Coffee with Feeds – GS Ram, Candidate for General Secretary, 2017-2018

You said that you’re standing in the elections to help the student community. Any particular reason why you decided to stand for the post of General Secretary? Why not stand for President next year?

The answer to that is pretty simple. I was inspired by more than one General Secretaries so that’s the reason. They motivated me a lot, and gave me the idea to help people, that’s why.

Many people in NITT feel that what candidates write in their manifestos are empty promises that won’t be implemented. How does one change that mind set?

The thing is, the reason why people have a lot of stuff in their manifesto is because you have to dream a lot to achieve a little. If I have 8 points in my manifesto, and I work really, really hard then I can achieve at least 5, maximum. That’s the portrayal of the previous Council, and that’s how it’s been working till now. There will be 5-6 very important things that we will have to be working on first, so maybe to the outside people it’ll look like the contestants aren’t keeping their promises, but what happens inside the Council is that they will be having a lot of work, a lot of stuff will be going on, the MHRD will be asking them to organise for continuous fifteen days, and they’ll have to plan for festivities, etc. So they will be having a lot on their plate, especially if the Gen. Sec. decides to take up the mantle of Chairman of NITTFEST where the entire even semester will be gone. So no one can do 100% of their manifesto, and you actually can’t change the mindset of the voters, because it is actually impossible to complete the manifesto. And one more thing, not everyone is active or hyperactive in campus. Work gets done slowly, so you have to plan very ahead.

What do you think about NITTFEST chairman being chosen like how it is done in Festember and Pragyan?

Firstly, how it used to work is that Student President would automatically become the Festember Chairman. Why it’s still the same with NITTFEST, is, for example, you know about the Midnight Madness event. Since the present Gen. Sec. had a very good rapport with the Dean and the administration on the other side, he was able to get the permission from the other side. This is just one of the many things that could be done better if the Gen. Sec. was the Chairman. Maybe if a person who was inducted from a previous team becomes the Chairman, he/she would be able to do the same, but the Gen Sec would do it faster. Personally, if I am not sure, and if I am elected, at the end of the next semester, if I feel someone else being the Chair for NITTFEST is a better idea, I would happily step down and help the other person as needed.

You mentioned about vending machines in hostels. What are your plans to maintain them?

Actually, the water maintenance is taken up by estate maintenance and the hostel office. As I said before, the work gets done slowly in campus. When you install a vending machine, you don’t appoint anyone inside the campus to take care of it, it’ll be a private contract. And that is a very serious bond in which you have to keep your word, or the whole system will collapse. So personally, I don’t think a vending machine’s maintenance will face any error from that side. It will be like a business transaction.
In fact this came up just before Soapbox. We have currently purchased 120 cameras and they will be installed in hostels and if we’re lucky, near cycle sheds. What we planned was, we will be installing security cameras at the points where we set up the machines. The feed will go to the Council room and the Security Office.

You’re proposing installing CCTV Cameras in hostels. How will you ensure that the privacy of the hostel inmates is not affected?

Yes, the hostel corridors. But the vending machines will be at one particular point of the corridor, so the camera can be installed such that it does not point at any room or door. When does a student have to be afraid? When they make a mistake. If they don’t do any wrong or vandalism, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

One of your manifesto points was an online complaint form. How do you plan to sort out the legitimate complaints from the rants that we often see on calendar notice board?

That was the main reason behind the idea. There are a lot of rants on the Calendar Board. If a complaint is put up, the admin cannot simply remove it; that would cause a serious issue. If we have a separate page for these issues, the NIT Calendar will be cleaned. Currently we will have a team of 9 people, the response time will have to 24 hours. Even if 3-4 of us are very busy, there will be at least 5 left to take care of it. Especially since we have a bigger team this year, we can definitely implement it.

What do you feel are the issues that are majorly affecting our campus at the moment?

At this point, Water, WiFi and transport. Regarding the WiFi issue, the NIC (National Informatics Centre) is the one controlling our traffic entirely. Its control centre is in Chennai, and I spoke to the in-charge there. What he told was, we are currently using 1.1 Gbps. The thing is the density of WiFi use is very large. We have very minimum number of routers and antennae which control a lot of traffic. What he suggested was to get permission from the CSG HOD and conduct a thorough survey, which was done. He wanted to do another complete survey to locate what the problem was. The immediate solution will be to lay and implement the 60 cables and antennae that we have as soon as possible. WiMax is something used in IIT. When I researched, I was told it was a good initiative, but it will be difficult to implement in our college. The reason is, WiFi connection adapters come inbuilt in your laptop, but for WiMax needs external dongles to be used, so that seems slightly infeasible. However I am still researching on it.
About the water issue, I wanted a chance to clarify this, since I wasn’t able to bring it up during the Soapbox as I was cut short. This is something completely apart from the elections and the Soapbox. I just want my batchmates to know what the problem is. The thing is we have an overall scarcity of water. The institute is spending lakhs every month just to get us water for everyday normal use. This is the other side of the issue. They are also trying their best.

Coming to the water cooler issue, each hostel has either a water purifier filter at each cooler, or a centralised purifier in the terrace. The thing is, for RO filters, for every 1 L gained, 3L of water is wasted.  As a solution, the Institute moved to primitive filters, which had layers of sand filtering the water. That’s why we get a different taste. The solution for the drought and controlling water usage is this. So we are planning on a centralised water treatment plant. The previous Hostel Convener was also working on it. I expect the next Council to take it up in the coming year. Apart from that, the Institute is that everything it can. When I worked with the Council in the previous year, I was helped in collecting water samples from each hostel. We labelled them and sent them for testing. We haven’t gotten complete results yet, but initial findings say that there is no potential to cause diseases in students. The thing is, just because it doesn’t taste well, and maybe some students are coincidentally getting diseases, it doesn’t mean that the water is the reason for it. So what I request the students is, I ask them to make a thorough check on the source of their disease or issue before their complaint on the water. \

What is your opinion on the curfew system?

There actually is a rule, that there should not be any bias in the ruling between girls and boys. Fighting for our system is a good thing, we have to fight for our rights. However the issue is, while NITT was built, there were many villages here. There was a treaty signed stating that anyone could travel through the campus without restriction or with only basic checking. So almost anyone can get into campus. The back gate is also not very well guarded. So anyone can come inside, right? Say we extend the curfew past 11. Even if we trust our girls, if someone is feeling adventurous, and they go out of the wall and we don’t have any control over them at that point of time. If anything happens to them, we are the ones who are responsible. The parents have sent their children with trust in the administration. But one thing can be done. Extending curfew till say, 10:30 or 11. Fixing a few places, like the Admin or the Octagon. We can have shuttle buses every 20 minutes. Girls can be escorted, and can move through these three places. I think this can be implemented in the coming year itself.

Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I already had a chance to say what I couldn’t cover in the Soapbox. Just wanted to say that I look forward to the article and please continue this, because not everyone will watch the Soapbox. So we have to bring out people’s issues to them, and tell them what’s happening in the Council in every way we can. Thank you.

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