Shifting from Arts to Science in My Primary Education at Jamshedpur-from Vivekananda High School to Jamshedpur Cooperative College-My Elder Sister Bharati Basu (Dey) and Elder Brother Jayanta Bose Having Played a Significant Role

I studied at Vivekananda School in Sakchi, Jamshedpur, Bihar (erstwhile) administered by Ramkrishna Mission. It was a Bengali-medium school of Bihar Vidyalay Pariksha Samity (Bihar School Examination Board). I took admission in Class V in the Primary Section of the school. My mother¾Sisirkana Basu¾was a teacher there. My eldest sister¾Bharati Basu (Dey)¾whom I call ‘Didimoni’*1, joined the High School section of the same school as a teacher after obtaining her B. Sc degree from Calcutta University. Later on, she left this school to join another school at Jamshedpur: Sacred Heart Convent and then left that school, too, to join CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Jamshedpur as a librarian and in the meantime she had obtained a certification in Librarianship from Calcutta University. As a child at Vivekananda High School, I used to be often present in the senior class where my Didimoni*1, who was fifteen years older than me, used to teach science subjects including Mathematics. In fact, her students used to ‘baby-sit’ me in their class since there was nobody to look after me at our home. Didimoni*1 was very reputed as a teacher in the school. I recall my ecstasy to see my name in print for the first time ever as one of the authors of a paper in a research journal which Didimoni*1 brought me home from NML where by that time she was serving as a librarian while I was an Assistant Lecturer at Regional Institute of Technology (RIT) (now known as National Institute of Technology)! I dedicated one of my books: “Engineering Electromagnetic Essentials” published by Universities Press, Hyderabad, to my sister Didimoni*1 and my Ph. D mentor Professor N B. Chakrabarti.

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*1 Didimoni was a librarian at CSIR-NML, Jamshedpur. I used to go to NML to consult the library of NML all the way from my workplace RIT, Jamshedpur traversing a long distance. The NML library used to be closed during launch hours. It would be locked from outside. However, during these recess launch hours, I kept myself shut in the underground hall of the library to consult ‘back volumes’ of journals without the knowledge of the library staff. Due to shortage of time, I had no alternative since I was supposed to come back from NML after consulting its library to resume my usual work at RIT.

Didimoni used to tell us many funny stories of the library. There was an efficient library assistant named Ramna at NML. One of the scientists was unable to trace a particular book in the library when Mr. Ramna was for a while absent from the library. Didimoni was supposed to tell the scientist, “Let Ramna come; he will fetch you the book”; however, she said instead, “Let Comena Ram; he will fetch you the book”. This ‘transpose error’ of Didimoni became a joke in the library. She told me another story in which a scientist asked her if the journal named “Ibid” was subscribed by the library. Obviously, “Ibid” is not a journal; it is the abbreviation of “Ibidem”, which in Latin means “at the same place” and serves a similar purpose to the ditto marks (,,). As an illustration, take the following from the list of references in a paper of a journal:

[1] S. J. Rao, P. K. Jain, and B. N. Basu, “Two-stage dielectric loading for broadbanding a gyro-TWT,” IEEE Trans. Electron Dev. Lett, vol. ED-17, pp. 303-305, 1996.

[2] Ibid, “Broadbanding of gyro-TWT by dispersion shaping through dielectric loading,” IEEE Trans. Electron Dev., vol. ED-43, pp. 2290-2299, 1996.

Here, Ibid stands for S. J. Rao, P. K. Jain, and B. N. Basu.

In the present context, Didimoni asked the concerned scientist to show her the portion of the text where “Ibid” was mentioned and thus she could resolve the issue.

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Our school had two streams: Arts and Science in Classes VIII-XI. Each class had two sections of Science stream and one section of Arts stream. Usually though not always, based on relatively better results in the annual examination of Class VII in Primary Section of the school, the students used to get admission in the Science stream of Class VIII. The students in the Science stream had to study Physics, Chemistry and Advanced Mathematics and, correspondingly, in lieu of these subjects, the students in the Arts stream had to study Geography, Every-Day Science and Economics & Civics. There was a subject common to both the streams, namely, Elementary Mathematics. It so happened that I joined the High School section in Arts stream of Class VIII. That made it difficult for me later, after leaving my school, to join Jamshedpur Cooperative College (JCC) in the Science stream¾Intermediate Science Course of two-year duration. My elder brother¾Jayanta Bose (JB)¾convinced Mr. Kumar Swami in the college office and the college Principal Dr. Mahaveer Singh that I was capable of studying Intermediate Science even though I did not pass out from the Science stream of my school; my brother JB argued that I had obtained better marks in Elementary Mathematics than many of the students admitted who had passed out from the Science stream. My brother JB had a great faith in my ability to contribute to science and technology and he supported me all throughout my life in my research career. Our college (JCC) was then functioning as a night college in the premises of Mrs. KMPM School at Bistupur in Jamshedpur. Our school class teacher Mr. Biren Mukherji, who later on became the Sanyasi at Ramhishna Mission, my mother and Didimoni stimulated interest of Mathematics in me. In order to cope up with the science classes in JCC I used to take help from my classmates who had come from the science stream of their schools. I specially remember my classmates Murari Mohan Das, Tapeswar Prasad and Mrinal Mukherji who is a celebrity in Bengali film and television screens; they immensely helped me in my effort to learn Physics and Chemistry. Two Physics teachers of JCC¾Professor M. M. Mahanty, who at some stage of my career became my colleague at Regional Institute of Technology (RIT), now known as National Institute of Technology (NIT), Jamshedpur¾and Professor S. Banerjee taught us Physics and aroused in me the interest in the subject of Physics.

Not only my mother, my eldest sister Didimoni and elder bother JB but also my eldest brother Dilip Roy Chowdhury and Manju Roy Chowdhury (Pal) supported my education. (Our family name or surname is Basu Roy Chowdhury). In my struggle to get education in school, I was helped morally by many others outside our family. I remember how inspired I was by the willingness of a shop-keeper to bear the expenditure of my education.*2  

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*2 I had to stand in long queue to buy wheat at reduced price from a Government-affiliated ‘ration shop’. I used to study text books of my school and do my school homework while standing in queue for long hours. I did not agree to the offer of the ration shop-keeper to give me the preference of buying wheat out of turn with the consent of the fellow-buyers. I thought it improper to give me the preferential treatment. That impressed the shop-keeper very much. One day, in order to help my poor family without letting me know he gave me more wheat than what I had paid for. I could detect his ‘intentional’ mistake when I took the wheat to a grinding mill and weighed it. So, I immediately came back to the ration shop and weighed it and returned the extra wheat to the shop-keeper. That was a shocking experience for the shop-keeper. One day he wished to see my family with a proposal to bear the expenditure towards my education. He wished me to take the highest education of the university. After the partition of our country, the family of our ration shop-keeper was displaced from West Punjab as our family was too from East Bengal. He could appreciate our limitations.  Our family thanked his gesture but decided not to accept his kind offer. 

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