Fresh faced, young, and brimming with energy. A typical faccha, the quintessential nerd, comes into the hallowed grounds of IIT Delhi, willing, not only to learn, but also explore his own being, the being whose development may have been given secondary preference in the years leading up to the JEE.
One quickly discovers that the twenty-four hours that it takes the earth to complete one rotation is too little, the number of skills to learn too many, the array of activities to dip your hands in, too vast. Then, like all good engineers, one learns to optimise whatever time one has, and gain as much experience as one can. And what better place to do that than managing one of the biggest cultural fests in India? Rendezvous, to an outsider, is a time to visit one of the best colleges in the country, and showcase their skills to the world. For an insider, it is a one stop solution to all your skill development woes. And we have been doing an exceptional job at organising the fest at such a large scale.
This year saw Rendezvous hosting competitive events with record participation, and the inter college trophy raising the level of the events to all new heights. The fest was conceptualised with the idea that the OAT stage would produce talents of the future, and judging by the performances witnessed this year, RDV justified this idea. While there were many such positives to take from the event, we also saw the cancellation of one of the biggest concerts held here on the last day of the fest. A factual description of the events that unfolded would be as follows: The event sees a huge footfall, and a certain section of the crowd that waits outside gets agitated at the pause in entry to the event (as there are still seats inside). A barricade gets broken and mob mentality kicks in, people start pushing and shoving at the barriers, which makes the IITD security team, including faculty, appeal to the crowd to calm down. Still, seeing the situation not settling down, and witnessing vandals damage the marquee big screen in the RDV village, the event is called off.
Facts though, tell only half of the story. Yes, the entire event could have been managed better in terms of a smoother entry mechanism and/or additional forces at the barricades. Still, there are deeper issues to be looked into here. Was the crowd part of the IIT student community? According to many of the student volunteers present on the scene, they were our own. This paints a very astonishing picture: students from our college, vandalising our own infrastructure, abusing our own faculty and staff. According to the faculty present at the scene, the level of violence and threat witnessed at the scene was a first. Physical abuse is something new that we are witnessing in campus: We are, even if we do not wish to admit it, no strangers to substance abuse (Not that one directly affects the other, but nevertheless, we are seeing an occurrence of both). With the recent increase in reports of alcohol consumption and drug abuse in hostels coming to light (ref. PESR feedback), we seem to be witnessing a ‘culture’ of rebellion come up in our community (or is it just an increase in the number of times we’re anonymously “reporting” someone we don’t like?). One might argue that fuelled by student elections, this culture of ‘meeting over a cigarette/getting high in alliance meetings’ may be spiraling out of proportion. We are adults, and it is our own decision whether to indulge in these practices; though it doesn’t hurt to take a step back and re-evaluate our actions and ethos once in a while.
We come here to be a part of an institution that has been consistently ranked as one of the best in the country, and what makes it one of the best is the synergy between the faculty and students working here. The research work done in this institution, which quite often is criticised, is one of the major reasons for the jump in QS rankings this year. Once this synergy is broken, it is not hard to foresee a decline in the level of academics here in IIT. Also, the amount of independence given to students for all activities is based on a mutual trust with the faculty - and instances like the violence seen during RDV make it hard to retain this trust. IIT Delhi’s constitution aims to emulate a model society, and we can only achieve this by keeping the thread of discipline intact. This brings us back to the opening theme of this passage: the typical faccha. One comes in here with a clean slate, and slowly learns the tricks of the trade to ‘survive’ in this competitive environment. It is no secret that the biggest tricks of the trade have been perseverance and hard-work with humility (as clearly expressed by Raghuram Rajan in his convocation address this year). Inevitably, a large contribution towards learning these tricks is made by the seniors one encounters, and it is the responsibility of the seniors to ensure that the faccha imbibes the ethos that has made IIT Delhi what it is today.
Taking into consideration the above points, in the upcoming student elections, let’s see if we can implement this idea: keeping the elections ‘clean’ in terms of the ‘nasheele padarth’ we consume, without ruining the fun of deciding who the next G.Secs will be, without removing the element of surprise in the number of votes the opposite alliance will get, without ruining the feeling of elation at winning, especially after backstabbing that hostel which refused to cooperate two years before. Let’s see if we, as the top ranked institution of the country, can be a model for the society that we live in, justifying our tags as those who made it into the college that many people dream to be in. And finally, let us hope that the freedom enjoyed by us, especially in having enterprises such as RDV our own way, is not affected by our own “uncultured” or “new-cultured” behaviour!