Monday, 12 September 2011

Lab Assts.

A blogpost that I wish to comment on at length------
this is about students having to beg for help from lab assts in the labs for. chemicals etc.
Surely this does not happen much at IISc where chemicals must be purchased through the research supervisor and the department /central stores(?) or through contingency grants, does it?
However, such things do happen.
Colleges and university teaching labs where undergrad and MSc students have their practical classes do have such lab assts. This is more so in govt colleges where the staff is unionised. Here, students need to beg for filter paper, solvent etc. If you have not kept him happy, the lab asst. may even give you the wrong compound for analysis thereby ensuring you do not pass your practical exam. If he does not feel like it, he may not set up the Kipps apparatus for the salt analysis. (This happened once when I was conducting an exam and I had to muck out a Kipps apparatus and set it up, but I did not dare reprimand the lab asst.)
The teaching staff either do not care or are helpless since the said lab staff are unionised.
The other side of the coin is , if you pay the man, he may tell you what compound you have got for qualitative analysis........a whisper to look for phosphate and cadmium or nitro and carboxylic group goes a long way!!
Long back, in an IIX, I have had the experience of spending 20 days to get an Xray that takes 90 minutes. Things speeded up a lot when a colleague working with my guide started taking the technician out for chai-samosa once in a way. All I had to do was give my sample to the colleague and lo behold the Xray would be done the next day!!! Then there was this technician in Mech engg dept who made liquid air, and always had problems with equipment everyday from 10 am to 4 30 pm. Miraculously, at 4 30 pm it would work, and I would get liquid air by 6 pm. (he gets paid overtime)
But by and large, I hope the IIX are not like University colleges (??)

Sunday, 11 September 2011


The child-rearing pundits say that one must assign children age-appropriate household chores. True. Many mothers of children in the age group 3-6 agree and find it effective. My two bit worth is this------- try it when they are 12 and really capable of contributing to the housework! See if it works.