Introspecting the Dwindling Club Culture
Strengthening minds and promoting better time management skills, extracurricular activities play an extremely important role in a student’s life. To escape from the hectic academic monotone, extracurricular is like a breath of fresh air, which sharpens the outlook of a student and opens up a vast array of possibilities.
NIT Rourkela boasts of a rich and vibrant club culture. The institute has a well-structured SAC (Student Activity Centre) comprising of four societies namely Arts and Cultural, Literary, Technical and the Games and Sports society. The structure not only helps in providing an ordered hierarchy but also helps in maintaining the integrity of the system, resulting in a smooth functioning of the various clubs under its canopy. It has served as an ideal launch pad to pursue one's passion and fortify the required skills. To cater to the needs of extra-curricular we have 42 registered clubs and thus, NITR renders a myriad of opportunities to its students to pursue their passion.
The Canopy of SAC
Widening over a large number of categories there are clubs for each. Here is a sneak peek into the societies of SAC.
The most widely ranged society of the SAC, it consists of clubs which involves all the tech geeks and programmers of the institute. Innovision, the biggest annual techno-management fest of Eastern India is organized by this society. The activities further range from coding, robotics, automation and certain stream focussed clubs. Technical workshops and seminars are organized under this society and as a whole cultivates the technological thinking of the students of NITR.
Arts and Cultural Society
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.
As rightly pointed out by Thomas Merton above, the Arts and Cultural society believing in this fact house the creative clubs of the institute. Irrespective of the technical fest or the cultural fest, there is a beautiful display of artistry on display by the clubs under the aegis of this society. The society mainly conducts art workshops, exhibitions and the Celebrity night. Finding the hidden talents of the student and putting them up on the display this society over the years has successfully helped many students find their passion in life.
Providing a platform for the expression of views, this society of SAC is the most versatile one. Involving clubs of genres such as writing, speaking, quizzing and social work this is the second largest society of SAC, in terms of the number of clubs under it. Over the years, this wing of SAC has successfully conducted the institute fresher’s welcome, Foundation day and NITRUTSAV, one of the biggest cultural fests of eastern India. The society conducts workshops, exhibitions and competitions along with having the official student media body and the official student magazine of NIT Rourkela.
Games & Sports Society
As the name suggests this society is involved in looking after the affairs of the various sports which are played in the institute. The annual sports fest, Vriddhi is organized by the society. Inter-NIT Sports meet and intra- institute sports are the highlights of the society. This wing of SAC over the years has brought many laurels to the institute and making the name of NITR famous across the country.
Importance of Clubs in Shaping One’s Career
The knowledge one garners in these clubs help in the overall development of an individual. The fact that people from different clubs of the institute have bagged many awards at different places across the country and abroad goes to show that these clubs are helping an individual to inculcate important virtues of life such as dedication, determination and hard-work.
An individual may have multiple hobbies apart from engineering, a strong club-culture makes sure that all those hobbies and interests are catered to in the institute. This motivates the individuals in pursuing their interest beyond class hours with like-minded persons.
The institute has seen careers built from the knowledge that people gain in clubs, people not just choosing streams different from engineering but also making a mark there. The fact that club culture is so fundamentally ingrained in the institute’s functioning is what makes the institute stand out. The six personalities who have created their own niche in their field of interests are:
Nischit Mishra, who introduced the EDM culture in NITR and the founder of Drill n Bass, whose passion lies in music production and composing. The International Students Meet (ISM), 2015 gave him a platform to showcase his innate potential and boosted his morale to stride forward in the realm of music production and composing. He recently bagged awards in the Hero Talent Hunt held at IIT Delhi.
Ganesh Prasad Sahoo
Ganesh Prasad Sahoo is an alumnus who is working as a Software Development Engineer at Zomato, Gurgaon. Passionate about programming, he was the Vice Convenor of SPAWN in his pre-final year. He created his own programming language, Ironscript in his sophomore year and considers his association with SPAWN really fruitful as it were the seniors who imparted him with the imperious knowledge related to programming. He went on to land at a super dream job despite not getting his B.Tech Degree.
Sumon Rudra, the founder of Mavericks Dance Club, has earned accolades not only in India but also across the world. Currently, he runs a Bollywood Dance Academy in Greece and is one of the few, who decided to pursue their passion. The various art forms discussed through free-flowing ideas at the Mavericks and performing in NITR provided him with exposure, and a self-belief to make it big.
Abodid Sahoo, the founder of the Cinematics club, has earned many accolades for his work in the field of filmmaking and videography across India. Currently, pursuing his degree and simultaneously working as a freelancer in video editing and graphics motion designing, he was encouraged by Arjun Rajiv Keshavan as a freshman. He opines that the vibrant club culture boosted the spirits inside him and provided a conducive atmosphere.
From cooking for himself to cooking for hundreds of people in the Srinivasa Lunch Room (SLR), KMS Katkam is the founder of the Chef’s Club. Under his supervision, the club successfully established food stalls at the Multi-Ethnic fest in 2015 and promoted Zero Oil Cooking, Sunlight cooking, etc. Katkam followed his passion after graduating and did odd jobs to save money for his restaurant. Two years later, he finally got a chance to open his own eatery on campus, SLR was thus born and has been running successfully ever since.
From being an average Electrical Engineer to a national level quizzer, Nishant Nihar has quite a remarkable story. He opines that his success as a quizzer was due to the exposure he got by being an active member of Inquizzitive and inculcated other soft-skills by being a part of D361, Clarion and Monday Morning. He took up quizzing seriously and won many accolades in the various quiz competitions held in the country.
The Reach, The Decline and the Comparison
The reach of the vibrant club culture can be observed from the way the freshmen have been involved in the club activities. Fifty-six percent of the freshers are a part of at least one club, while the other freshmen chose not to join clubs, a majority of which had no particular reason. Seventy-five percent of the freshmen who have been a part of a club have not left, supporting the effectiveness and reach of the club-culture.
Leaving the freshmen, which constitute of 800 members from the approximate 6000 members of the student community present at NIT Rourkela, one of the major aspects is that the majority of M.Tech and Ph.D. scholars are not a part of any club owing to their hectic academic monotone. Also, many clubs do not provide the opportunities to the M.tech and Ph.D. students to be a part of the clubs, which is certainly a major setback in the way club culture is perceived. And as the years pass the students of higher studies have begun taking very less interest in the functioning of the clubs. Due to a lack of vibrant club culture, the M.Tech and Ph.D. students have never really connected with the functioning of the various clubs.
The undergraduates are the primary members who form the senior pack of the club and only thirty-nine percent of this section of the junta are not a part of any club. Most of the individuals who have left the club decided so, as they did not find the activities of the club in synchronization with their interests.
The survey data also provides a clear insight as to what hinders the augmentation of club activities in the institute. The individuals holding Positions of Responsibility were asked possible reasons, which are curbing the potential growth of the club culture at NITR.
1. Red Tape Culture
One-fourth of the post-holders blames it on the administration of the red-tape culture which created a hurdle for the post holders to run their clubs smoothly. The stringent SAC procedures of passing bills makes the whole process of reimbursement, a tedious affair and the process can be converted into an online system, which will vastly reduce the ground effort and save time.
At Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), the permission for conducting any event by a club are provided by the respective faculty advisors who act as a single authority for each club. The permissions at NITR need to pass through various hierarchies such as conveners at SAC, Vice President of the respective societies and the President, SAC making it a time-consuming process. Provided that the institute gives a permit to all the internal events but procuring of materials and the reimbursement process is still a very big headache for any club.
2. Budget Allocation
44% of the post-holders consider the budget allocated by SAC insufficient. .We have multiple clubs under SAC with the same agenda and the redundant clubs might serve larger interest but the budgets being divided for the same purpose collectively reduces the overall annual budget for a club. Clubs are not allocated money according to the efforts they have been putting as there is no proper body scrutinizing the performance of the clubs. This consequently leads to improper, unplanned functioning and decreasing the quality of clubs.
The number of clubs at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur is more than NITR but only the Technology Student’s Gymkhana (TSG) funds the official clubs. The unofficial clubs which are not registered under TSG are either self or SRIC funded through various sponsorships and donations.
3. Attendance Issues
A majority of students mention stringent attendance rules to be a major factor, which disallows them from participating in the club activities. The students involved in clubs may miss classes on not more than 6 occasions according to the SAC rules and these, however, stringent they might seem strive to provide a balance in the life of an individual so that he or she is not carried away by club activities and forgetting to focus on academics in a technical institute.
While the topic remains open for debate, other institutions such as BITS, Pilani provides leniency in attendance through the optional theory classes.
4. Lack of resources
A majority of the clubs also feel that there is a lack of proper resources for their respective club activities which adds to a plethora of already existing problems. This fact is true and can be seen in cases of usage of the Central Workshop by teams such as Team RoadRunner, Team Black Mamba Racing, Team Tiburon, Team Bluestreak and Team Zon. The teams have always demanded a separate shed for effective functioning, which has paid dividends as two sheds have been made. However, the working of five teams still becomes an adjustment process, as all the teams are unable to work throughout the year. Not only in terms of automotive fabricating teams, the various dance clubs do not have proper practicing rooms and have to remain content with the various open spaces available.
In the institutes such as the VIT there is a single club for each genre and hence this helps in avoiding a conflict amongst the clubs and resources.
5. The effectiveness of subject matter of the clubs
While the stringent rules put in place have had their adverse effects, the lack of zeal amongst the students has also paid a significant factor in the declining club culture. Many clubs have remained dormant mainly because of lack of interest from the members and subsequently utilize a part of the budget, which could have been better utilized.
It can also be seen that the students having ardent interests in a certain category of events tend to lose their interest as they find the organization and the participation very poor from the side of the clubs. This leads to lesser participation in the subsequent events of the same genre. There are cases noted where the same type of activities is carried out by different clubs. Also, some students lack a sense of belongingness towards it and as a consequence, these members do not take initiatives from their own side.
On a concluding note, though the club culture of NIT Rourkela is rich and vibrant, the potential decline and the low levels of interest in the current students to join clubs have already raised an alarm and hence, it is the need of the hour to address the prevailing issues and come up with a solution. As derived from the survey or even otherwise, lack of proper awareness regarding the exact motto and working of the clubs among the student community and several other factors are clearly hampering the exponential growth and prosperity of the NITR club culture. Bringing these loopholes to the attention of the authorities concerned, knowing and learning how these problems have been rectified in other institutes, introspecting and finally working upon these issues will certainly act as a huge booster to the existing club culture and enable it to flourish and attain remarkable heights!