Q. How has your journey with Entelechy been so far?
A. That is a very long question. I think I should answer that at the end.
Q. In your opinion, how has the magazine been doing recently? What are your views on the 75th edition and the other initiatives taken up like the ESSK(Every Student Should Know), SBG Profiling etc?
A. Entelechy’s strength has always been creative writing – be it essays, narratives, stories, or poems. In the last few years, there has been an attempt to become more aware of the campus environment. The initiatives like portraits of campus worker, profiling the SBG, writing about on the issues faced by students on campus adds an important dimension to Entelechy. I won’t say this dimension was not there before, in fact, the first few editions primarily focused on that only but it is nice to see that coming up again.
Q. Why do you think we need a campus magazine?
A. It is there because students feel the need to express their thoughts. It has sustained itself as a result of student’s desire to express. In fact not having a magazine would be news-worthy because every campus has some forum for young students to express themselves. I think DAIICT has a very strong press considering the size of the student body and IICT-centric programs.
Q. What does having a faculty mentor means to the press according to you?
A. It has meant different things at different times. In the beginning, it was more to hand-hold as we were not sure if the campus could sustain the press. Before Entelechy there was ICTian which was more focused on creative writing. There were students who were politically aware and wanted to write about the happenings on campus and the world and so Entelechy came up. It was difficult to handle one magazine and now we had two. Eventually, Entelechy name survived. All those who wrote for ICTian also joined Entelechy. Every now and then it looked like the magazine would die out. Only around 2010 did I feel that the magazine has the critical mass and the history to sustain itself. After that my primary role has been a facilitator and the interlocutor with the administration. I take a great deal of interest in your activities and I am really proud of my association with the magazine but as a mentor, I basically stay out of your way.
Q. Regarding the last edition (75th edition) there has been a lot of interaction on Entelechy’s website regarding a few articles. What do you think how independent Entelechy should be?
A. This is not the first time that the articles have created a certain amount of heat and I daresay, a certain amount of light. Although there is a continuity across the batches, I find it interesting to see how the character of the magazine changes from year to year. Ultimately it is you to decide why you do what you do. I think your drive should determine how things function.
I would say that magazine has been very responsible. I know for sure there has never been any bad intention behind posting any article. Whenever there has been some mistake, the team at that time has been forthright in admitting it. Even the institute has by and large provided them with enough freedom to do whatever they want. Coming back to the question, it doesn’t matter what others think. It matters why you are a part of it. And that should guide you towards what you do.
Q. NAAC visited us twice. So, we wanted to know how the college prepared this time. What were the loopholes last time?
A. As you know that we received a B grade. We received 2.83 or so while we needed 3+ for A. Institute had appealed the grade as we felt that the evaluation was not proper. NAAC agreed with some of the substantive points that we had raised. And they agreed to come for a revisit. We prepared very much like we prepared last time, we also collected data for the past one year. This time we feel the evaluation process has been done in a better way so hopefully, we will get a better result.
Q. Did the college perform better this time?
A. The college is the same as it was. I would say that the evaluation has improved. When we got B last year, a lot of people who are well informed about the grading process were shocked.
Q: How do you think the college culture has evolved over the years – the college and the student community, the interaction and everything?
A: I would like you to tell me. You’re in 3rd year now and you remember your seniors how they were. Is there any change? I would give you my answer but I want to know your opinion first.
Presswale: I feel that we are losing out on diversity and interaction.
A: Diversity as in what?
Presswale: Cultural Diversity. And interaction as in the number of people taking part in co-curricular activities and making efforts to get to know their seniors or even batch-mates. Diversity of the thought processes has also decreased.
A: That I would agree with. I don’t really care about the fact there is not much diversity in people coming from different states etc., although that was a good thing. In 2008 when Gujarat quota came, we were really worried. But in the 2008 batch, it so turned out that the best students by far were from Gujarat quota. That isn’t a pattern for every batch but I don’t think scholastic standards have suffered due to quota.Diversity in terms of thoughts and mental processes, however, is a cause for concern. I think students are more homogenous now. Not because half of them are coming from Gujarat, there is homogeneity in the sense that probably their goals are somewhat more narrowly defined. We don’t have as many ‘characters’ on campus. Also, the campus is empty during the weekends and the activities go down. When I was a student in IITD, in spite of having no quota, half of the students were from Delhi itself. I don’t remember that campus was empty on the weekends. So having local students could be one of the causes but that by itself cannot justify the problem.
Homogeneity bothers me more than anything else. A few years ago, I don’t know if you guys remember but there was an activity called my kind of music. I think even very liberal colleges would be proud to have events of that type. But that couldn’t be sustained. The fact that now we aren’t able to sustain it, worries me.
Somethings get supported because there is a culture of it. Lots of things we see now is a legacy of what your seniors have done. And when things don’t grow or start dying out that worries me because these are signs of stagnation. Students continue to do well academically but what we call as DA culture is not as vibrant.
I also see the same faces across multiple clubs. This is even more troublesome as it means that there is a small group of students who are sustaining everything. This Institute has worked very hard in designing the courses and creating an ambiance for this eclectic DA-IICT culture. It still produces students who aren’t from the cookie-cutter template of a technical institute. But I think we are not able to build on it and have been stagnating.
However, we should not be cynical or desperate. But I have seen a lot of instances where things go down and then sometimes they pick up. In initial years of the student magazine, it died 3-4 times. There was a time when we could not produce anything in one semester but then some other group came in and restarted it. So, the student contribution, in whatever capacity it can be, to maintain the diversity in the institute culture helps a lot. SBG tells me that you are trying to keep events on weekends to make students stay here on weekends, which is a good solution and things may pick up eventually.
Q. Do you have any message for the students?
A. I always have some message for students. If I remember my student days, we seemed to have all the time in the world. With 18 waking hours every day at our disposal, even after attending lectures and labs, we had a lot of time. I think that the students should be aware of this bounty. Do all the things that they like and not be worried about jobs and salaries. The other things automatically fall in place over time. Life does not follow a fixed path. There is hardly anyone who has everything decided beforehand. Even when you came here, I am sure you had not decided that you would join press club. You came here, you tried out various things, some things clicked and you started working on them. Things may also have changed from year to year because of your priorities and based on your choices and preferences. The main thing to remember is that because you have time in hand, you can manage curricular and extra-curricular activities equally well without any responsibilities, restrictions and constraints. This is what I miss the most from my student days. And when you are young, you are foolish enough to think that there are no constraints. But maybe, your generation is more mature than ours. Our generation took more time to mature, to get that feeling of responsibility and thinking about future. As a student, I don’t remember ever talking about wanting some specific kind of job or doing, learning something to do further studies. We just went along with the life. So, this generation is different in that way. It is said that every generation defines itself through its collective behavior, thought process but the fact remains that you have the time to do all the things you want to and the campus should reflect that.
DA-IICT is still a unique experiment, providing a liberal education in a technical institute. In some sense, IITs are a bad idea, not because of the quality of education, but because they are not able to inculcate that diversity of thought process and culture. A good institute is the one which allows you to learn about yourself, explore yourself, and realize your full potential. In that sense, DA-IICT still does a much better job than IITs. So, take advantage of it.
Q. Now, if you could tell us about how has your journey with Entelechy been so far?
Student Press has been a part of me since my school days. There is this sense of collective creativity that is very fulfilling. And the excitement of meeting deadlines – e.g. during Rendezvous ad IITD, we would release an issue every 2 hours round the clock, people running around to write down the updates, getting it cyclostyled and distributing it in the hostels. This is the fun part that I remember about my days in the press.
When I came to DA-IICT, I always thought that we should have a student magazine. It took some time for the students to realize the same but I feel very privileged to have experienced everything and to see the magazine grow – as a bystander, really. The magazine allows me to relive my student days. This might sound a little biased but people who have been part of Entelechy have been the most aware people. As a community, this is probably the most cohesive, strongly knit group. People who are perhaps 10 years senior to you still read your articles, leave comments and talk to you. In that sense, I think, the press is very unique.
I have been part of a number of other clubs and my association is primarily professional in nature. If it’s an academic club, my role is of a guiding nature. But entelechy has always been special because I have a very emotional attachment to it.