They Claimed, They Showed, and then Faltered

Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). The phrase is used to describe a quick, decisive victory. IIT Kharagpur seems to have tweaked it, to aptly explain its loss, in a long-drawn, slow battle, where nothing except its lack of initiative is to be blamed. In the reply given to the Students’ Senate, the administration said, “The new hospital has only 6 beds and currently lacks staff members to carry out any activity.” They also mentioned, “There are only 2 labs nearby Kharagpur in which testing is being done for all the local people. As explained by Head, BC Roy Hospital, they send samples of only symptomatic patients to Midnapur medical college (around 15 km from campus). Generally, The test reports are received on the same evening or the next day in the morning. The limitation of this testing facility is around 30-40 tests at max at a time for the whole IIT Kharagpur community.” The major arguments given by the Administration for the delay in calling back students are the lack of quarantine facilities and the lack of testing facilities for all the students. Here, we will critically examine their statements and ask them to give justifications regarding the same. During the Corona crisis, IIT Kharagpur claimed to achieve two groundbreaking accomplishments, which could have been the solutions they are looking for.

1. Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee Institute of Medical Sciences & Research

Facilities of Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (then Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy Institute of Medical Sciences & Research) were opened for Quarantine. An article through KGP Chronicle said that Phase I of the hospital is planned to start from June-July 2020 with 400 beds, and 350 beds were to be added for Phase II at a later stage.

But in the recent reply by the administration, the figure stands at just 0.8% of the target. This brings us to the question, was the plan for 750 beds in the quarantine center really executed? If yes, why are those not being used for quarantining students? If the plan has not been executed then what is the administration’s reason for not doing so? How is the administration justifying having only 6 beds ready in the quarantine center as opposed to the proposed numbers of 750 beds in two phases?

In addition to this, the hospital was supposed to be inaugurated on convocation day, i.e., 23rd February 2021 by the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Because of its renaming, it had faced a lot of backlash from alumni and the former head. The inauguration was then deferred due to cited “technical” reasons. This hospital is expected to have all facilities ready, but the administration saying about the availability of only 6 beds is not acceptable, given that its inauguration was already planned.


2. ICMR Certification of Covirap

Covirap was said to be the new testing method that implements a highly reliable and accurate molecular diagnostic procedure that can be conducted in an ultra-low-cost portable device unit. Prof Suman Chakraborty believed that the technology will create a revolution in rapid and low-cost detection, and have a long-lasting impact.

Covirap was under inspection in ICMR NICED and it was found to have 93% Sensitivity (108/115 true positives) and 98% Specificity (89/85 true negatives) for samples of CT (Cycle Threshold) values 35–36 or below relative to the labeled samples generated by RT-PCR. It was very suitable for large-scale production and use, especially in rural areas where there is no proper laboratory infrastructure or trained medical personnel.

In an article from the KGP Chronicle, Prof. V.K. Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur, while speaking about Covirap, said, “This is indeed one of the greatest contributions in the history of medical science, particularly in the area of virology, and is well set to create a whole new avenue of test protocols to a large extent.”

The Director mentioned in his post, “While the Institute can produce the testing kit up to a certain scale, patent licensing will facilitate commercialization opportunities for medical technology companies. Any corporate or start-up can approach the Institute for technology licensing and commercial scale of production. The Institute is open to tie-ups, with due measures of protecting the interest of public health amidst the pandemic situation.”

The question is why has Covirap not been mass-produced even after almost 5 months of the discovery being made? We also want to know how many units did the Institute produce in its capacity. Raising these questions becomes inevitable as despite having the technology to conduct low-cost rapid tests why is the institute not taking any steps to mass-produce these test kits and increase the number of tests conducted each day?  Also, why did the Institute wait and choose to remain in a sorry state of affairs, while our sister institute, IIT Delhi signed an MoU with Wells Fargo to mass-produce their testing kit within a month of its development? If IIT Delhi can sign an MoU in a month, why is IIT KGP not able to sign an MoU even after 5 months? 

The above two findings make the administration’s arguments sound like a student saying if I had studied, I would have scored better; or like a politician saying, if I was more popular, I would have won the elections. 

Had these proposals been brought into effect, the students could be called much faster than the current rate.

PS: This article does not imply that these two are the only solutions IIT Kharagpur administration has.

7 thoughts on “They Claimed, They Showed, and then Faltered”

  1. Time is running out for specially those student , who are about to complete their course in next 1-2 years by missing invaluable college/campus life. The college administration has to think as student and decide quickly on calling back student in phased manner putting all COVID guidelines in place. Looks like college administration are either in deep slumber or have taken shelter under COVID excuse , they need to be awaken.

  2. They claimed to have such tremendous and remarkable discoveries yet failed to make it for the common masses and bring this facility to ground level.
    It clearly suggests these were all part of a publicity stunt to gain attention as an IIT and the output was a false hope.
    This was not expected from an Institute of national importance!

  3. The administration counted their chicken before they hatched and made tall claims. At the moment of truth they’re all in shambles. If the best interest of students were indeed the concern of the concerned people, the situation wouldn’t have been pathetic like this.

  4. Ponder, if all students and staff of IIT Kgp can be vaccinated on a priority basis by ordering for suitable approved vaccines directly from manufacturers.

  5. Iit collages are famous for their environment of campus. But we can not get this environmental life. We are only seeing teachers face in online classes.The collage authority can reopen the campus with some Restraint. There is many ways and solutions for reopen the campus. Collage authority should discuss thier problems during reopening the campus and take advice of students.

  6. Cheating is on full scale, everyone’s getting marks, people graduating with better CGPAs, where’s the problem? Everything is better atleast academically. Stay home, stay safe. Cheat your way, and you’ll like it 🙂

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