The final day of the Institute Soapbox started off on March 9th – to a feeble audience of 17 – with the sole candidate for the position of the International and Alumni Affairs Secretary – Ravi Khatri. The session was moderated by Ms. Swathi, Commissioner (SECC), with Ms. Chaithra Navada, Chief Commissioner, Student Ethics and Constitutional Commission (SECC) and Deputy Chief Election Officer Prof. Anup Kumar Bhandari in attendance. Siddharth DP reports. For a complete view of the Soapbox, refer to the video of the same on the YouTube channel of SECC here.

Ravi Khatri is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Engineering Design.

The Presentation

The candidate laid out the three key points of his vision – to create a meaningful impact on the life of each and every student in IIT Madras, to improve the perception of IIT Madras among the aspiring undergraduates and postgraduates, and to leverage the resources provided by the Pan-IIT network for IIT Madras to create greater opportunities for its students.

His vision encompassed various facets of I&AR – namely: Alumni Relations, International Relations, Institute Branding, Associations, Chennai-36 and Peepal Pol (IITM TV).

He started by elaborating on his vision for the Alumni Relations. Emphasizing on the fact that IITG and IITKGP have their own alumni webinar series similar to the one currently held by the institute’s Alumni Relations Cell (ARC), he proposed to start a pan-IIT webinar series wherein the students of any IIT, particularly IIT Madras, could participate in the webinars of other IITs. This, he claimed, would improve the quality of speakers and cover all the areas in the core and non-core domains.

He also proposed starting a freelancing programme for all the students interested in Design, Web Development, Content Development etc. Through this, he aimed to connect students who are willing to work as freelancers to alumni who are willing to give them projects to work on. Further, he said that he wanted to create a network of alumni and students of the institute, especially to facilitate the connection of alumni who were part of a particular club in their institute life to the current club members – to make them feel closer to their alma-mater.

Coming to International Relations, he said that he wanted to streamline the process of research internships in foreign universities by creating a Research Internship Portal that would be similar to the current Placement Portal or Internship Portal. He also envisioned a Local Friendship Programme where incoming international students would be connected to local families – such as the families of the institute professors. Citing his experience in the United States, he felt that the amount of cultural exchange that could be gained by a foreigner would be immense. Further, he wanted to increase the awareness about Joint Doctoral and Supervision Programmes for PG students because only about 100 students participate in this every year while IIT Madras has around 200+ MoU’s. He proposed to do this by having department level sessions for spreading awareness.

In relation to Branding, the contestant proposed to start a fundraising campaign for projects such as those under Sahaay in CFI in order to increase their funding and give them recognition through alumni. He also aims to have a content hosting platform about IIT Madras which would break stereotypes relating to the institute as well as highlight the uniqueness of the institute.

His proposals for Associations entailed creating a Sponsorship Team that would give more flexibility and raise funds during International Day, Alumni Reunions and other related events. The Associations team would advertise the deals available to the students and publicize them in the Students’ App and I&AR sessions.

Regarding Peepal Pol (and IITM TV), his first proposal was to collaborate with content creators wherein 1st and 2nd year students would be mentored by professionals. Secondly, he wanted to start a podcast and video series to promote the brand of IIT Madras and focus on the life of an institute student, as well as the academics and the research that happens in the institute.

With respect to Chennai36 (C36), his manifesto point was to start a news subscription service wherein students interested in a particular C36 article would be intimated by email every time a new article from a series was published. Next, he wanted to create an online platform for alumni who graduated a long time ago to get in touch with their alma mater through Alumni Letters.

Questioning by the Executive Council

The bulk of the Soapbox session involved questioning from both the EC and the GSB. From the EC, only the Students’ General Secretary – Sriram Kasyapa Kompella was present for the session from the beginning – and he was later joined by the SLC Speaker Amar Jyoti. Apart from him, since all the members of the audience were part of the I&AR vertical, the questions asked were ‘Core Team’ questions as opposed to GSB questions.

The SGS opened the questioning session by asking Ravi about the feasibility of selling the naming rights of a place – such as SAC – in the institute and asked whose permission he would take to do so.

While the candidate replied that he had to contact the Registrar, Sriram interjected and asked him if he had done so – to which the candidate replied in the negative, citing the reason that he couldn’t be in the institute on a weekday (he is currently pursuing his 6 month mandatory internship). Sriram then quipped that it only took an email, and moved onto the next question.

The Research Affairs Secretary, Sudharshan R., was absent but his questions were asked by proxy by Sriram.

The question was regarding the attendance of PG students for the Townhall Talk on International Opportunities (which include Joint Doctoral Programmes (JDPs) and Joint Supervision Programmes (JSPs)) and by extension – how his department level awareness sessions would fare better in terms of participation by PG students.

Ravi replied that the turnout was pretty low, and Sriram asked him if he was aware of the existence of Research Scholars’ Day. To this, the candidate responded that he did know and also added that a JDP/JSP awareness session by the Dean (IAR) had seen a much better response – with an attendance of about 200-300 students, but he felt that they were still not reaching out to each and every PG student. Sriram then asked the candidate if he knew of the existence of any Department Level PG event – to which the candidate responded that it was immaterial to his plans for a department level session, but answered later that no such event was happening as of now. Sriram pushed back and asked him why he thought that was the case – the candidate said that it was presumably difficult to gather PGs for events – and at this point, Sriram asked him if PGs would attend his proposed event – especially when it’s something they don’t know about. The candidate asserted that they would attend because it was of their interest, and this was an avenue where he would be working in close coordination with the RAS. To this, Sriram said that since he was asking this question on the behalf of the RAS – it was the RAS himself who believed that it was not possible. Ravi said that that was fine – and that it is sufficient if the aspiring RASs thinks it’s possible – and both the RAS aspirants had cleared it. Following this, there was a bit of back and forth between the candidate and the SGS over whether the candidate was willing to ‘admit on the floor’ that he thought the opinions of the RAS didn’t matter.

After this, the questioning moved back to the SGS.

What does the Associations team think of branding institute spaces for a deal for the student community, such as lower prices of Ola rides for students in return for branding rights for Ola for a place in the institute on non-Shaastra and non-Saarang days and do you think it is possible?

Ravi replied that he did not want the Associations Cell to entertain a deal that would operate throughout the year – citing an example that an association with Ola might hamper the prospects of Uber coming to the institute for placements, and by extension cause an issue for Shaastra and Saarang sponsors. Sriram then clarified that when it came to the fests – it was the footfall that was branded by the companies and not the spaces.

Sriram then enquired about a manifesto point regarding ‘communication through WhatsApp groups’ in relation to building awareness about JDPs and JSPs and asked him how information dissemination through WhatsApp could qualify as a manifesto point.

Ravi said that he would conduct an overall department level awareness campaign, and that that was one among many initiatives he planned to undertake to boost awareness. At this point, Sriram interject to read aloud what the candidate had mentioned in his feasibility report, asked him clarify what he meant while adding that he hadn’t mentioned any other initiative except for the WhatsApp message. The candidate responded by saying that the main focus was on the sessions which he would conduct in collaboration with the RAS, and that WhatsApp was just a part of it. On being questioned by Sriram, the candidate also mentioned that he would also be taking the help of the Department Legislators for this – but that a collaboration with the RAS would be imperative to reach out to the PGs. Sriram again asserted that sending information through an email – while also referring to another manifesto point regarding an email subscription service for C36 – couldn’t be a manifesto point. Ravi explained that this would benefit both institute as well as outside students since they could potentially miss out on interesting articles of a series due to not checking the website; and subscribing to that series would therefore cater to the needs of the students in a timely manner.

Next, Sriram stated that he had gathered from some of the I&AR core team members in his capacity as the Alumni Relations Cell Head, Ravi had inducted multiple current deputy heads from his own department. He also added that approximately 25% of his current team was from the ED Department, and questioned if there was any existence of nepotism there.

Ravi vehemently denied any charges of nepotism and mentioned that it wasn’t his fault that the majority of applicants who applied for that post happened to be from ED. He also went into detail, and mentioned the department background of the candidates for the post at that time – and explained that the few non-ED students had chosen other PoRs, and concluded by saying that the high number of ED students was not engineered but was a mere coincidence.

The International and Alumni Affairs Secretary, Dhruv Jain, was absent but his question was asked by proxy by Sriram.

The question was regarding the strength of the I&AR Student Council. In his personal opinion, Dhruv felt that the number was too high. He further enquired if the candidate agreed, and if yes – what were the initiatives to cut down on the current strength.

Ravi replied that he agreed, and that he didn’t feel that the students had enough work for the entire year. He then explained his initiatives- he would remove the post of Manager for the Operations team as he felt that the documentation of other teams could be maintained by the teams themselves. When asked for more initiatives, Ravi replied that he would create a vertical for sponsorship under the Associations Cell – and added that this would engage them throughout the year. At this point, Sriram interjects to enquire about the source of the Alumni Reunion budget. The candidate replied that the source was the registration fee paid by the Alumni for attending the event – which was approximately Rs.8000 per entry. On being asked whether he plans to waive the registration fees and the timeline required to achieve it, Ravi replied that he hoped to raise most of the amount from sponsorship and the remaining from alumni as registration fees. Getting more specific, he quotes the budget to for the reunion to have been 2.4 lacs and adds that if his sponsorship team managed to secure funding to half of that amount – the registration fee could be cut down by around Rs.3000. Further, he plans to have two Associations’ heads instead of one, who would be taking care of both sponsorship and associations. He also added that this team could look into funding for other I&AR events as well – including International Day, Willkommen, Alumni Reunions and possibly a Day at IITM as well. Next, Sriram asked him whether this model of sponsorship could be extended to other teams apart from the I&AR Council; to which Ravi replied that it could and that if any other team or club of insti came to them for sponsorship, the associations’ team would help them. The structure of the proposed sponsorship vertical was asked about and Ravi replied that there would be two Heads and four Deputy Heads as Strategists. Sriram then sought clarity on how Ravi would cut down the number of PoR’s while increasing the current PoR’s to which Ravi replied that he was increasing the number of PoR’s at the top level and would keep the same number of managerial positions, resulting in giving them more work as opposed to cutting down the number.

Sriram went on to ask him what initiatives he had in mind with respect to the branding of niche research in IIT Madras.

Ravi replied that he planned to start a video series, publishing a video per department covering all the niche research happening in that department. He further wanted to have targeted publicity for PG placements by showcasing the research happening in the labs of insti – and mentioned that this was based on the feedback of the RAS.

The questioning mic then moved to the IITM TV Head, Bharat Patil, who had a follow up question to the previous one. He pointed out that this point was consistently in the IITM TV Head apps for two years, as well as in the I&AR secretary manifestos for around 3 years. He proceeded to ask him if he knew what the problems with starting this video series were.

Ravi replied that there was a problem with the videographers who used the equipment for their own work. He also said that all the work regarding acquiring permissions would be taken care of by the RAS, and the I&AR team would only contribute in the shooting of the video. To this, Bharat asked him what the precise problem was that IITM TV faced that didn’t enable them to shoot the video for the past three years. Ravi replied that he wasn’t aware of each and every problem IITM TV was facing and Sriram interjected asking him to propose a budget, its source and the permissions required for undertaking this video series project. Answering the second part of the question, Ravi replied that the permissions of the lab head and HoD. As for the source of the budget, he mentioned that it would be split evenly between him and the RAS while adding that since the initiative would benefit the students of IITM as a whole, a part of the budget could be sourced from the Gymkhana. Bharat then pointed out that additional permission from the companies sponsoring the lab would also be required and that most companies preferred to not advertise their research- how would he then solve this problem? Another IITM TV Head – Harsh Patel – also added to this, while clarifying that if a professor was pursuing company sponsored research, he/she wasn’t at liberty to publish the research and the company wouldn’t be willing to oblige since the developed technology would be mainly for the benefit of the company. Therefore, shooting such videos hadn’t been possible. Bharat then quipped that the candidate should have been aware of the problems of IITM TV before mentioning initiatives as a manifesto points to which Ravi retorted that it wasn’t a manifesto point.

Bharat then solicited Ravi’s ideas for the team structure that would take care of the of his manifesto point which facilitated work opportunities to freelancers by alumni.

Ravi answered that the Alumni Relations Cell (ARC) would be working on this, in coordination with the IITMAA office, while taking requests from alumni who would be willing to give projects of their firms/startups to students of IIT Madras, and that the job of the ARC team would be to only facilitate this process by providing a platform for it. He went on to add that the team would not be involved in the remuneration side of things and that no new team would be required. Bharat then sought clarity on whether the platform would be a website, a place or on-ground event. Ravi mentioned that it would be an online portal – to which Bharat asked him who would create the website. Ravi then said that the same vendor with whom the Dean I&AR was currently working with for the I&AR portal would be responsible for this website too. Bharat then asked him whether the Alumni Relations Cell (ARC) had the bandwidth to achieve this with the current number of managers. Ravi clarified by explaining the role of the current ED 7th semester seniors in helping their juniors get internships and said that the Alumni Relations Cell would do a similar thing by only connecting students with the alumni and then exiting the loop. Bharat then asked him who would maintain the website to which Ravi replied that it was the vendor’s responsibility to maintain it. Bharat further questioned him as to how the data of both the students as well as the alumni would be kept private and secure to which Ravi said that the data of the alumnus would be public even otherwise, and that students’ data would only be accessible to the alumnus. If this process doesn’t go smoothly, then an employee from IITM Alumni Association would interfere; if not, then no interference by IITM employees would be required.

Bharat then asked him about the other initiatives he had taken with respect to the JDPs and JSPs apart from the WhatsApp group.

To this, he mentioned that the department level sessions were the main initiative. Bharath then enquired if he planned to compile all the information into one resource, adding that he was currently facing the problem himself. Ravi replied that currently he didn’t, but that he would take that initiative up with the International Relations Cell and Office in the near future.

Sriram then asked him about his opinion regarding Pod, Da! defaming the institute on multiple occasions.

Ravi replied that he felt that Pod,Da! didn’t fit in with what the IAR student council was doing. Sriram interjected to mention that these exact same views were aired by the previous secretary as well – but no sizeable action had been taken. Then, Sriram and Bharat in turns asked him about the specifics of what he would be doing regarding this and Ravi replied that he wouldn’t include it in his rulebook. Sriram then proceeded to ask him about what he would do about their existing content and Facebook page. Ravi said that they would have to delete all their Facebook posts that were made using any Institute or I&AR property after notifying to the public that they aren’t a part of IAR. In this regard – Ravi also wanted them to put up a pinned post on their page that mentioned that they were an independent body that was no longer part of the I&AR council. He clarified that he doesn’t have any hatred towards them, but that they can resume their work independently once they acknowledge that they are not an I&AR endorsed body. While reiterating that they would have to remove all the content that was created using institute property – Sriram questioned him about the timeline for the same. Ravi clarified that the current I&AR secretary would ensure that PodDa! wouldn’t be a part of I&AR before his tenure was over, and that the work associated with the same would be done by him. He also mentioned that he would bring this up in the very first SLC meeting of his tenure. Later in the soapbox, there were some concerns about how such a proposal could be implemented in the first place – given that one would have to sift through thousands of posts to begin with, and later about how the I&AR secretary could control the deletion of posts if he planned to remove them from his jurisdiction. Sriram then alleged that the page in itself got the traction that it did because it used the ‘brand of IIT Madras’, and that in itself was a property of the institute. Ravi however, stuck to his metrics of sizeable, physical properties of the institute. When Bharat asked whether he planned to remove all videos of IITM TV as well because all their content was written by the writing team of Pod,Da! and let the official media body take over, Ravi said that he wouldn’t do that. Harsh Patel, head of IITM TV then asked him as to why IITM TV came under the purview of I&AR instead of the Cultural Secretary and Ravi replied that created content for institute branding, and thus it came under the purview of the I&AR secretary. Bharat then asked him if he would limit the content of IITM TV to pertain to subjects of branding alone, and pointed out that there was another institute student body called the Media Team, and asked if he would now increase their scope to cover the non-branding oriented content. The candidate then reiterated that the I&AR Council was a supporting body to all the secretaries and that if any other institute team needed any assistance in matters related to videography or media, he would be willing help through IITM TV. Sriram then asked whether the candidate promised to have the next soapbox made by IITM TV to which Ravi replied that he didn’t know the feasibility and logistics of getting this move approved, but proposed to have it implemented in the near future. Bharat pointed out that IITM TV could barely finish its own projects – and such an upwards scaling would be impossible. There was then a moment of levity when Ravi referred to IITM TV as ‘you guys’ – when Sriram pointed out that he himself, was a member of the same umbrella organization. He was later asked if he had read IITM TV’s publishing policy – the candidate responded in the negative, but said he was aware of the policies anyway.

The SLC Speaker then entered the hall and opened the floor of questioning regarding the controversy and discussion of the above issue in SLC and when Sriram interjected asking the number of times the candidate had attended the SLC meetings, Ravi replied that he hadn’t attended many, but had attended the Town Hall meeting the previous semester.

T5E questioning

Our first question to Ravi was as follows: “one of your main points in the manifesto is to improve the perception of insti. What do you think the current perception of insti is and what do you plan to elevate it to?” to which Ravi replied that he wanted to break the existing stereotypes to the aspiring UGs and PGs and highlight the uniqueness of IIT Madras as compared to IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi- for instance, someone from the North, such as UP, may have apprehensions about the local food and language. Interjected for clarification on whom exactly he referred to as aspiring students, he said both UGs and PGs who were going to join the institute. Amidst another wave of questions such as the specifics and feasibility of details not covered in his manifesto, Ravi said that it was mentioned under the ‘Branding’ category of his manifesto and that the current SGS had approved uploading content on the freshmen portal from the following year by the I&AR Council. The second question was that since the Career Development Cell was almost transferred from the I&AR Secretary to the AAS – why does handling research internships on such a large scale fall under the purview of the former? He replied that it was because he wanted to focus on international interns and wanted to streamline all the programs into one portal- wherein it was pointed out that most coveted internships in the third year were international. Ravi agreed, and cited the Constitution to say that it would be his duty to streamline the process of the office implementing initiatives. He also said that this research portal would be similar to the current placement portal. Sriram interjected, asking him for the broad budget, feasibility and timeline of the portal, since an entire batch project worth of money had already gone into the new placement portal and it was still not ready after a year. Ravi replied that it would be simpler and cheaper compared to the other portals without quoting the actual figures. The third question was, “if you had to choose one flagship initiative to mark your tenure, that no I&AR Secretary has done before, what would it be?” to which his reply was starting a mentorship programme for PG students. He said he feels that most PG students will be welcome to the idea of a mentor in their research lives if say they want to convert their research into a product or a start-up. He added that many students are not aware of the opportunities they have after graduation and this would be where a mentor comes in. He said he will start a research mentorship programme where the mentors have experience in research in either academia or the industry.

Back to Executive Council & Core Team

The questioning went back to the Executive Council. Bharat asked Ravi how he would internally brand IAR given the extremely low turnout on that day despite the Council having over a hundred students notwithstanding that it was a unanimous election. They inquired of his plans to instil the feels for I&AR amongst the insti students or at least in the council. Ravi replied that the Branding Cell would do two things – brand events & initiatives taken up by the I&AR Council, and brand IIT Madras amongst outsiders. He said from this year, emphasis will be laid on the internal branding and each team in the Council will have its own Branding manager When Bharat pointed out that it was Ravi’s duty as the ARC head to have advertised the ongoing Soapbox for the I&AR Secretary, Ravi first disagreed that it was his job and then conceded. Sriram then asked him to be more specific on his initiatives – his budget, its sources, and the timeline. Ravi then said that he would appoint a Branding Manager to every team who would be a part of the current Branding Cell to take this up, although he didn’t quote the budget or the timeline. Briti Ghosh, the Branding Cell Head sought clarity on whether a branding manager would be in two teams, to which he replied that just before an event like International Day, the Head would appoint a random manager who would take care of the branding activities of a specific event.

When Bharat asked for the statistics of the implementation of a proposed institute branding of merchandise, SLC speaker Amar Jyoti interjected asking whether insti merchandise branding would be for-profit or non-profit? Ravi replied that it would be non-profit and that if they realized a profit, he would use it for the welfare of the institute. Bharat questioned whether he had a figure or an Excel sheet to prove that this would yield profits and Sriram asked how he was sure that this investment would yield returns. Ravi then apologized for the lack of figures and statistics despite adding them to his feasibility report. Bharat and Harsh Patel then asked him about SunCloud and where he would upload all the new podcasts because currently, they were facing problems with the same, to which Ravi replied that he would try switching to something new like Saavn. Bharat then reminded him that it was a whole new dealer (and not Saavn) that he had found and had currently “cupped”. Upon getting unsatisfactory responses to a follow-up question, Sriram said that the candidate hadn’t done enough groundwork and asked the EC to move on.

An I&AR core member then quizzed Ravi on how he planned to conduct the pan-IIT initiative, how he would do a successful event, and opined on how without a moderator the process would spiral into chaos. Ravi’s reply was to hold the process online; IITM would take the initiative and head the pan-IIT association cell; with respect to the webinar cell, all IITs would plan the process together at the start of the year and each IIT would later be responsible for deciding the time and the speaker, and therefore wouldn’t require a moderator. Sriram asked Ravi at this juncture if he could name any existing pan-IIT bodies, to which Ravi cited the example of SPARK of which he was a part for the last two to three years. Bharat questioned the Affinity programme and asked if he had the numbers of how many people who were using the same for deals and discounts. Ravi replied that he did not have the numbers, and said the vendor in the next year would have to be asked to provide numbers for how many students used the programme. On being asked if he knew the logistics of taking such data from all vendors and the costs of analysing the same, he replied that he would have specific coupon codes which would determine the number of deals (by companies such as OYO) that were being used. On being asked if he had spoken to anyone from OYO or the Associations team, Ravi replied in the negative to the former and in the affirmative to the latter. However, Bharat stated that in his conversation with the Associations Cell head he was told that backpropagating coupons was difficult, and that data could be obtained through making deals. Ravi stated that it could be tried out next year and that the I&AR Secretary would always help out if needed.

The SLC Speaker then asked what the requirement and need of any secretary regarding the SLC was, to which the candidate replied that all the secretaries had to coordinate with all other secretaries and Standing Committee members and the SLC for a smooth ratification process and passing of budgets, and also ensuring that the relevant people from the I&AR team would be present at meetings where any point relating to this domain was being discussed. When pressed on whether he had missed something, he said it was also to coordinate with the Financial Accountability Committee so as to allow them to ensure that there is no misuse of Gymkhana funds. The Speaker then asked for details of the procedure for presenting a budget on the floor of the SLC, and Ravi replied that the groundwork had to be done by the team itself, and then presented on the floor, where the budget would be approved with a 2/3rd majority. He missed mentioning that it would come to the SLC through the Standing Committee and not the Executive. Ravi then listed, on being asked, the two sources of the current year’s budget- Gymkhana and the office under the Dean I&AR’s funds. He then stated that his plan would be to obtain funds from Gymkhana for events or things relevant to students, and from the Office for all others. Bharat then quizzed him about naming the source of the funds drawn by the different I&AR council teams. Ravi replied that the ARC drew their entire funds from the Office of Alumni Affairs and the IITM office the IRC and Branding Cell drew theirs from International Relations, and C36 also drew from the office; IITM TV would be using the majority of Gymkhana funds for their equipment. Bharat pointed out that he had omitted the Operations team, which had a significant share of the overall budget this year.

The Speaker tested his understanding of the Students’ Constitution and asked him what he felt was an indispensable part of the Constitution, to which Ravi replied that it was the right to vote of every IIT Madras student. When asked about his views on the Executive veto, a point that was raised in the Speaker Soapbox on the previous day. Srikant Musti (the ex-Cultural Secretary (Literary) and an alumnus of the institute) clarified what an executive veto was to the contestant because he wasn’t aware of it when the SLC Speaker asked, and Ravi replied that the executive veto shouldn’t exist. Further testing his SLC knowledge, the Speaker asked him how the relationship between the SLC and Executive Council should be, to which he replied that it should be smooth and harmonious. When quizzed further on who the members of the Board of I&AR were, Ravi replied that the I&AR secretary, the Speaker and the Standing Committee members were part of the Board of I&AR. The Speaker pointed out the mistake and said that the Standing Committee Chairperson was not a part of the board of IAR. Sriram asked Ravi if he knew of any body in which student secretaries represented themselves directly, to which he replied that there was the Board of Students, Board of Academic Courses, Board of Academic Research, and Placement and Training. He stated that the I&AR Secretary was a part of the Board of Students, and on being asked to name one more in which the I&AR Secretary and any other Secretary were a part of, replied that there was a student representative in the Senate from the EC, and seemed to have misunderstood the question. Ravi then stated that he would make relevant and sensible points when asked by Amar on how he would make sure his voice was heard when there were mostly Professors on the board.

Asking him about the groundwork he had done for the proposed Local Friendship Programme, Ravi replied that international students would be connected to local families, especially Professor families and he had deliberated on the idea with the ex-Dean of I&AR. He claimed that his current ED professors were also receptive to this idea and expressed willingness to be hosts, and that the expenses would be covered by the individuals and families themselves. On the question of checks and balances, I&AR would be in regular touch with everyone concerned. Amar then asked what the need for a separate mentor was while the Alumni Mentorship Programme currently existed. Ravi replied that the Alumni cell would release applications and reiterated his previous explanation on the same. He added that currently any mentor could be mapped to anyone, but that this [initiative] would be different in the sense that alumni specific to their department and industry would be allotted.

The IITM TV Head Abhijeet Sinha then questioned whether the work of all people involved in the content creation of Pod,Da! should be devalued by removing all their FB posts to which Ravi replied that since their content used institute and I&AR property, such video and audio posts had to removed. A series of questions followed on whether the team of Pod,Da! would actually listen to the candidate despite knowing that they were going to be removed from the I&AR Council, and the actual feasibility and specifics of this proposal being questioned, and Ravi replied that he would only take down posts that were made using the property of the institute or I&AR; for the others, Pod,Da! would have to have a disclaimer that they were in no way affiliated with IITM and hence be taken away from the purview of I&AR. On being asked how he would ensure that they take down their posts when they would no longer be answerable to I&AR, he said he would ask them to take it down before removing them from their purview. It was also pointed out to him that by doing this, the writing team of IITM TV would also be gone, hence decreasing the quality of IITM TV. He replied that defamation of the institute was a bigger concern than finding writers for IITM TV. Amar brought up the question of intellectual property, which was left unanswered. Bharat concluded by asking him what his views on internal elections within certain bodies in the institute were, and Ravi replied that while the consensus of the GSB was important, he felt that the current I&AR heads could better judge the next I&AR Secretary. Initially seemingly favouring meritocracy, according to Sriram, he later arrived at a neutral point and finally ended the Soapbox by favouring democracy and saying that he would not allow internal elections in his tenure. He could not promise this, in response to Sriram’s question on whether he could give his word and if found to be breaking it, resign out of moral responsibility. Ravi said he would investigate the pros and cons of the same.

With this, the Q&A session came to a close and the soapbox was thus concluded.

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