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General Kenobi

Zubair Abid

After a four-month hiatus due to Endsems and the summer, we are back!

Read the July Issue and the Freshers Issue to see what we’ve been up to in the meanwhile.

Bakul TT and TV

Abhigyan Ghosh

A follow-up to the TT-TV issue of last semester, this year residents of Bakul got a new Recreational Room in the warehouse next to the hostel, with three table-tennis tables, two new and one which was displaced from the 3rd floor. The TV from the 4th floor was also shifted to this new room. But it is non-functional as it hasn’t been set-up properly yet.

Image Credits: Ansh Puvvada

At the time of writing this article, the wires were too short to be plugged in to the nearest power-outlet and there is no connection to the DTH box. Apart from these, there are two carrom boards as well. There are also talks of getting a pool table there and PEC has confirmed in an email that they would be installing one soon.

Image Credits: Ansh Puvvada

Fee Blunders

Abinash Maharana

A minor issue with the fees came up again at the end of summer, involving the online fee payment system on IMS. Usually, the division of fees into tuition, hostel (including electricity and water) and mess charges includes a recovery charge for water and electricity that is taken at the start of the semester and eventually subtracted from actual usage for the final balance. 

This semester, on IMS, it seems that the advance paid for electricity and water by the students was not included in the hostel recovery charges*. Thus almost everyone observed a fee amount rather higher than what it was supposed to be. On making an inquiry with the Hostel committee, students found out it was an accident from IMS’ side in some manner. Resolution of the issue was quick thereafter – about 3-4 days from the discovery of the problem. The committee has assured the students that all the people who paid extra will be duly refunded.

*Note: This article has been corrected after representatives of the Student Parliament pointed out minor factual inaccuracies. The first sentence initially said “This semester, on IMS, the electricity recovery charges had been added instead of being subtracted from the hostel charges.”

Alumni Samaritans – Friends for Seva

Jaidev Shriram

1 Crore, 2 Crore, is there anything higher? For long, engineering institutes have been affiliated with the idea that engineers chase cash primarily. Recently, three alumni from IIIT demonstrated that it needn’t be the only truth. As part of the human values Shivir for the batch of 2k18, Sai Ram – a 2014 MTech graduate from the VSLI lab – spoke about his journey in founding one of Hyderabad’s prominent blood donation NGO’s.

Phanendra Raguru and his friends were early Samaritans at IIIT and used to often collect wasted food from the messes to distribute to the slums near IIIT – unprompted by the institute or other peers. As their time at IIIT progressed, they felt the need to start a non-profit organization that helped link blood donors to those in need, educate the underprivileged through scholarships, and more. Thus, Friends for Seva was born.

During the interactive session, Professor Rawat who organized the talk, indicated how useful their service was in his own life as it was Friends for Seva that helped his mother find a blood donor. They’ve been steadily gaining support over the past few years and Telegu media has begun to take notice. As a purely volunteer run organization, they expressed a keen interest in recruiting new volunteers to help their reach in Telangana. Seva volunteers contribute to the organization in a variety of ways, one of which includes visiting orphanages and old age homes in order to provide company and brighten up the day for residents.

For those interested, visit https://www.facebook.com/FriendsForSeva/ for more details on how to contribute.

Hostel Overflow

Zubair Abid

Due to a heavy increase of intake of students this year*, the batch of UG2k17 boys are currently split into two hostels – A majority of the 180 in Bakul, around 40-odd in OBH**. Coupled with the apparent trend (over at least the last three years) of increasing intake every year, this means we are soon approaching a situation where there is less hostel space than is required. Not the best sign for an institute that is compulsorily residential.

Solutions amenable to the student community would include reducing the intake, or building more hostels. One may suggest that more students be allotted to a room: given the size of the Bakul room, we heavily suggest against it. Another solution is to stop allocating single rooms to fourth years. This would not be the first time the institute has done something similar. As recently as 2015 third years in OBH were getting single rooms, a practice that no longer prevails. There is again the proposal for co-ed hostels, but proposing an incompletely-formed idea that is still heavily debated as a solution to this problem is probably not optimal.

But stop-gap solutions will only get us through so long. If the number of students is to increase so does the infrastructure. Having to split a batch across multiple hostels is a problem that may have further reaching issues than anticipated. 

* The UG2k19 batch had almost 300 students at registration, with about 260 boys.
** We note that in the initial proposal made, IIIT had assigned all of Bakul UG2k17 to OBH, a decision that was reversed after protracted negotiation. Read the July ‘19 editorial for more coverage.

Honesty breaks out in Bakul!

Gautham Venugopal

A unique new shop in campus hopes to bring out the best in people!

The Bakul Honesty Box was opened for the first time as part of a trial run on Monday, 12th August. The stall has no shopkeepers or cameras. It operates on trust as buyers are required to pay for the items using UPI payment interfaces. The idea was thought out by Naren Akash R J, an MP from UG2 and is completely student-run, with a lot of the money invested to buy the items coming from his own pocket. The shop comprised 3 boxes stocked with some snacks including chips, biscuits and chocolates, but more items will be added if the trial run is successful. The boxes were restocked 7 times over 5 days, including 2 times at 11 pm and 11:30 pm on the night before Sacred Games release.

Image by: Abinash Maharana

The service has been running quite successfully as the items were usually sold out within a few hours of restocking. However, Naren reports that items worth around ₹400 have gone unaccounted for over the past three days. Fortunately, there was no net loss due to the profit made by selling the items bought at a discounted rate, at MRP. The list of items unaccounted for, also includes a notebook which was to be used to record transactions made by people who were unable to pay using a UPI payment interface, which went missing on the first night. There also seems to have been instances of people misinterpreting the price of various items.

The shop was started to encourage honesty in the campus. Naren believes that if you can be honest in small things, you tend to be honest in bigger things as well. He reports that many students from both UG1 and UG2 has expressed interest in helping to maintain and expand BHB, not only by donation but even by helping with restocking and other maintenance works.

On a lighter note, the service also means easy access to midnight snacks for night owls!

At a time when most students find HV classes taxing, more proactive approaches like the Bakul Honesty Shop provides an interesting take on what value education can look like in the future. The shop makes honesty a team effort, and by not paying for an item one would be effectively tarnishing the reputation of the Bakul community. 

Naren reports that the trial run is over as of now, and that further details on the operation of the shop will be decided within a few weeks.If brought back, the shop can be something that the IIIT community can be truly proud of.

Fresher’s 2k19

Jaidev Shriram

The annual Fresher’s contest was held on Saturday, 17th August. As par, first years of all houses showed off their skills (that most had learnt in practice the preceding week), with music, dances, and a skit each. Notably, this was the first Fresher’s in recent memory that faculty were invited to. Professors Dr. P. J. Narayanan and Dr. Radhika Mamidi were seen in attendance.

Alongside regular performances, Jal house shone on stage as well – with a choreographed dance performance and a wildcard entry to the Flair contest. The new captain for Jal House was also announced at the Freshers.

The results:
First Place: Vayu House
Second Place: Agni House
Third Place: Aakash House
Fourth Place: Prithvi House

Mr. Flair: Ivin Kurikose
Ms. Flair: Gunjan Gupta

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