One and single conclusion of the whole-night administration-bashing (it was a particular person – but for politial correctness, let me omit the name!) at IITK this time was that our fears were not misplaced. In many of the incidents that were recounted recently, I could see a “history repeating” or put in other words institutionalizing the wrong processes.
The beauty of the IITK administration has been its decentralized and participative nature. A system in which you could be fighting with the same faculty outside the class for students’ governance with whom you are doing two courses!
We were surprised at the way in which “buck-passing” was being practised during the GH security issue. Wardens referring to DOSA, DOSA referring to director, director referring to IAC or COW and so on, so forth. And through this whole buck-passing what was being achieved was the will of one person. Then, we realized this and were able to overcome it by bringing all of them together instead of letting several one to one communications take place, which were inevitably being distorted later and which were decidedly stupid! But that was only once. The other party perserves and does it again and again. The new people who come to the system succumb. They have not seen better days. The outisde world does not teach them to dream anything better. It’s not their fault, just their misfortune.
I was the kind of person who understood what happens where at IITK. Still I had not heard of IAC (Institute Advisory Committee) till my 4th year!! Why? Because it is the highest administrative body of IITK, which did not use to interfere with day to day working. The day to day workings, policies and governance were in the hands of people who could understand and do better. It did what it was supposed to do (slightly unrelated point – since someone may point out what about my toutings of students’ representation at all levels – it still had President of Students’ Gymkhana as a member, in case something which concerns students does come up, for example attendence!!) and did not come down to taking each and everything in its hands, for which it neither had capability, nor time.
And now, even after having left IITK, I seem to be hearing of IAC meetings every fortnight. The role of IAC appears to be “defining problems” (whether or not they exist) and then solving them (whether or not a solution is required, and whether or not the solution is effective if the problem exists at all). Again – a repetition of history. I remember the meeting with DD during the GH security issue, “I understand that the chances of it happening it very less, may be one in a million, but *if* it happens that somebody comes to your room, whom you do not want to come, what will you do?” “Sir, one can always ask the person to go away. If it gets worse, she just have to shout. There are people in the wing, there are security guards.” “But what if she is so shocked and frightened that she can not speak at all!” Now that is what you call “creating the problem”. The original problem, itself, had a chance of occurance of one in a million. “May God bless her” was the only thing we could think of saying, which we did not of course, otherwise we would have undermined the concerns of “shy, silent minority”.(People who had to interact with administration recently – don’t you see the parallels?)
Again, all this has been the will of person, now manifesting through more and more mediums like IAC.
How the culture is destroyed? In my first year, entry into the GH between 6 am and 12 midnight did not require you to even show an I-Card. “You mean anyone could enter the hostel?” Yes! Do not look at me with those bulging eyes. It used to happen, still I felt more secure than I had ever felt in my life. But from the next year, despite all our fights, we could not do away with the I-Card showing rule. This time I was talking to a friend of the next batch. They have always seen the “I-card rule” to be there. And despite having all the grudges against the changes that have been brought about after they have come, he found that “showing I-card for entering into GH” is “okay”. “Why?”, I interrupted (it had come in the flow, while talking about something else). And then, of course, some security is needed, haven’t you heard of the rape case in Delhi etc. How do I convince him? I can not. I only told him about the earlier days and drew the parallel to the other things that has happened. He was subdued, but hardly convinced. Despite the fact that like me, even he is worried that people are taking things for granted now! This is how a culture, which does not have a parallel else where, which is ahead of its time, is destroyed. And this is how, step-by-step, thigs start being taken as granted.
Now, one note with respect to my previous post – If any generous IITK alumnus comes across it, and is in a mood of donating something to IITK, do so by all means, but please do not get a building erected there, which will create more walls! Nothing wrong in buildings as such, so long as they are there for people to use and not to awe them (Please refer to my previous post).