T5E brings back its annual Manifesto Review series! Here, 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.
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].
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The same color scheme is used in the review below.
The Students’ General Secretaryship is one of the most influential and important executive wing positions in the institute. While the other members of the Executive Wing handle specific jurisdictions, the SGS has a more general responsibility and stands out due to the scope of his impact from proposed initiatives and undertakings.
Dheeresh Chandra, popularly known as ‘Struct’, became the General Secretary for the year 2015-16 after he won the election for the post with a substantial margin of over a thousand votes. His impetus was to focus towards the general student populace while making policies more student friendly and ensuring proactive student participation in decision making. He attributes his victory to his efficient campaigning, sheer hard work and dedication. Dheeresh’s previous PoRs include Facilities Core for Saarang 2014-15 and Sports Secretary of Mandakini hostel in the previous year. He has also been a part of MITR, EML and the Mechanica fest.
Dheeresh managed an overall success ratio of 30.0% with respect to the points on his manifesto, while an additional 13.33% points have been set in motion. Four of the manifesto points could not be placed in the rightful section due to varied reasons pertaining to the facilities and authorities involved, as we shall see below.
The highlights of Dheeresh’s tenure included some long expected changes like the introduction of smart card systems in the mess, an app (Flexboard) which would be a pit stop for all the updates pertaining to the events in the institute, common template profile for students and alumni, information portal, etc. Moreover, initiatives like ironing facilities in hostels, extending bus timings and initiating the process of Wifi zones are seen as welcome undertakings.
We now move on to a brief introduction and examination of Dheeresh’s manifesto points.
- Introduction of smart card system (institute ID card) for entry into mess dining halls:
Both smart card system and fingerprint recognition have been successfully implemented for entry to the mess making it convenient for students.
- Protein supplements’ stall near Gurunath:
There have been issues with the location for setting up of the stall. It will be set up near Bhadra Hostel. The groundwork for arranging for the supplements has been taken care of and is being passed to the architecture team to handle further progress.
- Vending machine:
To facilitate the availability of food round the clock, vending machine facilities were proposed for all the hostels and departments. Till date, there are vending machines in place in 6 hostels on a trial basis. There have been few issues for further implementation, which include:
- No storage place.
- Managing expired products.
- Breaking down of machines and handling their maintenance.
- Lack of enthusiasm by some of the hostel general secretaries.
As far as the departments fare, it is upto the Branch Councillor to convince the HOD and get the setting up of the vending machine approved which is a slightly longer and more excruciating process.
- Additional communication tower near the hostel zone :
No tower has been constructed so far. The service providers have been contacted but the details are insufficient for such a huge undertaking and hence the final decision is yet to be passed. Covering the same may take some time.
- Ironing/ pressing facility in hostel zone:
The facility has already been introduced for the hostels Sharavati and Sarayu. The required infrastructural facilities in the other hostels are not yet in place.
- Room cleaning model :
The major issue with completing this initiative was to get all the cleaners aboard. The SGS communicated to T5E that this has been completed and that pending the approval of the DoSt, this system should be in place and functioning by the start of the next semester. However, it was not clear exactly how this model is supposed to work.
- Extended bus timings to 12am with an interval of 30 minutes :
This point was not duly addressed. The following problems remain hindrance to the completion of this initiative:
- Availability of drivers
- Availability of buses
- Installation of cameras for security purposes.
The third point was seen to be of utmost importance considering the occurrence of an unacceptable incident during Saarang which stresses on the importance of security of female passengers and the strict monitoring of the drivers. An approval from the Dean has been obtained but further implementation needs to be addressed.
- A self-sufficient model of running all street lights completely on solar power:
This initiative was scrapped due to issues surrounding its feasibility. The installation of solar panels is time consuming and is not cost effective. The estimated budget for this project is around five crores, and there is a lack of funds for carrying it out as well.
- An installment basis payment model will be implemented for cycles bought during the beginning of odd semesters to ensure provision of good-quality cycles:
This undertaking was successfully completed. Previously the vendors used to promise three free services but owing to different circumstances, this was never followed for the newly bought cycles. However, now the vendors have to deposit a security of fifty thousand rupees as a precaution, which will be returned only if the specified services are rendered.
The two cycle repair shops will be upgraded to handle all kinds of repairs. This has been implemented partially at the cycle shop near Jamuna as it is not equipped to replace cycle brakes and gears. While the one in front of Tapti is equipped to handle all kinds of repairs, students have cribs regarding the money that is being charged.
- Shelter for prominent bus stops. Roof and fan installation at Gurunath and IRCTC :
Partially completed. A new shelter has been constructed at the Jamuna bus stop. The construction of the shelter in front of Narmada has been approved. But since the architectural facilities had other priorities due to the floods and the Inter-IIT its construction was delayed. Temporary roofs were constructed at both Gurunath and IRCTC during the summer but fans were not installed.
- Planning and execution of Students’ facility centre near Sharavathi hostel :
The eatery and the facility centre is in place and has started functioning smoothly. General facilities available include stationary, ironing and snacks.
Web and Mobile Operations
- A common template profile page to be worked out for all the students and alumni :
The page has been created and is fully functional. The page accommodates various facets which include students’ course reviews, a research portal, a link to the SAC portal, institute hospital, IAR portal, placement website and more.
- Upgrade the information portal to a one-stop site for all activities with subscription to smails:
- Institute events’ calendar will be prepared and incorporated in a mobile application along with news and updates:
Both these initiatives are covered under one roof by the launching of the Flexboard app. The app promises to integrate all the necessary updates pertaining to the institute based events. The upcoming year promises its integration with the smail accounts to make it more user friendly. This app enables you to personalize your updates based on your choices and interests in clubs or allied activities in the institute. This is believed to help curb students’ cribs about smail spam to an extent.
- Research portal to be revamped; additional facility to check accommodation waiting list to be added :
The research portal still does not have the facility to check for the accommodation facilities.
- Thesis Portal: A separate portal to update and check these ongoing and completed projects:
This proposition was not completed in the stipulated time period.
- A constitution with vision, mission and agenda for all SGS teams will be worked out:
A basic rulebook was compiled where subtle changes were made taking into account the points from the vision. However the same has not been made available for public reference.
- A student chapter, Women’s forum, IIT Madras to be formed as an SGS team to discuss pressing issues, create awareness and conduct related activities throughout the year :
This was not carried out. Incidentally, though, the redrafting of the constitution at the end of the year (though unrelated to the SGS) pressed for a specific committee to be formed under SAC to address similar issues including gender based issues.
- A magazine with brief reports on all events to be printed once a year:
The process has been initiated. However, the work on the design of the magazine remains incomplete and sufficient information regarding a few aspects still needs to be compiled.
- Adventure club and book reading club will be introduced :
This initiative was not undertaken as the members who were enthusiastic about these clubs in the first place backed out.
- Initiate a process to organize a yearly ‘startup fair’ by C-Tides:
The ‘startup fair’ was organized successfully in collaboration with E-cell. This event was conducted between 1st to 3rd April. The startups from various organizations like the chennai open coffee club, Nirmaan, incubation cell, etc came down to provide guidance to the budding entrepreneurs. A rough estimate of about 15 startups were involved.
- A PG council will be constituted to look into issues related specifically to the PG students:
This change was proposed because previously, post-graduate students were underrepresented in the SAC. This year the RAC and the RAS worked to achieve the desired representation and hence there was no need to set up a PG council.
- Semester wise report on all activities of all SGS teams to be made available:
As far as we could find, no such report was released publicly throughout the year and we were not able to determine if they were released otherwise.
- Disaster Management Committee to be empowered to conduct safety drills and exercises and make a safety report of every hostel :
Partially done. Fire drills were conducted in Sabarmati and Tunga but summoning the Tamil Nadu fire department for the same frequently is not feasible. Hence it was not scaled up to cater to the other hostels. Generally, it can be expected that 2-3 hostels are covered on an yearly basis. This would be followed by the drafting of a safety report.
- To expand EMLs to accommodate International Speakers and diversify Colloquium discussions:
Last year the EML team did a brilliant job when imminent speakers like the Dalai Lama, Kenji Hiramatsu, etc came down to the institute. The range of speakers exceeded expectations and saw an extremely huge turnout. But the same cannot be said for Colloquium which conducted barely any sessions over the year.
All this being said, the contribution of the SGS when it comes to funding was meagre and hence the incomplete status of the point.
- All club orientation for freshies in the first week of odd sem :
This was done at the beginning of the semester and held in the Student Activities Centre, but the orientation was carried out by the club convenors under the guidance of the event core and not by the SGS.
- Official transport partner for IITM:
This initiative did not work out because cab service companies like OLA and UBER said that they could not lower their prices further. Most of the students from IITM were using these services already so there was no significant increase in their revenue. Nor was it helping the publicity aspect of the companies. Hence, they could not come to an agreement.
- Construction of Cycle Shed for Sabarmati hostel and clotheslines to be installed in all tower hostels :
Not done yet but both the tasks have been approved. The engineering unit will build them as per the priorities.
- CCW procedures shall be made paperless :
Most of the processes have been made paperless like mess-registration and paying hostel or tution fees. A few procedures require paperwork because it is easier to keep a track of receipts in some cases.
- Initiate the process for enabling Wi-Fi in the entire institute :
Not done yet but will be done by the start of the next semester at Gurunath, Himalaya and Electrical Department. There was a delay in opening the tender process because of the introduction of a new firewall for netaccess. Considering that LAN is provided in every room there is less pressure on the concerned authorities to prioritize this task which amounts to further delays.
Dheeresh’s tenure as the Students’ General Secretary saw some significant changes and the implementation of many new undertakings. The students’ facility centre near Sharavati hostel, an all inclusive student app for updates were some noteworthy achievements. However, a few of the promising points like the official transport partner of IIT-M and the Wi-Fi installation near Gurunath could not be completed owing to various reasons. The status of ambitious activities like a semester wise report/ review of the SGS team still remains unclear. With about 40% of incompleted tasks and a success ratio of around 30%, Dheeresh Chandra signed off from the position on the Institute Day, handing over the responsibility of completion of the ongoing 13% tasks to Purab Jain for the upcoming year. We wish him all the best.