Friday, February 15, 2013

A New Beginning

On Valentine's Day, February 14, 2013, The University of Mumbai declared that I am now a Doctor in Philosophy, a Ph.D. in Communication and Journalism.  

So what now? I know many in our profession treat this as the end. For me, who has come back to academics after spending 20 years in the industry and in business, this is just the beginning. Working on a Ph.D. thesis is not a task, its a pleasure. It is also an eye opener. I thought I knew web designing well, until I was humbled by the tremendous amount of work research scholars have done around the world. The quest for Ph.D. degree has opened up so many paths to choose from, so many subjects to study, that I will not be able to travel even a few of them. Though I did get frustrated several times during the study, I am certainly not tired, rather, I feel invigorated.

A lot of credit goes to Dr. Sanjay Ranade for introducing research in the department, pursuing it, and then making us all do it. You have to see the way his eyes light up behind those thick glasses when he discusses research! Thanks again, Sanjay. I would never have imaged that I would ever be a 'Doctor'. 

My guide, Dr. Kiran Thakur has not just guided me, but shepherded me through the frustrating period of complete ignorance to a glimmer of light here and there. His method of gentle pinpricks worked well to egg me on and complete my research quite well in time. I am sure he must have despaired several times during those three years, especially when I would go into a periods of doing nothing, and then suddenly sending him enough material to give him sleepless nights. He must have thought that I had lost it, when I suddenly decided to sing in an orchestra and did not work on my research for almost 3 months. But he understood the compulsions under which I was working, the work load I have in the department and I don't remember him ever reprimanded me.

My friends and colleagues in the Department, were always there all the time. Dr. Meenakshi Upadhyay, who also got her doctorate on the same day, always lent a patient ear when I discussed my subject. She went through equally frustrating periods doing her own research. Dr. Sunder Rajdeep kept reminding me of how to be patient, considering the time it took for his RRC to be held, Prof. Daivata Patil, who gave suggestions in data analysis.

My father, Shri. Manohar V. Karandikar, supported me in his own way, silently watching and subtly suggesting that I eat on time. The wall of support was always there. My son, Tejas, did all that a growing up teenager should do…. bunked classes, did not submit his journals in time, made me go to meet his professors… probably all normal things for youngsters today. But I realized that I have a grown-up son when he helped me put together the website snapshots for my observations chapter in the thesis, working patiently and diligently, without me ever having to remind him. He simply understood the seriousness and the importance of my work. 

My wife, Manjusha was my biggest support system. All frustrations, irritations, had the tendency of dissolving almost immediately, with just a smile from her. I spent the last summer vacation, holed up in my room day and night, with no time table, writing my thesis, and with only research on my mind. I discussed my research with her, without ever bothering to know if she was interested. The tensions and the frustrations remained, till I finally got my letter last week. She took it all, giving unflinching, unconditional, and loving support. I know how lucky I am to have her as my best friend, and wife.

Several people helped immensely. Dr. Srivaramanghai and her colleagues from the IT Department, Dr. Ujjwala Barve from University of Pune, Dr. Sudhir Gavhane from Aurangabad helped me in conducting the crucial experiments in my research. I have chewed Mr. Ajit Sawant's brains for gaining insights into the political system, have spoken to Dr. Vinay Sahasrabudhe for his views on new media. Shri. Rahul Gadekar helped in analysing my data using SPSS. A simple note from Dr. Lance Bennett help me in formalizing my research topic in the first place.

My students willingly helped my in my experiments, patiently working on the software I had made, giving suggestions, testing it. All this would not have been possible without the support from all my students, past and present. Dear students, I am, because you are.