The potential of an idea, and a WhatsApp group

The potential of an idea, and a WhatsApp group

I will start with a quote of Paul Dirac: “Living is worth only if one can contribute in a small way to the vast chain of human progress”. Everybody cannot contribute new knowledge in the way that Dirac, Feynman or Einstein did, but one way of contributing to the vast chain of human progress is in the shape of an idea, not an idea that adds to the existing pool of knowledge but which can help in shaping the careers of students and creating a productive human resource. KIMS, which stands for Kashmir Institute of Mathematical Sciences, is a WhatsApp group formed two years by Rukhsan ul-Haq, a quantum computational physicist. It represents an idea to bring together passionate students and teachers of mathematical sciences, and to guide, nurture and facilitate the careers of students in the field of mathematical sciences. KIMS has played this role to good effect in a short span of time, despite some odds. Many among us are striving for, and some students have already achieved, the goals which were shown and set before us by KIMS.
Now, fundamentally, why is KIMS important? To answer this let me recall an anecdote from my university days. Two years ago, our juniors in KU had arranged a fresher-cum-farewell party. I remember a guy, who had joined university just a month before, standing up and speaking on how unfortunate it was that during his first month none among his seniors or scholars in the department approached him and told him what to study, how to study, and from where to study. He was speaking not only of his frustration but of many among us, who go through this experience once we enter university. This is one area where KIMS has filled the gap. It has guided and honed the talent that otherwise remains neglected.
However, it is important to start spotting this talent right from the day it enters college. It will not only help the student make a better career choice but will also facilitate engagement with peers. Physics cannot be done in isolation. Physics cannot be learnt by locking oneself in a room and leafing through the pages of books (though I do not deny the importance of books). It is done by discussing things with people from the same background and by working on problems together. KIMS has paved the way for such collaboration. The importance of working on a project during our master’s or bachelor’s in enhancing our admission chances to higher education is known to one and all, but the quality of work involved in doing projects in Kashmir is mediocre and at best a copy-paste. So, KIMS has a role in not only identifying the areas on which a student can work but during this course facilitate his or her collaboration with different stakeholders, like fellow students, teachers and researchers, so as to bring quality in the work which in turn can help us in transforming a mere student to a potential researcher.
We have so many among us in the KIMS group who have a success story to share with a larger audience. They should reach out to students in schools, colleges and universities to create awareness, infuse motivation, and help them in making better career choices. That will serve KIMS in achieving its goals on long-term basis.
An idea cannot sustain with the efforts of a single person or efforts of a few like-minded people. As of now there is active participation of only 2-3 people in KIMS. Apart from Rukhsan bhai’s lecture series or his efforts in mentoring the students, we hardly see any other person putting efforts for mentoring students or guiding them. This is something that we need to work upon. We have to galvanise support and attract people who can guide and mentor the students. The success of ‘JK Scientists’ group offers a lesson for us in this regard.
Last but not least, let’s resolve to make KIMS stronger through our efforts and help Kashmiri students realise their dreams, the fulfillment of which they rightly deserve.

—The writer is a student of Physics. nasirrather345@gmail.com

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