I was surfing few days ago and suddenly came across a news item on website of Times of India: ‘Bihar teacher gets award from PM’. The news was from Patna. I never knew that it was about my friend, Braj Bhusan Pandey.
‘A Bihar professor, B B Pandey, received Distinguished IIT (Kharagpur) Alumnus Award 2011 from PM Manmohan Singh for his contribution to innovation in transport infrastructure development.’
Interestingly, Pandeyji must be the first from our batch of 1961as much as I know to receive the distinguished alumnus award. It’s something worth appreciating.
Braj Bhusan Pandey and I came on the same day in IIT, Kharagpur for the interview in 1957. He was with his father and me with my grandfather. They were staying in the room next to ours that night. His father was at that time the principal of Teachers Training School in Sasaram. With that first meeting, Braj became and remained friend for the whole life.
Braj had come to Birlapur once and came to know a secret of mine. I requested him not to reveal that. And he did. After Kharagpur, Braj though civil engineer decided for teaching instead of joining lucrative government jobs such as one in PWD. After a brief spell at Bihar College of Engineering (now NIT-Patna), Braj came back to IIT, Kharagpur and is still continuing as Emeritus Professor.
Braj had come once to HM with his wife. Thereafter in one Durga Puja when we were going to Orissa for holidaying for a week with all our kids, we stayed for a night with Pandeys.
In 1989, I with Yamuna went to Kharagpur again. Rakesh was to undergo his counseling at IIT, Kharagpur. Interestingly, Manish, the son of BBPandey too entered IIT, Kharagpur the same year.
Braj has developed low cost technology for maintenance-free roads for villages and design guidelines for concrete and asphalt roads. At one time I suggested Bihar government to use the experience of Braj in building rural roads of the state and use his expertise to ensure the quality of the state road building. As usual, Bihar government didn’t respond.
There is something unique with Braj. He has remained the same in every respect even after more than five decades. His simplicity is just exemplary.
I still wish Bihar with an engineer as chief minister could have used and honoured the persons of the state better.
Unfortunately, Pandey lost his wife this year. I really feel bad about it. However, nothing much can be done about it. IIT, Kharagpur can retain his services for longhand perhaps that will be the best award for a person like BB Pandey.
I still have anguish. Even the institutes like IITs and IIMs are not able to detect and squeeze the best out of the dedicated lot of teachers and researchers. Further, the institutes hardly try to make the distinguished teachers known to the people of the country. How little we know about the best teachers in the higher education field?
PS: I was searching for a photograph of Pandeyji, as I addressed him all these years. I got one from 1989 with Rakesh.