The third day of the soapbox series saw the first ever soapbox for the post of the Speaker of the Students’ Legislative Council. The candidate Nikhil Namburi is the unanimous candidate contesting for the post and as customary, the session began with the presentation by the aspiring candidate.
The candidate Nikhil Namburi started his presentation by outlining his vision for the Student Legislative Council- greater accountability and visibility; role of GSB in policy making; and data driven decisions. To increase accountability, he proposed to hold two town hall meetings every semester. In order to increase the participation of the GSB in the Standing Committee meetings, he wishes to hold the meetings at ‘better’ locations such as OHM Conference Room.
He felt that the GSB was not aware of the work done by the SLC and so he promised to put up important decisions, taken by the SLC, on the notice boards at popular spots like Gurunath and Himalaya. Stressing on the need to make unbiased decisions, he wanted the SLC to pursue a data driven analysis for every new rule. Moreover, he suggested carrying out an on-ground survey to increase the number of entries. In addition to all this, he assured to conduct workshops and lectures on policy making.
The aspiring candidate lauded the success of the recent SLC trip to Delhi and to impart the knowledge to a greater number of students, he has planned trips to the Tamil Nadu Assembly and Secretariat. Likewise, he wished to increase interactions with lawmakers in association with the EML team. Additionally, he wanted the SLC to construct gender-neutral washrooms in boys’ hostels to reduce the inconvenience faced by the female residents of the institute visiting boy’s hostel. He also wished for articles in vernacular languages in T5E to increase inclusiveness.
The speaker posted the first question, on how the candidate’s feasibility report was an extension to the manifesto and was cross questioned about the amount of groundwork done for the same. The candidate was quick to admit that the sudden change in the election timeline for speaker, with it being conducted along with the general election,instead of after it, has caused him trouble in gathering all the fundaes that he otherwise would have. Following which the speaker continued to assess each of his manifesto points, pointing out the pros and cons for the same. Another topic of interest was about the data driven decisions and method of implementation of the same. Nikhil Namburi, clarified that focused surveys would be carried out by standing committees and ad-hoc committees where it’s needed and random surveys would be conducted to know the general pulse. The candidate’s manifesto point about introducing vernacular articles in the fifth estate was put under the microscope by the speaker, stating a speaker doing so would be violating the freedom of press and T5E’s status as an independent news body. The candidate clarified that it was a proposal or a suggestion and not something that would absolutely be implemented.The suggestions of the candidate for having a long term standing committee and visits to secretariats and assemblies invited a lot of questions regarding the aim and the method of implementation of both the initiatives.
A heated discussion arose between some of the EW members and the candidate upon questioning the candidate’s role as a Saarang FR team member and conduct. The Speaker intervened, asking both parties to refrain discussing the topic. However following the suit, the candidate was questioned by an EW member on a complaint charged against him at the Dean’s office, to which the candidate replied that he was cleared of the charges and the allegations did not have any basis to them. The soapbox concluded with some follow up questions on similar issues by the audience leaving the floor open for the two soapboxes that were to follow.