Our beloved Prof.K.G.Balakrishnan (Head of Dept, IT, VESIT) passed away last month. It is a very big loss to all the students of VESIT and more importantly to the institution. When I came to know of the sad news, I was in a state of shock and could not digest the fact that the very professor whom we used to hold in high esteem is no more with us.
We had mixed experiences with Sir. Though there were some moments when we did not agree with his style of teaching; the truth is that everyone respected the vast knowledge that he had about diverse fields. I still remember the time when only the three of us, me, Smidth and Ruta attended one of his Computer Simulation & Modelling lectures in the lab. There are some very distinct incidents that I remember of him.
His style of teaching was totally different than what we student perceived of a regular teacher. His lecture was based more on the concepts and their usefulness in real-life rather than just text-book reading, I even had a one-to-one chat with him asking him why he used this approach and that one reason, the students were unwilling to pay attention was this. But the reply that he gave still echoes in my ears - "I am not here to just let you clear the Mumbai Univ exams. The problems are there in the text-book. I am here to help you formulate the real life problems into equations that you can solve further. I am here you let you understand what simulation actually is.". Though not totally convinced by this answer, I was impressed by his emphasis on concepts.
The other thing that every one of us would remember is the number of times he used to ask 'Why?' in the class. For every little topic, he would pose five different questions and ask 'Why? Think about it. Let me know the answer.' And all his questions used to roll over to the next day. He said "Simulation is all about questions. If you come up with more questions, you understand the problem better. Your job is just to identify which questions to ask." One of his questions used to be 'Why do you think auto rickshaws are not allowed to ply within Mumbai limits?'. For long we didn't understand the relevance of this question to the subject, but later he answered it himself. "The traffic will move at the pace of the slowest vehicle. This is similar to any queuing problem. A single bottleneck may slow down the entire queue. You identfy that and optimise it."
It's sad that the Almighty chose to deprive us of such a knowledgeable person, who, in a real sense, was a mentor for many. And when I ask the Almighty the question 'Why?', I haven't received an answer ....