Manch – with a Twist was conducted by the Election Commission (EC) on 13th September 2021, in preparation for the elections for the coveted post of Felicity Coordinator 2021-22. The session was chaired by Vedant Mundheda, the Chief Election Commissioner.
The four candidates – Konda Jayant Reddy, Pahulpreet Singh, Prateek Sancheti and Keshav Bajaj – conducted their campaigns with skill and were well-received. A pre-recorded speech by each candidate was first played, followed by a summary of their previous work and a question-and-answer session for 15 minutes. This included questions by two other candidates chosen at random by the EC. The program went off smoothly and had an attendance of over 90 students (against 20 from last year), mostly from the UG2, UG3 and UG4 batches.
The first candidate, Konda Jayant Reddy, spoke on the online-offline question, addressing the possibility of a hybrid or fully offline felicity. It was assured that guidelines would be followed, and events inclusive of those staying on campus would be organised. Further, he guaranteed that the events would take place and merchandise would be delivered on time. Moreover, club members would be involved in planning the events from the beginning.
Jayant told the audience that his prior experience includes marketing in his first year and the outreach team in his second year. He also mentioned being part of the core team for the last Felicity.
The role of external marketing was elaborated on in the question-answer session. It was clarified that although the fest coincided with classes in other institutes, there was some participation from them. In the online mode, he mentioned that attention can be drawn to the events by informing groups formed around the relevant interests and contacting personalities active on social media.
Questions regarding the sponsorship and distribution of resources were also asked. Jayant promised to manage all the available resources according to the needs of each club, and consult those with experience for funding. On being asked what he would do in the absence of a budget, he mentioned that personalities who volunteer to come to Felicity without a cost can be invited as performers or speakers; and that Felicity was primarily for the IIIT community, and hence could be managed with internal efforts even in the absence of a budget.
The next candidate, Pahulpreet Singh, discussed the need to plan well in advance and coordinate among all those involved, considering all possible scenarios. He, too, guaranteed a COVID-safe Felicity with a balance between both online and offline events. Previous Felicity Coordinators and current club coordinators would be contacted to ensure that the right people are in charge, at least during the initial team set-up. Committees for on-campus events and other special purposes would be created, and a community approach to organising would be followed.
Pahulpreet said that he was involved in content writing, online marketing and other miscellaneous tasks in his first year and that in his second year, he was an active part of the core team, and was the marketing head.
Questioned by Keshav as to the exact meaning of the “community approach”, Pahulpreet confirmed that disagreements would be resolved through discussion and a range of people would be consulted in the decision-making process. Regarding his active involvement in several extracurriculars, he promised to make Felicity his first priority for that period.
The next question asked about potential ways to make the fest more social, in response to which Pahulpreet discussed the possibility of events promoting on-campus interactions. He also assured that sponsors could be convinced by some stats from previous years. When asked about what could be a realistic aim for this year’s sponsorship, he mentioned that getting more than that of the last year would be a good estimate.
The next few questions were centred around on-campus activity and participation from other colleges. The uncertainty surrounding the COVID situation, said Pahulpreet, made it difficult to guess if IIIT would admit students from other institutes on campus during Felicity. He also guaranteed that the experience from the last edition of offline events in this situation would be made use of.
The third candidate, Prateek Sancheti, spoke on the emotional value of Felicity for the student community and pointed out his experience in delegating, finding people and utilising their skills. He put forward the idea of an online forum where people can express their opinions, and emphasised his commitment to the fest, citing personal anecdotes. He mentioned his connections across batches and said that Felicity, being more than a fest, needs more than just a coordinator.
Prateek mentioned that he was on the sponsorship team for the last two editions of Felicity, and successfully obtained funding from Qualcomm and other companies. He claimed to have executed Jagruti from scratch. He also mentioned his involvement in E-Cell’s corporate team.
Questioned by Pahulpreet, he clarified his statements on Felicity needing more than just a coordinator by saying that the post would necessitate connecting and resonating with the students and that knowledge of seniors’ motivation to participate in organising would be of help. In response to Keshav’s question on the lack of participation by South Indians in previous editions, he talked about the need to start planning early. Asked about his confidence in being able to act as a bridge across batches, he also cited his personal experience of making connections, in his time in the Alumni Cell and other organisations.
A question on his use of Hindi, in his campaign speech and after, prompted him to clarify that he used it only because he is more comfortable speaking it, and he pointed to the 4-minute time constraint as well.
His claim on executing Jagruti was challenged in a question by an active member of last year’s Felicity, who declared that he was not present in several crucial meets for that event. This member mentioned other details of Jagruti’s organisation that ran counter to Prateek’s claims. Prateek quoted a family emergency as the reason for these and turned to a former FC to resolve the disagreement. The ex-FC commended the questioner’s essential involvement in Jagruti and their efforts towards it; but accepted that Prateek made valuable contributions. There was some dispute over whether or not this constituted a personal attack on the candidate.
Answering the next question, he then promised to balance, but at the same time prioritise Felicity while managing his time across academics, E-Cell and fest organisation.
He also mentioned that Felicity would not need E-Cell’s contacts – the help of professors, alumni, and ex-coordinators would be taken advantage of.
In response to a question describing his mention of personal anecdotes in his campaign speech as an implicit personal attack, he defended it by saying that it was only to emphasise his commitment. He continued this by mentioning that he had planned a trip with his friends, which he later cancelled in order to commit to Felicity.
The final candidate, Keshav Bajaj, emphasised the need to work early on, especially on getting sponsorships. He mentioned his plan to finalise all Felicity teams by November and promised to consider all suggestions carefully. He concluded by talking about the need to ensure that the fest continues down the years.
Keshav said that his previous work includes logistics, as a part of Kalakshetra, and marketing as well, in his first year. He said he was a part of the Campus Ambassador Program in his second year.
In response to Jayant’s question about finances, he clarified that sponsorships would be taken care of by people experienced in corporate matters and that the three coordinators would work together to ensure it. Asked about the role of a coordinator besides organising teams, he said that a coordinator was crucial in handling issues and managing ideas.
Asked about his role in the previous edition, he elaborated on it and provided details about the campus ambassador program. He also discussed the budget process, mentioning coordinating with the Clubs Council for the allocation of funds to the clubs.
Further, he promised to be involved with the event teams and to help with the needs of the clubs and endorsed the proposal for different committees.
The Felicity elections for this year are scheduled to be held on the elections portal from 1200h to 2100h on Tuesday, September 14th.
Special thanks to Gautham Venugopal for providing minutes of the meeting to the author.
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