Contemplating  Conundrums: NITRUTSAV 2017

Contemplating Conundrums: NITRUTSAV 2017

Feb 13, 2017 | Anubhav Singh Debasis Choudhury

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This year’s edition of Nitrutsav was a concoction of emotions. While on one hand, the organizers were able to garner a good amount of sponsorship, a higher number of registrations, on the other side there was mismanagement of equipment, lack of co-ordination amongst the event organizers and an inchoate website, which left many disappointed. Now, after a week has passed, Team MM met with the organizing committee of Nitrutsav 2017 to enquire about the various aspects, which went into making Nitrutsav the event it was this year, what were the problems they faced during the conduction of the event and question them regarding the inconveniences which were caused.

Budget

The total amount, which was allotted to Nitrutsav 2017, was of INR 18 lakhs, which was provided to the Literature and Cultural Society. Marking a change in the trend, the NU sponsorship team was able to collect INR 4, 45,000 under the following heads.

Big 92.7 FM did the promotions for Nitrutsav for five days i.e. from 31st January to 5th February in the Bhubaneswar Sphere. They aired four-five promotional advertisements each day for the event and also aired a promotional interview on 4th February 2017. This was done by speaking to the sales executive of the radio company in Bhubaneswar.

 

Speaking to the sponsorship head, Samyak Das on what he did different through which he succeeded in getting this amount of money, he was quoted as saying,

The process started way back in the month of December. I, along with my team members of the sponsorship team which included Mayank Mohanty and Soumya Ranjan Mohanty, was constantly in touch with the different companies. We had done a good background research about the functioning and interests of the company and talked to the authorities who could approve the procedure of sanction of money. We made it a point to do the follow up properly and not be complacent.

A hundred members of the huge alumni network, which consists of around 18,000 members, were shortlisted and contacted with the agenda of making the alumni network an active part of the funding process of their alma mater. However, to the organizer's dismay, they did not receive any funds. On asking why the alumnus did not co-operate, Kumar Shaswat, part of the organising committee was quoted as saying:

Most of the alumni were of the opinion that the relations are still in the nascent stage, the SAARC and NITRAA council have been formed and the process is in the right direction. However, the donation of money for fests will take some time and will happen only with the gradual increase in the harmony amongst the alumni network and the institute.

The ambience design included the construction of the designer gate at SAC, DTS Entrance and the gate near the Department of Ceramic Engineering. It also included the 100 number of standees, which were put out across the campus. Initially, the tender had been passed and the contractor had agreed to get the work done within the stipulated amount of INR 2, 20,000.  However, quoting Chandraneel Das to what happened when the contractor was informed about the theme based decoration:

He straightaway refused and asked for an extra amount of INR 20,000. We had to bargain and get the design done within the allocated budget. Kishore Kumar Bora, the head of the design team for NU was then asked to do the cut-outs which were put up between the SAC and the gate near the Ceramic Engineering Department.

The INR 3, 93,000 that was allotted to light and sound was spent on sound, light and generator arrangement in DTS, the light and sound systems in TIIR Building, BBA and DTS and in between the SAC and the Ceramic Engineering Department gate.

The miscellaneous head, which consisted of INR 45,000, was utilised in various sectors like payment to the judges of events like Footloose, the Music Workshop. The money which was allotted to the Refreshment sector could not pass at the last moment as the Purchase Order (P.O.) could not be passed, so the money from the miscellaneous sector was used here. The P.O could not be passed because the contractor had pending bills and the organisers could not skip the purchase order and make direct cash payment. Prof. Sasmita Mishra, Vice President, Literary and Cultural Society monitored the entire process. The money currently lies with the Accounts section and once the money is passed, it shall be deducted from the bank account in which all the transactions are made.

When asked about why the money could not be directly accessed by the NU team, Nishant Kumar Singh, Convener, Literature and Cultural Society who was a part of the NU organising committee was quoted as saying that:

There exists only one account for transaction which belongs to the Director of the institute. For any tentative bill, which is made a P.O. is prepared. Next, there are various stages of preparing a P.O. as well. First of all, a file is made from SAC, which is sent to the internal audit, following which it goes to the Directors office and it goes to the finance department and through this process a P.O. is made and the fund is raised.

The very reason that NU saw a huge amount of participation was because of the cash prizes. However, the SAC constitution says that the winners from NITR will not be provided with the cash prizes. So the NU Team has decided upon awarding the winners in kind with the money they have acquired from sponsorship. The prize money to the participants from other institutions will be given after some time with the accounts getting clear as they only possess the sanction letter as of now.

Confirming this, when team MM spoke with one of the team members from the winners of Fashionista, ‘Shisth’, Priyanka Seth who belongs to NIFT, Bhubaneswar, she was quoted as saying,

I haven’t got the prize money yet and I have been promised from the  NU team that I will be given that within two months after some formal procedures.

Participation

The cultural fest of NITR has been grappling with scanty participation since long, primarily because of it being held just after the spring fest of IIT Kharagpur. However, it was able to lure appreciable number of online registries this year, an achievement accredited to the assiduous efforts invested by the publicity team. Ironically, the turn out paints a rather gloomy picture. The organising committee was expecting a crowd of at least 400 since a total of 550 people registered online but this did not happen. Clarifying the reason behind the disappointing turnout Nishant Singh said that several other institute had their internal examination during that time and that led to poor turnout. Moreover, he also mentioned that several groups of unregistered visitors were scattered throughout the campus who made their way into the fest through some contacts or acquaintances.

A great deal of time and effort was invested in offline publicity and was appreciated by the participants as well who had come from places other than NITR but the online publicity was not so rigorous in the NITR sphere. When asked, the organising committee responded that though they did avoid spamming the posts in several groups  yet the organic reach of their page soared up to 1,20,000. They further said that it was a part of their strategy to emphasize more on publicising the fest in other colleges.

Events like Fashionista and Footloose witnessed good participation from outside too but participation scenario in some events was quite dismal. For instance, only one team registered and participated in NUKKAD and that too from NITR. Despite of having a prize money of INR 15,000 it failed to attract participants. Other events like Mr. & Mrs. NU, Clay art workshop and On the spot were cancelled. The organising committee explained that they had cancelled Mr. & Mrs. NU because of no outside participation and to make up for this they had created another event, ‘Blind date’ which actually garnered a good crowd of about 100 people. On the spot was similar to Open Mic so according to them there was no point in having two similar events. They further added that NUKKAD was a failure because of the lack of dedication and efforts from the side of event coordinators.

Co-ordination

For this fest, the team avoided a multilayer organisational hierarchy. There was a core team, which was inducted long before the fest. It comprised of different individuals looking after different areas

 Members

 Department

 Abhinav Gupta, Aryan Gupta

 Printing

 Prashant

 Requirements

 Kishore Kumar Kachari

 Decoration

 Asutosh

 Inauguration

 Javed Akhtar and Revanth

 Booking and permissions

 Chandan Agarwal and Amar Kumar

 Accommodation and hospitality

 Samyak das, Mahesh Mohanty

 Sponsorship

 Punyaja das

 Content head

 Abhijit Behera, Monik Raj, M. Praneetha, Ashish Jha and Manisha Behera

 Website

 Nishant Kumar Singh

 Overall co-ordinator

The core team coordinated the flagship events.

According to Nishant Singh, there was a set of 40 people from the first year as volunteers and a certain set of volunteers were assigned few events to look after and assist the coordinators.

Things did not turn out to be as smooth as the NU team had planned and this was evident by the general lack of coordination amongst managers, members and immediate coordinators. When the team of NUJ contacted the coordinator for the volunteers, he was himself clueless. Apart from this, there were some instances where the time of commencement of events like EDM night was miscommunicated. The FBB campus princess event was delayed by two and a half hours after being postponed twice. Chandraneel who was handling the event told MM that:

Before we could start with the event they required one and a half hours for rehearsals. The inauguration was supposed to start at 1:00 PM and it would have hardly taken an hour. Going with this calculation we had enough time margin to go for the rehearsal and start the event by 3:30 PM. But the delay in inauguration ceremony led to a subsequent delay in FBB campus princess event. Moreover, the judge for the occasion Pankhuri Gidwani had been through a tiring journey and even that led to the delay.

A horde of events faced technical glitches like mic failure. Regarding this, the team replied that the tender for light and sound is looked after by SAC so the team is not actually answerable for the technical glitches.

The anchoring committee had its own set of issues regarding the coordination from the team. The information about the judges, events and participants were provided to them at very short notice. Which altogether gives an impression of the unpreparedness of the team. Justifying their stance, they said that:

This was done for the benefit of participants so that they are not burdened with registering beforehand and could register even after the commencement of the event. We could not rely completely upon online registration and hence had to wait for participants to turn up and register at the event. We agree that they could have been informed about the judges beforehand and that was a fault from our side.

Kumar Shaswat further added that:

It shouldn’t be seen as a problem as the anchors had to just announce a name and it is not a tough task to memorize a name even if it’s given to you on the spot.

An amount of 30,000 was spent from the total budget on food coupons and refreshments for the judges yet there was quite noticeable mismanagement on the second day of NU which resulted in several event coordinators being deprived of the coupons.

Clarifying the entire incident Nishant Singh said:

There was quite a bit of problem and mismanagement, on the second day, from the side of person who was in charge of distributing the coupons and juniors had approached me with this complaint so I took up this responsibility in my hands on third day of the fest. On the third day, I asked the respective coordinators regarding the number of volunteers they had and distributed them the required number of food coupons. I personally gave the coupons to many volunteers in NCC ground and sent it through someone for other events.

Events

This Nitrutsav there were a plethora of events, ranging from the field of Drama to Literature, from being a detective to painting the other team blue and red, there were 36 events, which were conducted. On the first day, excluding the part where the events got delayed, there were no technical glitches, the sound system was good in DTS and also the event were wrapped up well within 10 PM. Even on the pro show on Saturday, there were no technical glitches and the sound quality was well maintained. However, there were some major problems relating to some event, many of which were common to other events as well. Team MM discussed the major problems with the organising committee.

Splitsvilla and Maktub

Splitsvilla was initially slated to be held at SAC. However, at the spur of the moment the NU team decided to shift it to NCC grounds where the events Futsal and Paintball were going on. The motive behind this move was to increase the number of participants, as there was not an appreciable crowd initially. The move paid off and Splitsvilla got a good amount of participation.

Maktub is an event, which was being conducted for the third time in Nitrutsav. However, this time with the plans of celebrity night being held on the last day of Nitrutsav, Fashionista being a flagship event and being held on the first day, adding to that the conduction of GATE exam in the Lecture Annexure (LA) where usually Maktub is held, made a mixture of problems which made some of the members of the club panic. As their venue was not fixed, the team did not get to publicise their event properly. After the idea of conducting the celebrity night was scrapped, the NU team and the event manager sought permission from the CSO who initially denied, as it would disturb the exam environment. However, he later agreed and gave them the time slots of 12 PM-2 PM for the setup of the stage and 6 PM onwards for the sound check to start. The tent vendor who initially had agreed to make the setup on Saturday night was hesitant and postponed the work to Sunday. However, the sound engineer was persisting the organisers to have the event at DTS, as otherwise he would have to shift his setup to LA lawns. Prof. Sasmita Mishra intervened with the matter and solved it and convinced the sound engineer to move his setup to LA lawns. The floodlights were provided as the lamps of LA lawns were dysfunctional, there were shortage of mics but the event was conducted smoothly with cordial coordination, which led to Maktub, being a great success.

The Movie Which Never got Screened

There was a #screen_my_movie which was trending on the social media platforms in the week leading into NU. The students were asked to change their profile pictures into the one of a particular movie, and it was promised that the movie, which gets the most number of profile pictures, would be screened in BBA. However, no such thing happened and the crowd was left disappointed. Speaking to Nishant Kumar Singh, he was quoted as saying:

The sound and light system of BBA requires a completely different setup which requires a proper technician. For this, we tried to contact the conveners of the FMS society and they straightaway denied it saying that there is a proper procedure, which is to be followed. It was an initiative from the secretary of FMS and this miscommunication amongst the members led to the cancellation of the screening of the movie which was scheduled to be done from 11-1.30 PM on Sunday in BBA, as it was a free slot then.

When team MM got in contact with Poorva Singh, Convener, Film and Music Society she revealed that neither the conveners of the FMS or the VPs were approached for this process. Thus, the FMS society had got nothing to do with the reason for not screening a movie.

This miscommunication remains an epitome of many examples which were abandoned in Nitrutsav 2017. However, Nishant Singh assured MM and has taken up the responsibility that he would try to do this after the mid-semester exams, probably in March by getting all the required paperwork and equipment.

Palette

The art exhibition which was held in the Rajendra Mishra Hall faced many difficulties.

Speaking to Ayush Moharana, the co-ordinator of the event he was quoted as saying:

We were not provided with the water supply. We were provided with lighting on Saturday when initially we were promised that it would be given by Friday. The banner was provided to us on the morning of 5th February which didn’t help us publicise our event. Also, there were no volunteers to safeguard the paintings after the event which had been kept there.

Replying to this, Nishant Kumar Singh was quoted as saying:

The safeguarding of the paintings could have been done by the Chitraang club members. Also, limited number of guards are provided which is sanctioned by SAC, if we were notified in advance it could have been done. Even though we had a problem of light and sound P.O., we still provided them with their requirement of 100 bulbs. We had to contact Manoj, Light and Sound which was a long process and which ultimately led to the delay. They also gave their flex requirement at the last moment because of which it was printed late and subsequently given the flex late. I should have predicted that the event would require additional security but I didn’t think through it properly. 

UYC

United Youth Conference, conducted at the TIIR auditorium, which was a flagship event, faced many problems. The event organisers did not receive the banner of 30x16 (read length x breadth) square feet. There were technical glitches as the mics were provided after the lunch hour, the projector at TIIR auditorium was also not functioning properly. They also had a requisite of seven mics which weren’t fulfilled.

Speaking to Reddy Vamsi Chowdary, President, Hourglass, Toastmasters International- NIT Rourkela Chapter he was quoted as saying:

We were promised that we would be given the certificates in TIIR which would be given to the participants. There was a lack of co-ordination amongst the NU team as the adjudicator panel was kept waiting for the microphones to arrive even after several reminders on the event day, which was pretty unprofessional. Also, we didn’t get enough number of volunteers for the event.

Nishant Kumar Singh replied to this by saying that they have a total flex area of 3500 square feet which is made with a budget of INR 75000 and they had to make all the flex of all the events and a single event asking for 480 square feet isn’t justified. He was of the opinion that they had made their intentions clear that it was not possible, but told the club members that the NU team would arrange it if there’s some part of the 7500 square feet is leftover, which didn’t happen. Citing the issue of P.O. again the committee couldn’t provide the event with necessary amount of mics. Also, they told MM that authorities refused to have the certificate distribution at TIIR and they conveyed it to the club as soon as possible.

Urban Crusade

Urban Crusade, which was also a flagship event faced a major technical glitch in the application failure on the second day. Speaking of what could have been done differently to avoid these circumstances Kumar Shaswat was quoted as saying:

Initially, the event which was to be conducted on Sunday was shifted to Saturday and vice versa. This was done because we wanted our main event to be conducted on Saturday. There were two apps, one the main app and the game app. Thus, the app failure which happened on Sunday was a runtime error relating to the game app when we tried to integrate the various components.

Woodstock Music Quiz

When team MM caught up with Debasish Mishra who was the co-ordinator of the event he was very upset with the conduction of his event. He had to make the poster on his own, provide the content details for the website and also do the publicity by himself because the content was not uploaded on the website until the penultimate day. In addition, he was also given one volunteer only when he asked continuously.

Replying to this Nishant Kumar, Convener said:

Debasish was trying to contact me directly and I couldn’t confirm his location at PPA because there were other classes and seminars going on. Also, for PPA one needs to obtain permission from TIIR authorities. I had kept him on standby until I could confirm with him and provide a location because of which the poster was uploaded late.

NUJ, Retrospect and Lit-a-Lympics

Speaking to MM, the co-ordinators of the aforementioned events complained of a lack of co-ordination amongst the NU team and the allotted event coordinators. They also complained about not providing the adequate number of requirement, lack of volunteers, which left them perplexed, and they had to find alternate resources to get through with the event, which led to delays.

For example in NU Journalist, the members were not provided with benches, chalk powder and yellow tape. The coordinator complained that there were no volunteers until 9.30 AM on Saturday who could have helped them to obtain the benches. In addition, instead of chalk powder they were provided with a box of chalk which they had to grind and make the powder of.

Replying to this, the organising committee said:

We had asked the requirements for the various events by mid-December and started following it up again in January. However, the club members were complacent and only provided the requirements list until the penultimate week before NU was held. Clubs like Pantomime who had given their requirements for their events well in advance didn’t face any problem. Also, some event coordinators need to clearly state what they need in stationery. There were lack of volunteers and there was miscommunication initially but we were constantly trying our best to help them.

Sound Interference

Open Mic, Karaoke and the registration desk were in close vicinity to each other, which at times led to chaos due to sound interferences. Open Mic also faced the problem of mics and got a standing one after they contacted one of the NU team members. On asking why this was the scenario, the organising committee said:

We were initially planning to have the registration desk near the institute's main gate. However, this wasn’t feasible as the distance from that gate to S.D Hall of Residence is almost 2 kilometres. So, we had to arrange for the registration desk at SAC. Open Mic had asked us for the venue to be fixed at Srinivasa Lunch Room and Karaoke being a fun event was nearby SAC to pull the crowd. We couldn’t foresee these circumstances and we didn’t think that there will be interference. We will rectify the mistake the next time around.

Website

The website was a real let down as many of the events which had been planned were not provided with the required data about events like Paint ka Dum, Dumb Charade. Furthermore, the event Retrospect was mentioned as Rescripted. When contacted, the event coordinator of retrospect told that they had sent a mail for correction of the name and contacted Mohit Rawat. Still, it was not done. The website has not been closed yet and it still displays incomplete data about certain events. In addition, there was a heading of guest lecture, which is left blank even until now. Taking the organisational committee’s views in this regard,

We had initially planned for some guest lectures but as the paperwork was tedious we weren’t able to confirm a particular guest. We wanted to invite Dr. Nila Madhab Panda, Piyush Mishra and Mithila Palkar but as we were not getting confirmation from the authorities aside we couldn’t finalise it. We couldn’t get a P.O. confirmed for this particular purpose which ultimately didn’t culminate into anything fruitful. Regarding the other events incomplete data it is a fault from our side that we couldn’t make it better and more sophisticated.

The Futures First Issue

The T&P cell received a shocking mail on February 9, from Avanish MundraHead of recruitment and training at Futures First which became the prize partner of the gaming event Counter-Strike and FIFA in NU 2K17 and agreed to give PPIs to the winners. In their mail they accused the student coordinators of exhibiting a never seen before unprofessionalism. A team from Future First arrived NITR on 4th February and was supposed to stay till the next day but they had to return back on the same day itself as one of the events was scrapped because of extremely low participation. It was further mentioned in the mail that they were informed of a hundred and five registries but an odd number of twenty players turned up on the day of event. While the team from Future First was at the venue at the scheduled time of 9:00 AM but no participant turned up till noon and the reason stated to them was that everybody is sleeping. The team was informed that the venue, infrastructure with routers and machines were ready but even the room and venue was uncertain. Need for Speed (NFS) was conducted in the same time slab as that of Counter-Strike and FIFA and offered cash prize to winners, pinching off a majority of participants in the process. The incident certainly mars the name of an institute of national repute like ours.

To know about the reasons behind such mismanagement and callousness Team MM approached Nishant Singh who told that they cannot be blamed for this as they were told by Soham Ghosh not to involve in this matter.

Gaurav Gupta who is a part of the T&P cell said that the T&P cell was responsible for the venue, transportation and the accommodation and rest of the affairs was taken care of by Soham Ghosh. He further added that they brought the HRs to the TIIR building without any prior confirmation of the venue being ready.

The entire concept of the event sounded weird in itself, when asked about the conception of the event Soham Ghosh replied that Avanish Mundra and Suraj Karra, an alumnus of NITR placed at Futures First, approached him with the idea of having such event in order to give another chance to NITR considering the fact that nobody got placed at Futures First in this academic year. Explaining about the other coordination and participation related issues he said:

There was collaboration with both T&P and NU team and I told them not to interfere as it was a sort of placement process. The venue was fixed beforehand. It was Gaurav Gupta who did the booking but it was not opened as the T&P staff was late. The company asked for 500 participants but we told them that we can only try but we said 150 was possible as it is the minimum number that attends any gaming event in fest. NFS should not have affected the turnout as it was a domain different from FIFA and Counter-Strike(CS). Moreover, FIFA or CS was for the students of third and fourth year only. On the day of event 8 teams turned up for CS out of which only 2 played and rest of them walked out in front of the HR , hence the CS game event was scrapped. FIFA had a turnout of 30. Kaushal and Swapnil who were a part of the team from Future First lauded our efforts and hospitality and even treated my team people. Avanish Mundra had already told me that he will have to send a mail to the institute and that someone had to take the fall. And since I was the point of contact my name was mentioned. 

The T&P Cell’s stand on the issue was clarified once again, in the form of the following statement: 

“The idea of holding such an association wasn’t discussed with the placement committee until it got confirmed. Soham Ghosh approached us,on behalf of the event, in good faith asking for help in terms of accommodation and vehicle for the Futures First team. TnP never agreed to get involved in the management of the event apart from providing accommodation and travel because there was no direct correspondence between Futures First team and Placement Committee regarding this event. The event was supposed to be completely handled by the NU team. The bookings were done from our side only because there was the option of PPI offers for winners and we are always open to helping students out when it comes to placements. The event timing was mentioned to be 9.30 AM but the organizers took the Futures First team to the venue before time. In addition, the numbers of participants were very few. It is sad and embarrassing to know that when the event failed, instead to accepting the mistakes, the organizers are resorting to a blame-game rather than finding out solutions to fix the situation.T&P has hosted numerous companies till date and very rarely have we received any complaints as such. We hope that in future such mistakes are not made and any sort of association involving a recruiter of NITR will be duly discussed with the Placement Committee before taking things forward”

General problems

As per Nishant Kumar Singh the major recurring problem that he faced was the widespread red tape culture involved in the offices. He went on to explain:

I stayed back in December to wrap up paper work and sponsorship documentation. The proposal for calling Agnee band was cancelled by the director in mid-January after the completion of entire paperwork because according to him 7.57 lakhs was too much for a pro night and it could not be done on a single tender basis, so the lit and cult society had to start all the work from scrap.

The dean is supposed to be the approving authority yet he forwarded every paper to the director which again made the whole process cumbersome.

Team MM contacted Dean Student Welfare to have a clearer view of the situation, to which he replied:

I am not the signing authority, it has to go through the audit to the president. Nowhere it is mentioned that deans sign is required on the finance related papers.

Apart from this, the other issue pin pointed by Nishant Singh is that all the elected representatives involved in the fest were not equally active and hence few individuals had to do the majority of the tasks involved.

Overviewing the entire turn of events, it is evident that the NU team had laid great emphasis on some areas like sponsorship, offline publicity which was visible in number of registries and the amount of sponsorship money gathered but things could certainly have been better if the coordination, management and website management was also given due importance. The NITR junta hopes that there won’t be such hitches in fests in future and the mistakes committed this year won’t be repeated again while the legacy will be carried forward

Fests

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