(Click on the name to download manifesto. Scroll down to see the video.)
What is your motivation behind standing for the post of RAS?
Ishita: There’s always a joy in doing something very big. I have been in the institute for the past three and a half years doing research. At the end of the day, it’s not just your own work when you are doing something other than your research, it will be on a larger scale- working for everyone. And that joy would be great if I am working for Research Affairs.
Ranjini: The concept of research at IITM is mainly centered around academia. It is important that we as researchers from an institute of this repute reach out globally. This cannot be achieved single-handedly by anyone- we need a team. The representation of Counsellors is of immense significance here. Being a counsellor myself, I saw how administration can improve the quality of life of research scholars and strive to do a number of thing interdepartmentally .We have a non compromising level of research in this institute and I want to take research and its outreach to the next level. I want to provide an interface for taking research from the lab to the world outside. This has been my constant motivation.
Why should the electorate vote for you?
Ishita: Because I have a vision and I work hard to realise that vision.
Ranjini: I have been a PhD counsellor for the Research Affairs Council (RAC), a research affairs correspondent for The Fifth Estate for two years and a Research Expo Coordinator for Shaastra. I have interacted with administration as well as with students at various levels, especially the Post Graduates. Having met people on a personal level, I have a very clear insight of what they are doing, an insight into their problems and hurdles and the like. It is based on all this that I have drafted my manifesto. Also, I have been a mess secretary and a mess core. So I have met various people, particularly the PGs, in a non-academic fashion as well. I understand their personal difficulties. I have worked with the placement team – interacted with the PGs and UGs there. I have a clear idea about the demands of the industry, careers in research, core, teaching and the like. To sum up, I have an all-round perspective of various things and hence I think the electorate will vote for me.
What is the one point in your manifesto that you would like to highlight?
Ishita: Regarding interdisciplinary research. There are some research topics which have different parts in different departments. If we can mix these together and if the scholars work together towards research, it will be beneficial for all.
Ranjini: Compiling procedural information for the benefit of the PGs is something I have always wanted to do. Queries related to financial aid, conversion from MS to PhD, application to foreign universities, etc are resolved only by word-of-mouth passing of information. There is no structured format. So if there is a facility where students can sit in the lab and get answers to all their questions, it would make life much simpler for them; hence the idea to have an active, dynamic platform where all this information is compiled together and put up. This point has been proposed by the previous RASs also and my motto is to bring this continual effort to completion.
What do you feel are the major issues that require to be addressed in the coming year?
Ishita: Communication among PG students especially the research scholars. Also that between scholars and UG students is lacking. That has to be tackled.
Ranjini: A recent concern from the MHRD has been that the average window to get a PhD has jumped from about 4 years to around 7 years. Statistically, around 4000 students should be getting a PhD degree from the IITs, but this has not been the case in recent times. This is a major concern. The Director and the Dean of Academic Research have had a meeting with Research scholars in order to get a comprehensive insight into their difficulties. An idea extended from the RAC and the admin side is to meet up with the fourth year PhD students and address their issues appropriately. It is important to talk to students, raise a common platform to address their grievances and to aid them to complete their thesis.
What is your vision for increasing the outreach/ promotion of our research programmes outside our Institute, so as to increase awareness and draw motivated students?
Ishita: The Shaastra period- now we have the research expo. If we can publicize it better, people would come in to participate and we can throw the departments open to all for this period of time. We can have the posters of research going on in the department so people coming in for Shaastra can see them and get inspiration and a better idea of research.
Ranjini: Research Expo is one platform which can help in the exponential outreach of research in the institute. The appreciation is beautifully orchestrated. The structure of this should hence be standardized with help from the CoCAS. But the drawback is that the aura lasts only for a few days. So I would propose to integrate MS and PhD students with CFI and TechSoc as mentors for UGs with project ideas in hand. It is also important for us to have a streamlined base for showcasing research internationally. So, getting PG alumni support for financial aids for international conferences, symposiums, seminars, conferences etc. is crucial. Research scholars are the pulsating lifeline of IITM and encompass the vast research output that is our global outreach. This commitment is very close to my heart. Also, involving research park in a bigger role to improve the doctorial and post doctorial opportunities is also something I would like to do to increase awareness and to draw motivated students.
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