The soapbox for the candidates for Cultural Secretaries, Pradeep Pai B and Subba Reddy G, took place on Day 2 of the Institute Soapboxes on the 7th of March that everyone, in retrospect, regretted missing. Among the people who did make it, however, were the who’s who of insti’s cultural scene, who made sure to question the candidates on any inconsistencies they spotted. Also present was this reporter, Naomi Karyamsetty, slightly bewildered at the task of capturing in words the ensuing events (but inordinately happy at how entertaining her assigned soapbox turned out to be). The soapbox was moderated by the capable Aditya YVV, SECC chairperson and Generally Important Election Logistics Person. The video for the same can be found on the SECC Youtube Channel here.
Manifesto Presentation: Subba Reddy G, candidate for Cultural Secretary (Arts)
The soapbox began, in the usual manner, with each candidate presenting their manifestos. Subba Reddy, candidate for CulSec (Arts), began with his vision, making the cultural scene more inclusive. The following were his manifesto points:
CulTabi, an initiative to increase exposure and participation. Contingents from insti would be taken on trips to local fests for increased participation, as well as to shows and exhibitions in limited numbers.
Encouraging vernacular talent in insti, since not many students are comfortable speaking in English. He proposed shifting the Institute Ethnic Day (currently Jan 31st) to Feb 21st, World Mother Tongue Day, in coordination with the SGS. In addition to students showcasing their cultural heritage through performances and food stalls, it would also be a platform for different cultures to interact and learn about each other.
Creating a pan-IIT network of club convenors, to get the big picture of the inter IIT cultural scene. In addition, this would encourage younger IITs to join the cultural scene and act as an additional platform for Saarang publicity.
His Saarang initiatives were:
Adding new events to Milans and distributing Proshows and Saarang merchandise.
More on-ground Saarang publicity in Chennai, in association with the Saarang Publicity team. For example, events that clubs conducted outside campus (for instance, a sand sculpting event conducted by the Fine Arts club) could simultaneously promote Saarang; Student contacts in other colleges that the publicity team make during their visits could also be used.
Saarang newsletter, intended as a blue book, or guide, for future Saarang teams as well as people looking for information. It would contain experiences of visitors, as well as details and work experience of the Saarang organising team. The newsletter would be shared online within insti and among other colleges, and a hard copy would be maintained in the library.
Improving the functionality and aesthetics of Saarang, which included:
Setting up digital displays in strategic locations, such as the Carnival Zone. Material displayed on it would include footage from previous ProShows and important announcements.
Introducing ambience in Saarang stalls, which would convey the fest’s theme and portray its message.
Manifesto Presentation: Pradeep Pai B, candidate for Cultural Secretary (Lit)
Pradeep Pai, the CulSec (Lit) candidate, followed. He, too, briefly went over his manifesto, explaining the initiatives he planned to implement.
His Saarang vision was to diversify events, engaging more stakeholders, and make operations sustainable by transitioning to a digitised system. Here are his proposals:
An India Culture Fest in association with the various sabhas and samitis (insti’s regional associations), which consisted of performances in the vernacular, showcasing folk and regional arts. Sabhas and samitis, he said, being a significant part of insti’s cultural scene, should be given a platform in its cultural fest. This would also involve increased PG presence in both participation and organising, as they are significantly involved in samitis.
Saarang exhibits, avenues to showcase insti talent during Saarang, in places such as KV grounds and the Carnival Zone. His motivation was that insti students, being the primary stakeholders of Saarang, should be given non-competitive platforms to engage with it. Interested people would be put in contact with relevant Sangam club convenors and groomed for the same. This would also improve the atmosphere of the fest.
Digitising Saarang operations, which had the following subcategories: Revamping the Saarang finance portal and using it to settle all financial transactions, including settling advances and uploading expense bills. Participation fee payment would also be made online, ensuring that all participants have a Saarang ID. E-certificates would be issued to the winners, ensuring proper documentation and legitimising the prize money payment process.
His Sangam vision was to provide a platform for insti students to develop and showcase skills. He proposed:
A Sangam website, a single place where one could find extensive information about Sangam and its fourteen clubs. It would consist of a LitSoc archive, containing previous LitSoc performances; and information about each club and its events; a calendar; contact details of club convenors and contingent heads; and a space for people to upload their work under a relevant club, which that club could then repost on its Facebook page as club content.
Engaging freshers more, through extensive online publicity before the academic year (through both official Sangam channels and the freshie forum). Clubs would also hold events in the 1-month gap between the Sangam Weekender (freshie orientation to clubs) and the start of LitSoc, so that freshies would be introduced to clubs and their active members, who could serve as mentors.
A PG-UG hostel mentor system, in the same pattern as the current freshie-UG hostel system, in order to increase PG participation in Sangam events.
Two consecutive LitSoc Days of the Week, dedicated to LitSoc events, in order to introduce more structure in the Sangam calendar and improve audiences for these events.
Integrating the LitSoc portal with the Students App, making information more accessible.
Sharing articles by LitSoc veterans with students in order to increase participation.
A fiction and nonfiction library in the (revamped) first floor of Quark, to promote a reading culture in the campus.
YVV Aditya began, with a question on Subba Reddy’s vernacular events initiative. When asked if he had met all sabhas and samitis concerning this, Subba Reddy replied saying he had not met all of them, but had never intended to conduct this in conjunction with them, but together with Ethnic Day instead. He added that he did not think shifting the date of Ethnic Day would be a problem. Nikhil Namburi Bharadwaj, the SLC Speaker, picked up on this last, stating that the current council had passed a resolution for Ethnic Day to be on the 31st of January every year, and savagely wondering why Subba Reddy had not consulted them regarding this. The candidate replied that his prime motivation was to have cultural events on Ethnic Day, the exact date of which was flexible to him. YVV followed up, wanting details on the kinds of events, and which clubs or regional associations would be putting them up. The candidate said he intended to focus on the performing arts and on spectator-centred events rather than participatory competitions, as befit an event which would encourage socialising and information interchange among cultures.
YVV then asked Pradeep Pai about his intended events in collaboration with sabhas and samitis. In reply, the candidate mentioned Saarang events. When asked about how many associations he had met regarding this and their response, he replied that he had met ‘around five to six’, and they were willing to organise one Saarang event. Possible examples of such events were Antakshari, plays, and workshops on regional cuisines. The candidate also said he would have collaborations with state tourism boards. When asked by Namburi what groundwork he had done for the same, he said that he had spoken to Karnataka tourism, who were willing to put up puppet shows, and required accommodation in exchange.
Namburi asked the next question to both candidates: The number of sabhas and samitis in insti, and their names. Both answered twelve, although Subba Reddy was a beat behind Pradeep. Subba Reddy gave the following names: Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada, and, after a pause, decided to stop answering, provoking laughter from the GSB. When the question moved to Pradeep Pai, Namburi additionally directed that he give the associations’ names, not just the languages they were associated with. Pradeep’s answer was, therefore: Kannada (‘Kannada what?’ ‘Sangha.’ Hmmm.’), Hindi Mitra Mandal, Diganto, Marathi Mitra Mandal, Telugu Samiti (whose name Namburi corrected, again to cheers), and Gujarati Mandal, by which time he was floundering. YVV now stepped in, asking for the next question, as the candidates did not know the complete answer.
Srikanth Musti, the incumbent Cultural Secretary (Lit), put forth the next questions to the candidates. He prefaced his questions by stating that since the candidates would have to work together (might, he corrected himself, to laughter) over the next year, he’d appreciate it if they worked together to answer the questions. His first question was for the candidates to define the role of the Cultural Secretary, distinguishing it from the work of a Saarang events core. Subba Reddy’s answer was that the Cultural Secretary should have in mind the broader picture, and avoid being biased towards any department. Sri Krishna Ravavarapu, Cultural Secretary (Arts), asked for elaboration on the departments mentioned, a question which Subba Reddy said he did not understand. Musti then asked him to start over. In his second try at answering, the candidate said that the CulSec’s responsibility was to open up clubs to everyone, making them more inclusive, and to give students a great cultural experience. He said that club events would give students a chance to relax away from stressful insti life. In addition, a CulSec had to conduct a great Saarang, ensuring that the various Saarang departments are in harmony with each other. Pradeep Pai added that the CulSec should have a holistic perspective of insti’s cultural scene, and make sure everyone knows about it and wants to be a part of it. With respect to Saarang, the CulSec should ensure ease of operations between teams and facilitate interdepartmental interactions. In addition, they should interact with admin on behalf of various stakeholders.
Musti repeated (slightly unparliamentary) his question on distinguishing the work of an events core from that of a CulSec, specifically with respect to their manifesto points about the cultural clubs, and how they would add value to this. Subba Reddy replied that CulSecs could be intermediaries between events cores and the admin. CulSecs should also be thinking about various departments during the semester, being more involved with events, assisting them with requirements, and being a public figure. (‘Spoken like a true FR coord,’ interjected Musti.) Pradeep Pai added that events cores had to handle the events department, while CulSecs interacted with all departments and made sure interdepartmental interactions were smooth, as well as handling admin interactions. Musti pushed for a more specific answer, asking how their work (and events cores’ work) intersected with club convenors. Pradeep was unable to answer. YVV then attempted to clarify, ultimately reducing it to ‘What is your relationship with the club convenors?’ This Pradeep could answer, stating that events cores handled the clubs, and CulSecs set the visions for them. YVV then asked if convenors didn’t do anything. Pradeep replied that they had to make sure that their visions were in sync with the CulSecs’.
Musti then asked if the candidates could quickly run over the visions they had for each of the fourteen clubs. At which point Namburi eagerly gestured for the mic and asked another (in)famous ‘how many’ question: how many clubs were under the Cultural Secretaries. Pradeep Pai answered ‘Fourteen’, which Namburi gleefully corrected to fifteen, admonishing him for not including the Film Appreciation club. Rava interjected, asking for Pradeep’s take on this new club, which Musti and YVV put on hold, as a question had already been asked. Musti then repeated the question, adding that the clubs be split under Lit and Arts.
Pradeep Pai listed the Writing, Oratory, Word Games and Quiz clubs under the Lits portfolio. When asked about the Comedy club, he said that it wasn’t clearly under either portfolio (which was conceded by the moderator). His stated vision was to make sure that every stakeholder was more involved with these clubs, to hold more inclusive events, and to create more contingents. Musti clarified (again) that he wanted statements specific to each club. Here the candidates were asked whether they had met all club convenors, to which Pradeep answered in the affirmative and Subba Reddy answered that he had met at least one convenor from each club. Musti restated the question, saying that he wanted an answer for each of the five clubs he mentioned, which would consist of what is currently wrong with each club, the biggest threats they are facing, and what steps the candidate would take to ensure so that each club would thrive.
Pradeep had the following to say: Writing Club doesn’t have sufficiently initiating and engaging events throughout the semester; this should be changed. They should also put up workshops in collaboration with professionals, and conduct fundae sessions for LitSoc events (this would apply to all clubs). Quiz Club should have more inclusive events, in the same vein as the Fandom Quiz (for example, IPL Quiz). At this point, Musti interrupted, asking if Pradeep had met the quiz club convenors regarding this, adding with satisfaction that a quiz club convenor was sitting behind him (this was Gokul Nair). Pradeep said he had met Siddharth ‘sinA’ Nathan, who’d said it could be done. When appealed to, Gokul himself said it ‘can be done, but…’ his reluctance was evident in his trailing off, and YVV subsequently directed Musti to move on. Musti acidly remarked on how inspiring Pradeep’s vision was, and asked him to continue with Word Games. Pradeep said they already have a good contingent, as well as fundae sessions for LitSoc events, and suggested that they circulate these fundaes in soft format for the benefit of people who were unable to make it to the same. He added that they have more Sangam events. Musti asked the candidate to name four people active in the Word Games contingent he mentioned. Pradeep attempted the question, but could only name three: Sanjana, Advait, and Rakesh Vkr. When asked for his vision regarding the Oratory club, he replied that it was the same as for the other clubs, adding that they could conduct workshops, such as public speaking, in association with L-TAP.
Musti then turned the spotlight on Subba Reddy, asking him to name and detail his vision for the nine clubs that Pradeep had left him. Subba Reddy began with a collective vision for the Media, Fine Arts, and Design and VFX clubs, saying that they should stress more on non-competitive events oriented towards learning, such as workshops, to encourage the many students aspiring for careers in these fields. To Choreo and Music Club he did not have much to add. He envisioned the Thespian and Comedy Club providing more platforms to exchange cultures. At this point, YVV interjected, asking whether he had met the sabhas and samitis regarding this, and (with righteous anger, as a former Thespian Club convenor) what the recurring problem with vernacular theatre was. Subba Reddy replied that it was weak audiences, which he planned to improve by an emphasis on culture instead of language. Musti and YVV replied that this was not the only problem, with YVV adding that this point had featured on every convenor’s app for the last three to four years.
Musti’s next question was what prominent threats the candidates would face during their tenure, considering the evolution of the cultural scene and the varying approachability of various clubs. According to Pradeep Pai, the cultural scene was suffering due to a lack of freshies. Musti here commented that Sangam weekender got the most freshie participation. Pradeep’s reply was that not enough freshies took up cultural activities after the Weekender. He stated that there were 800 freshies every year in answer to a follow-up, and was subsequently called out for not including postgraduate freshies. The candidate then added that another problem was the low involvement of postgraduates in the cultural scene.
When the question passed to Subba Reddy, his answer was [check video for intricacies regarding initial statements] that LitSoc and club culture were dying, and that he would attempt to invoke feels for hostel and club. He was here interrupted by a student saying that the candidate had not been asked to give an answer. The point about the National Green Tribunal (NGT) being a threat was also raised. Finally Musti, deciding to answer his own question, said that his biggest threat was that some of the most talented students in insti are going to graduate. In addition, with the internship season starting in 5th sem, more people in first and second years are worrying about resume points, which leads to increased concern about PoRs (and which, he claimed, was the motivation behind the candidates themselves standing). In addition, Shaastra and Saarang would attempt to poach resources from each other, and there needs to be an attempt at collaboration between the two.
Here Sri Krishna asked if the Inter-IIT cultural fest wasn’t important to the candidates, as neither of them had mentioned it. Pradeep replied that that was because it had not been passed by the Dean yet, to which Sri Krishna said that it has already been tabled. Musti added that he had already provided the financial solution for the same: reduce participation in other fests and use the saved money to increase the budget.
The next question was about the unusualness in this year’s Saarang dates. Subba Reddy said that he would attempt to hold Saarang earlier in the year, and would speak to the CoCas about this. He was then asked whether he had spoken to either of the CoCas candidates regarding this (he had not). The candidate remarked that it was not possible to change Shaastra dates, another factual inaccuracy he was called out on.
Musti’s next questions were two, one each pertaining to Saarang and Sangam events. He began with the Sangam question: A few days before, say, Stagecoach, the Drama club convenor approaches the CulSecs saying that the (earlier confirmed) booking for CLT is getting overridden by another request. Dean (Students) is pressuring the convenor to cancel the Stagecoach claim. However, the set constructor is not available on any other date, and an advance has already been paid for the same. The candidates were requested to solve this dilemma.
Pradeep Pai suggested that alternative venues be found for the Stagecoach play, for example IC&SR. This was vehemently rejected by Musti, who made it clear that the stage in the IC&SR auditorium was immovable, and additions to the stage (such as a set would require) were not permitted there. Pradeep then cautiously mentioned SAC, adding that the acoustics were bad. Musti confirmed this, asking the candidate to recollect freshie weekender drama performances and wondering aloud whether any speaking voice could be heard by the audience.
Subba Reddy then attempted the question, saying that a compromise could be worked out by the parties using CLT for different times during the day, but Musti clarified that this would not be possible due to the nature of the set. The candidate replied that he felt it was better to conduct Stagecoach with a compromise on [set] quality rather than not conduct it at all. Musti then closed the question, saying that he would contact the student representative of the clashing event and work towards a compromise, which is almost always possible.
Musti’s Saarang question was brief: on Day 0 of Saarang, it rains. The implied question here was the contingency measures that would be taken. Subba Reddy, needing no further clarification, said that manpower would be increased, and he would allow for the increase in expense in the budget. He said that when there was a need to choose between finance and quality, he would compromise on quality so as to ensure Saarang would run. As an example, he mentioned the Food Fest tent, but was diverted to the OAT and asked about the fate of the Proshows that take place there every day of Saarang. Subba Reddy replied, saying that the BVG personnel who clear out water from OAT would have to be increased and the same accounted for in the budget. Musti interrupted here, saying that it would be too late to worry about the budget if it began to rain during Saarang. Pradeep Pai here mentioned the possibility of waterproof tents. They were then asked about the Proshows strategy for rain during a performance, which Subba Reddy began answering, but was interrupted by Rava.
The next question, put by Musti, was on Shaastra Proshows. The possibility of Shaastra continuing to organise Proshows similar to this year’s EDM Night would eat into Saarang’s ticket sales. How would the CulSecs plan to handle that? Subba Reddy said he would sit down with the next CoCas and ask that Shaastra events be conducted such that Saarang and Shaastra audiences are exclusive. Pradeep Pai answered that he would seek a meeting with the Dean (Students) and put forward Saarang’s case. Rava then asked if the candidates were acquainted with the Dean’s proposal to combine Shaastra and Saarang into a single fest. Subba Reddy’s reply was that he believed this process, if it were to happen, would have to be organic and natural, and could not happen over a single year’s tenure.
The next question concerned the upcoming changes in the fee structure, specifically the gymkhana fees, and their possible impact on Saarang. Both candidates declined to answer.
The candidates then faced questions about a possible restructuring of the secretary posts. They were asked what possible problems the CulSecs would face if there were, instead, one CulSec and one Saarang head. Pradeep Pai replied that the club convenors also served as supercoordinators for Saarang, and the ensuing separation would be difficult to handle. This claim was contested by Sashi Sekhar, the current Academic Affairs Secretary, as his placement coordinators were also working for the Career Development Cell. Subba Reddy then added that one person would find it difficult to run Saarang, which prompted the question: if one of the candidates were rejected, would the other be able to handle both Saarang and the cultural scene effectively? Subba Reddy and Pradeep both answered in the affirmative. Subba Reddy hastened to say that if he were rejected, he would nevertheless do his best to help the Saarang team, which [who] pointed out was not the question in the first place.
The candidates were then asked for their comments on the Sangam Head, a post that was a common feature in election gossip circles. Subba Reddy played it safe, saying that he could not take decisions without his tenure officially beginning, and that he did not have any such post planned. Pradeep agreed, adding, however, that such a post had both pros and cons. Musti remarked that their reaction should have been ‘What is a Sangam head?’, to which Subba Reddy replied that he had assumed it was the position of head over Sangam clubs. The candidates were then asked for their takes on splitting the CulSec portfolios into CulSec-Sangam and CulSec-Saarang, and what each would pick. Subba Reddy was against such a split, as both avenues were interlinked, as well as related to developing and showcasing insti’s cultural scene respectively. As students would learn skills during Sangam events and use them at Saarang, he did not see much distinction between the two. Pradeep agreed, and was of the view that the distribution of work between the two would not be fair.
The candidates were then asked whether PG freshie night had happened this year, and they answered in the negative. When asked who was responsible for conducting it, they replied that it was the responsibility of the Research Affairs Secretary. The question was concluded with a request that the candidates be inclusive to postgraduates.
Questioning now moved to the Saarang and Sangam core team. Parvathi Madhu, Events Core, took the first question, based off a point on Pradeep Pai’s manifesto regarding the conduction of club events to engage freshies between Sangam Weekender and the start of LitSoc. She asked if Pradeep was not aware of Freshie LitSoc, which happens at this time and serves precisely this purpose. She then moved to the candidate’s initiative to establish a reading lounge in the first floor of Quark, and asked who would be in charge of administration. Pradeep replied that an external vendor would run the lounge. Parvathy then retorted that his initiative would then essentially be Higginbothams on top of Quark. (Higginbothams has space in campus above Cafe Coffee Day.) YVV then asked whether the candidate knew what the space under question was currently used for. He replied that it was used for Informals Club events such as Board Games Night. Musti then asked if the candidate had met the Cultural Advisor regarding this, and he replied that he had brought it up with the Dean (Students). Musti then asked if Pradeep knew about the current Cultural Secretaries’ efforts to achieve the same, and the question was closed.
Subba Reddy was then asked about his plans for improving functionality and aesthetics during Saarang. He said that he intended to convey the fest’s theme by placing products of the Saarang Ambience team in stalls manned by institute students, When asked to further elaborate, the candidate mentioned as an example the Marketing and Sales stall, which he intended to make recognizable using flex signs.
In connection with Subba Reddy’s manifesto point regarding a Saarang Newsletter, the candidate was asked whether newsletters were released for previous Saarangs, to which he answered in the affirmative, and repeated his vision for the newsletter. He was then asked who was going to make the newsletter (the design team), and whether he had spoken to the design team regarding this (he had). He was then asked whether he knew that a newsletter was released every year, and who made its content along with the design team. The candidate answered that it was the writing team, and in response to unhappy reactions, replied that such was the intended nature of the newsletter he had in mind.
Arjun ‘Coolaj’ Kumar, Events Core, asked the next question, pertaining to Subba Reddy’s CulTabi manifesto point. He asked the candidate why such an initiative was useful, and the candidate replied that students sent outside insti gained great exposure. He also gave a rough estimate of the cost of one such trip to a college in Tamil Nadu. He was then advised to run this initiative by the Dean (Students), since he was unfriendly to initiatives which could be described as ‘spending money to have fun’.
Arjun then asked Subba Reddy about his ‘Saarang at Night’ manifesto point. Subba Reddy said that the primary issues the Dean (Students) would have with this arrangement were inadequate security and facilities such as lighting, and the noise pollution from a PA system. He intended to work around this by holding events centred around bonding and socialising, such as Wolf and Dumb Charades, and not entertainment-centric events. He added that he would procure volunteers for these night events, to ensure adequate security and provide lighting. The candidate was then advised to run this initiative by the Dean as well, since he had refused it for Saarang 2018. Subba Reddy’s initiative of intra-hostel LitSoc events was brought up next. Reasons for similar previous initiatives failing were mentioned.
At this point, the session was opened to questions from the GSB. A question was raised about what the candidates would do if, ten days before the first show release, the CCW were to refuse to handle Saarang transactions. Subba Reddy replied that the first thing they would do on being elected was to check whether CCW was willing to handle pre-Saarang transactions. Ashwanth Monian, the current Hostel Affairs Secretary, then clarified the question, saying that it was not going to happen anyway. The candidates were then asked what the ikollege sales contributed to Saarang income. Subba Reddy answered that 34 lakh rupees came from ticket sales and 10 lakh rupees from T-shirt sales, and Pradeep Pai added that it formed 50% of total sales figures. Subba Reddy then proposed setting up a portal with the DoST Office website similar to the existing ikollege portal, from which the students could access their mess account money. When asked if he had run it by the CCW, the candidate responded in the negative. He then said that a website like Townscript could be used, and on-ground publicity within insti improved. The original questioner then pointed out that the large amount of sales was due to usage of the mess account money, and that sales would largely reduce once students could not access this ‘virtually free’ money. He asked how this would be worked around—would insti students, especially freshies, approach their parents for money to buy Saarang tickets? Subba Reddy replied that his counterstrategy would be to increase marketing and attempt to recoup these losses from the non-insti Saarang visitors. Answering the question about freshies spending large amounts of money on Saarang tickets and merchandise, he said that they would have to choose between proshows, and loss-minimising measures such as price reduction and combos could be implemented.
Venkatraman Ganesh, ex-Speaker of the SLC, asked for clarification on postgraduate representatives in Subba Reddy’s manifesto point. He asked at what level they would operate, and for details on the resultant new structure. He also asked how this would increase postgraduate participation. The candidate replied that there would be one PG representative, who would be in contact with both PG hostels and club convenors. He intended that the involvement of this representative would help in creating a more PG-friendly events timeline. Venkat then questioned the candidate’s assumption that the PG community is homogenous and would have the same schedule, to which the candidate replied that the initiative would start off with a single representative, implying that it would expand as required. With respect to the PG-UG hostel mentorship point, Pradeep Pai clarified that this would follow the freshie hostel mentorship model, and one PG hostel would be allotted to one UG hostel. However, this was intended primarily as a system for information exchange, not direct mentorship. It was clarified that PG events were already conducted as part of PG LitSoc.
The next question, from the GSB, was regarding the CGPA criterion for taking up positions of responsibility. A student gave the candidates a scenario where two people were applying for two Events Core positions, one of whom had relevant credentials but had a lower CGPA than the minimum requirement. The candidates were then asked what they would do in such a position. Subba Reddy replied that he would ask the Dean (Students) whether an exception was possible, failing which he would not desire to deviate from the rulebook. Pradeep agreed. Musti then clarified that this issue could only be resolved by taking it up with the Senate.
Ashwanth then asked the candidates if they were aware of the accommodation issue during Saarang, to which both candidates replied in the negative.
The mic then went to Hathim Syed Mohamed, convenor for the Oratory Club, who urged the candidates to answer truthfully a question that had already been asked them earlier: had they met all club convenors? This time, the candidates replied in the negative. Thus vindicated, Hathim asked his second question. There is a moderately big annual event that got into trouble this year because of the (forward shift in Saarang dates, leading to the gap between Shaastra and) Saarang dates. He asked the candidate[s] what that event was, and what happened to it. Pradeep Pai replied that it was the IITM Model United Nations (MUN), and when pressed for an answer to the second part of the question, said that it had been scrapped. This caused general outrage among the GSB, followed by Hathim kindly clarifying that far from being scrapped, it had happened during Shaastra.
Saarang Proshows Core, Arjun Rakesh then received the mic. He remarked that nobody had met him for fundaes regarding publicity, then asked his question: what was the issue that the Proshows team encountered in connection with the 2016 rock show, and how was it handled? Pradeep replied that the issue in question was the last minute cancellation of the headlining act, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus due to their not being able to board the plane. As for how it was handled financially, Pradeep added that the show was made free and ticket fares reimbursed. Arjun then asked what the candidates’ contingency plans would be if a similar situation arose. Pradeep was not able to answer, and Subba Reddy said that he would partially reimburse payment, the opening acts would be extended to cover the entire performance time, and Saarang events participants would be given performance slots.
Following some general questions on how many Saarang and events cores were met before the manifesto deadline and on the divisions in the finance portal, both of which the candidates answered to the general dissatisfaction of the audience, Subba Reddy also admitted that he had not discussed the issue of QR codes with anyone, when the point came up during questioning.
Hathim then asked, as someone who is quite invested in the cultural scene of the institute, what the team sizes of clubs would be, how many times they would go teach in each hostel, whether they would have the time, and if there would be a good turnout. He specifically asked with respect to the Oratory, Drama, Quiz, and Writing Clubs. Pradeep Pai expected that clubs are not expected to go to all hostels and teach; it is lit secs who do that. The idea was that fundae sessions be held to which people show up, not going and teaching individually. Hathim then asked for the candidates’ qualifications with respect to any club events to be able to teach a culture; Subba Reddy retorted that he was not aware that they had to be good at performing arts to stand for the post in question.
Venkataraman then directly questioned the candidates on their apparent underpreparedness, and asked them to state why they should not be rejected. Subba Reddy replied that they had certain restrictions which did not allow them to complete their groundwork, which does not mean that they hadn’t done any at all; he also promised to do his groundwork before his tenure starts and apologised for the day’s proceedings. Pradeep Pai agreed with Subba Reddy.
Sai Kiran, the incumbent Students’ General Secretary, questioned the candidates on their credentials. Pradeep Pai said he had been associated with Saarang for three years, had been a Nova coordinator and Supercoordinator, and organised food, gaming and anime fests as the same. With respect to Sangam, he stated he was part of his hostel contingent for litsoc. Subba Reddy said that he was an FR supercoordinator and had been part of the FR team for three years now, also stating that his having to take spontaneous decisions would help him in his new role. He also mentioned that he was a Social Affairs Secretary for his hostel, which would give him a fair idea of the club scene.
Nikhil Namburi then asked them what the National Green Tribunal issue was and how they would tackle it. Subba Reddy stated that it was a case filed from outside on the waste disposal methods and other concerns which led to animals dying. His solution for the same was a report stating all the work done and submitted, his steps would focus on data storage and having an extra coordinator for the same.
Subba Reddy was questioned on his manifesto point on Saarang Publicity, and what he was going to do differently. He replied that he wanted all events happening under one roof as a mega milan in nearby cities. However, it was pointed out to him that these had taken place already in three cities, to which Subba Reddy replied that it was not a mega milan according to him, and that he would have liked to expand the same, by expanding the budget of publicity.
Both the candidates were then asked what the difference was between the marketing and publicity teams, and whether they planned on clubbing the two. Subba Reddy did not think they should be clubbed, since the two teams were separated by a very fine line. Pradeep Pai answered the former part of the question, that the marketing team was involved with selling tickets and branding, and the publicity team was concerned with branding Saarang as a whole.
With this, the Soapbox for the posts of Cultural Affairs Secretary came to an end.