August 31, 2005

An ode to JRD- Sudha Murthy

The article below gives Sudha Murthy's account of how a job advertisement from the Tatas changed her entire life as wellas made JRD Tata change his rules. Sudha was livid when a job advertisement posted by a Tatacompany at the institution where she was completing her post graduationstated that " Lady candidates need not apply." She dashed off a post cardto JRD Tata protesting against the discrimination. Following this, Sudha was called for an interview and shebecame the first female engineer to work on the shop floor atTelco (now Tata Motors). It was the beginning of an association that wouldchange her life in more ways than one.

The following is her account:

"There are two photographs that hang on my office wall.Everyday when I enter my office I look at them before starting my day. They are pictures of two old people. One is of agentleman in a blue suit and the other is a black and white image of a man withdreamy eyes and a white beard. People have often asked me if the people in the photographsare related to me. Some have even asked me, " Is this black and whitephoto that of a Sufi saint or a religious Guru?" I smile and reply "No, nor are they related to me. These people made an impact on my life. I am grateful to them. "Who are they?" The man in the blue suit is Bharat Ratna JRD Tata and the black andwhite photo is of Jamsedji Tata." "But why do you have them in your office?" I say †"You can call it gratitude."

Then, invariably, I have to tell the person the followingstory. It was a long time ago. I was young and bright, bold andidealistic. I was in the final year of my Master's course in Computer Scienceat the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, then known as the Tata Institute. Life was full of fun and joy. I did not know what helplessness or injustice meant. It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore wasgetting warm and > gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the onlygirl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies hostel. Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of science. I was looking forward to going abroad to complete adoctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships fromUniversities in the US. I had not thought of taking up a job in India. One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job requirement. Notice from the famous automobile company Telco. It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background. At the bottom was a small line: "Lady candidates need not apply."

I read it and was very upset. For the first time in mylife I was up against the gender discrimination. Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better then most of my male peers. Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful. After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. Idecided to inform the top-most person in Telco's management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco. I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group. I had seen his pictures in newspapers(actually, Sumant Moolgaonkar was the company's chairman then). I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote.

The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India, suchas iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives. They have caredfor higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco isdiscriminating on the basis of gender." I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco's Pune facility at the company's expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mates told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs. 30 each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, byback then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell inlove with the city. To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my lifein so many ways. As directed, I went to Telco's Pimpri office forthe interview. There were six people on the panel and I realised then that this was serious business. "This is the girl who wrote to JRD, " I heard somebodywhisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realisation abolished all fear from my mind, so Iwas rather cool while the interview was being conducted. Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased and so I told them, rather impolitely, "I hope this is only a technical interview." Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, "Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reasonis that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This isnot a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories."

I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world hadbeen a limited place. I did not know the ways of large corporatehouses and their difficulties. So I answered, "But you must start somewhere, otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories." Finally, after a long interview, I was told that I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me.

August 22, 2005

First hurdle

We had our first lab internal examination in Java for this semester today. Each of us had to execute two programs. Mine were- To find the factorial of a number using applets and To display buttons using again applets. I couldn’t get the output for the first one for a long time. The program generated three errors as expected. :D

I, somehow, managed to eliminate the errors, but then I faced a new problem. The ouput was not being shown, i.e. the corresponding factorial for the given input was not being generated in the applet window. So, this time I incorporated the print statement directly in the program such that the input fed into the applet would result an output in the command window. I successfully managed the whole thing in the end. And, the Viva-Voce was not at all difficult. He just asked some basic questions.

I passed the first hurdle, but am not sure of the rest! :D

August 14, 2005

Patriotism- Pat+Riot+Ism

What does Independence Day mean to you?

An apt reply from the back benches- another holiday!

This happened a couple of days back in my class.

Is August 15th just another holiday? I never wanted to write anything on this issue. But, I have to after all that I have just read on some discussion forum. I don't want to take the site name(it's very popular). It is conducting a general comment based survey on what patriotism means to Indians. And, I've come across some very pathetic comments and opinions. I am listing a few below- the most pathetic ones if could say.

These were the answers to the question, "Your most patriotic act was...?"

- because I'm writing for this space.

- I love formula1 and I support Narain Karthikeyan(What importance does personal passion hold here?)

- Every day I dream of becoming rich. So, when this fairy tale comes true, I will help people.

- Hey, I didn't go to war. I believe I saved a lot of lives that way.

After reading such comments, I didn't feel like commenting there.

Failure or Deferred success?

I came across an article recently in a newspaper. It talked about a British University which conducted a research on 'Failure' in London and other parts of England. Thousands of primary and high school teachers were called in to take part in the survey. Most of the teachers opined that the word 'Failure' should be omitted from the dictionary as they felt that the word itself seems to be detrimental to many students' success. And, they asked the Oxford to replace it with 'Deferred success'. What is the difference anyhow?

August 10, 2005


This is the new service offered by Google online. Though it is a bit confusing at first, it can still be commended for the efforts put in.

Have a look at this-

August 07, 2005

My First Interview

I attended my first interview at college yesterday. It was for Satyam Computer Services Ltd. The process involved three rounds- first, the written exam, second, the group discussion and the third and final, the interview round. The written exam included analytical, logical questions and a C program for which we had to guess the resulting output. I didn’t attempt the C question though, taking my poor programming skills into account. I attempted only the analytical and logical part and got through quite easily.

I was one of the 200 students short listed from among 1400 students for the GD round which also went very well. Our topic was ‘Ragging in college- should be allowed or should not be?’ At one point in time I thought I wouldn’t be selected because the panel judge reminded me that I was changing the topic, but I could manage well in the end. I scored more points in GD. Unfortunately, the panel changed in my interview round. By the way, let me not keep you in suspense, I wasn’t selected. And, that’s good in one way because had I been selected for Satyam I would not have been eligible to attend for the next round of campus interviews which include companies better than Satyam like TCS, Infosys and Wipro. Had the panel been the same for my interview, as it happened with many of the selected students, I would have had a chance of getting selected.

Sixty students were short listed for the third i.e., the interview round. I did well in the HR round. I stayed composed and didn’t lose my balance anytime in the interview. There were two gentlemen on the panel, one for HR and the other for technical. The HR round was somewhat a comedy. I wrote in my resume that my interests include classical music, painting and poetry. He asked me to sing a song. The techie asked me if I could draw his face. I said that I would try. He warned me that if I don’t get it correct, I would be rejected. He wanted to know whether I would take a risk or not. I said that I was ready for the risk. But he stopped me when I was about to draw.

The technical interview was much funnier. I was not at all interested in the job, not Satyam at least because I was in no mood to sign a two year bond with them and get stuck for the next two years. So, I tried my level best to screw the interviewers. At one point in time, the HR fellow said, “Miss. Indu Bhargavi you are very smart”. I was smiling all though the process. The HR fellow asked me whether I was feeling tensed or not. I said ‘NO’.

The technical round went very badly. Actually, I didn’t prepare for the interview. I didn’t even go through the theorems, circuits and all. They asked me some difficult questions and some easier ones too only for which I gave answers. I told them that my interesting subject is Micro Processors (I hate it!). And, he went in depth of the subject. Oh, my God! I never knew someone could frame those kinds of questions from microprocessors. The technical interview was hopeless but it was very funny to sit in front of the panel and tell them indirectly that you actually don’t need their job. I forgot to tell you the funniest part of all this. I was the first one to be called for the HR at 3P.M. I went inside and told them that I haven’t had my lunch yet and that I would feel much more tensed with an empty stomach. Then they asked me to have my lunch first and return later for the interview.

Anyhow, it was a good experience as it was my first interview and also I enjoyed a lot.