Was shuffling through the old files on the computer looking for some information, when I came across this speech delivered in L7 for the open meeting (good old GH security issue!). Gets me excited event now 🙂 Nostalgic, of course!!
Honourable Director Sir, faculty members and dear friends,
Let me welcome you all again to this open discussion on the subject of student’s governance and equality of rights and treatment of students irrespective of sex. Let me also extend my gratitude to the director sir and all faculty members for coming here on our request.
The issues are not cofined in its effect and concern to the GH residents, though recent situation in GH has been one of the most important reasons why we felt the need for this discussion.
We have seen complete bypassing of our opinion, as the residents, on many a things affecting our day to day life and the decisions being taken were highly inconvenient to us in such cases.
There have been several incidents and the way the things have proceeded, we have a feeling that before getting down into the various aspects of individual decisions and incidents, there is a need to have the stand clarified on the principles. There is a nead to clarify the vision and goals of the system. After all, all the decisions, rules and regulations, norms have to be towards a goal.
IIT Kanpur is a premier professional institute. It is different from a school or hundreds of other colleges. The institute is not only to make us good students scoring good marks or good engineers or good scientists. We are expected to become professionals and leaders of the society in every walk of life. It is an essential part of our training that we are treated as adults at this point of time so that we are prepared for the responsibilities that will be entrusted to us later in life. The system here had traditionally acknowledged this and this is what made us not only the leaders of technology, but also the spearheads of social changes. The principles of democracy, freedom and equality have been beautifully incorporated in the culture of this institute and this has been the uniqueness of the place . Any member of campus community should feel proud that we have a history of 40 years which has proved that these principles are not just meant to be in the preambles of constitutions. These can indeed be implemented and successfully sustained. Whenever we stand for a principle, for a cause there are problems we face. Now, if there is a problem that turns up, we have two options. Either we simply assume and accept that it is the flaw of the principle, our system is based on. Or we face the problem, recover from it and hence establish before the rest of the world that we were correct.
When we look at the incidents, there seems to be a similar dilemma coming before us. It seems that there are some problems cropping up. Then, before doing anything we have to decide that which of the two options do we want to go for. Do we want to say that the base-building princples of our culture are not sufficiently strong? And hence, we need to move towards a more restrictive, less independent system. Can we, the members of the campus community of the institute called IIT Kanpur, afford to accept this? One has got to stop and think and then decide.
Whenever we have had the chance to talk to any alumnus of our institute,he or she has never failed to mention how this culture of IIT Kanpur has helped them perform excellently in whichever field they have gone. This is the culture, which has taught them to be able to take decisions for themselves and contribute actively and purposefully to the decisions of their community and society. The democratic system here has treated them as adults and has always ensured their participation in each and every decision affecting their lives. Why is it that today, in the name of confidentiality of problems, sensitivity of problems we want to turn away from it? Why is it that the students are not being trusted for their maturity to understand the concerns, whatever those be? Why is it that we are not being allowed to take our responsibility? Where else on earth are we supposed to learn that? When we go out and face the real world we have to take charge of ourselves. Even if we fail at a particular instance, we have to learn to face the consequences as an individual. Why is it that we are being denied this opportunity to learn to do so?
In a similar manner, it is the uniqueness of the culture of this place that males and females have been treated equally not just on paper, but also in practice. Girls come here on equal footings. They have to face the world in a similar manner as anyone else has to. The outside world is not going to give concessions to them. They have to shape their career, their future like their male counterparts. It might be possible that before coming here they were over protected by their families. But no one can expect that the same kind of nurturing will prepare them for their careers outside. Many of them will go for higher studies abroad, many will be working in corporates, they might have to live alone in flats, or in mixed hostels. How can one expect them to cope up there, if here the system is not able to give them the opportunity and freedom to interact with the boys, if they are not prepared to take their responsibility? Again, how can individual incidents make us neglect such wider concerns. If there are girls who are unable to cope up with the situation, they need proper help. The institute can not afford to neglect the concern that they, too, need to be trained for the life outside.
How can the institute expect to function, if we are not in a position where the students can be trusted. The students here are not criminals. How can one justify something like protecting one group of students from the others? If there are security concerns from outsiders, it needs to be tackled. And again the solution should be found out with due involvement of students. How does restricting the movement of students of the institute on any basis help? Is it healthy for the environment out here? The institute is to be run, run purposefully. It can not be dragged. We do not want to drag it!
With this, I would just like to put forward this view concisely once again that freedom, equality and democracy are the pillars of our culture and culture is what drives an organization towards the peak of its success. Rules are necessary, but rules can not substitute culture.