Countdown to the Spring Extravaganza

The multitude of festivals that adorn the NITR calendar have over the years developed their own trademark flavour. But there are certain things about NITR fests that never change.

With just seven days remaining for NITRUTSAV 2k15 to kick off, Team MM caught up with junior year undergraduates Rishabh Raj and Neha Patnaik, the two secretaries for the Literary & Cultural Society. Here are the excerpts from the candid thirty minute long session.

MM: How have the preparations been going so far? Is everything running on the pre-decided schedule?
Sec: Majority of the work has been completed and we are now concentrating on the decorations which shall start in a couple of days. Everything else has been on time. We have all the events and their timings finalised and updated on the website. The preparations are thus going on in full swing with the work running till late in the night on a regular basis.

MM: What has been done on the sponsorship front until now? How has been the response from the various firms?
Sec: Until now the only finalised sponsor for Nitrutsav has been Airtel. We are also in talks with Kings XI Punjab for arranging a guest lecture and sponsorship association. However, nothing has been finalised in that regard. Various individual events have managed to rope in their own sponsors.

     As secretaries, we have to overcome a considerable amount of hurdle for contacting the various sponsors. We are neither provided with leave nor any travelling allowances. Consequently, outstation sponsor opportunities are next to nothing for us. There is also a lot of rigidity in the various steps of arranging, finalising and signing a sponsor.

MM: How easy has been the process of acquiring funds and getting budgets approved for the festivals? Has there been any hiccups in the dealings?
Sec: Initially, a considerable amount of running around had to be done because of certain issues with the allocation of funds for the festival. The final amount was approved only a couple of weeks prior to the event date and we were allotted a total of 16.5 Lacs out of which 13 Lacs had been provided in the initial SAC budget and the rest 3.5 Lacs were obtained out of the allotment for the Literary Fest which eventually got scrapped.

MM: What about the Pro-nite? Has any celebrity been finalised yet?
Sec: The institute has been very unwilling about bring celebrities for the Pro-nite. The Director asked us to scrap the Pro-nite and concentrate more on the workshops and guest lectures. However, completely getting rid of the Pro-nite was not something that everyone would have agreed to and hence we finally settled for a band from Delhi, Eka Band. They are an alternative Rock band who are pretty popular among college goers. They shall be performing on the night of the 8th of February.

MM: What kind of participation are you expecting for this edition of NITRUTSAV? How much is the registration fee and what does it include?
Sec: The registration has only opened a day back and we are still getting only moderate responses until now. The registration fee is ₹700 which includes registration kit and accommodation. Food is not included in the registration fee. ₹400 out of the registration fee is allocated for the prize money of various events. We are expecting significant amount of regional as well as national participation.

MM: The website became fully functional with all the content only a day back. The registrations have started only today. Won’t this hamper participation from outside?
Sec: The registrations did get a bit delayed to launch. All our 30 events have been now finalized and their descriptions, rules and coordinators list added to the website. The Computer Centre has been refusing to provide access to the website team to edit the contents from the hostels. They were apprehensive because of the supposed chances of hacking of the website. This is making working difficult. However, the registrations are now up and running and fully functional. We hope the delay won’t deter participation.

MM: What kind of publicity is being done for the festival? What sort of prizes should the participants be expecting?
Sec: The publicity for the event had started much before any of the official work began. We sent out pre-invites to some four thousand odd e-mail IDs. We had also considered the option of sending posters to various institutes all over India. However, SAC wasn’t particularly cooperative in that regard, nor was it willing to bear the expenses for shipping the poster. Hence the idea had to be scrapped. Publicity thus has been completely online via mail or Facebook. Posters, banners and flexes shall be put up in a couple of days all over the institute. Cash prizes shall be awarded for the various events. However, the amount of the prizes of the events have not been decided yet. It can only be finalised only after the registrations get over and it shall be distributed based on the popularity of the events.

MM: What are the difficulties you have faced in organizing the festival?
Sec: Firstly, there has been a lot trouble with the sponsorship. We are not provided any degree of flexibility with regard to attendance and travelling allowances for fetching sponsors. Our VP is pretty supportive in this case but other SAC authorities haven’t particularly been that helpful. Secondly, funds have always been a bone of contention. We approached the Dean for some extra amount to be allocated from his corpus but he said there was nothing to give. The Pronite has consistently been on the wrong end of the Director’s spectrum. He has repeatedly asked us to restrict the festival among the students of NITR and concentrate more on lectures and workshops. However, the authorities fail to understand that unless you have an eye-catching celebrity, you cannot expect significant turn out from national institutes. Also, we have felt that the Technical Society has had a disproportionately small allocation from the annual budget. The clubs under the society are running in deficit and their condition needs to be taken care of. We were provided with the extra 3.5 Lacs thanks to the efforts of our VP but that is not what happens always.

MM: Any suggestions that you would like to give to the secretaries and organizers of the next festivals?
Sec: We would definitely want them to have a greater degree of freedom and flexibility for their sponsorship enterprises. That is essential in conducting the festival smoothly. Also, we would like to see increased transparency and accountability in the allocation and use of the SAC funds by various festivals and societies.

     I (Rishabh) tried to get the bills of Multi-Ethnic Festival in place but my efforts received a significant amount of displeasure from SAC officials. When I suggested that I should file an RTI, I was told that I would never be able to locate the information I am looking for.