ISM’ 15: Hopes, Aspiration and the Proceedings

We’ve almost reached the culmination of the year. With the end of the much hyped cultural fest Nitrutsav we reach the climax of the season of fests.

The next and the final one in line is the mega fest of the year- International Students Meet. After a stretched duration of confusion around ISM, conducting the fest was confirmed just recently. Team MM caught up with the convenors to get updated with the proceedings and preparations with ISM.

Management Structure:
The management structure is not yet official. The decision made by the Faculty Convenors is to have 12 Convenors. Each convenor will be assigned a set of Coordinators who will work under them. None of the convenors will have the same section of job regarding the fest. Everyone will handle different jobs. There will be a team for decorations, cultural events, sports events and many more and each of them have assigned to a convenor. Also this time there is a team which will entirely handle the certificates department. As per the convenors the certificates will be printed prior to the fest. The team believes that with every convenor being task specific which makes it more effective. The planning this time definitely seems to be in place when it comes to allotment of tasks.

While in the previous years, the preparations for ISM had started from the end of November, this year it was delayed by about two months and the process began in earnest from the first week of February. Even so, the brochures are ready, half of the invitations to foreign students have already been sent out while the rest will be sent out by Monday. The website is expected to be out soon. The events have been decided and it can be assured that in spite of the delay in the commencement, the preparations are in no way lagging and everyone can expect the best ISM given our resources.

 The flagship events shall be the same as last year, along with the introduction of two new events that represent the ideology behind this year’s ISM. With the purpose of increasing the interactions and exposure of students of NITR with the foreign students, an event- Global Village shall be organised after 10 in the evenings where the students can sit together and have quality exchanges, so that they might better understand the mentality and culture of these students. Another event, Roll Call shall be introduced wherein we would have all the participants come together and dance along to a special sound track of ISM.

Invitations and Footfall:
Foreign students studying in India are being invited through personal channels and we are also contacting campus student representatives of the previous ISM to get in contact with as many students as fast as possible. AIESEC is one channel which is the major network with the foreign students and most of the invitations to the foreign students are being sent through this channel. Because of the delay in the ISM preparations students from outside India might face visa problems, so the plan is to invite students from various nationalities who are already pursuing education in India. We are expecting a footfall about 250 students, although it is possible to invite 150 students from a single nationality like Afghanistan, but that is not the goal of this ISM. The intention is to have a few students from a country but a large number of countries. Invitations are being sent to students from over 20 different nationalities, with the hope that the International Students Meet shall truly have an international flavour this time.

With respect to the low turnout for NU’15, it can be said that an event like ISM is pretty rare, only two other IITs host this event and among the NITs, NITR is the only one. A registration fee of Rs.1000 should not matter to a foreign student especially when reimbursement is being provided to them. For international students, to and fro railway fare for AC 3 tier is being provided while for national students to and fro fare for sleeper class is available. For foreign students the remote location of Rourkela shouldn’t matter as they are only coming here for 3 days for the purpose of cultural exchange and having interactions with the students.

Budget Issues:
The budget allocated for ISM 2015 is 9 lakhs compared to a budget of 15 lakhs in the previous year. This is causing many difficulties to the organising team. While the authorities want that as many students as possible should be invited, the budget doesn’t allow the organising team to do so, as providing reimbursement shall then prove to be impossible. As it is, NITR doesn’t reimburse air fares which is a deterrent when inviting students from outside India to attend our fest. Furthermore accommodation to these students is given in the common rooms of our halls, disregarding the roaming dogs, the unhygienic conditions of the rooms and toilets. The international students have a higher standard and an International Students Meet must definitely match these standards.
Team MM enquired about the reason behind the decrease in budget for ISM to which the convenors replied that the reason is classified and they do not have an idea. All they can do is appeal to SAC to provide support and increase the budget by a considerable amount. ISM can be called as a mega fest of the institute because it has events on the cultural, literary, technical and sports line. The fest involves every society of the institute. Hence having lesser budget in comparison to other fests does not make sense.

The online registrations will start before the end of this week. A registration fee of Rs.1000 has been set for the participants. Our preparations are on schedule but the registrations for NU’15 had been delayed due to some problems with the Computer Centre, so we can’t pinpoint the exact date for the registrations to begin.

The convenors had one thing to say that, if we are conducting an International Students Meet, then it should meet up with international standards. Providing good accommodation is one way of meeting up with the standards. In the previous ISMs, the foreign students were put up in the common room of various halls which caused a lot of problems for them, being unaccustomed to such conditions. This year we plan on accommodating the participants in the guest house and transit flats and we are working with the authorities in this respect. Already 35 rooms have been booked in the guest house but that won’t be enough for the expected number of participants. The authorities want to have a list of the number of countries and participants before we can book the rooms so it can only be done after the registration procedure is done. Again the reason behind securing guest house and transit flats is to provide the foreign students with the basic amenities that they expect so that this and all future ISMs successfully draw these countries to our campus. If that is not done than it can be expected that the turnout at the next ISM shall definitely be disappointing.

Accommodations and budget is not in our control and so we would like the help of the authorities on these points.

Fest coinciding with the Holi Weekend:
This year Holi comes just prior to the weekend hence providing an extended weekend for the students. One of the major concerns from team MM was that many of the home state people might leave for to visit their home during this extended holiday. This in fact might affect participation of the people from the institute. To this the response was:

     The intention behind organising ISM on 6th, 7th and 8th of March is the co-incidence of these dates with Holi, which is such a big part of Indian culture. We want the participants to enjoy and play holi with students of NITR, because that will truly help in promoting our culture among the foreign students..

Cancellation of Celebrity Night:
After the last year’s Sonu Nigam debacle in ISM the celebrity night during ISM has been completely scrapped. This year the plan is to have a Pro-Nite or a DJ Nite. The convenors wanted to have both but budget is the basic problem which is making them limit it to just one of them. They say that they have contacted few bands but none of them is meeting up with the budget in their hands.

Campaigning and Promotion:
A fest needs to be promoted in various campuses so that people are aware about the fest and they are given a flavour of the fest through these promotions. This time however the promotion cannot be done personally as it is usually done in the month of December by the international students. Only thing the convenors can do now is that they contact Campus Ambassadors for ISM from previous year and forward them the posters so that the publicity of the fest is done by them.

Final Words:

     No matter how low the budget is it is our duty to work hard and put up a good show. Obviously with a better budget we can put up a better show. But we’ll definitely slog hard and do everything possible from our side.

Team MM hopes that all the aspirations of the convenors regarding the fest is fulfilled and appeal to the authorities to provide every kind of support required for the fest of such huge scale and standard.