Manifesto Reviews 2015-16: Bala Rama Krishna Koushik, Cultural Affairs Secretary (Literary)

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This is the tenth article in our Manifesto Review series, where we review the tenures of IITM’s Executive Wing (consisting of 10 posts) as well as that of the SAC Speaker, for the year 2015-16. In this review, we review the manifesto of Krishna Koushik, IITM’s Cultural Affairs Secretary (Literary) for the year 2015-16.

Note: The Manifesto Reviews team at T5E has made every effort to review the Executive Council in an unbiased manner and stay true to the facts, but it is possible that we may have made inadvertent errors. We request our readers to point out errors if any so that we may correct them immediately. Finally, we value your feedback! You can reach us at [email protected]

Vital Statistics

Manifesto Points Number Percentage
Completed 7 25.92
Partially completed 2 7.40
Incomplete 17 62.99
Others 1 3.70
Total 27 100

The same color scheme is used in the review below.

The duties of the Cultural Secretaries, in short, revolve around conducting LitSoc and club activities in the institute, as well as organizing Saarang with the help of the Core team and the Cultural Advisors. They are responsible for the selection of the team, as well as the performance. While the initial idea was to have the cultural secretary (Lit) take care of the literary clubs, and the remaining by the cul sec arts, over the time, the secretaries have begun to work in tandem, distributing work amongst themselves.

Bala Rama Krishna Koushik took over as the Cultural Affairs Secretary (Literary) for the year 2015-2016. While his success ratio was around 25% of his manifesto points, 63% of the review points were not completed. However, it can be said that he upheld his duties as a cultural secretary, pulling through with a successful Saarang amidst the mayhem of the Chennai floods.

Koushik with the director on the institute day.
Koushik with the director on the institute day.

The Cultural Secretary’s manifesto is mainly divided into the two main sections under his purview, the Clubs & LitSoc, and Saarang.

Vision

Koushik’s goals during his term as CulSec were encapsulated in these two points, which served as a gist of the complete manifesto. While each of the points has been examined individually, this is how Koushik feels he as fared overall:

To ensure that every student takes up a cultural activity by providing a conducive and supportive atmosphere.

He feels that he has been fairly successful in increasing participation in LitSoc activities and that the cultural scenario has been improved by providing support and infrastructure for clubs. All clubs were allotted budgets, and any necessary equipment or support was provided. However, he admits that he failed to improve freshie participation in LitSoc activities, and hopes that his successors can do better in this regard.

To improve the Saarang experience and to bring the festival closer to the Institute Community

Saarang, this year, was heavily impeded by the floods in December, the most critical period for the fest. Kaushik feels that it is impressive that Saarang has shown a profit, even though he faced a lack of support from the administration and lack of time to properly organize Saarang.

He says that Saarang has been a beacon, a proof of sorts that Chennai had stood tall through the floods, and emerged stronger than ever. He stated that there was a rise in ticket sales, in addition to the increase in event participation. Finally, he is all praises for the team of Saarang, who worked through the tough time to make Saarang happen.

We now review Koushik’s manifesto point by point with details regarding the same:

Clubs and LitSoc

 Reaching Out

  • Club Fair: Orientation session, combined with demonstrations, will be conducted in the first week of August, with stalls for each club and a pre-Saarang show.

Status: Not done

While something of this nature did not occur, the orientation session was spread over two days, with a 5-10 minute demonstration for each club, followed by opening the floor for students to interact with clubs of their choice. According to Kaushik, this year’s session was was different, unlike previous years where it held the taboo as a Freshie Orientation Session, this time, it was open for all. However, it can be noted that most participants were still freshies.

  • Piano in the hallway: For active involvement of the majority of cultural activities, events like debate, JAM, quizzes, fine arts will be shifted to open spaces.

Status: Ongoing

While this did not happen for most speaking events, a step has been taken in the general direction, with the Music club and newly formed Informal club organizing events near Himalaya lawns. There was not much possible, according to Koushik.

  • Chrome browser extension: To keep the students updated with the upcoming events combined with photo feed and results

Status: Not done

Kaushik says that this, along with most of the other WebOps work, did not happen because of problems faced with the Core, among other issues, as said by a coordinator. Owing to the same reason, the Sangam app and website were not formed either.

  • Sophomore competitions: To be held in the second week of August, to instill hostel spirit

Status: Not done

This too was not possible due to the lack of organizing time and participation. However, to compensate for this lack of activity, the Sangam committee ensured that there was one event for each week following the end of Quiz 1.

Promoting Culture

  • Vernacularity in the theatre will be introduced through street-plays, workshops and competitions. Regional theatre will also be encouraged

Status: Done

While this point was made into reality, with the first Marathi play put up as a part of the Theatre Day, the success is attributed to Tony Matthew, one of the Convenors for the Thespian club, who took to the task with enthusiasm.

  • To facilitate greater bonding and interaction. Informals Club will be created. Wolf, antakshari, dumb charades, tours and treks will be organized

Status: Done

The Informals club was created, and organised events which brought good participation. A stellar point was its interaction with other clubs, resulting in joint events which attracted a lot of people. Events like the Drum Circle, Wolf Night brought a lot of participation.

  • Institute Cultural Day with performances of all the clubs and samitis, distribution of Lit Soc certificates and release of yearbook

Status: Not done

This did not occur, with Koushik’s reasoning being that most of the institute events, like the Gymkhana Day were pushed to the end, leaving not enough time for organizing this event. The idea for the Cultural Day, he says, was to have a day for the club to showcase its year-round activity, like the Open House at CFI.

  • Inter IIT Sports Meet: Cultural performances by institute students during the inauguration ceremony

Scrapped down due to the Chennai floods.

Infrastructure

  • Dedicated work space will be given to the clubs along with suitable equipment

Status: Done

The first floor of Quark has been given to the clubs as a workspace starting in the even semester, with more infrastructure to come. As for suitable equipment, the clubs have been getting the equipment they have requested for.

  • To establish a Club Support Team which will aid design, publicity and sponsorship requirements of the clubs thereby increasing their visibility

Status: Not done

This idea was scrapped in its initial stages, owing to the failure of a similar idea a few years ago, due to lack of applicants. This was supported by the fact that number of applicants had dropped even for Shaastra and Saarang. However, with the advent of Saahithya, Koushik hopes that the Saahithya team can be used year round as a club support team.

  • DC Hub: A hub containing the videos and photos of lit soc events as well as easy to learn videos will be made available

Status: Not done

The idea was abandoned since there weren’t any major benefits due to the plan.

PG Culturals (Misram)

  • Creation of a PG lit soc council, inclusion of new events in Misram and two phased competition spread across four weeks

Status: Not done

The PG fest, Misram, was not conducted this year. The original idea for Misram was to provide a platform for PG students to be involved in the cultural scene. But the fest didn’t see major involvement. According to Koushik, this year the Research Affairs Secretary had planned for a Research Scholars Day, which would involve cultural competitions. Since they felt this would receive more participation from the PG students, it was left to the RAS. However, the RAS has a different opinion, as stated in the RAS Manifesto Review. According to Anand, the RAS, it is due to lack of support from the Cul Secs that Misram wasn’t conducted this year.

  • Appointment of a PG core to represent PG students in the decision-making process and to increase awareness, outreach and participation

Status: Not done

Since there was no foundation for any PG student to become a core directly, the PG students were to apply for the post of a super coordinator first. Also, since Shaastra had implemented a PG core system, the Secretaries also wanted to observe how Shaastra fared with it before implementing it in Saarang.

Involve

  • New point system for Lit Soc, based on normalized scoring, to incentivize participation and increase the competitiveness

Status: Not done

The idea was scrapped after a proper system could not be reached.

  • Online competitions for word games such as scrabble, crossie, treasure hunt and anagrams will be hosted on the lit soc portal

Status: Done

The lack of a LitSoc portal due to the failure of the WebOps team did not allow for this. However, the Word Games Club Convenors took up the task and managed to host online competitions on Facebook, which received tremendous participation.

  • Lit Soc T- shirts for the winners and incentivization through kind deals to the finalists of major events

Status: Not done

Not enough budget or sponsorships were available to make this happen.

Saarang

While a major portion of this section of the manifesto was not fulfilled, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the Chennai floods. At one point, the conduction of the fest was under question, with the floods and no support from the admin, according to Koushik. Saarang still managed a profit, and showed a rise in ticket sales and participation , according to him,which should be applauded.

Fun filled Saarang

  • Saarang Village: Stalls, arti-crafts, cuisines from different states along with cultural performances by institute samitis and professional artistes

Status: Not done

The idea was abandoned due to time and budget constraints following the floods.

  • Saarang Lounge with live video feed and free access to video games and arcade games such as foosball, air hockey, snooker; late night events such as wolf, antakshari, dumb charades will be conducted

Status: Not done

Not implemented due to time and budget constraints following the floods.

  • New Informals hub at KV grounds with paintball, laser tag, adventure rides and versatile street sports to make Saarang more lively and audience-friendly

Status:Partially Completed

A hub was set up for a few of the said activities, the others, not fulfilled due to the constraints.

  • Roadshows on the OAT road to entertain people in long queue before proshows

Status: Not done

The idea was abandoned due to time and budget constraints following the floods.

  • Interactive Ambience: To improve the festive feel and experience for the people, interactive ambience like 3D street art, responsive lights will be set up

Status: Not done

The idea was abandoned due to time and budget constraints following the floods.

Insti’s Saarang

  • Introduce high-end professional workshops which are free to institute students

Status: Done

While not all the workshops were high end, professionals were brought in for workshops conducted, including a slam poetry workshop by the events team, which drew many eyes.

  • A new professional show will be conducted in SAC which will be free for all institute students and EDM night will be made free for all coordinators

Status: Not done

While EDM  night passes were given to students, no new show was conducted in SAC.

  • Involve institute clubs, samitis in conducting Eunoia and open to all volunteering

Status: Done

Eunoia was rebranded as Sukriti this year, following which Sukriti chose to focus on children this year, by conducting awareness programs in association with events like Backathon and City Wide Treasure Hunt. Also, as another amazing gesture, 4 lakhs from the profits of Saarang was given as a Saarang scholarship to the children of the nonacademic staff of the institute. Workshops were conducted for children by clubs in the institute.

Outreach

  • Saarang Milan: To improve publicity Outreach Proshows during will be organized in various cities and Chennai Band Hunt will also be introduced

Status: Not done

Was not implemented due to the constraints. While Milan conducted events in other cities, the promised Proshows could not happen due to constraints.

  • To promote Eunoia, a brand ambassador shall be appointed

Status: Not done

Was not implemented again owing to the constraints.

  • Saarang Conclave: A panel discussion will be convened with eminent panelists and will also include student panelist, who will be selected through auditions, from around Chennai

Status: Done

This was organised, and showed an immense response, especially from students inside the institute. The panel featured  Ms. Shantha Sinha, Ms. Suma Ravi, Mr. Vidyasagar Ramamurthy, Mr. Sumanth C Raman Ajeetha BS, and was focussed on the topic of ‘Has the Constitution of India been an ally in creating the child labour force.

Other Important Points

Saahitya

IITM’s first Litfest, Saahitya was organised under the CulSecs. While Koushik agrees that most work and responsibility was taken up by the Convenors, the secretaries supported them in discussions with admin and over budgets and infrastructure.

Saarang

  • Issues with Web-Ops:

The usually stellar WebOps team failed to function this year, due to an unresponsive core, according to Koushik. The Sangam website was a far shot, with the Saarang website itself not completed till mid December, which was extremely late when compared to the Shaastra website, which was up by October itself. Even this, Koushik says, was possible because the previous WebOps core stepped in to help the current team build the website.

The secretaries had tried to take steps, but it was too late to outsource the job by the time they did. Koushik says that measures must be taken to prevent problems like this, since they can’t give up when something critical falls apart.

  • The Rock Show:

With Red Jumpsuit Apparatus cancelling at the last moment due to transport issues, the Saarang team managed to recoup brilliantly, organising a free show with a few local bands and Kerala-based band Avial, in under 24 hours. On being asked the story behind it, Koushik is all praise for his team. The Proshows team, along with the Cores and the CulSecs pulled a night out following the EDM night, discussing with all the departments on how to put up a show that people enjoyed and to ensure that this resulted in positive publicity for Saarang. In the end, they reached out to local bands to put up a free show, which turned out to be a major success.

Clubs

The music club’s flagship competition, Raagabop was not conducted this year due to problems that arose the previous year. The competition had been extended to much later than originally anticipated, due to which the administration banned Raagabop for the year. The Music Room was renovated and painted.

The Fine Arts Club was very active this year, with combined events with other clubs and out of insti activities generating a lot of enthusiasm, with the dean himself being present for the Besant Nagar beach visit.

Thespian Club was especially active, with various events and script reading sessions spread over the year. The first ever Institute Theatre Day was conducted which encouraged vernacular events. A few samithis were very responsive and took an active part. With the Marathi Mitr Mandal putting up their annual play (which otherwise, they conduct independently as “Snehabandha”) under the Theatre Day initiative.

Koushik during the promotion of Saarang
Koushik during the promotion of Saarang

Koushik managed a success rate of about 25%, and even though the numbers don’t sound impressive, it is commendable, since most of the incomplete points come from the Saarang section of the manifesto. The team of Saarang, working under the CulSecs, has managed to pull through the floods to produce another brilliant edition of the fest. We wish his successor, Shreyas Harish, the CulSec(Lit) Elect, the best of luck for all his endeavours in the upcoming year.

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