Guest #2: An exclusive interview with Jyothilakshmi R. of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore


The Scientist Post welcomes Jyotilakshmi R., a renewable energy and solid waste management expert researcher of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, hailing from Karnataka. She believes education is the root for a sustained society; education is the basic necessity of life. She quotes: “Education is one important thing which puts pathway to our life. Good education is the one thing which brought me to this place today. My message to all the school dropouts is pursue your education .You have a long way to go. Education gives the pavement for your journey.” Jyothilakshmi.R., a Mechanical Engineer specialized in “Production Engineering”, is currently an Assistant Professor at Department of Mechanical Engineering, M.S.Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bengaluru. She has deep interest in the field of Renewable energy and solid waste management and currently doing research in the mentioned fields. Her passion is teaching and she strongly believes in need based and value based education system. She believes education should represent society and help the learner to develop himself or herself to a complete human being.

Following is the full coverage

TSP: How were your experiences as a student during school, college and graduate days?

I started my schooling in a simple state board (Karnataka) Govt School in Nanjangud, District Mysore, Karnataka. It was all girls’ school. I was lucky enough to have good motivating teachers and a competitive learning environment. One of the positive points what I feel we have in such a community based Govt. schools is we have students coming from all strata’s of society which itself creates an university to learn so many societal issues which I feel we are lacking nowadays because of privatization
of education. Higher strata people learn in different set of schools, medium and lower level people in different set of schools according to their affordability which is not a healthy way of imparting education. Education in real sense should represent society and should be beyond caste, creed and gender unlike in western countries where all the kids go to Government run schools irrespective of their background. As a mentioned above my schooling was fun. Both my parents were teachers hence they have inculcated value and importance of education in life from the beginning. I could also pursue some co-curricular activities such as music craft etc. College days were also good where i concentrated more on science based subjects. Graduate days were really challenging as there were very few girls in mechanical stream. Even today people in India think girls cannot pursue mechanical Engineering. But in my opinion it is not so. Anybody can pursue anything as long as you are enthusiastic and have that zeal in you.
TSP: One of your memorable events/incidents which make you laugh even today…

Difficult to identify one as there are so many. One thing which will always be in my mind is once when I was in 10th standard did two mistakes in math’s preparatory exams came home crying as if I will fail. My mother could convince me for that. When I recollect this incident I start laughing.

TSP: How science fascinated you? Have you ever-wondered to be a researcher during your childhood days?

From the beginning I had great interest in science. Actually real science starts at home right from kitchen you have to have that scientific orientation to appreciate the importance of science. My science teachers at school were really good in triggering that spark in us to know and understand science in every aspect of life. I was not decided at the early stages to become researchers but I always had that desire to know and find new things.

TSP: What inspired you to enter this field and why? Was there a particular reason behind which/who motivated you?

How has been your experience in your research/teaching field? Could you please describe in brief about your research activities? What are the current challenges being tackled here?

My entry into research goes like – When I thought of registering myself into doctoral studies I wanted to do something new. That being the case my first priority was renewable energy as we all know world is moving towards acute shortage of grid power. Fossil fuels are diminishing rapidly, this being the scenario it is high time that we have to switchover to renewable and alternate energy sources. This is the greatest inspiration for me. In urban areas like Bangalore garbage disposal is a serious problem.
Then I thought of doing something in this regard to manage this solid waste and extract energy from that. This is the main reason for my research. Two of my senior professors Dr.H.N.Chanakya (IISC, Bangalore) and Mr. Syamsundar (National Institute of Engineering, Mysore) who are pioneers in this field motivated me in this regard. My experience with teaching has been always good and thought provoking. From the beginning I had this urge for teaching that brought me to this field. One advantage we have in this profession is we always interact with younger lot, who are the future of the world. With them you also feel young always and develop that continuous learning attitude. They are the real source of inspiration to everything we do. My research activity basically deals with solid waste management (producing biogas with biodegradable solid waste). We are developing new custom made design of biodigesters which will cater to all applications from household to big residential and commercial complexes. Challenges lies in every part of research. My challenge is developing effective solid waste management system which is cost effective as well easy to maintain and operate.

TSP: What are the significances of your research work and future applications which are going to benefit the mankind?

India is on the verge of massive urbanization. This being the scenario in city like Bangalore so many apartments and office complexes are coming up. Such being the scenario managing solid waste is a real challenge.

TSP: What do you love most during research?

Research itself is an interesting field. Every day we come across new findings and challenges which will keep us on our toes and motivates us to do new things.

TSP: What, according to your belief, you have found the most astonishing thing in your research/teaching life?

In these field, everyday is a new challenge. We keep discovering new things keep interacting with new people that itself teaches us so many things.

TSP: What is your advice to kids considering a career in science, young to-be aspiring scientists who want to establish a career in R&D field – science & technology?

Education should be totally activity based; whether it is English, or science or social studies. With this change, children will have a mentality of seeing everything practically. This would go a long way in creating scientific temper among children, and further enhance the curiosity of “what if I do this”, “instead, what if I do it like this” kind of questioning nature in even tit-bit kind of things. Such an environment will make children love to go to school, rather than cry to go to school. Science is a part of our life. The way I do science may be different from the way you do science. As long as you have zeal and interest in finding new things, science is the best place. Love what you do and pursue with 100% effort, rest all will follow.
TSP: What are the things which motivate and inspire you?
A person with new innovative ideas and new things always inspires me. Anything which is in a way helpful to mankind motivates me.

: India accounts for a meagre 3.5% of all global research output, ranks 66th in the Global Innovation Index, well behind China ranked 35th,
the world’s total expenditure on research against China which spent 14.2%, filed only 0.3% of the total worlds patents in 2010 and the worst part, not even 1 Indian university ranks among the top 100 global universities,
though IISc and IITs makes the headline bold quite sometimes! Narendra Modi is the newly appointed Prime Minister of India for the next tenure of 2014-19. What expectations do you have from our newly appointed PM in taking India to the next level of development?
We are about to have more number of IITs and IIMs, according to the union budget.. Do you feel our policy makers are very much concerned about engineering and technology, and management just to appease the youth? According to you, how can the education systems in India can be raised?
How can the policy makers improve the current state of education in the country which would play a major role in transforming developing India into a developed India?

As we record from our history, research culture was there from the time immemorial. But in India, encouragement and support is not there as we can compare with the West. One important thing we should note here is research should come from within; we cannot force somebody to do research.
There are few people who are born researchers we should select them and encourage them. Indian parent’s mind set is to make their children engineers or doctors which will bring hefty income. That conservative mentality should change then only we can achieve something in research field. All the crème people end up doing engineering at IIT’s and go abroad to take up jobs there. But now the trend is changing Even IIT’s and IISC have started courses on pure and applied sciences which in my opinion will bring drastic changes. Our research and university rankings will definitely improve in coming future.

TSP: Global warming and green house effect is a serious threat. How can youth and children take steps to mitigate and protect the environment against raising global warming and climate change?

This is a societal problem and we have to deal with in that way. We have to start educating people in this regard. We should start inculcating these concepts right from school days. There should be small projects at school level which will help in reducing green house effect. Government should plan community based initiatives to educate people as for as practical aspects are concerned. All the stakeholders should participate equally, then only we can expect some changes.

TSP: 58% of children do not complete primary education in India. According to Annual Status of Education Reports (2012), estimates that only 15% of rural children enrolled in standard five can fluently read a standard two text book.
40% of standard five students in rural India cannot solve simple two-digit subtractions. 29.3% of India’s population falls in the age group of 0-14 years.Primary education lays the foundation towards building a pool of capable and empowered citizens.
Investments in education will enable the citizens to participate in the growth process through improved productivity, employment, and wages. This would surely drive sustained economic growth for decades. Hence, primary education should be a critical component of the inclusive growth agenda of Indian government.
In a broader scale, there are 58 million children out-of-school who are deprived of right to education. We all know education is a universal human right and everyone should be well acquainted with it but the reality is far behind in the 21st century.. Being the largest democracy in the world and also constituting a firm judiciary since ages,
although we have many laws, still we can see children working as child labors, the innocent children being victims of human and organ trafficking, etc and thus losing their lovely childhood.

How do you see education and its necessity? Where are we lagging even though we have many considerable policies for child welfare etc.? Why it so that many parents and guardians are irresponsible of sending their children to schools and instead make them earn a living by working in and as labourers?
What are your views for enhancing the status of education in the ground level, keeping in view and in light with the children of poverty stricken and illiterate parents, and other socio-cultural factors?

First of all there should be a clear cut differentiation between education and literacy. Literacy is misunderstood to be education, which is the biggest problem. Schools should provide education, rather than making children literate, as it is happening now.
Education is one of the basic necessities for human race. If we are expecting some change in the society, it’s only through education. Only education will bring in healthy and prosperous society and the economic development in the country.
As I have mentioned earlier also education should never be privatized. Anywhere in the world we can see the concept of privatization of basic education. We can see the pathetic conditions of state Government run schools across India. People do not have any motivation to send their children to the public government run schools. Quality is not there, they cannot afford private education so what is the solution for them. Give the basic infrastructure and good teachers definitely literacy rate will improve.

TSP: Ensuring safety and empowerment of women is a major concern in India today. Sadly, about 10% of all crimes committed in the country are those of women abuse.
15 lakh children were lost to female infanticide during 2001-2011. A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Even after 60 years of independence, 1 in 3 women in India are still illiterate. Low participation of women in the entire workforce is a key reason for low per capita income.
Paradoxically, with the increase in economic development, there seems to have been deterioration in the status of women. Recent and legacy of incidences of rapes and molestation’s cases have highlighted the grave situation of women in the country. We are all horrified with this current scene, as they are soaring up daily. Unquestionably, Indian girls and women are facing a tough time.

What is your view about this issue? It is well scripted that: “All Indian’s are my brothers and sisters…”, however, we see a distorting reality in daily news is that our sisters, mothers don’t feel safe outside? How can these horrendous crimes be stopped? Do you think the government is taking active and strict measures to stop the crimes? But, why it is that the society is failing to stop and curb out this crimes?

Media is the most corrupt in India, not politicians. Lack of value based education is dragging youth on to unhealthy routes. Conviction rates are very less in India. That’s why people are just not bothered. People should be educated in the earlier stages.
Women safety is the responsibility of the society. As for as empowerment of women are concerned it is a continuous process and we need full support from our counterparts (men).

TSP: What is your Success Mantra?

Love what you do, relate yourself to societal well being. Whatever you do, do with full efforts. Rest all will follow.

TSP: you what is education, why and how much it is important? How education helped you to become what you are today? What is your message for the 58 million children out-of-school children?

Education is the basic necessity of life. Education is one important thing which puts pathway to our life. Good education is the one thing which brought me to this place today.
My message to all the school dropouts is pursue your education .You have a long way to go. Education gives the pavement for your journey.

TSP: Your views about our endeavor The Scientist Post channel…

It’s a very good initiative. People should come forward to bring such changes in the society. Full support should be given to such activities then only we can see some changes.

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