Let us start with a bit about you first like where you are originally from?
I am basically from Raipur Chhattisgarh, my schooling has been in Chhattisgarh, but I have spent more time outside of my native place so I would say I am from everywhere I have lived. I am 38 so, 19 years after my schooling, I have been to all across the world IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, McMaster then again went back for the postdoc. So Delhi… Mumbai… Bangalore… so, as I said I am from everywhere.
What got you into Electricals and Communication Engineering?
Well, can I say My JEE rank! That was the only thing. I was from a small town and had very little idea about what to do what not to do. I liked Mathematics, so electrical engineering seems the right choice, I applied and got through, and here I am today.
Do you enjoy doing what you do, or you would like to do something else if you get a chance?
I would switch to Biology or civil engineering if given an opportunity. The civil is what I am focusing my current research on right now. Biology is a field is that I really like now. When I was a student, we didn’t have teachers who would tell us what biology really is, sadly, but soon after knowing the field a little more, I am really inclined towards it.
What is your favorite aspect of ECE?
Mathematics, it’s not very difficult, I can handle it yet it explains a lot of things.
How does it feel to be a faculty, do you always wanted to be into academia or it just happened?
Yes, I had some idea that I like teaching. I loved the interactions a teacher get to have with the people… with the students… and it is incredible. The independence and the environment we get is really nice, and where else you get to interact with such a young bunch of kids with fresh ideas.
Any pros and cons of being a professor.
More pros than cons. I think the independence what we get is unmatched… I can decide on what I want to work, I can choose when I want to come to the office, and that is the biggest drawback as well because it means you are always in the office and there is no time. Weekends are also working because there is a problem in your mind that keeps popping up. But I will again say that the pros are much much more than the snags.
How is it been a faculty at IIIT-Delhi? Do you think the environment is very different from IITs or McMasters?
I think IIIT-Delhi has been very nice. So again I think the strength of the system is the weakness of the system. The strength of IIIT-Delhi is the openness of the structure, students are encouraged to ask questions. We get a lot of feedback from students in many ways. Sometimes that also becomes the issue of too much of openness. If we compare us to IITs, I think our biggest strength is that we have a whole bunch of young faculties here. We are much more pragmatic than our professors were, they were idealistic. The people who have old school thought may not enjoy that much of openness. But it is good. I really enjoy this atmosphere.
You have been here for 5 years, so what changes and development have noticed in these years?
The infrastructures, of course, the number of students and the streams we have now. So I can see that there are exciting fields of study. There is CSAM which I always aspired to teach. The spectrum of teaching and learning, the research, and faculty coming from different places is the most significant and a very welcome change. We are more than an IT college now.
How education and engineering have changed for good or for worse since you were a student?
It has changed for good, mainly because we are much more applied now. It is much more focused on solving problems. Today’s students are much more hands on then we were, and that change also has some adverse effects. The love for understanding and learning a subject has been replaced by doing something, building something quickly. The focus today is not on the long-term knowledge of the subject. A lot of open sources has come, and the internet has changed things.
What has been your most cherished memory in IIIT-Delhi?
A lot of memories, I think the interaction with the master’s students, discussing ideas and scribbling ideas on the board. Communication with the colleagues here, I made some great friends.
If you were not into academics what would you have chosen
Hopefully in a startup or doing my own start-up.
Any ongoing research work you can introduce us to?
I have three streams of work that I am working on currently. First one is on the transportation agenda where we are trying to clear the roads with fewer vehicles, so that is another research and implementation problem we are working on. Second is on applying machine learning on biology, the other is the field of artificial intelligence on source separation. The idea is that if there are many speakers in the room and you want to listen to one person but everyone is shouting at the same time so how can you separate that person’s voice form the rest of the voices. Another feature is that that suppose you are speaking in Tamil or whatever language and I don’t understand that, so we are trying to generate something called speak synthesis where you speak in Tamil and I will hear in Hindi in your voice with your emotions.
The advice you want to give to the students?
Don’t take grades so seriously, enjoy your time, be in present don’t be so practical at such a young age
Tell us a bit about your family
I have a very regular family, parents, a brother, wife, and a daughter.
Do you think your daughter will also join engineering or technology field, or will you encourage her to do so?
Unlikely! I can already see that she would like to be something of the designer or an artist, something in a creative field.
What is your favorite cuisine?
My favorite Cuisine is Thai, and lately, I have developed an interest in Udiya cuisine
What are your favorite holiday destinations?
I don’t go on holiday. I go for a track to the Himalayas for a week to two weeks where I go alone, that is like my recreation trip. The other one is ones every six months me my wife and my daughter go for a road trip. The trip is not about the destination it is more about enjoying the journey and road with my family we just go for a road trip. We have been to Rajasthan, Orissa, Uttarakhand, Himachal, MP, and Maharashtra.
So you have been in Delhi for quite some time now any favorite places in the city?
Restaurants, I love Delhi for its places, the history, and monuments.
Do you play any sport?
I play basketball regularly and I play tennis.
Rock climbing and Delhi has a lot of good nearby places for mountaineering, and there is Aravalli, fantastic rocks, all level and the season of rock climbing is from October until March which I enjoy every year.
Any quote you remember in your low times?
It is a very personal quote “its ok you will die anyway”
Favorite book and author
I do not have a favorite author because I am not a voracious reader for sure, I read maybe one book a month not more than that; currently, I am reading THE GENE by Siddhartha Mukherjee. And I am totally floored by it. It is a book on the history of biology.
Anything you want to do besides your profession?
I wish I talk to students more, I think I am spending a good time doing research with the students, and I want to spend time with students other than that as well about issues not related to studies. Very fewer people get this opportunity of having 1000 young folks with fresh thoughts, and I don’t want to lose this opportunity.
I would love to plan a mountaineering trip with the students. It would be a great trip I am sure.