Sunday, March 21, 2010

In Rohit's Memory...

On 22nd March 2009, we lost one of us. Not to a terrorist activity, not to an accident. To negligence. In part, our own.

Rohit Kumar, an Undergraduate Student of the Department of Electrical Engineering, would've been in his fourth year of study now. His death due to medical negligence by B.C. Roy "Hospital", the civic IIT-run hospital responsible for providing healthcare facilities to IIT-Kharagpur campus residents (which includes students, faculty members, staff and other employees), lead to protests by the student community within IIT-Kgp. The administration's ignorance towards the issue lead to further unrest, and the following outrage ultimately forced them to address and acknowledge the issue. The students demanded the resignation of the Director, the Dean of Student Affairs and the Chairman of B.C.Roy Technology Hospital, and some of the changes demanded were initiated subsequently.

Let us show to the world that Rohit Kumar shall not be forgotten. You are requested to be there at the Institute Main Building GoleC on 22nd March 2010 at 7 PM, and light a candle in Rohit's memory, which still remains embedded in our hearts. Please spread the word.

May his soul rest in peace...


Friday, March 19, 2010

Gymkhana Elections: Of White Knights, Dark Horses, and the occasional Court Fool

Hmm... Never thought I'll be writing this post...

Anyway, so they're here, the Technology Students' Gymkhana Elections for 2010/11. And can it get any more interesting than this time...

For the highest student post, the Vice-President, we have not just two, as has conventionally been the case, but three candidates this time around. And we have not just one, but TWO of them from outside Kshitij (Our Techno-Management fest) and SpringFest (our Cult Fest) organising teams. If it wasn't enough, there are two of them from the same hall of residence as well. And one of them (obviously) isn't supported by his hall, his former colleagues or anyone who has worked with him. And neither does he have any credentials, or any track record that does not make me not vote for him. But there are people who support him as well... and so much that they'd go any lengths for that.

It's been some hours now since the Soapbox was conducted for the said post. There were the usuals, and the unusuals. Candidates who had actual real responses to the questions asked, plans and proposals to execute, experience to actually execute them (given the opportunity), and then there were those who had great one-liners. Well, not great, per-se, but the crowd loved 'em. And that's all that it takes, right?

Just everyone loves an underdog... who "fought it alone", "stood against the tide"... strangely, one of the comments in his support says, he who "refused proper orientation and guidance." Well, why did he?

I don't really care for the Gymkhana, or those who run it, but they are, no doubt, representatives of the Student Community at IIT-Kgp. I've had the opportunity to know quite a few of them, and they have usually left me in awe. There are those that made lasting changes while they were there, added tremendous value, and continue doing so in the outside world. All of us here who witnessed the events following Rohit's death last year would understand the significance of an able representative of the students, a true leader. And now, when one of my batchmates get their turn to be in the cohort... hmm...

But what really got me to writing this entry, was the way the campaigns are going this year. The candidate in question is attracting a lot of attention, and has endless debates spun around him, none of which is unusual. But what IS unusual, is that some videos containing some of his footage from a cultural event at IIT-Kgp, has actually been censored from the institute LAN.

Yes, BANNED FROM DC++. The same LAN which has never banned anything even with extremely creative permutations and combinations of Men, Women, Animals, Plants, Machines... in it, banned any user sharing some footage of stage performance by this candidate. It's been hours, but even his SOP videos have not been uploaded yet. And as I write this, MainChat has been disabled on DC++, where his candidature was apparently being discussed.

hmm... Well, ban this, will ya?

And I don't get the whole underdog thing. There are many underdogs, who, if they were contesting, would've made great candidates. But is just being an underdog enough? Is that all. While the whole situation is very Obama-esque on the surface, he is what he is independent of his minority status.

Everyone wants change. And we've had quite a lot of it. Not only on the VP nominations side, but the Juniors as well. Saw the G.Sec.(Technology) candidates, and the one who seemed like perhaps the most eligible to hold the post, who actually has plans, those that haven't been handed out to him, and the will to actually put them through, is a resident of a majority PostGraduate Hall. I would really like Tarun Rathi from HJB Hall to win, and if he isn't devoured by the prevailing hall politics, that'll be the change I'd want from this year. But when I say he is a deserving candidate, it's because of his abilities and potential, and not because of his being an underdog.

I'd want a VP who has the necessary "funda" to work with the institute. To get his way with the administration. Who knows how the gymkhana functions. Who knows what the students need, and how to get it. Who is an able representative of us to the administration, and sometimes to outsiders too. To be such a one requires more than just "tempo". More than simply being self-obsessed. A hunger for change, not power. Someone who can improve our conditions, and not just his Curriculum Vitae. What is more striking, is that the majority of the student population has no idea what the post of a VP entails; the amount of power it has in pushing for changes that can benefit the student population.

Think about it. Whom do you want heading your Placement Committee?

Do you also say "Yes, We Can"? Of course we can, but should we?

Perhaps you really liked watching Gunda, it was funny, different, and really entertained you for once. Would you give it an Oscar? Or even want to watch it again, over and over, for a year...

Last of all, don't forget to vote. The candidates for the post of VP are:
Nivesh Pandey, Celestine Joseph and Ankit Singh, in the order as mentioned in the post title.

A good video by IIT-K on the occasion: