12th January 2020, 6:30 AM. Technology Students’ Gymkhana was bubbling with some 100-150 students, both past and present. A very unusual scene, especially on a Sunday morning. Packets of Glucon-D were being constantly poured and mixed into 20-litre water jars. T-shirts were being distributed and students were seen warming themselves up. It was indeed a big day. Each had to complete the 2.2 Marathon beating the rest to win the coveted title of a Marathoner.
The 17th Annual Alumni Meet of 2020 saw a host of IIT Kharagpur’s ‘young’ bunch, aged 18 years to almost 68 years gear up for their favorite sport – the 2.2 Marathon. The Director, Prof. V.K. Tewari, was also present to encourage the students and participate in the run that was to start and end at Gymkhana with the distribution of prizes and a complimentary snack. By 7:10 AM, the runners had settled themselves on the starting line. The marathon began with the sound of the clapstick.
Within 40 minutes, a few contenders, both alumni and current students were back at the Gymkhana. Visibly tired and taking deep breaths, they settled down for others to finish and gather at the venue for prize distribution. “Alumni-students interaction is a big, big thing,” said Prof. Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur, taking to the microphone. “They are a support system for one another. If you do not turn up today for your seniors, you should never complain if your juniors do not turn up years later when you visit the campus,” he added. He himself had completed 4.1 km a couple of years back, and seemed highly enthusiastic about sports. This time again, he made sure to complete 2.2 km without a pause. He thanked the Gymkhana members, its officials and all students who made the initiative possible.
“It is really refreshing. It is bringing back a whole new rush of memories of the place. We used to run loops around Jnan Ghosh Stadium almost every evening. That was a kind of ritual for me from 1991 to 1995. I find the campus beautiful. I came here for the first time in 25 years. I couldn’t resist the temptation of visiting my second home after so many years. I flew down from Atlanta as soon as I received the invitation,” remarked Mr. Kartik Ramakrishnan, Senior Vice President at Capgemini, Atlanta. His fitness quotient was proven when he bagged the second position among the alumni in the 2.2 marathon.
The winner of the marathon among the alumni was Mr. Amitabh Ghule, Director at Thames Capital, London, UK, who “wouldn’t have come had I been a student. Honestly!” he added tongue-in-cheek.
“It is a wonderful initiative. I’m impressed by the number of students and my batchmates who turned up this early, given that we had a blast till the wee hours of the morning,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan who came second, followed by Mr. Praful Agarwal, fondly called ‘Uncleji’ by his batchmates. “My passion for fitness helped me shed 20 extra kilos and follow a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Among students, Satendra Sangwan a PG student from the Department of Physics took the first place. He was followed by Lt. Col. Ganesh Chawla, a Defence Sponsored UG candidate at the Department of Electrical Engineering, for whom this marathon was “just another morning run”.
The third place was taken by Tushar Kshirsagar, a UG first year student of Aerospace Engineering, who confessed turning up “just for the T-shirt”. His honesty was greeted with loud cheer, whistles and claps from the gathering. Karan Atariya, a post-graduate student of the Electrical Engineering Department bagged the fourth position
“It is extremely inspirational to find the Director participating in the run along with the students. During our time here, we could never expect anything like this. I hope this continues for the coming years. It brings a kind of fluidity and makes things easier between the students and the higher authorities,” said Mr. Ajit Kumar Alok, a 1995 alumnus, and currently a senior official of the Indian Railways.
Talking about the happiness index involved in a marathon, Prof. Saamdu Chhetri of IIT Kharagpur’s Rekhi Centre for the Science of Happiness, said that he feels that a marathon like this should not be competitive, but be “cohesive” instead. “In an event like the Annual Alumni Meet, where the alumni have come together to relive old memories and enjoy to the fullest, instead of competing against one another, it would have been wonderful had they held their hands together and completed this marathon. There’s a beautiful African saying which says, if you want to go far, go together; if you want to go fast, go alone. It is a wonderful initiative by the Institute to bring together the current batches along with their predecessors,” said Prof. Chhetri.
Prof. Priyadarshi Patnaik, Head, Rekhi Centre for the Science of Happiness also spoke on the lines of Prof. Chhetri. He pointed out that the marathon was a good opportunity to discuss with both past and current students and find out how transformation can take place.
The event ended with the past and present students exchanging pleasantries, sharing the morning snack and hooting loudly, “KGP ka tempo high hai”.
Pictures courtesy: Student Alumni Cell