Fests at NITR: A distant possibility or probability?

Fests at NITR: A distant possibility or probability?

"Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn."

- These famous words by Benjamin Franklin tell us exactly why the best way of learning is to do it ourselves.

College festivals give students the very opportunity to involve, learn and enjoy themselves. Students all over look forward to their college fests so that they can involve, learn and enjoy along the way. In every aspect, the covid pandemic has reduced the zest of a fest.

Several institutes of national importance like IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, and IIT BHU over the past two years decided to make use of the best available resources and hold their fests in the online mode itself, as it brings together students in more than one way and is an integral part of one's college life. The fests organized online have garnered great footfall and have been the hub of relaxation and enjoyment for all students irrespective of their college.

On the other hand, NIT Rourkela has not conducted any fests even in the online mode, let alone the offline mode owing to the apparent fear of covid-19. With over two years since last the NITR junta witnessed one of the best fests, Innovision 2019, there has been no sign of any fests being conducted. With just a semester remaining in the academic year and a full-scale election being conducted, it will be interesting to see how the elected and nominated representatives fulfill their big promises. 

Monday Morning(MM) got in touch with the elected and nominated student representatives of the Student Activity Centre to gain insight into their plans and proposals.

INNOVISION

Innovision is the annual techno-management fest of NIT Rourkela. The last time NITR Junta experienced the wonders of its tech fest was in 2019, after which the infamous Covid-19 decided to play significant spoilsport, and it could not be conducted in the year 2020. Moreover, the reluctance of SAC to conduct elections in the Academic year 2020-21 also was a crucial factor.

This is what Ankit Mohanty, Dean's nominee Tech Fest, had to say about the induction of members other than the core team for Innovision and his plans for the upcoming year,

On being asked about the probable date Innovision could be conducted, he replied,

We are just as eager as the NITR Junta to conduct the fest but sadly the dates have yet to be confirmed. Currently we are eyeing to conduct it after the mid semester exams of spring semester in the first week of March.

Ankit had to say this about the Plan of Action for Innovision 2021.

We've sent the proposed Plan of Action to the Hon'ble SAC president, and we will be having a meeting with the SAC officials after the winter vacations ends to discuss about every aspect of fest in minute details. In light of the current scenario, we had intended to hold the tech fest in a hybrid format with students in their final and pre-final years at college. If the situation does not allow, we will resort to a full-fledged online fest, similar to the mood indigo fest IITB this year.

There are a lot of difficulties with online fests, and participation and enthusiasm among students are one of them. On asked how he will tackle such problems, he said-

We are new to the concept of online fests as innovision has been conducted offline since its inception, but last year online fests were the trend, and we also have amazing models of IITB to look forward to. The key challenge will be making the fest more prominent and better for the NITR junta to engage in the online fest with great enthusiasm.

VRIDDHI

Vriddhi is the celebrated sports festival of NIT Rourkela. Initiated in the academic year 2017-2018, the motto of Vriddhi is to incite enthusiasm and sportsmanship among the participants and the student body. With the possibility of yet another lockdown owing to the Omicron scare, the possibility of having a conventional sports fest is next to impossible.

Team MM reached out to Sohan Kumar Panda, Elected Convenor Annual Sports Meet, to ask about the progress made approximately two months after the declaration of Dean's Nominees in terms of conducting the Sports Festival. Here's what he said,

Sohan Panda: After the SAC Elections and selections of Dean's Nominees', we had one meeting with the SAC officials at the end of November. We discussed the possibilities of both online and offline fests. After consulting with my co-conveners, we have decided to organize an E-sports fest instead of having a conventional fest. We plan to organize online chess, sudoku, some AAA action events, and a chess workshop in collaboration with the Knight’s Club. With the help of GTA (Game To Aim Club), we are planning to organize an event where the participants have to develop a game using any programming language. We planned to have a stand-up comedy and musical event at the fest's end.

As the SAC officials haven't confirmed the SAC fees they will collect from the students, we don't know how much the budget will be approved for Vriddhi. We are now waiting for SAC officials' confirmation, and after that, we will start inductions for Core Team Members, managers, coordinators, and volunteers.

Regarding the probable date for it to be conducted and the measures to overcome the pandemic scenario, this is what he had to say,

We want to conduct the E-fest in the month of February or March, but it depends on SAC’s approval. Also, we have effectively planned for the E-Sports fest and I think we are very well prepared for even the worst situation that may arise. I can’t say that there will not be any hustles, but our aim is to minimize them and conduct the fest smoothly.

The E-Sports and live-streaming community are definitely on the rise during this pandemic. It is to behold how the organising body stands up to the students’ expectations. 

NITRUTSAV

A typical NIT Rourkela alumnus remembers (and misses) three things from their time here: the company, the campus, and the fests. Be it the freezing nights, crowded restaurants, or the remotely accessible campus, nothing saps the gusto of the students from travelling miles to witness the cultural carousel that is NITRUtsav.

Being one of the most looked up to events of NIT Rourkela, Team MM reached out to Samay Kar, Dean's Nominee for Spring Fest, to gain an insight into the plans regarding the conduction of Nitrutsav.

Samay Kar: It is a long process and requires adequate planning; everything must be conveyed to the entire panel consisting of SAC officials, the President, and VPs. Before the end-semester exams, 2-3 meetings were held, in which we gave the proposals and had a discussion with SAC officials. We have formed our core team of managers, content writers, designers, developers. A selection procedure will be there for the inductions of coordinators from 2nd and 3rd years students and volunteers from 1st year. We have come up with 2-3 themes, and we will finalize the theme soon. Shortly, we will release a teaser video for NU.

This is what he had to say about the measures taken to ensure smooth conduct of the festival in case it is held over the online mode,

NITR is going to witness the conduction of online fests for the first time, and naturally, it is not possible to organize everything perfectly on the very first attempt. We have also taken inspiration from other colleges, who effectively have conducted online fests in the past 2 years. We have already formed a Core Team for NU and they are completely free to put forth their views. As far as the budget is concerned, other than the allocated SAC funds, we are planning to get some sponsorships for which a Sponsorship Team has already made. Since it is an online event, it won’t be very expensive and most of the money will be given as prize money. As the event is online, we are not planning to invite any celebrities. There won’t be any Zonism, all the selection procedures for the coordinators and volunteers will be very transparent. Clubs that want to take part in NU, will have to send us their proposals and we’ll select accordingly.

“We have already formed a Core Team for NU”. This leaves NITR Junta perplexed when the induction to the core team happened and the basis of the selection criteria. Now the statement “.. all the selection procedures for the coordinators and volunteers will be very transparent.” is questionable. 

Regarding the probable dates for NU to be held online, he said

As per the proposals given to the SAC officials, tentatively we are planning to conduct NITRUtsav after Innovision, in the month of April. There will be a 15-20 days gap between both the fests.

ROOTS and COSMOPOLITAN

ROOTS and Cosmo are fiestas with a different concept from the regular fests conducted at NITR. Organized by the Film and Music Society, SAC, these fests witness the footfall of pioneers in the field of public speaking, art, music, poetry, travel, photography, and filmmaking.

Team MM interviewed Mihir Panda, student representative of Film and Music Society, regarding his plans for conducting the flagship events such as Roots and Cosmopolitan,

MM: Every academic year, the NITR junta witnesses roots in March and Cosmo in the first week of January. When can we expect the events to take place?

Mihir Panda (MP): We plan to have the celebrity night in the last week of March and Roots in mid-April. These are only tentative schedules; actual dates will be finalized after discussing with SAC officials. Unfortunately, we won't be able to organize cosmo this year as we are running short of time, also till now, the budget allocation of any fest/events hasn't been done.

MM: How are the SAC representatives planning to conduct the event in the online form?

MP: Till now, we have planned to conduct the events in a hybrid mode adhering to covid protocols. If there is no sign of returning to campus, we have thought of shifting to entirely online mode.

MM: Being in online mode, how will you ensure that smoothly conduct events?

MP: If we get permission for hybrid mode, we will make sure only the students who have completed their seven days quarantine period & fully vaccinated can participate in the events. Also, we will equip a virtual event platform for those who are not on campus. Recently, many IITs and NITs are successfully conducting events and fests in online/hybrid mode. We will try to adapt their strategies.

KNOWING OUR COUNTERPARTS

MOOD INDIGO (IIT Bombay)

The country's most prominent cultural festival, Mood Indigo by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), hosted various online competitions in 2021 and organized fund-raising virtual live concerts to help NGOs with Covid-19 relief. Similarly, Techfest, IIT-B's technology festival, also went virtual with its events, and this year, they have planned to make the event a hybrid one.

The coordinator of Mood Indigo, Pranjal Singh, said that the fest is more about the vibe it generates than just being an event.

"It is a cultural event and we wanted to do something that would maintain a balance between the Covid-19 restrictions as well as the cultural environment. So, we decided to make it happen in both ways."

"There are some events like stand up, concerts, performances that can only happen offline and rest like games and activities can be organized offline. Hence, we came up with a plan on three levels. while some will be offline and online, a few will be exclusively kept for either of the platforms."

SAARANG (IIT Madras)

IIT Madras' Annual Cultural Fest Saarang was held entirely online this year for the first time in its history. The theme for Saarang 2021 was 'Vintage Vogue,' with the students taking a trip down memory lane this year and going retro.

The fest was held between February 4 and 7, 2021. All events were available for the public to view online free of cost. It was among the first student-run festivals in the country to go entirely online.

Is there a Way Forward?

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The NITR junta must brace themselves for a busy(hopefully without clashing events) March and April. There is a steep hill to climb for the Organising body. With the uncertainty of the third wave, the students are seeing flashbacks of the past academic year. Whether it would be another year of lost promises, time will tell. However, the office bearers must find another scapegoat rather than omicron if it happens.

Team Monday Morning wishes the best to all the SAC bearers for the successful execution of fests and hopes the promises made to the NITR junta are fulfilled.

Designs by – Piyush Kumar Sahoo

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