The Institute Sports Secretary Soapbox was held on the second day of the Institute Soapboxes. The candidates contesting this year for the position of the Institute Sports Secretary are Kishore Yadav and Vijaya Bhaskar. Hemanth Hariharan and Kaushik Viswanath report.
Owing to the length of the discussion, we urge readers to watch the full proceedings of the Soapbox on the SECC Youtube channel here.
As per standard Soapbox procedure, the candidates presented their manifestos and corresponding visions for Sports in the Institute. There was a moderate turnout for the soapbox, with supporters encouraging and cheering their candidates.
The first presentation was that of Vijaya Bhaskar’s, who began by elucidating his vision. He believed that there were three categories of students in the campus, ranging from experienced sportsmen to absolute beginners; his vision was to create a platform where the latter could eventually become an institute team player, which he believed could be achieved by providing the right kind of practice to the right player. Vijaya Bhaskar believed that infrastructure to facilitate such training was of key importance. Hence, he pointed out that it was essential to improve the hostel facilities, so that even beginners were given a platform to practice and explore since right now, institute courts were reserved for the team players and NSO members. He believed that the facilities which needed repair had to be identified first, and a budget for the same had to be passed in the hostel GBM. In order to maintain the awareness of sports in the institute, Vijaya Bhaskar pointed out that all information, ranging from PoR details, to contact credentials of sports representatives, had to be available on one single site. Vijaya Bhaskar strongly believed in tapping into the new talent that arrived in the institute. Creating awareness amongst the new students was of paramount importance, which could be achieved through freshie orientations, on-ground orientations, motivational talks etc. He suggested new initiatives such as an All-Star game on National Sports Day (29th August) and a Racquethlon (Combination of Table tennis, Squash, Badminton and Tennis). He also listed the shortcomings in the Institute sports facilities and promised to work on them. Vijaya Bhaskar also presented the previous Inter IIT statistics to draw attention to the fact that IIT Madras had not been in top form in the past few years. He also promised to bring about a major change in his regard. As far as his feasibility report was concerned, he agreed that it was only theoretical and only based on oral consent from Dean students and Sports advisor, and that the financial, operational and schedule feasibility had to be verified.
This was followed by Kishore’s presentation. Kishore Yadav’s vision was as follows: “To make sports accessible to the student fraternity by encouraging participation, improving infrastructure and celebrating talent.” Kishore put forth events such as an Interdepartmental League, Sporify, Swimathon, Sports Week, as a measure to make sports an all-inclusive affair. He also mentioned that he had planned to introduce initiatives such as Adventure Sports Club, Sporting Workshops for differently abled, Summer camp for PG solely for the purpose of catering to the interests of the “sporting minorities.” He promised the construction of infrastructure including a multipurpose indoor sports arena, a multipurpose ground, biometric access for gymkhana, in the not-so distant future in the campus. He also said that the gymkhana timings would be extended to allow for greater practise hours. As far as the structural organization was concerned, Kishore said that the current hostel sports secretaries only work along with the Institute sports secretary and not under him or her. Kishore explained his idea for a potential revamp in structural hierarchy wherein, a Sports Audit would be held for all hostels with points awarded for Dean’s Trophy, Finance Team under Sports Organizing Committee would be established, Sport Wise Sub-Committees would be instituted.
He also sought to expand the online outreach of sports through the introduction of games such as Chess, forming Ladder System for Racquet Sports, setting up of a Sports Website synced with the Students App.
Q&A between the candidates:
As per soapbox norms, candidates were given the opportunity to challenge each other on their manifesto points, with a maximum of three questions, with three follow-ups for each question.
To begin with, Vijaya Bhaskar pointed out that Kishore had suggested the construction of an indoor sports facility which would take a minimum of three years and asked him how he planned on addressing the current needs of the students, with there being regulations for using the SAC courts for volleyball. To this Kishore replied by stating that he would begin the process of mobilising funds for the indoor facility, and would extend the timings of the SAC courts as an interim measure. Kishore also clarified that since volleyball is also played with gum-soled shoes, there is no problem in using the SAC courts, and that in fact, volleyball practice had taken place in SAC during the monsoon this academic year.
Kishore pointed out that in his feasibility report, Vijaya had stated that a proposal for an indoor sports facility was already made, and that the process was underway. Kishore said that this was wrong, since no paperwork has been done towards this regard, and it was only informal talks. To this, Vijaya clarified by saying that he was informed by the Dean that the process of building an indoor facility was being considered, but that the paperwork had not begun yet.
Vijaya Bhaskar then questioned Kishore on how he planned to bring about transparency in the Gymkhana, to which Kishore replied that henceforth, the budget would only be drawn by students (a dedicated finance team) and would be passed through the SLC. He added that till date, the budget had only been proposed by the Gymkhana and their sports staff and was directly approved by the Dean of Students. As a follow-up, Vijaya enquired about the role of the FAC (Financial Accountability Committee), to which Kishore replied by saying that the FAC was not operational till this year, and that he would like a separate finance team that functions under the Sports Secretary to handle the sports budget.
At this point, the SLC speaker Nikhil Namburi made a clarification that it was of utmost importance that the budget be proposed, regardless of its passing through the SLC.
Following this, Kishore asked Vijaya Bhaskar how he planned on procuring more funds for hostel facilities, and if he knew where the Inter IIT funds come from. Vijaya replied by saying that MHRD allots funds to each IIT for practice purposes before each Inter IIT from the “Inter IIT fund”. Kishore corrected him by saying there was no Inter IIT fund as such. The outgoing Sports Secretary Dhyaneshwaran seconded Kishore and clarified that there was no Inter IIT fund as such and the only reason IIT Madras received money from the MHRD the previous year was because we were organizing the Inter IIT meet. When asked about the sources of funding, Vijaya said that two methods could be used. One, the hostel budget could be allocated for the same, and if that was not enough, alumni funds could be used. Kishore pointed out that “Joy of Giving”, a platform where alumni fund the hostel requirements already existed, and Vijaya replied that he had no knowledge of this fact. Kishore remarked that there were more problems with Vijaya’s feasibility report as well.
When Vijaya questioned Kishore about the feasibility and cost of making a new sports website, Kishore stated that he would take the help of the Institute WebOps team for the same. He further clarified that he had spoke to the Inter-IIT WebOps core as well, and that he was willing to take it up if the Institute was overburdened.
Kishore ended by questioning Vijaya about the All Star game, how the team would be selected, and when it would be organized. Vijaya replied that on National Sports Day (August 29th), the All Star team would be chosen by hostel and institute captains together based on their performance during Schroeter and that they would play against the institute team. Kishore responded by saying that the institute team was only selected at the end of the mini-camp, which would end in November. Vijaya replied that the previous institute team would do this in such a scenario, and that pass-outs and newcomers would be dealt with by merging the Institute A and B teams to form a complete team, and that freshies would not be selected. He also added that a procedure was not fixed for selecting the team, and could be altered in case a hostel had a lot of talented players.
Once the candidates had finished cross-questioning each other, they were questioned by the panel of the Institute’s current secretaries. Dhyaneshwaran began by asking both the candidates how they planned to conduct inter departmental fests, given that there was already an abundance of events. Vijaya said that many departments had existing tournaments, and these could be used as knockout rounds, and that these winners would participate in the tournament happening in August. Kishore said that his plan slotted the league in the odd-semester, and would have Volleyball, Cricket, Basketball and Football. He said that alternate venues like Sangam could be used for cricket, and Cauvery court for Volleyball during the weekdays. The tournament would be held in six weeks, leaving the first four weeks for selection and practice. For the selection process, Kishore mentioned that he would be assisted by the Institute Team captains, convenors and players as well.
Dhanyeshwaran then questioned Vijaya on his knowledge of the Dean’s Trophy, and about the authority in charge of adding new sports. Vijaya admitted that he didn’t know the exact number of sports under Dean’s Trophy and that he had consulted the DoSt for the inclusion of Racquethlon as a sport. Dhyanesh corrected him by saying that only the Sports Board decides the inclusion of new sports. He further inquired if Vijaya had a knowledge of any of the recent proposals. Vijaya replied that he did not. Dhyanesh clarified that seven proposals were made, and all were rejected, save pool and carroms, which would be added as demonstrational events. This was done to avoid a time crunch for team selection and practice, and he asked Vijaya to keep the same in mind while proposing sports.
He then turned to question Kishore Yadav on how much, and where he intended to obtain funding for some of the points on his manifesto, such as the one on providing refreshments, shoes, gym equipment, and so on. The response was that he had estimated 6.35 lakhs in total in his feasibility report and an elaboration on the split-up. He mentioned that he would raise this amount by cutting down on funds elsewhere, such as medals, refreshments during sports fests, to utilize Gymkhana money for institute students, instead of spending more for outside students. Follow ups were asked regarding the budget for refreshments this year for the Gymkhana, and how quality of the medals would not be affected. While Kishore admitted that he did not know the former, he answered the latter by saying that the medals from previous years were as good, but cheaper by a fair margin.
Vijaya Bhaskar was then questioned on whether he had an inventory of the equipment procured and currently present with Gymkhana, and on how he planned on distributing them to hostels with respect to his point on giving unused equipment to hostels. The reply was that it was already being done by the Sports Advisor, which Dhyanesh responded that it was not. As for distribution plan, he said it would be based on the requirement of each hostel.
Dhyaneshwaran then questioned the need for a Sports Audit, and how the evaluation would be different for tower hostels, quadi hostels, and girls hostels. Kishore said that interest for sports has reduced greatly, and that the Sports Secretaries don’t work under the Institute secretaries, and hence need to be incentivized. Points would be allotted based on lending capabilities and minimum requirements and maintenance of facilities. To differentiate between hostels, normalization would be done to ensure fair comparison between different types of hostels. He clarified that he would first propose the idea to the Sports Board and then through the SLC and only then implement it. The speaker clarified that it was an executive decision, and hence need not be passed through SLC.
The RAS questioned the feasibility of the PG exclusive session, considering that no turnouts were seen when Dhyanesh had attempted to implement the same. Kishore clarified that this camp would be for beginners, unlike the one existing, and would take place in the summer, when the PG students are free. He also clarified that this was applicable only to the existing PGs. and newcomers would be initiated through beginners’ camp which would be conducted both in the even and odd semesters. Vijaya clarified by saying that he would conduct exclusive on ground sessions during the first few weeks of August.
The CoCAS Ramprashanth then questioned the candidates about sports inclusivity for physically challenged students. Kishore first specified that there were 86 students with physical disabilities living in hostels, and that sporting workshops would be conducted to raise awareness about sporting opportunities for the differently abled. Vijaya stated that since this was a sensitive matter, a survey should be conducted through DoSt office to find out the sports the students were interested in.
The Speaker then inquired about Financial Accountability of all transactions made from the Gymkhana account. Vijaya said that a committee would be integrated with the CMSIF (Centre for Montioring Sports Infrastructure and Facilities) and that all bills would pass through them. Kishore proposed a new Finance Committee that would function under the SOC (Sports Organizing Committee) that would take care of all expenses of the Gymkhana. He failed to answer the question about signing all the bills of the Gymkhana.
The floor was then thrown open to the GSB that had gathered, that came up with a plethora of questions for both the candidates. Some of the Institute Team captains who were present voiced the grievances of their respective teams. Among other points that were raised were on the kind of awards that would be given for new events that were to be introduced. Some members of the GSB questioned the candidates on their feasibility reports.
One student questioned both the candidates on the quality of the hockey grounds on campus. Kishore said he would be reaching out to alumni to revamp the ground. Vijaya replied that he hadn’t received any suggestions for the same from club conveners and captains.
The question of chess not being integrated was raised, with the captain not being invited for the orientation. Dhyaneshwaran clarified that it was his error, and apologized for it. Both candidates assured that the captains would be a part of all meetings henceforth.
When inquired about how issues of damage of equipment distributed from the Gymkhana would be resolved, Vijaya said that rules would be laid in place, and hostels will be penalized for the same, and that the Gymkhana would have spares for the same.
Kishore was also made to clarify that the would increase the reimbursement money for the purchasement of new shoes, not pay for the shoes themselves.
Clarification was requested about the basis of the Sportsmanship Award proposed by Vijaya. He replied by saying that during his feasibility check, he had found out that such an award existed, and so he would not take any steps in that direction.
Upon questioning by the GSB, Kishore clarified that the prizes he proposed would be given to all sportsmen who clear a pre-decided criteria, in the form of vouchers, which would be funded by sponsors.
On being questioned on whether he plans to implement structural changes in clubs, Kishore spoke of introduction of a sub-committee comprising of convenors, hostel secretaries and faculty to monitor the needs of the institute. SLC Speaker Nikhil Namburi asked if he planned on making any changes to the document passed through the SLC the previous year. Kishore said that an application would be required for team captains as well.
Vijaya was asked about his provision for a dedicated space for athletics practice and its implementation. Vijaya replied that rules for this already in place but had no answer for how they would be enforced. He said that the same question was posed to DoSt by him and that since most of the people using the track were faculty, it was a sensitive issue.
A common question was posed to both the candidates, on how they planned to provide refreshments throughout the semester. Vijaya mentioned that he would conduct a feasibility check on the same after consulting the captains, should he get elected; while Kishore pointed out from his manifesto, refreshments would be provided the allocation of twenty rupees per head per day.
A question was posed to Vijaya Bhaskar regarding the ongoing intra-hostel events in some of the hostels, and how he planned to address the lack of facilities and funding the goodies promised. Vijaya Bhaskar mentioned that he had discussed this with the sports advisor, and goodies would be provided in the form of club memberships. About improving facilities, Vijaya reiterated points he had mentioned earlier about alternate sources of funding.
Kishore Yadav was then asked on how he would ensure that practise slots are available, in particular for girls, and also for non-Inter IIT sports, five of which were introduced recently. Kishore Yadav explained how a schedule would be worked out where the stadium would be available, for those who felt that the Sangam grounds were insufficient for their practice purposes.
The format of the feasibility report was also clarified, considering that most of the points were deemed feasible just because of oral consent from an authority, especially from Vijaya’s manifesto. The feasibility report is supposed to made after considering factors of budget, time constraint, and availability of facilities.
Kishore’s manifesto point of a multi purpose ground was questioned to which he clarified by saying that the store room that was between the two existing grounds would be demolished and rebuilt near the entrance, so as to extend the ground. On another question about his refreshment budgeting, Kishore clarified that he had accounted for all days that practice would be conducted, and not each day of the semester (quiz weeks, end semesters, etc would be excluded).
The current Institute Cultural Secretary, Srikanth Musti ended the soapbox with his questions. He inquired about how the current venue crunch for SAC could be handled, considering that more often than not, their requests were rejected by the Sports Advisor due to ongoing practice. Kishore replied by saying that the multi-purpose sports complex that he had proposed would house badminton courts, and would help in reducing the congestion. Vijaya said that he had proposed a dedicated facility for indoor sports as well, and the same would help.
Srikanth then asked what their take was on Shaastra and Saarang trying to utilize the stadium for their own purposes, which he mentioned had been spoken about for the past few years now. Kishore clarified that the stadium had a synthetic court, and that it was not advisable to hold events there, but if rules are adhered to, he had no problem with events being held. Vijaya also stated that the main concern was damage to the running track, and it could be looked into if that problem was solved.
The soapbox for the post of Sports Secretary thus came to an end, with the moderator dissolving the session by thanking the candidates, the Executive Board, the SLC speaker and the GSB for their active involvement and participation.