BITSian Heroes : Heartfelt Thanksgiving

Dear BITSians,

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This week, BITSAA is giving you an opportunity to share the stories which made one of your fellow BITSians your hero. Previously, we shared two amazing experiences and we are bringing three more similar heartwarming stories for you.

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BITSian Hero: Dr. Ananth C Kulkarni
by Bharath K Bhat

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“Getting an opportunity in BITS itself is a turning point in my life, no two ways about it. This was a true present to me and this present had many packets of items in it. Some of which are: 1. A great campus with a beautiful view. 2. A Great Hostel facility (I got a room with a great view #333, CH-2). 3. A great Canteen Staff who took personal care of me, which made me feel ‘At-Home’. 4. Great Faculty, Prof. B.J.C Babu is the one I would like to mention for his ability to impart knowledge in subjects which were the CRUX of M.E-Design Engineering and his teachings which if felt like “”Neem””” then is useful even today like a medicine solving almost all technical problems. 5. BITS-Goa Medical Staff receives a SPECIAL MENTION in my life.

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Dr. Ananth.C.Kulkarni, is the person whom I respect personally because he was more of a Guru to me; he taught me great values in professional life which I can never forget. He has taught me Engineering Tribology and later have completed my Masters Thesis under him in Bio-Tribology. My thesis later helped me get my Research Scholar position in Biomechanics at Manipal University. It was he who suggested me to go for PhD instead of a Faculty Position & later guided me through different decisions in my professional life.
Dr. Hemanth Kumar, Dr. Rakesh Mote, Dr. Shibu Clement, Dr. Rama Kumar are other faculties in whom I have immense respect.

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BITSian Hero: K.Dhanaraja
by Gauri Mittal

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“I was perhaps the first student from my city ‘Mathura’ to get admission into BITS-Pilani. And hence I didn’t know much about how things worked at Pilani – how easy or difficult was it to get a dual, a transfer, what CGPA was a good CGPA, how do people choose electives.etc We didn’t have Quora, Facebook then 😉 . All we had seniors who were always ready to help. But given my extremely shy and introvert nature, it wasn’t easy for seniors to help me as I wouldn’t approach them.
But K.Dhanaraja (k) was (and actually ‘is’) an exception. He is from Chennai and what connected us was ‘604’ – our BITSian ids. Yes, he is my id POP – a concept I haven’t heard of in any other college till now 🙂 . I still remember how scared I was when I met him & his friends for the first time. He told me that I can always write to him for doubts related to academics &for the kind of person I am writing instead of talking makes my life simple. I don’t know how many mails did I write to him in the first year – I would seek his advice every time I thought I had spoiled my test and he would tell me how is it ok since the average itself will go down; I would ask him how to prepare for those subjects which were supposed to be difficult (ThermoD, MechSol) and he would advise. All my emails were answered in a few hours, although we didn’t have internet connections to our rooms back then. We hardly met in my first year after the first meeting – he was a devoted ‘Art n D’ member & I was busy with academics but I always knew he is just a mail away. He also helped me choose between CS (the most sought after) and EEE (my personal preference) & I have never regretted my choice.
I am still in touch with him – and guess what 😉 – I approached him with a question related to job last year – and he did get back 🙂 (albeit not in a few hours)
So kd – if you read this – thanks for being such an awesome senior. It’s not always that one gets a chance to express one’s heartfelt gratitude.”

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BITSian Hero: NSS School Kids
by Divya Chirania

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“Kids, they say are the purest thing in the world. I truly realized this thing when I applied as a volunteer for NSS. It won’t be exaggerated if I say it was one of the best decisions of my Bitsian life. Despite not being from affluent background they seemed to be the happiest people in their world & my own problems appeared so insignificant. Respect which they used to give was enormous.There were always smiling faces which were eager to share their school stories.Asking about their day was my favorite.It was like revisiting my childhood. While teaching , it struck me how many things I have taken for granted. Probably that’s how it is.We do not realize the worth of something if it comes easily.And then there are these kids who are happy with the mere presence of a teacher.At times I used to feel it is not me who comes to teach but the other way around. “While we try to teach children all about life , they teach us what life is all about.”- Angela Schwindt”

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We urge you all to bring out the Hidden Heroes from your BITSian life, who have made a difference in your life, and  share your story with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with hashtags:  #BITSAA  #BITSiansDay #BITSHeroes by 23rd July 2017. Alternatively, you can also fill out this form to send your story. We will feature the best stories on our social media channels and BITSAA blog.

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Unraveling the Stories of BITSian Heroes

Dear BITSians,

This week, BITSAA is giving you an opportunity to share the experiences which made one of your fellow BITSians  your hero. We are unraveling the stories which might have got buried in the sands of time. Today, we bring to you two of the amazing stories we received- one has been shared with us by by Arpit Agrawal (BITS, Pilani – Pilani Campus) and the other by a student of BITS, Pilani – Goa Campus.

BITSian Hero: Dr. G Raghurama Sir
by Arpit Agrawal

“The first chance to know of Sir was in 3rd year when he came to our common room inviting feedback. Unusual to such meetings he had brought the entire team along. Not just that all suggestions were being noted down by the respective staff member. I found myself lucky for a leader with such an active participation. My friends told that right from the moment of joining Sir took it as personal duty. Once it so happened that I heard of a fellow going through a personal problem. I wrote to Sir as helping him required administrative support. As a happy surprise, he gave us time promptly, the mail was replied at 4 AM. Similarly he once helped me with an administrative formality which was facing resistance otherwise.

In all, though I am quite young to appreciate a senior BITS authority yet I feel he will always make BITS ecosystem a brighter place.”

BITSian Hero: Dhilbhar Roshan
by Anonymous

“Not a story but just a small incident. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at present which was diagnosed as depression in college days. In the last sem in CH1, there was a particularly difficult week when I was severely depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. Infused with alcohol and drugs, going out of the room was impossible and I’d been hungry for a couple of days. I was virtually trapped. Also, couldn’t disclose this condition to anyone as I didn’t want questions.

Dhilbhar lived in my corridor. As a last resort, I sort of asked him to get some food. I had no money. I think he saw my situation. He didn’t ask any questions. He simply got me food. I can’t tell you how big the gesture was for someone in that condition.”

We urge you all to bring out the Hidden Heroes from your BITSian life, who have made a difference in your life, and  share your story with us  on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with hashtags: #BITSAA #BITSiansDay #BITSHeroes by 22nd July 2017. Alternatively, you can also fill out this form to send your story. We will feature the best stories on our social media channels and BITSAA blog.

Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Twelfth Interview: Payal Panigrahy (BITS-Pilani’15)


Out 12th Interviewee for the “Meet BITSians in Sports” series is Payal Panigrahy (2010B5A8619P).

Payal was among the top three performers during the Burn A Million Calories(BAMC) event. While being a fitness enthusiast, she emphasizes the importance of having fun while doing so. She is a trained dancer and has an Orange belt in Karate, while she enjoys swimming, lawn tennis, and running marathons. In an exhaustive interview with Payal, she shares with us her story and what drives her to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Name: Payal Panigrahy

BITS ID: 2010B5A8619P

What motivated you to pursue fitness in the first place? 

I was never a fit kid in my school days and even in BITS. Being a foodie added to the problem. It was when I joined dance classes in Bangalore that I realized that fitness doesn’t have to be boring. I can do things I like or things I want to do while improving fitness.

What are the sports/activities you are involved in and how did you get into playing these sports?

I am not exactly a sportsperson. I am taking coaching classes for swimming and karate, a choice mostly based on interest. I participate in various marathons/duathlons and obstacle races that happen in the city as well.

How often do you engage in each of them? Any routine you follow?

Since I am taking classes, there is a fixed routine. I have karate classes thrice a week while swimming happens on both the weekends.

You have earned an orange belt in Karate. Any specific reason you chose Karate? What do you like about it?

I have always loved the idea of practicing some form of martial art but haven’t had the chance to do so in college or earlier. In Bangalore, especially in the kind of sedentary lifestyle our job encompasses, it becomes very important to pick a few activities to keep you up and running. So I picked up karate and I really enjoy the classes. Also, the importance of self-defense cannot be more relevant as it is today and hence, is a really nice skill to have.

You are a marathon runner as well. What are the usual distances and how often do you do them?

I participate mostly in 10k runs and duathlons(~22k) or obstacle races(~5-7k). I did a half marathon once. These happen very frequently in Bangalore and I try to get into as many as I can.

Were you actively involved in any sports activity in BITS? Any particular memory from BITS that motivated you to stay fit?

Honestly, no. BITS witnesses numerous workout resolutions being broken over the years. And my friends used to believe I was really really unfit, which was true to a great extent. It was when I started participating in these activities here in Bangalore, there was a significant improvement in my fitness and health.

How do you manage to spare time for these activities while working full time? 

My work hours are pretty flexible and the idea here is to spend 1 hour a day on an activity. I believe that is something each one of us can absolutely do. 1 hour on weekdays and maybe a little more on weekends. That is enough.

Do you take special care of your diet in everyday life?

I am a foodie. And taking care of my diet is one area I have not been able to do any good. There are certain things that I have started, little things like minimizing the usage of oil, switching to coconut oil, banning sugar from the kitchen to name a few. I would like to reduce intake of junk food in the future, I guess 😀

How was your experience participating in the Burn A Million Calories Event conducted by BITS2Fitness?

It was really fun. Self motivation is really the key to sustain fitness but such challenges once in a while push you to do better. I joined a 45 day cross fit program which really helped increase strength and log those calories on the counter. Lots of people were motivated by their peers to do better and push harder and quite a few will have actually sustained their momentum. It was a great effort by the organizers and I would love to see happen every year.

Finally, what would be your advice to the BITSian community to stay fit and healthy?

At the risk of sounding cliche, I would say it is really the beginning which is difficult. We make resolutions and set unrealistic goals leading to lack of motivation and then dropping the idea altogether. It is important to keep your fitness regime fun. Do what you find interesting and challenging. It can be karate or yoga or swimming or dance. Choose the activity carefully and enjoy the process. Once you see positive results, that will keep you going. Also, you will love the compliments 😉


Interviewed bySuchita Pati (2011A3PS269H)


Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Eleventh Interview: Saurabh Surana (BITS-Pilani’11)


Out 11th Interviewee for the “Meet BITSians in Sports” series is Saurabh Surana (2007A3PS080P).

Saurabh is an avid Cyclist and recently won the “Most Consistent Performer” title during the Burn A Million Calories(BAMC) event. He has been able to keep himself fit through many other activities like tennis, dance, and hiking while working at Broadcom. In an exhaustive interview with Saurabh, he shares with us his story so far and his motivation and mantra to stay fit.

Name: Saurabh Surana

BITS ID: 2007A3PS080P

What has motivated you to so rigorously pursue fitness? 

I have been a super active person right from my childhood. I like to keep doing something or other. So indulging in sports is one of the ways which helps me enjoy my time and keeps me fit and healthy at the same time. Fitness has also a great impact on our personal and mental life. It keeps a person fresh which in turns increases thinking capabilities, creativity plus takes away all the tension/stress from you. Nowadays most of the jobs are of sedentary nature, so there is greater need to include some activities in our lifestyle to maintain good cardiovascular fitness.

What are the sports/activities you are involved in and how did you get into playing these sports?

I have almost played/tried pretty much every sport by now. But few of them which I really love are tennis, cycling, swimming, dancing, and computer games (racing, shooting to name a few). I was able to do all these regularly while I was in college (Masters) thanks to our BITS culture of having no compulsory attendance and studying just before exams which gives us enough time to do anything but study(haha….). But once you move from student life to work life, it’s not that simple. Many things come into the picture.

Tennis – I believe it was one of those epic Wimbledon matches between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal which got me into my head and I seemed to get crazy about Tennis. Since then becoming a diehard Roger Federer Fan (reasons being pretty obvious☺), I have been watching/following tennis very closely. I tried playing once or twice while I was in BITS but because of lack of facilities during that time and tennis being not that popular sport in college, I kind of skipped it. Later while my stay at IIT-Bombay as a researcher, I had few close friends who were good at it and used to play regularly. So that’s where it all started and I picked up very fast. And after coming to the US for masters, it became even easier to play Tennis because of popularity and amazing facilities.

Cycling – I have been into cycling since my childhood. I was always excited to be the fastest person on road, be it sitting beside my dad while he was driving or me biking. So, I bought my first road bike in BITS. I and one of my close friend Abhinay used to bike regularly in and around college. We always used to start for our morning classes just a couple of minutes before so that we could fly across the crowd like a jet plane or something. It was kind of cool thing. I remember that we were supposed to have a bike race in the third year at BITS. We both went through the route, came up with some team tactics but I guess it never happened thanks to rain and the event had to be cancelled☹. Taking a step further, recently I came across one of the videos of Mark Cavendish (British professional rider) amazing sprinting capabilities so I started following Professional cycling as well. And because of that, I have actually started taking cycling seriously and looking forward to getting into racing.

Dance – Well this was kind of unique experience which I got in masters. I guess I was too shy during my undergrad days to dance. But once I started, I loved it a lot. I joined ballroom dance club apart from tennis club because it seemed to be a lot of fun to me. I thought of joining triathlon club as well but that was a too costly affair to jump in especially when you come to the US and you start paying everything in dollars. Then I had a group of friends who were preparing for India Night and were looking for male dancers (rare to find such people :P). So I went forward and tagged few of my friends too along with me. Trust me, it was a lot of fun. We used to practice regularly. Though initially we were given some time-pass roles but then later once we improved and we performed a lot of time especially during festivals. I loved it so much that even a day before an exam I used to go for dance class.

So these are few of the many things which I do/play. I used to play badminton a lot too in college. I guess it was my tennis alternate on rainy days since we had nice indoor courts. Nowadays I keep switching between tennis and cycling like a couple of days each.

What is the typical and the maximum distance you have cycled? Any long cycling trips you have traveled or plan to travel?

I typically ride about 50-60 miles (~80-100 km) on both Saturdays and Sundays. Apart from that, I ride to work every day so that’s a good daily workout too. I plan to do a double century ride this year (200miles/320km). Also, I have plans to get into racing soon. I want to give it a try at least. So I am currently working on it.

What do you love the most about cycling? Many BITSians have taken up cycling as a sport, any advice to the budding cyclists?

Cycling is a good cardio workout. Plus another good thing about it is you get to explore the nature. It may not be possible in cities but if we got I bet there are a ton of places with great breathtaking views.

I know some of the BITsians who do cycling for fun and race as well. In fact, they only kept me motivated to do cycling. For others who would want to get into cycling, I would say – it’s always nice to have a good bike but that shouldn’t be a limiting factor if cost is the concern. You can always upgrade once you start enjoying. Also if you want to do long distance biking, make sure you get a bike fit done as soon as you get the bike. Because it is not fun when your body starts aching at end of the day just because something on the bike was not the way it should have been. Also, try to eat healthy and avoid junk food if possible.

What kind of heights have you covered hiking? How regularly do you hike? 

Longest I have hiked so far is 20 miles (32km). I am not a regular hiker, though, but whenever I and few of my friends travel within States for long weekends, we go to national parks and hike the mountains.

Were you actively involved in any sports activity in BITS? Any particular memory from BITS that motivated you to stay fit?

Actually No, I used to be computer games at that time (especially racing games) apart from cycling. Apart from that, I played Carrom a lot, little bit of table tennis may be football/cricket sometimes. Btw, Computer gaming also has some positives expects too. It develops creativity, sharpens your mind, and gives the ability to make quick decisions. But nowadays I focus more on outdoor games as opposed to indoor.

How do you manage to spare time for these activities while working full time? How did you manage these while pursuing Master’s?

Well, it’s not hard to manage at all. If we see normally people work for 8-9 hours a day excluding break times. But even If we include that, let’s say 10 hours. So, Assuming 7-8 hours of sleep, 2-3 hours here and there for dinner, normal gossip etc., you still get a couple of hours easily which you can spend on fitness. At end of the day, it all comes down to how enthusiastic you are about something. If you are then you can always find time for it. Time management is just a mental barrier.

Life at masters – My research at IIT-Bombay helped me a lot with some of the core topics in electronics plus the CDC’s at BITS were also very detailed, so I never faced any issues during my Masters. Actually, if you see, we generally take 3 courses per semester in Masters so that way we get a lot of time as opposed to 6+ during Bachelors. Also, I regretted a little bit by not doing any outdoor sports at BITS regularly, so that was also one of the main motivation for me.

Do you take special care of your diet in everyday life?

Yes. Diet plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and active life. I am vegetarian and I prefer eating Indian food any day. So the fact that we don’t get good homemade Indian food here, so I end up cooking pretty much every day. Also, Life at Masters has taught me how to cook and somehow it has also become one of my hobbies. This way I get to eat what I like plus I get fresh healthy food. Also, I try to avoid frozen food as much as possible. I eat fruits daily and keep switching between different fruits for varieties. Milk, Curd, wheat Chapatti, wheat bread, and nuts are my usual daily source of protein.

As far as rides day are concerned: Pre-ride – I generally eat curd mixed with some berries, raisins, and granolas to get sufficient carbs and other nutrients and do some basic stretches. Post-rideI take Whey protein right after the ride for quick recovery of muscles followed by lunch within half an hour or so. During rides, I try to take at least 60gm of carbs and at least half a liter of water per hour to fuel myself. So for this, I keep some energy bars and prepare sports drink using Lemon oranges, honey, and salt mixed with water. You can think of it as a healthier version of Gatorade or other sports drinks available in the market. And it doesn’t take much time too.

Also, I go to the gym twice a week to work on specific muscles and core strength.

Finally, what would be your advice to the BITSian community to stay fit and healthy?

I would say stay active and live a healthy and fit life. There should be at least one sports which you should play regularly to maintain a good work-life balance.


I hope I didn’t bore you much. Thanks to BITS2Fintess team for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts. I look forward to hearing from many more BITsians about what they think about sports and fitness.


Interviewed by: Suchita Pati (2011A3PS269H)


Meet BITSians in Sports: BITS2Fitness Tenth Interview: Varun Soni (BITS-Hyderabad’14)


Our 10th Interviewee for “Meet the BITSians in Sports” series is Varun Soni (2010A2PS484H).
Varun bagged Golds and broke records in BOSM(BITS-Pilani Sports Fest) for three consecutive years, showing exceptional performance in Powerlifting. He also won Golds during Arena(BITS-Hyd Sports Fest), Spardha (IIT BHU Sports Fest) and also got the “Best Athlete” award at Spardha.
Having achieved an AIR of 356 in Civil Services Exam 2015, Varun is currently an Assistant Commissioner(officer trainee) at CBEC, Ministry of Finance, Government of India
In an exhaustive interview, Varun shares his fitness mantras, food habits, experiences, and memories from BITS.

Name: Varun Soni
BITS ID: 2010A2PS484H

What motivated you to so rigorously pursue fitness in college? Were you a fitness freak before that as well?

I was a sportsman from 4th standard.Earlier I used to train in Jiu-Jitsu which is a form of martial arts. After getting neck injury, I had to shift to weight training which I continued till 12th standard. After failing in 12th first semester and getting motivation by senior players to cope up with studies and the feeble future in sports, I started studying with an aim to get into a good educational institution so that I can continue lifting at my natural pace. So, it was always in my blood but college life at BITS made me manage it well too. Also, the incentives and support from college administration aided me much. I had an ACB in the first year as I only gave emphasis to sports after being months away from it.

Did you ever aim to compete at weightlifting championships? What motivated you to go ahead?

I was doubtful about getting an adequate opportunity at the college level but with time I created opportunities for myself. I went far off places like Varanasi, Jaipur Warangar, Pilani, etc., just to take myself to full potential. The incentives and laurels of winning kept me moving forward so did my passion towards it.

How did it feel to have won a Gold in weight-lifting at BITS-Pilani sports festival BOSM, while representing BITS-Hyd?

It gives you a lot of pride and fame having earned something which our college was not doing from previous years. It also taught me to think of first as a team and then individually. But one also needs to learn how to lead a team to victory. I was sad at any other person not getting medals.This also motivated me to train juniors in my sport.

Did you face any hurdles while training or during the competition? How did you overcome them?

Injuries are common in weight training. At times I even hurt myself just days before competitions. Even now I have major tears in various ligaments. After winning, people start expecting certain standard performance from you for which you have to toil to maintain. This at times motivates as well as makes you conscious. College administration, faculty members, even the people working at mess and CP were helpful to me. Initially, it was difficult to manage sports and studies, but with time and help, I learned how to manage both. So, with help and motivation, I was able to overcome these hurdles.

Your achievements motivated many other students to hit the gym and follow your footsteps. Have you personally trained juniors? How does that feel?

I had the dream of making our college clean sweep the medal tally after being given so much motivation and support from the college. Moreover, it’s better to be social in sports. So I started training people with me. It feels good and also adds value to the sport. People have a habit to compete against each other to rise further and I created a competitive environment for juniors to take advantage of while training.

Any particular memory from BITS or the competitions that you will forever remember?

The period of rise and fall. During the beginning of my final year, placements are the things that matter and you become irrelevant in front of careers. But I knew one ought to be doing what one loves, otherwise, there won’t be long-term happiness in life.This was the moment which changed my course and led me to where I am. And I will always cherish this period in life.

You are known to have followed a very strict diet that helped you along with your long practices. Could you share the diet plan you followed?

Morning 8 AM I would start with 6 eggs + cornflakes + 1/2litre milk + sprouts + brown bread and butter. Then would very infrequently attend classes, if I did I kept a water bottle with me. I had 8-10 liters of water daily. I carried boiled potatoes to classrooms which I would enjoy in breaks.
Around 1.30 PM I had lunch. I was given chicken or cheese every day for lunch. I could also tell mess people to cook something special for me if I wanted. This was the courtesy of college administration. Before workouts, I ate bananas, milk and protein shake and repeated the same after workouts. At night I would always eat non-veg, which I was served daily. I would hit 2 body parts in a day and eat according to the workout I was doing

You cleared the UPSC Civil Services exam after a year-long hard work. Congratulations!! How did you keep yourself fit and active during the long hours of study?

Actually the lifestyle of fitness forced me to come to my native place for preparation. I did not prefer to joining any coaching as there would have been great difficulty in maintaining this lifestyle. No one could study 24 hours a day, so in between during breaks, I would try to hit my muscles as hard as possible. Also, it is scientifically proven that workout increases cognitive abilities and concentration.Though I could not follow sports so vigorously, it was just a maintenance phase. The vigorous phase will start during my training.

How do you or how do you plan to maintain yourself fit considering the long working hours?

In IRS, life is not much hectic and there is a perfect work-life balance. Moreover, the government is giving opportunities to civil servants to excel in all fields.10 AM – 5 PM are the usual timings and my passion for sports will motivate me to complete work schedule as soon as possible. Also while working on deputation to agencies like CBI, RAW, DRI, CBN, etc., being fit will actually matter.

Finally, what would be your advice to the BITSian community to stay fit and healthy?

Just giving 30-45 minutes of a workout to the body is actually very stress relieving and increases concentration-cognition. We can include basic running jogging, playing, badminton, swimming into our work schedule. These days gymnasiums are also offering us 24/7 service.

Interviewed by: Suchita Pati (2011A3PS269H)