ISM 2k15: The Bitter Truth

NITR and its students, cradled in the midst of a peacefully sleepy and unassuming town of Rourkela have always had great expectations from fests.

With each fest having its own theme and agenda to fulfil, ISM is unique in the sense that it has the components of all the other fests, vis-à-vis cultural, technical and sports in it while also bringing into the fold the promise to interact with international students from all over the world. Coming towards the end of an academic session it holds high expectation in every eye. But as every student at NITR has come to learn painfully and repeatedly, life at NITR is a continuous duel of expectation vs reality. While most people had assumed that ISM 2k15 was not happening, the team of conveners and organisers started working only weeks before the fest owing to the delay in announcement of organizers and mid-semester examinations. Hastened preparations, insufficient publicity, budget crunches and low participation, ISM 2k15 was all about reality.

Day 1:
The Holi fête with our international guests was followed by the inaugural ceremony in the evening at around 7:00pm. Dignitaries present for the ceremony welcomed all the participants of the fifth International Students’ Meet and wished them a pleasant stay. A student convener gave a brief narrative of the meet. This was followed by a small speech by an AIESEC student representative from the University of Calcutta who introduced the organization to the audience.
Eminent Odissi dancer Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda and his team set the audience in trance with their ethereal and elegant Odissi recitals. The recitals were based on mythological characters and excerpts from epics like Mahabharata.  Miss Kaori Naka, a Japanese student of Odissi, captivated the audience with her grace and charm; her personality was symbolic of the objective of the International Students’ Meet. The ceremony concluded with a humorous and witty skit by the dramatics club of NITR, Pantomine.

Trance Nation at LA Lawns had the crowd jiving to the beats of EDM and popular party tracks. Global Village, with the objective of having some quality interactions between the NITR Junta and the International Students, was a new experience for the participants.

Day 2:
The 2nd day of the fest was off to a slow start with many events being postponed due to low turnout of participants. Salsa workshop and Young Pirate were among the first events of the day and saw considerable participation. Even traditional crowd pullers like Death Race were a disappointment by their own standards, the event having started late and with only five bots in the fray. Circuit-o-Electrica tested the participants on their knowledge of electrical circuits over several rounds. Catapult Glider and Elastic Powered Airplanes satiated the fancy of flight for the participants. Events like Clip Shot and My Best Pic Ever brought to the fore the selfie mania of today’s tech loving generation. Sports events like Futsal and Super-8 were a hit with many teams participating. Connect and Trans-hunt were new takes on the traditional treasure hunting events. While Connect involved riddles and questions based on astronomy, Trans-hunt led the participants on a hunt for transmitters using the FM radios on their mobile handsets as the tool of the hunt. Break Free, solo and duet dance competitions held at BBA did manage to lift the audience from their chairs. Voice of ISM was delayed due to insufficient participation. Panache, the fashion parade was a crowd puller, with teams competing for the title of apex fashionistas; the ultimate winners turning out to be Gala from NIT Rourkela. Set to Rise was an overnight event for the astronomy enthusiasts, where participants where shown various celestial bodies like Saturn’s rings, Jupiter and its moons and the craters on Earth’s own moon.

Day 3:
Mr. and Miss ISM took centre stage on the 3rd day of the fest. Super-8 and Futsal too continued over the day. Blind Date set up random pairs to perform quirky tasks and gauged their performance as a pair. Paintball Strike too was a sought after fun event, with many teams enjoying the thrill of being pitted against each other in all out virtual warfare. Break Free, progressing to the group dance stage, was a huge success as the crowds poured into BBA and cheered on every performance. The unprecedented performance by the final years brought every person inside BBA to their feet, dancing to peppy numbers and enjoying with the soon to be pass-outs in their last fest at NIT. To end the night, Sunburn Campus toggled the party switches of the audience and got the adrenaline juices flowing.

With the greater fraction of NITR leaving for home over the Holi weekend, low participation in ISM 2k15 events was to be expected, yet the number of participants was alarmingly low and left the event organisers with the only options of postponing or scrapping the events. Many events had to be cancelled over the span of two days. Adding to the mixture of chaos and mismanagement was the fact that the team behind ISM was given a time frame of weeks instead of months to set up a meet of such stature and significance. The decorations and events, all fell victim to the delays in the onset of preparations for the fest. Taking away celebrity night altogether from ISM definitely affected its allure for Indian students from Orissa and other states as well.
As a trend in the current year it has been observed that the participation in the fests at NITR keeps decreasing as the year continues. Coupling ISM with Holi, seving a window to provide insight into Indian culture also is the cause of the low participation as many students preferred to spend the weekend in their homes rather than enjoying ISM in the campus.

Whether the fest was good or bad is a relative analogy and a matter of debate. All that can be concluded is yet another event of the academic calendar ticked off.