Looking back, the worst things of my life, I am going to list here.
T1: IIT Bombay, electrical engineering
Appeared for IIT. People around me – teachers, neighbours – started telling me when I was in around 9th grade that I will go to IIT. Had never heard of IIT before, but the NCERT bools, at end of its chapters had questions marked as IIT questions, and they were quite good, my interest grew but really didn’t know about IITs.
After the board exam, after a month or so, appeared for JEE. Didn’t do any preparations for it, and thought won’t qualify after the mathematics exam on the first day. It had two choices – new mathematics and old mathematics. I tried to do both, switched around, and randomly selected one for the grading. Told my mother that I thought I won’t qualify. Mother told me now to worry, and take the next day’s exams – physics and chemistry. Took them and almost forgot about the JEE.
One day the postman brought a letter – it was the JEE rank. The rank was about 250 and the interview was in Kharagpur on the first day.
Father and I gook the train from Ichapore. My father asked the students there which branch to take. Electronic engineering was popular that day so I thought I should take the most popular branch.
I was called and Kharagpur’s quota for electronic engineering just got filled a few ranks ago. Only Bombay IIT and Kanpur IIT has open seats in electronic (Bombay was named electrical but was electronics actually.). I thought for a second, the time I was given by the selection interviewers, and I thought Kanpur, dirty, leather, dirty, and decided on Bombay. So far, so glamorous.
Thought for a second maybe physics (or mathematics) will be better for me, but thought there must be a reason why most bright students on the first day of interview chose electronics.
So it was electrical engineering at Bombay. In name it was electrical but more like electronic engineering I was told. Didn’t know what was studied in that, but was with other bright students, perhaps the best in India, and that was good enough for me. That year most at IIT Bombay’s electrical engineering had ranked AIR 100 or better in the JEE. I was perhaps the sole exception. Even Nandan Nilekani was perhaps ranked better. My rank was so bad. Many later thought I got in electrical engineering at IIT Bombay by the biggest fraud in Indian IIT history.
It might have lead to strategy discussion for next year’s JEE. On my JEE rank if I took from Bombay I would have qualified for mechanical or chemical but not electrical. Many people or parents might have started thinking.
There was a Dole, who chose physics even though he could get electrical, because his scholarship required him to take only basic sciences. He was planning to change department to electrical after the end of scholarship term.
Now you know, is is not a simple decision to select department where to study in IIT. How have to have a strategic mind for that. I got in IIT Bombay’s electrical just by random chance. Even K. Raghuram, IISc, had to warm me about continuing with electrical – beyond my capabilities.
Note: IIT Bombay’s electrical engineering was the worst department for me.