Gymkhana Interview: Presidential Candidate Bazar Srujan Kumar

This article is part of a series of interviews we did with the Gymkhana election candidates. The goal was to discuss and enunciate their key points and agenda. We hope it helps the reader understand the views of the candidate in a wholesome manner.

Without any further ado, let’s get started. (Bold text = interviewer)

Hello, Srujan. I see you have a Fibonacci spiral to showcase the growth of activities you’ve taken up each semester. 

Yes. I wanted a creative way to show that I like taking up more and more responsibilities and really look forward to it.

That’s very nice, indeed. But do you know the ratio of consecutive elements in the Fibonacci series as it goes to infinity?

Uh…

I think it’s some constant value but I don’t know exactly.

Yup, it’s the Golden ratio. Anyways, let’s get on with the interview.

The Big Picture

If you and your gymkhana would be remembered by one tangible achievement, what would it be? 

My goal is to rebuild trust in the Gymkhana. It’s disappointing to see the lack of faith and misunderstanding present now and I hope to change it.

I believe the portal I proposed is the solution to that. I will make sure the Gymkhana portal is properly maintained. The progress on our agenda should be honest and visible at all times. On top of that, the updates and status reports on every complaint we receive should also be maintained as such. Another key point is that it should be sustainable for every year from now on.

I hope that same time next year, people can trust the Gymkhana and can freely see progress on our agendas and complaints received and restore their faith in us.

The Portal

Nice. But in every election so far, every single candidate has proposed transparency and accountability. How exactly is your promise different?

Like I mentioned, I’d like to add the agenda to the Gymkhana portal in a very organized manner. The points would be color-coded based on the type of promise and the progress. We will be adding this as soon as we take office and will be visible to all.

Another change I’d make is status updates of each complaint and issue we’ve received.

Could you elaborate?

In the portal, we will catalog all the complaints we’ve received. Everyone would be able to see the status of the complaint, such as “Notified wardens. Awaiting reply.” or, “Resolved by …”.  This is a big issue and a key reason for the misunderstanding.

For example, the closing of Mess B was a big issue and I am personally aware that it was taken very seriously by the Gymkhana members. However, they did not want to spam us with each update that they got from the mess managers and the wardens. Hence, my portal proposal would be a great way to do that and let people know that the issues are being handled.

Some issues such as the “chemical smell at Kandi” is a long-term issue and will be denoted as such. Each update might take weeks or months but the clarity the student body received will give them confidence that the Gymkhana is dutifully serving them.

The status for complaints sounds nice. What about the agenda? Who will be doing the updating of the agendas and ensuring its done honestly?

I propose that the media council is the right party to handle this. I had an MTech student ask me this and at that time, I was surprised as I didn’t give thought to it. But I feel that the media council is unbiased and should report on our progress.

The App

Let’s talk about the app, now. I’m a bit confused as it’s functionality seems to overlap with the Gymkhana portal proposals. Is it supposed to be separate?

The goal of the app is to be a “one solution for all” service. The flexibility of the app platform should allow us to develop more features. But you can think of it like this: the app is for the mobile and its services will also be on the Gymkhana website (portal).

For example, the first features of the app will be the feedback forms. The current forms on the website will also be accessible (http://gymkhana.iith.ac.in/onlineforms.html). Same goes for the bus schedule, mess menu, cafeteria timings, availability, cab sharing etc.

I hope that as the years go on, the app and portal develop into the backbone of our campus and social life at IIT Hyderabad.

So what about services like the intra-college “OLX”? Where will that be? 

For OLX, a Facebook group will be ideal to start off. As it gains traction, we will integrate it with the app and website and make it easier to use.

Likewise, we will start off required services as Google forms, sheets or FB groups and slowly merge them into our app. With my proposal of developers in the Gymkhana, this should be feasible.

Can you give a tentative timeline for your Gymkhana portal and app development? 

The portal is easy to build and we will base it off the current Gymkhana’s portal (on gymkhana.iith.ac.in). That will be initiated the moment we start. Everyone will be able to see our agendas with the color-coding and progress points by the end of this semester.

The app will be developed in phases. Key features like forms (feedback, complaints, cab sharing) and information (bus schedule, mess menu) are already on the site. By the end of this summer, we will build those into the app. As as the semester goes on, we will add more features.

Okay. Now, what about the developers? Do you actually wanna hire people for building and maintaining this app?

Haha.. no. I realized I should have been more clear. My plan is to propose a new appointment called the “student developers” for the Gymkhana. They will be two people and will be in charge of developing and maintaining the app and the website. As our campus and community grow much larger, their responsibilities will, too.

That’s nice. I’ve heard of campus apps and portals like these before. Maybe if it does grow quite large, we can have a team of student developers in charge of it’s functioning and growth.

And why would someone want to do this? What’s appealing about this post?

This will be an officially recognized post and would be good recognition. We will also talk with the Administration about perks like NSS hours.

Digital Transactions

How feasible is your vision for a cashless, corruption-free IIT Hyderabad, Modiji?

Cashless transaction is the norm and is available everywhere at IIT Bombay, Kharagpur, and Kanpur, who have actually partnered with Paytm. I hope to bring such smooth payment operations to IIT Hyderabad.

We can start off with the library and academic section at the institute. In the hostel side, we will get all vendors in the cafeteria area to support such transactions.

We will also negotiate with the mess and officiate it in the tenders to support such transactions over the holidays.

Green Campus

How viable is your idea of a green campus? 

I’ve looked up many sources on this topic and feel that it is a very feasible cause. For example, take the waterless urinals proposals. I’ve checked the costs and it is not so much costlier than the current ones. And it’ll definitely save in the long run. My goal is to propose this to the Director and encourage him to consider this for all the new buildings from now on.

The dynamic allocation of buses should also help us save fuel and costs.

Miscellaneous

You mentioned about a new bus schedule. Precisely how would it work and why do you feel there is a need for it? 

If multiple buses are moving at a given slot, we need not move empty buses. At least one bus must go as people might be waiting at intermediate routes, but the others can stay back. We will also take into account extra bus requirements at times like the evening.

We are currently spending close to Rs. 1,50,000 per bus every month and we need to control this. With the majority of the BTech students shifting to Kandi next semester, it will the responsibility of my Gymkhana to plan for bus budgets efficient, and keep the schedule comfortable for students.

Misc

What are your opinions on Elan and Nvision merging into one fest?

I was a marketing coordinator in Elan and I believe that combining the fests would be very benefitial. Our current strength is actually not big enough to manage two fests and if we were working as one team of a smaller size than the strength of both fests combined, we could pull off a better job.

I do feel that even if the fests are combined, the names “Elan and Nvision” should be kept as we would like to keep the branding we’ve earned.

Is there anything in your opponent Ambuj Sinha’s agenda that you feel you could do better?

Yes. He had ideas of using hostel rooms for purposes, such as accommodating parents. It was pointed out clearly by the panel during the debate that it was not possible.

I have an idea of working with the local hotels. When I was a fest coordinator, I managed hotel bookings and was able to convince local hotels to give us a discount. Their understanding was that they’d get regular guests because of us. I think such deals are definitely possible for IITH-related guests and would like to pursue this idea. The hope is that this should reduce the burden of parents wanting to visit.

About you

What are your own goals in the near future? 

I’m very interested in marketing. I plan on working further in management or starting up.

Any final plugs? 

I’ve built my agenda around talking to people and their wishes for IIT Hyderabad. As the quote in my agenda says, “the best way to understand people is to listen to them.” And I’ve done that in making the three key points of my agenda. This was the basis of me distinguishing between the President’s “duties” and the “expectations”. I hope the student community gives me a chance to turn around their opinion of the Gymkhana and develop a sustainable long-lasting trust.


DISCLAIMER: the Literary Society is not endorsing any candidate. These interviews are just to discuss views and agendas and we are open to all candidates.

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