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. This is the fifth article in the series.
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].
The same color scheme is used in the review below.
The Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary has a wide range of responsibilities with most of it revolving around maintaining and improving the technical culture among the students of the institute. This in turn can be broadly classified into activities relating to Shaastra, CFI and Tech-Soc. He and his team of cores, coordinators and secretaries (hostel) have to plan the structure of the events pertaining to the above three categories and make sure they are implemented in a timely manner. Simply put, he is the main student authority to the technical status-quo in the campus. The roles and duties of the Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary can also be found on the Student Secretaries’ page and the Students’ Constitution.
Shiva Prasad’s credentials for Co-Cas included a strong tech background of being part of RoboCon Team and Events Core. He was elected unopposed as the Co-Curricular Affairs secretary after his win in the Institute elections of 2015.
We now move on to briefly looking at Shiva’s manifesto points and examining them. Since he has, notably, brought out a significant number of initiatives outside of his manifesto, we have covered these in a separate section towards the end of this article.
- Alumni Connect: To establish a significant connection with the alumni in coordination with the I&AR team, which in-turn would aid in terms of the resources by creating a platform for communication and networking with the alumni. This would be aided by the recruitment of separate team.
Status: Not Done.
There wasn’t any explicit team formed to aid the alumni connect as part of IAR, as it was felt that a new team in the I&AR would be redundant and an unnecessary waste of resources and manpower because their responsibilities would be limited. However IAR graciously helped the Shaastra teams in any kind of alumni connect when it was required.
- Focus on Quality: The focus on events would be on their quality, in order to enhance the mark that each event leaves on participants of Shaastra. Also, a set of additional events like Social Innovation, B-Plan events to be introduced to diversify the participation.
We discuss quality in a general sense using statistical data, but without much subjective information. The workshops were the same when compared to last year and didn’t see any significant changes other than some of them being slightly more advanced than last year. The number of events however increased by a large amount and this has been the maximum throughout the history of Shaastra with a whopping total of 50 events and 25 workshops. But the increase in number of events came with a price: the quality of the events was difficult to manage and monitor. However, speaking objectively, Shaastra retained the ISO 9001:2008 certification this year, illustrating its level of quality.
- Shows and Exhibitions: To aim for international exhibitions at Shaastra, from various countries, to give an insight to the technological advancements across the world. Special emphasis would be given to get outstanding shows.
The shows stepped up their game this year; there were 3 international shows over 2 days brought in using a budget of Rs. 14+ lakhs. Shaastra’s Professional Shows this year included international performances by Adelaida, a group of LED & Neon based performance artists from Ukraine, and Freestyl’Air, a team of extreme sports performers from France. They also brought in India’s best sand artist and only light painter Vivek Patil for a Light and Sand Art Show. Envisage, the techno-entertainment show, was also said to be a grand success with an audience of over 5000 people.
However the exhibitions took a hit this year. Although the change of dates did not affect the shows, it took a toll on the exhibitions. Most of the professional exhibits which were planned had to be cancelled due to the change of dates. There were some quality student projects exhibited as a part of these, though, along with the vintage car collection.
- Mini-Shaastra: A miniature version of Shaastra, focusing mainly on the participation from the institute students, with various lectures, workshops, and other events during the semester.
Mini-Shaastra (Sankalp) was one of the innovative measures taken during Shiva’s tenure. With 5 workshops and 5 events, it was to give institute students a flavour of what Shaastra was going to be. However it didn’t receive the reach it hoped to get among the students. Less and delayed internal publicity and rains during that particular week lead to lessened participation.
- Core Team Structure: a) Shaastra-IAR team to network with Alumni and Embassies b) Student Relations team to be divided internally as (i) Outreach and Marketing (ii) Internal Publicity and Hospitality.
The core team restructure did happen, but only on paper. There wasn’t an explicit division into two teams but rather two avenues that the single team had to focus on.
Outreach and marketing had their usual responsibilities of contacting colleges across India and bringing in participation and managing their queries, from hospitality to fee payments, and hosting Samparks. There was an increase in the number of Samparks to 10 cities this year (the highest so far) with a turnout of over 5000 students from various engineering colleges. Shaastra Junior quiz was organised in 11 cities with a participation of over 1600 school students.
The internal publicity team was primarily aimed at promoting events inside our institute. There weren’t a lot of innovative measures on this front, although the regular publicity stunts like Himalaya video screening, hanging cards at Guru and event specific posters at hostel boards and other places did take place.
Inter-IIT Tech Meet
There were 3 major issues faced this year, which weren’t under Shiva’s purview but affected IITM’s participation at the Inter IIT.
- Inter IIT was organised by IIT Mandi this year. Apparently, the event was not planned well in advance, including strict adherence to the timeline, which lead to a lot of chaos and unpreparedness on IITM’s side.
- The rains during December affected the training and work sessions which were planned for the participating teams from CFI’s side.
- There were reportedly low funds and support from institute’s side for travel and attendance issues. Out of the 40-odd participants only 10 managed to go to the actual event.
Keeping these issues in mind, we continue reviewing Shiva’s manifesto points:
- Establishment of Inter-IIT Tech as a culture: Special focus in-order to create a culture of Inter-IIT tech-meet in the institute by creating new approach to the IIT-Tech meet.
Status: Not Done.
The data from the number of participating teams every year points towards the fact that Inter-IIT has still not matured into a culture with the students of insti. However, amidst all the above constraints IITM did pull off a good performance, placing 3rd overall and winning prizes in 5 out of the 7 events that we participated in.
- Inter-IIT tech winter camp: To organize special training sessions for the participants of the tech meet in coordination with CFI. Special preparatory events to be organized in Tech-Soc or Shaastra.
Status: Not Done.
The Inter-IIT tech winter camp was not held, the primary reasons being – floods spoiling plans and unavailability of the events’ problem statement from IIT Mandi’s side. Change of dates for Shaastra also became a bigger concern during the time.
- Review sessions: Review session to be conducted to evaluate the progress of the Inter-IIT teams by CFI clubs for the teams formed after the problem statements are released.
The 8 events were mapped to the corresponding clubs which then mentored the participants’ projects. The club heads monitored the project’s’ progress and assisted them in any way required.
- Structure of Tech-Soc: Structure of Tech-Soc to be revamped to help freshers and increase participation in the institute by having Tech-Soc and Freshie Tech-Soc. Freshie Tech-Soc: Freshmen to be trained in technical activities by CFI clubs and Technical Affairs Secretaries by conducting special exclusively for freshers.
Status: Not Done.
Freshie Tech-Soc didn’t happen due to various logistical issues. However, there were exclusive freshie events like Freshie HTW and Project X. The entire structure is planned to be revamped next year having groups of participating freshies allocated to different senior hostels to tackle problems like low TAs to students ratio among freshie hostels and better senior mentorship for the freshies.
- Product Development Initiatives: Semester long events like product development to be made a part of Tech-Soc, the winners of which will be given an opportunity to present their product at Shaastra’s product launch.
There was a product development challenge as a part of Tech-Soc, however it lacked proper execution and hence saw less quality participation. These developer events were planned for the odd semester but were later pushed to the even semester which meant there was no product launch at Shaastra for them.
- Additional Events: Events like case study, data analytics and IDP to be included in Tech-Soc to help students with placements.
Additional events fulfilled their expectations. Case Study, IDP and Big Data Challenge brought in more senior and PG participation, in addition to helping students with placements.
A new measure in this regard was introducing event specific fundae sessions. Analytics and webops clubs organised special fundae sessions a week before the event to help the students get accustomed to the basics and perform better at the actual event.
- Increasing the PR in the institute about the various tech-events happening throughout the semesters including Tech-Soc, Shaastra and the annual Inter-IIT tech meet with regular updates on all tech-boards and articles from T5E.
Again there weren’t a lot of innovative measures but were rather following the footsteps of the previous years. The various PR stunts that were a part of this were tech boards at Vindya and Himalaya messes, Smail, Tech-Soc Facebook page.
A major crib faced from institute’s side was that the Tech-Soc website was taken down after the institute CCW website was hacked and all student body websites had to be taken down.
- Collection of E-waste: Timely collection drives for the proper disposal of E-waste across the institute hostel and residence zones in collaboration with S-net.
Status: Not Done.
- No E-waste collection drives were organised. The S-Net was not contacted to collaborate. The Gen Sec’s and Co-Cas’s work timeline did not coincide well enough to plan such a collection drive.
Status: Not Done.
- Raising any issues faced regarding the tech activities, in the institute SAC meeting, thereby ensuring a free flow of tech events.
No particular issues needed to be raised as part of the SAC meetings. The issue of increase in minimum CGPA for Cores was dealt with and brought down again to 7. There was a general complaint, that the selection of PG cores was a bit random. This issue too was taken care of and this year there was a properly structured selection procedure for PG cores.
- Shaastra had a number of industry lectures aimed to build a connect between industries and the students. There was also a legion of stalls organised by some start-ups and industries which targeted the incoming participants. Indian Railways Challenge and Smart City Challenge were attempts to solve industrial problems using the technical prowess of its participants.
- Tech-Soc had an industry defined Problem statement by Caterpillar as one of its events.
- CFI – it didn’t reach out to a lot of industry projects this time because of the learnings from previous years. Matching the industry’s requirements to what the students do has always been an issue and dropping a project halfway only reflects badly on CFI’s image. The ICT and IPR have been working actively to bridge the gap between CFI and industries.
- Shaastra: Shaastra saw an increase in the PG participants this year. The main reason being their active participation in the research expo. A lot the PG scholars also turned judges for various events.
- Tech-Soc: No special measures were taken to increase PG participation in Tech-Soc, nevertheless the trend in their participation follows as last year.
- CFI: While same trend was observed with regard to CFI projects, a lot of high-profile events saw an increase in PG participation like the UC Berkeley smart city challenge and Lockheed martin design challenge.
- Tech Room infrastructure development funds were introduced, which covers around 10k at the beginning of the year which will be given to TAS of each hostel to buy the necessary resources they need for the Tech Room.
- Frequency of Tech Room audits were increased to twice a semester to monitor the activities and make sure the Tech Rooms are well-appointed.
Rains and change of dates :
Rains and floods were one of the most disastrous things that happened the previous year and indeed posed a very unique problem when compared to the previous years. Unique registrations by non-insti students decreased to 4200 as compared to 5000 last year. Some of the speakers could not make it during the new dates. It was the same case with the exhibitions. Most of the other factors from the organizational team’s point of view were taken care, of without compromising a lot on quality.
- Shaastra continued the second edition of the “Pledge A Book” Campaign, an attempt by our students to give back to society and bring about a change in the fields of education and literacy. This year, the second edition of the campaign expanded to cover four cities- Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. This year saw the introduction of an online portal for Pledge-A-Book, an attempt to expand our campaign even to remotest parts of the country. So far more than 15,000 books have been collected with the help of over 20 NGOs which have helped set up 15 new libraries this year alone.
- A total of 3 records (2 Guinness and 1 National) were broken in this edition of Shaastra. ‘Team India’ solved 2,454 Rubik’s cubes in an hour breaking the previous Guinness record of 1860 cubes. One of the team members broke the national record for individual best. Another record that Shaastra witnessed was the “largest number of bookmarks made and collected in a single day” with over 12000 fancy bookmarks made by students of 10 schools as a part of Pledge-A-Book initiative.
- Shaastra Fellowships was an initiative to involve the winners at Shaastra in a greater technical experience at IIT Madras. The winners were entitled to do an internship with a professor at IIT Madras. A group of 20 students from Shaastra 2016 winners will have started their internships in the month of May.
- The first edition of IIT Madras’ very own TEDx was also unionized, and saw a huge welcome.
Shiva’s tenure saw a fairly high success rate of around 65%, with an additional 35% of his manifesto points remaining incomplete. Although a lot of the issues faced were unforeseen, there were quite a few promising points of his manifesto that went unimplemented like the E-waste collection drive or the revamping of the structure of Tech-Soc, which could have yielded good long term results. Shiva signs off saying: “The institute’s tech culture has given me all that I have made of myself here. I only wanted to extend the same by making things easier for my fellow students in all things technical inside insti”. We wish him all the best and hope to see greater heights achieved by Animesh Bagora, who Shiva passed the baton to as the next CoCAS, for the year 2016-17.