1). I propose to improve the functioning of the gymkhana by the following measures:
- Creating individual student profiles on the gymkhana website which would include :
- Gymkhana achievements
- Gymkhana Office bearers
- Gymkhana/ Institute Nominated Posts
- Organizing Team Members of the Respective Festivals
- Members of all the Gymkhana Societies/ Clubs
- Hall council Members
- Other official student bodies of IIT Kharagpur (AIESEC, Alumni Cell, E-Cell, TTG, Scholars Avenue, Awaaz, etc.)
- Creating common interest online students forums on the gymkhana website linked to the student profiles to foster collaborative learning, exchange of ideas and information dissemination.
- Creating grievance forum also linked to the student profiles of students who are part of BC Roy Hospital committee, Mess Monitoring committee, Commercial Establishment and Licensing committee, etc.
TSA: What is the motivation behind this proposal?
Vishal: The main thing is to increase transparency in Gymkhana dealings and create a personal space of achievements for each student on campus.
TSA: What kind of time frame is being considered for the implementation?
Vishal: This will be finalized with the new Gymkhana body, if I am elected.
TSA: Where is the manpower for the work required for setting up and maintaining profiles?
Vishal: The PR Chair and Web Secretary will be working on maintaining profiles. Once the basic setup is up and running, it will not be too difficult. Updating of the profiles could be automated alongside updating Gymkhana records.
TSA: How and which details will be added to a student’s profile? How are listed achievements to be verified? In the interview with Prateek which appeared in our previous issue, we learnt that verifying CVs is a challenge for the TnP during placements.
Vishal: Basic details like the roll number, contact information can be obtained from ERP. Membership in societies and achievement in Hall events will be mentioned in the profile. Each society sends a list of its members, and each secretary forwards the list of winners in the GCs to the Gymkhana. Once the President approves these lists, the results are deemed official. The primary aim of these profiles is not to ensure verification of CVs, though this is an added advantage. While the TnP would need to cross check each fact with different sources, the personal profiles are a source of centralized information that is updated over time.
TSA : What about that are not related to the Gymkhana, such as work in startups or unlisted societies?
Vishal: Such activities will have to be verified by a professor or some other competent authority before being added.
TSA: Not all achievements can be put down in facts and figures, individual contributions to organizing a particular event, for example. How will the profile incorporate these?
Vishal: Right now, the focus is on membership and participation in Gymkhana events. A way to verify the exact nature of a society member’s work has not been outlined.
TSA: Why are society specific forums required when societies would like to maintain exclusive websites with their own forums?
Vishal: The idea is to integrate forums of discussion with the student profiles for greater transparency and information dissemination. Societies will like to have their own sites, but the forum can be a common discussion ground. The forums can be of a general nature, on academic and other topics.
TSA: How is the grievance forum proposed by you different from the grievance cell that was Prateek’s proposal (and is being implemented)?
Vishal: All student queries on the grievance forum are going to be visible along with their profiles, and so will the replies posted. Whether the grievance cell will be merged with the grievance forum has not been decided yet.
The profiles can go a long way in maintaining a consistent account of a student’s life in Kharagpur. It seems to us that the workload might require more hands than mentioned, though. A time frame would help track development. Verifying all information for CVs, an integral issue, can be addressed with more work on the proposal. The idea of forums for discussion could generalize the grievance cell well.
2). I propose to make following changes to improve the placements and Internship at IIT Kharagpur
- Introducing a Training Committee in T&P which will be comprised of 4th year Dual degree and Int. M.Sc. students who would look for internship opportunities from various avenues apart from the companies already contacted by T&P team such as Start Ups, Research Organizations, Universities, NGOs, etc.
- Incubation of an online repository which would complement the final year students applying to the foreign universities for higher studies
- Structure and Working:
- Team of 4 students (2 UG students in the penultimate year, 1 PG student in the penultimate year and 1 Research Scholar)
- Online Repository would comprise of:
- University wise Application Timelines
- Sample Statement of Purpose
- General Information (Pre-Applications, Evaluation Parameters, Campus Life and Future Prospects)
- Department wise list of universities
- List of Alumni in various universities
- Structure and Working:
- Introduction of several informal sessions by alumni in various sectors with the students
- Helping students in making a more informed choice and being clear about the preparation required and the kind of work in various job profiles
- Different Sectors:
- E commerce
- Oil and Gas Services
TSA: A couple of semesters ago in a term-end conversation, Celestine mentioned that providing interns weren’t as high a priority as placements. How is a Training Committee justified?
Vishal: For one, the summer training is compulsory and part of the curriculum. More companies than currently come for interns can be contacted with the help of a Training Cell. Also, the problem of mass mailing for foreign interns can be curbed by the Training Committee operating in a structured manner. It will cater both to students wanting an industrial and research opportunities and I think this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
TSA: How many members will the Training Committee consist of?
Vishal: There will be 4-5 members. Infrastructure of the TnP in terms of the phones, space available have to be increased to accomodate the Training Committee. The new academic complex coming up is being looked at as possible alternate sites for the TnP.
TSA: What kind of help will the Online Repository offer?
Vishal: The department wise list would help in knowing which universities to consider. The Repository will also provide general information about universities with MoUs with our institute, application procedures and upcoming deadlines for various colleges. To many interested students, this is valuable information made available easily. The list of alumni in universities can be contacted for more information.
TSA: Regarding the sessions with the alumni- isn’t this similar to what the A-Cell and E-Cell are doing? How many sessions are you targetting?
Vishal: The work will no doubt involve the Alumni Cell. Its outlook though is not a very structured session, but an informal one where students can get to interact with the alumni and receive direction. I am thinking of a session with one alumnus from each major field mentioned in the proposal.
Compulsory interns and profligate FT mailing are a serious matter for both students and professors. If groundwork shows that a Training Committee can increase opportunities, its formation would be a welcome proposal. The Online Repository can offer useful basic information, but applying to universities requires a directed and individual search or programs. It will need to be thorough and frequently updated. The Alumni should be credible, and we think the number of sessions could be more.
3). I propose to make the following improvements for the students in the Central Library
- Introduction of Book Lending Facility for the benefit of students whose parent’s income falls below the taxable limit
- Introduction of Deposit Section through which a student can procure a book by depositing an amount equal to the price of the book which would be refunded to the student once the book is returned to the library
- Extending the timings of the Central Library to 3 AM, 7 days before the exam till the last day of the exam
- Improving library facilities for the Physically Challenged students of IIT Kharagpur by installing softwares and keyboards for the visually challenged
- Addition of a separate section showcasing the papers published by the students of IIT Kharagpur
TSA: How exactly is the Book Lending going to work?
Vishal: After speaking to Mr. Sutradhar at the Central Library, I decided that it is a good idea to allow underprivileged students, who are unable to purchase course books, to issue them for an entire semester. Underpriviliged formally refers to students with parental income less than the taxable income.
TSA: And the Deposit Section?
Vishal: Books take long to arrive if requested to be procured by the library as per the general procedure. For certain specific books that are expensive or rare and often required by researchers, the Deposit Section will allow them to deposit the amount in the library and purchase the book. Once the book is returned, the money is returned with an amount deduced based on the condition in which the book is returned in.
TSA: Can you name specific instances of the software you plan to install?
Vishal: Jaws for the blind is an example software. The installations will be done in such a way that the general atmosphere of the library will not be disturbed.
TSA: The institute already has digital access to journals via subscription to most reputed journals. Isn’t a paper collection redundant?
Vishal: The section of the paper will not be soft copies but hard copies, their purpose being a mark of the achievement of students in research activity.
Book Lending is a noble cause, but take the case of any much referred to textbook used in first year. How many copies will the Library need to purchase to allow Book Lending, and how about keeping those copies available for general circulation where it is also in need? The Deposit Section will apply only for specific books that will presumably have to be approved, and this could be a process with its own hassles.
4) Soliciting greater participation of students in decisions pertaining to student welfare:
- I shall make the open house an integral part of the annual calendar, with one open house session per semester. The agenda and minutes of the open house will be circulated amongst the students.
- Conducting a mid-term evaluation of the office bearers’ proposals which will be made public on the gymkhana website. The candidates shall prepare an interim report to inform students about the implementation of his proposals and would solicit ideas about the implementation of his proposals on the gymkhana forum.
TSA: What do you think the open house meetings can achieve?
Vishal: I believe an open house meeting is necessary to bridge the administration and students through frequent interactions. This way the two bodies will be connected and aware of each others’ problems. I will do my best, if elected, to increase student participation using the contacts I would have in the HCMs of all halls and by spreading information through the post of the PR chair. I have not yet spoken to the administration, only the VP, about frequent increased meetings
TSA: Who will conduct the mid-term evaluation of the office-bearers?
Vishal: The office-bearers will submit a report as per the proposal, so the student body is aware of their developments. The evaluation has to be a collective initiative of the Gymkhana body.
TSA: What if the person is found lacking in the fulfilment of his/her duties?
Vishal: My intention is not to pass judgement , but letting people know what is the status of the proposals and ideas of the candidates that they voted for. I think the student should have the right to know this.