantly compete, advertise, and focus on these materialistic aspects to attract students – it’s a rat race.
I feel the cardinal yardstick for appraising the true merit of an educational institution is the value-addition it instills in its alumni – and I’m not talking of utility and materialistic values alone; but more importantly the inculcation and enhancement of intrinsic and intangible higher values. The student should feel he or she has changed for the better, professionally and personally; and so should other stakeholders observing the student from the outside be able to discern the value enhancement.
I studied for my B.Tech. in Electronics Engineering at ITBHU from 1972 to 1977 (first batch IIT JEE) and I experienced the well-rounded value addition I have mentioned above. Later in life, being academically inclined, I continued studying, completed many courses, a Post Graduate Diploma in Management, an Engineering and Technology Post Graduation [M.Tech.] at a premier IIT, worked in multifarious capacities and even taught for many years at prestigious academic institutions of higher learning, but I shall always cherish my days at ITBHU the most. I knew I was a better man, in my entirety, having passed through the portals of ITBHU, and I’m sure those scrutinizing me from the outside felt the same way.
ITBHU was amalgamated by integrating three of the country’s oldest and best engineering colleges: BENCO (Banaras Engineering College) – the first in the Orient, and certainly in India, to introduce the disciplines of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, MINMET – the pioneer in Mining and Metallurgy in India, and College of Technology – the first to start Chemical and Ceramic Engineering. Indeed these three institutions were the harbingers of industrialization in our country.
In my time ITBHU was indeed a center of excellence, an apt institution to study in, and a lovely place to live in. The vast verdant lush green semi-circular campus at the southern end of Varanasi, the largest university campus I have ever seen, with its pleasant and relaxed atmosphere was ideal for student life. And being a part of a premier university afforded one a consummate multidisciplinary experience.
It was a delightful and fulfilling experience I will always cherish – learning from erudite and totally dedicated Professors, who were authorities in their fields of specialization, amidst excellent academic facilities and ambience, elaborate labs and workshops, lush green campus, well-designed comfortable hostels, delicious food, expansive sports fields and facilities for all types of sports, the beautiful swimming pool, the unique well-stocked and intellectually inspiring Gaekwad library, and the exquisite temple that added a spiritual dimension to the scholarly ambiance. One could learn heritage and foreign languages, fine arts, music, indology, philosophy, yoga, pursue hobbies like numismatics – the avenues for learning were mind-boggling. So many of us learnt music and foreign languages at this sanctum of learning. The idyllic environs of BHU helped one develop a philosophical attitude to life.
Like all premier institutes ITBHU was fully residential, which fostered camaraderie and facilitated lifelong friendships amongst the alumni. I can never forget those delightful moments in Dhanrajgiri, Morvi, Vishwakarma, Vishveswarayya and CV Raman hostels, mouthwatering memories of the Lavang Lata and Lassi at Pehelwan’s in Lanka, the Lal Peda opposite Sankat Mochan, and the delicious wholesome cuisine of the city, and the cycle trips all over Varanasi, Sarnath, and even across the holy and sacred Ganga on the pontoon bridge to watch the Ram Lila at Ramnagar.
Way back then, in the nineteen seventies, ITBHU was a wonderful place to study engineering and live one’s formative years in. I wonder what my dear alma mater is like now!
VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE