The Soapbox for the Speaker of the Student Legislative Council (SLC) took place on 8th March 2019. The two candidates contesting for this post are Arvind Kumar, a third year undergraduate student in the department of Humanities and Social Science and Rishi Vigneshwar, a fourth year Dual Degree student in the department of Civil Engineering. Chaithra Navada, SECC Head Commissioner moderated the event. Sheeba reports.
The session started with both the candidates presenting their respective manifestos to the audience. Arvind went first and started out by wishing everyone a Happy Womens’ Day and then went on to explain his previous association with SLC, first as a coordinator in 2017-18 and then as a secretariat in 2018-19. He said this two years of experience helped him understand what a crucial role the SLC plays in student welfare. He mentioned that he aims to bring in responsible participation of the General Student Body (GSB) in the SLC and make it a proactive body in the advocacy of student rights. He then started with the first part of his manifesto – Efficiency and Efficacy which includes a semester-wise action plan of Standing Committees, an orientation programme for the new legislators, the introduction of Standard Templates for official documents and an SLC Calendar. He then moved on to the Accountability and Operations portion of his manifesto. He spoke about introducing the Budget Session – a special session of SLC, the Annual Report and the initiation of a SLC tab in the Students App. He then spoke about his plans for Outreach and Visibility such as the video series he wishes to introduce called ‘Ask the Speaker’, the Student Governance Week around Republic Day, ‘SLC for All’ and the Parliament visit. He further spoke about the Public Policy Club initiatives like a Summer School on Public Policy, Paricharcha – a case study competition and the semester long Real World Applied Policy Projects that he wishes to introduce. He then listed his credentials and asked the student representatives to make an informed choice.
After this, it was Rishi’s turn to present. He also started by wishing everyone a Happy Womens’ Day and said that his aim was to give back something to the institute that had given him so much in four years. He also spoke about his interest in student governance and public policy. He said that the perfect position from which he could serve the student community would be as the Speaker of SLC. He spoke about his interaction with SLC starting in his second year. He also went on to say that Venkatraman G, the then speaker is an inspiration of his and that both their visions align. He highlighted some points from his manifesto like scrutinizing agenda points, the SLC Wishlist, Orientation and Networking of Legislators to create a family-like bond among legislators. He also spoke about his idea to make an SLC Website with an Agenda box, where students can either add agenda points through their legislators or share their opinion on existing agenda points. He spoke about the introduction of legislative records of legislators so that students can question their representatives, publicising Standing Committee meetings and an independent evaluation mechanism for the Speaker. He explained his vision for creating a brand out of the legislators, SLC related notifications on Students App, and a Focus Group to sort out ambiguous issues. He spoke about introducing recognition awards for legislators and the GSB. He then spoke about his ideas for the Parliamentary visit and the public policy workshops. He then listed his credentials and thanked the audience.
Arvind was allowed to start questioning. He began by criticising Rishi’s idea of holding interviews for the Standing Committee members. He said that the Standing Committee members are chosen on the basis of SOP and not on interview and went on to call this a direct Constitutional violation. Rishi in his defence said that the interview is just a platform for them to express their SOP. He explained that based on the SOP, the shortlisted candidates will attend a fundae session by the old Executive Wing members in order to know what each of their roles and responsibilities are. After this, the interview would be conducted in order to gauge their knowledge on the role they play. The current Speaker, SLC Amar Jyoti came in at this point and explained to Rishi that since it is not mentioned in the Constitution that an interview can be held and since interviews lead to human error and bias, it is indeed a Constitutional violation. Amar proceeded to read out the selection procedure of the Standing Committee from the Constitution. Rishi replied that since it wasn’t explicitly mentioned that an interview cannot be held, and therefore it is not a Constitutional violation. Arvind followed up on his question by asking if Rishi was suggesting a Constitutional Amendment and how he hoped to pass it since it is not in the Speaker’s hands to push agendas. Rishi restated his stand that it is not a Constitutional violation. Arvind, once again followed up, saying that the term of the current Speaker goes on till March 22nd 2019 and questioned how Rishi, being Speaker-Elect and not Speaker can conduct the Standing Committee interviews if he wins. Rishi said it would be an informal session and that the results would not be published at that point.
Rishi asked how Arvind could have the Real World Applied Policy Project conducted throughout the semester. Rishi claimed that this wouldn’t be allowed as at the beginning of every year, the Dean Academic Courses sends a mail out to all the students saying that students cannot take part in research projects or internships during the semester. He asked if he had consulted the Dean Academic Courses in his feasibility check. Arvind said that the Real World Applied Projects would be like the semester long Policy Project that is currently happening and so it would not be conflicting with what the Dean has stated. Rishi then read out the mentioned mail in front of the gathering. To this Arvind said that since the mail only disallowed B.Tech. and Dual Degree students from taking up such projects, HS students will be able to take it up. When Rishi called this discrimination, Arvind denied it and the question was closed as Rishi has exhausted his follow-ups.
Arvind said that the bi-monthly review of Executive Wing members is the constitutional duty of Chairperson of the Standing Committee and questioned why it was a part of his manifesto. Rishi said that Amar had mentioned in one of the fundae sessions that it was okay to include duties and responsibilities in the manifesto report. Then Arvind followed up by saying that Rishi was not consistent as in the manifesto he says that it will be a bi-monthly report, but in the feasibility report he says that it will be a monthly review. Rishi clarified that there was a difference between a review and a report and that they would be reviewed monthly, but that the report would only be published once in two months.
Rishi questioned Arvind the need in having an association with the School of Public Policy (SPP), Delhi which is relatively new. He asked if Arvind thought that IITM’s own professors in the department of Humanities and Social sciences were incapable of giving the students the same knowledge. Arvind defended himself saying that he had spoken to the professors of SPP and they had agreed to have a formal association. He believes it will give the visit a greater outreach and that it would be value addition for the students. He also claimed that it was economical as they would be staying at IIT Delhi during the Parliament Visit. Rishi dismissed the argument of it being economical saying that for each day they were spending in Delhi, Rs. 80,000 of students’ money was being spent. Arvind said that they wouldn’t have to spend a longer time in Delhi for this and that it would be conducted in the two to three hour gap between sessions of the Parliament visit.
Arvind asked Rishi if he had discussed his plan of having the Budget Session in the month of April right after the new Executives take office with the aspiring Executive Council members. Rishi clarified that only the Summer Budget would be passed in April and not the entire budget. He reiterated saying that his, Arvind’s, plan of passing the budget in August was a violation of the Student Government Ethics as the students’ money cannot be spent before the budget is passed. Arvind justified his plan saying that there is a precedence to pass the Summer Budget in the summer vacation. Arvind followed up, asking Rishi how he planned to fit all the formalities of the first session along with the discussion on the budget in the three hours that Rishi had promised to restrict each session to. Rishi then replied that he was ready to give a timeline of how the first meeting would go if asked to do so.
It was then time for the final question of the cross questioning session. Rishi asked Arvind how he plans to encourage his Youth Parliament and policy case study competitions. Arvind said that he would have skill based training for those who are interested and that non-conventional sources of funding like Alumni Funds would be explored for the same. Rishi asked for an elaboration on the unconventional sources of funding he has in mind and also stated that Alumni Funds cannot be used for this purpose as the Dean I&AR has clearly mentioned this. He also asked how this will be different from the workshops on Public Policy already being conducted. Arvind said that it would be skill based training on Youth Parliament and that that is different from Public Policy. With regard to Alumni funds not being allowed for this purpose, he said that he would personally send a request to the Dean, I&AR.
With this the cross questioning ended and SECC High Commissioner Chaithra asked questions from SECC.
She started by asking Arvind how he plans to get all the work in his manifesto done as many points in his manifesto require the help of the secretariat. Arvind said that only skilled students who will be able to work efficiently will be part of the team and that he has full confidence that inspite of the Parliament visit being a work intensive undertaking, his secretariats will be able to manage the work.
Her next point was a clarification with Rishi about the multiple use of the term EW (Executive Wing) in his manifesto and feasibility report. The EW had been replaced by the Executive Council (EC) a year back. Rishi said that he used the two terms interchangeably.
Her question to Rishi was that though it was fine for his vision and Venkatraman Ganesh’s vision to align, the fact that many of his points, especially in the feasibility report are exact copies of Venkatraman Ganesh’s work can’t be a mere coincidence. Rishi defended himself saying that it was only the essence of the points that were similar. On not getting a satisfactory answer, Chaithra moved on.
Her next question to Arvind was related to his point on Performance Evaluation of legislators. She asked him how the presence of legislators in the SLC and them leaving the council in the middle will affect their performance report. She also asked for his opinion on proxy votes. Arvind said that the present Speaker told him that the Operating Manual was being worked on and that it would put a cap on the number of proxies. She then went on to ask both the candidates what figures they had in mind with regard to proxy. To this Arvind said that a legislator cannot put more than three proxies. Rishi on the other hand said that the cap would be two proxies. Both of them agreed on a number, two, for the maximum number of proxy votes one legislator can hold. Arvind then answered her original question and said that if a legislator leaves within an hour of the beginning of the meeting, his attendance would not be counted, but any vote he may have placed during his time in the meeting will be considered no matter when he leaves.
Her next question was for Rishi. She asked about his take on scrutinizing agenda points. He explained how each agenda point would be discussed. She followed up with questions about the amount of time between the Speaker calling for agenda points and meetings and the duration between the meetings and the Standing Committee getting back to him with perspectives. He said that the duration for this would be two weeks each. She then asked him what happens if there is a quiz in between, to which he replied that it wouldn’t take that long for the Standing Committee to get back with background on the agenda point as the members of the Standing Committee must have as much expertise as their secretary in the functioning of their jurisdiction, In the case of a quiz, however, he said that the timeline can be extended. This was met with applause from the audience.
Then she asked both the candidates what their role would be as a Speaker with regard to the SLC and the Executive Council. Both of them replied satisfactorily to this and both their responses were met with applause.
Executive Council Questioning
The first question by the Research Affairs Secretary, Sudarshan R, was posed to Arvind. He was asked about his budget in which he had mentioned that he would be spending Rs. 10,000 for the student governance week. He was asked what he would be able to do with just Rs. 10,000. He said that the Governance Quiz would have a prize money of Rs. 1000 and people for the talks would be resourced from Chennai and so there wouldn’t be any air travel expenses, only accommodation at TGH will have to be taken care of. When asked how he would ensure a good turnout, Arvind said he would ensure that it is publicized in such a manner that those who are interested in Public Policy and Governance would definitely turn up. This was met with strong applause.
The next question was posed to Rishi about the ‘student made’ app for attendance and voting that he had mentioned in his manifesto. The question was who would be ready to make such an app. He answered that one of his friends already had a large portion of the code required for this app ready. He was also questioned about how the photoshoot that he had promised as a part of making the legislators well known among the GSB would be organised. To this he said that he owned a DSLR and that he would have a Media Coordinator, book a room and get some lighting arranged.
Next, the Speaker Amar Jyoti asked both the candidates to explain what a feasibility report is. He was unsatisfied with both their answers and questioned them further. Once he got the right response, he asked how they planned to get the votes of the aspiring legislators when they had such an incomplete feasibility report. Rishi said that his feasibility report was complete. Amar insisted that 18 out of 32 conditions were not met. When Rishi replied that he would be able to tell him the feasibility checks he has done on any given point of his choice, Amar asked him to explain the feasibility check done for his point on Focus Groups. This led to a long discussion on the difference between Focus Groups and what Ad-hoc Committees and Standing Committees are already doing. The previous Speaker, Nikhil Namburi said that Rishi was just ‘rebranding’ them as Focus Groups and that there is nothing different. Rishi said that the Focus Group will deal with issues that don’t come under the purview of the Standing Committee and that this will reduce workload on the Standing Committee. Then, Nikhil read out the definition of an Ad-hoc Committee and told Rishi that his understanding of the same was wrong.
Next, Amar Jyoti asked Rishi what his groundwork on the SLC approval rating by Gallup was and whether any organization can be given a Gallup rating or whether it would be for the members of the organization. He also asked how the GSB, which may not even care to attend the meetings can be asked to give a rating. To this, Rishi replied that a questionnaire would be prepared by the secretariat and the same will be circulated to relevant stakeholders with no external organisation involved. Amar asked him if he had spoken to the current & previous Speaker or DoST or the Faculty Advisor about this. Rishi defended his idea of an approval rating, saying that he was just creating a framework for the judging of Ad-hoc Committees, which needs to be done by GSB. Going back to the reasoning Nikhil levelled against him about Ad-hoc Committees, he said that he is sceptical about the efficiency of the Ad-hoc Committee. Nikhil said that his Focus Group initiative is not legally binding.
Next, Academic Affairs Secretary, Rahul Reddy, questioned both of them about the Policy Club being under the speaker and not the Career Development Cell (CDC). Arvind said that the SLC makes policies and that the Speaker is more competent to take up the Public Policy Club since he has a better knowledge about the Constitution. To this, he was asked about what a Speaker actually does in the Public Policy Club. Arvind said that the Speaker would just oversee the events of the Club. Rishi then replied to the same question, saying that when the issue had come up in the first meeting of Amar Jyoti’s tenure, when the Public Policy Club was made, he himself was actively advocating for it to be under the CDC. But he said that because the CDC is presently switching from one secretary to another, he, as the Speaker would like to incubate for a while and then hand it over to the CDC. This was appreciated by the audience.
Amar then asked Arvind why the Speaker should be doing the evaluation of legislators. He asked why it can’t be done by an Ad-hoc Committee like in the present. Arvind said that Ad-hoc Committees are only for a specified amount of time and that he, on the other hand wants to do a continuous evaluation and keep a Google sheet up to date about the performance of legislators and share the same with the GSB. He said this will help them keep a check on their representatives. He further went on to add that the evaluation would be based on four or five broad parameters like attendance in Standing Committees, attendance in SLC, number of agenda points raised, etc. Amar then asked him whether he thinks these 4 parameters are comprehensive. Arvind said that it is subjective. He added on his point about Ad-hoc Committees, saying that they are formed only at end of the tenure and they submit reports only towards the end. Amar then pointed out that he had left out feedback from the electorate, which is a crucial parameter for evaluation. Arvind agreed to add that. Chaithra then stepped in to ask him whether this is the only legislator evaluation framework he plans to have. Arvind said that at present, it is the only framework he has planned.
Then the Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary, Vamsi Krishna Mula posed a common question to both the candidates on their take on the Executive Wing having veto power. Arvind started, saying that Executive veto was rejected one year back. He believes that it should not be there because he believes that then the Executive Wing will start doing legislative work. He feels that then there is no point of having a legislative and a student government. Vamsi then asked what the Executive can do if there is something passed by the legislative which the Executive thinks it cannot implement? Arvind said that he thinks the legislative and Executive Wing are competent enough to pass an agenda which is practical and can be implemented. Vamsi, then took an example and asked him if an agenda point about Shaastra is passed, whether he would know better or whether the SLC would know better. Arvind said that he believes in the wisdom of the legislature and also added that the views of the Executive Council are always taken. Rishi said that the Executive having veto is not a good system, but neither is the current system of the SLC having greater power than the Executive. In order to balance the two, clear terms of reference need to be defined for when an Executive veto can happen, and there must be a clear voting difference when an Executive veto happens. He hence said that he wants Executive veto back, but with certain conditions and constraints. He said that the collective wisdom of SLC and Executive Council cannot be compared. He said that the Executive Council is also voted directly by the GSB and hence must have as much say as the SLC. Nikhil proceeded to explain why the Executive veto was added and removed and was asked by Chaithra to stop as it was already explained.
Rahul then pointed out that Arvind’s point about collective wisdom of the SLC being greater than the Executive Council might be true in some cases, but this same collective wisdom of the SLC rejected the HAS budget after it was spent and so there is a possibility of the SLC being wrong. Arvind reiterated that the advice of the Executive is always taken. He then asked Rishi what the specific areas in which he believes Executive veto can be applied are. Rishi said that this calls for a Constitutional amendment and that he doesn’t have the expertise on exact areas where it is applicable. On being asked to give an example, he said that in Shaastra, the Executive Council can have a say on how Shaastra is run but decisions on sponsorships that can be damaging to institute branding should be based on the wisdom of the SLC.
Questioning by Legislators
The floor was opened to legislators to ask their questions.
A legislator asked the candidates what the fundamental difference between election of Executive Council and Speaker was. Arvind answered this satisfactorily and the legislator continued. He said that the legislative votes for Speaker and legislative works for the Speaker. He asked both the candidates whether they would be introducing any schemes that will benefit the legislators and help get their votes. Arvind answered in the affirmative and said he would add any reforms that will help in the better functioning of the SLC. But he strongly disagreed with the point that the legislators work for the Speaker. He said that they are the elected representatives of the students and not his workers. This was met with applause from the audience. The legislator followed up, asking the candidates what bold policies they have in their manifesto that will add more work to the legislators. Arvind said that a Semester Wise Action Plan will be created based on which the Standing Committee will function. One major job of a legislator is to work under the Standing Committee. Under this action plan, a timeline of when reports have to be submitted will be included. Making sure that action plan is working, will make sure that legislators are doing their work. Rishi alleged Arvind of hypocrisy and said that he says that the legislators don’t work for him, then how does the Speaker get to draft the work plan of the Standing Committee? This brought in cheers from crowd. Arvind accused Rishi of not reading his feasibility report and said that it clearly mentions that his secretariat will take it up in consultation with the respective Standing Committee Chairperson. This also got the crowd excited. Answering the original question, Rishi said that all roles and responsibilities of legislators if done to the T amounts to a good workload. His vision is to make sure that they do their work in SLC, but he also clarified that he cannot make sure that they do their work in their respective departments, although he would collect feedback for that. He also said that he plans to make the Standing Committee do the ratification instead of the Ad-hoc Committee. Also, legislative records will be published, which would provide some incentive or disincentive to the legislator as the case may be.
Chaithra then said that ratification is a constitutional provision, and is compulsory for the Ad-Hoc Committee to do it. Rishi said that in his opinion, he would like the Standing Committee to take it up. He said he would try to propose a Constitutional amendment, and if it is not passed he will follow the previous setup. Chaithra then asked him whether he knew why it was made so. He said that he is not sure, but that realistically, most legislators have some other PoRs and there may arise a situation in which they have to ratify themselves and hence a conflict of interest may arise. He said that when allocating Standing Committees, he will make sure that the legislators in that Standing Committee don’t hold any PoR under that secretary.
Another legislator asked Rishi about his plan to have voting in SLC done by a third party app. He asked how a third party app can be trusted with such data. Rishi clarified that the third party app would only be temporary, till the student made app is ready. He also said that the third party would only know the break-up of votes and not what the votes were cast for. The same legislator asked him if he had taken any clarification from DoST on a third party app being used. Arvind stepped in here and said that he had asked DoST about it and that DoST had refused give permission to involve a third party. The crowd cheered this point of Arvind’s. Rishi clarified himself saying that his manifesto point is that it will be a student made app. Vamsi then said that data privacy should not be an issue because who gets the data can be controlled. His opinion was that there is no reason for DoST to not allow a third party app.
The moderator clarified the previous point, saying that nowhere does it say that the ad-hoc committee must only consist of legislators.
Core team Questioning
A member of the core team questioned Rishi about his budget including a Networking Dinner at TGH at the cost of Rs.17,500 as well as a Team Building meeting at the cost of Rs.31,500. He said that he was pretty sure these would include treats and food. He questioned the use of two names for this. Rishi answered that at the end of the day, their sum is the same as the old budget, and that he had just made it 2 by reducing cost of each. The same member then asked why he wasn’t trying to reduce his budget. Vamsi then asked both the candidates what the limit on the money they would spend on fun team meets and treats would be. Rishi said he would spend Rs. 500(food) + Rs. 400(T-shirts) + Rs. 200(legislator kit). Arvind said he would spend Rs. 600(team treat) + Rs. 600(T-shirts and accessories). But when it was pointed out to him that he has mentioned mementos worth Rs. 300, Arvind said that that was for the speakers invited for seminars and not for the legislators. Then he was asked why the quantity is 80. Arvind reiterated that it was a typo and that it is only for the speakers invited and not for the legislators. He was accused of having produced a fake feasibility report, but Arvind insisted that it was a typo. Chaithra accepted the answer of it being a typo and moved on.
Vamsi asked what the cost of the fun games will be. Rishi said the cost will be Rs. 5000 per year and proceeded to elaborate upon unconventional sources of funding on being further questioned.
Following this, Nikhil asked both the candidates whether they had met the T5E Executive Editor or any of the T5E Editors. On receiving a negative response from both of them, he asked them what the Speaker has to do with T5E. Rishi said that the way in which Constitution is framed, it is hard to remove the Executive Editor from the post after the ratification. He said that T5E is the official news body of IITM and that they have an influence on how the institution is portrayed. He said the speaker is also responsible for how IITM is portrayed. When asked about the Constitutional interaction, he mentioned ratification, and the fact that the Executive Editor of T5E can be summoned by the speaker to get clarification on any article. Arvind said they are the independent media body of IITM and that the speaker is a part of the committee that chooses the Executive Editor of T5E. He added that T5E is expected to present their budget and Editorial Policy in the SLC meeting. He also said that they are supposed to report each meeting of the SLC and help the SLC disseminate information. On being asked why they did not meet the T5E Executive Editor or Editors, Rishi said that there was some confusion about when and whether the elections would happen. He said that it was only 3 days before the manifesto deadline, that the elections were confirmed and hence he did not have time to meet and interact with everyone. Arvind said that he got to know one Friday from the speaker that the elections might not happen. Due to this, he was not able to meet anyone that weekend and lost a lot of time.
Nikhil then posed another question regarding the Speaker’s duty, policy and approach in HDC. Arvind said that the Speaker is the student representative in the HDC. He makes sure that students can represent cases in a fair and just manner. The Speaker also makes sure that the quantum of punishment given is just and fair. Rishi said that at the moment, the Speaker is just an invitee to HDC; he needs to make sure there is no nepotism and that the punishment given is not too much. He said that the Speaker would be the balancing factor to ensure punishment is fair.
Nikhil then asked the two candidates the need and importance of ratification of sponsors by the SLC, what the problem faced this time was and what must be done. Rishi said that any association with a brand that defames IITM needs to be avoided. Before the MoU is signed, a clarification must be made. This needs a dynamic relation between Standing Committee and Shaastra, Saarang, E-Cell, etc. He said that this year, a company that served alcoholic beverages in some other countries was a sponsor. Arvind said that student bodies are not supposed to take sponsorship from companies that are banned by SLC or sell illegal items such as alcohol. On being asked about his approach to ratification, Arvind said that he would ask Executive Council members to give a list of sponsors. Following this both of them they were given a situation where a student body gets a sponsor without letting the SLC know and were asked what their stance will be when they get to know about this. Rishi said he would first try to make sure such things don’t happen, but if it does, then since a majority of the sponsorship money comes post the event, he would stop the sponsorship money from coming by intervention with DoST. He also quickly added that if he took up this issue on his own, it would put him on a pedestal over the Executive. Amar interjected at this point and asked him if something called the SECC exists in the institute. Rishi then said that the SECC also is not on a pedestal above the Executive and that all the stakeholders would be gathered and a meeting with DoST would take place. Arvind said that he would talk to the Faculty Advisor of the student body and that of SECC and register a complaint with SECC. If it is still remained unsolved, he would approach the BoS Chairman and ask him to intervene.
On being asked a related question about their take on these banned companies coming for placements and internships in insti, Rishi said that he feels these companies can be allowed because anyone going to ITC doesn’t necessarily work on cigarettes etc.. He said there are a good number of guidelines by placement team which need to be revamped? Arvind on the other hand said that placement does not come under the Speaker and the Constitution does not mention anywhere that these companies will be banned from coming for placements and so he has no opinion on this matter.
Chaithra posed another question to the two candidates. She said that the Speaker is responsible for maintaining a set of documents. These need to be produced in a reasonably short amount of time by the Speaker when asked to do so. She asked both the candidates what their definition of a reasonably short amount of time (hours) would be. Arvind said it would be 24 hours, while Rishi said it would be 48 hours. Chaithra asked them if they can be expected to follow this timeline. Rishi said that based on the situation, after a period of 2 months from the start of his tenure, he will be able to produce the documents in that given time. Arvind was confident that he would be able to follow his timeline.
Then, Amar posed a question regarding the relation between SECC and SLC. He asked whether the tenure of the SECC should be fixed. Rishi said that it should be fixed. He said that once ratified it is hard to impeach them from the post so they should have a tenure limit to make sure the ratification processes happens. However, he said that the tenure limit is subject to discussion. Arvind said that the SECC is the regulatory body of our institute. On being asked about the relation between the speaker and SECC, Arvind said that the speaker is consulted in the selection of SECC members. He added that in a democratic setup, there should not be any arm of the government that is given a free hand. So, either the tenure should be fixed or ratification should be done after one year.
Amar asked them another question. He said that both candidates have mentioned an SLC calendar in their manifesto. He wanted to know how this will be different from the tentative list of SLC events that is prepared by the secretariat and circulated to the SLC. Rishi said that his SLC Calendar would be put it in a Google calendar so that people will get reminders and the calendar is more accessible. Arvind said that while the secretariat’s calendar will have the schedule of the SLC meetings, his calendar will have the SLC meetings as well as other events. He said it will be integrated in the SLC tab of the Students App.
Amar asked Rishi a question with regard to the Operating Manual. He said that Rishi had mentioned that if the Ad-hoc Committee is not able to complete the Operating Manual in his tenure, he would get it done by the secretariat, but since this is constitutionally not allowed, he wanted to know how he would go about this. To this Rishi asked Amar why a secretariat cannot formulate the Operating Manual. Amar found this shocking and asked the crowd to give Rishi slow claps. After this, Nikhil and Amar explained to Rishi why a secretariat cannot formulate the Operating Manual.
Once again, Amar brought up the suggestion of Rishi copying from Venkatraman G’s manifesto. He said that Rishi has mentioned in his feasibility report that the Freshie Guidebook is made by Mitr, which is no longer the case as Saathi does it now. He called this irresponsibility on Rishi’s part.
A member of the GSB asked the two candidates how the vote of a candidate who represents 800 students can be given the same weightage as the vote of a candidate who represents 200 students. Rishi answered saying that democracy is subjective and that this is how things have been happening and that he sees no point in changing them.
Another member of the GSB asked both the candidates to spell out the Students’ General Secretary’s official email ID. While Arvind who was asked to go first could not answer it, Rishi answered it correctly.
Another member of the GSB questioned Rishi’s Parliament trip overlapping with the Placement Season and said that some Branch Councillors would have to stay in the institute at that time and help the Placement Team, though they are not duty-bound to do so. He wanted to know why it has been planned in this way. Amar added to this question and said that since Rishi himself was in his 4th year, if he is sitting for placements, whether he is sure he will get placed within the first 6 days. Rishi first said that he is not yet sure whether he would even be sitting for placements. He justified his schedule for the Parliamentary trip being at that time by saying that he wanted everyone to go together and if he planned it any later, students would go home and hence each person would need come from his/her own place. He said that he wouldn’t ignore the Branch Councillors or the 4th year students sitting for placements, and would try to make alternate arrangements for them. He also said that most of the work of the Branch Councillor would be packed into the first 5 days of placements and said that this could be verified with any Branch Councillor.
Anvitha, a T5E editor, remarked that the Speaker is not part of a committee that selects the Executive Editor but is only in consulted by the previous Editorial team while doing so. She then asked the candidates how they planned to make the electorate remain representative if a legislator resigned in the middle of their tenure. Arvind said that there is a time period mentioned in the Constitution within which the Student Election Commission is supposed to conduct the elections for that respective electorate. He added that the Hostel Warden in association with the Hostel Council can also nominate one person as the legislator. Rishi said that all he can do is push the Student Election Commission to conduct elections and that he is personally against anyone nominating a legislator.
Chaithra had one final question to both the candidates. She said that both their manifestos have many overlapping points. She asked them to list out 5 unique points in their respective manifestos that were not overlapping. Rishi named points such as Scrutiny of Agenda Points, the way SLC meetings would be organised, the making of an SLC website, Polls and an extensive Survey. Arvind listed out his plans like the Budget session, Students’ Governance Week, Ask the Speaker, Paricharcha and Continuous Performance Evaluation of legislators.
Chaithra ended the session by urging GSB members to tell their legislators which candidate they think should voted for as the Speaker of SLC.