Coffee with Feeds – Daksh Khanter, candidate for Student President, 2017-2018

What made you want to stand for Student President?

Very frankly, since the time we’ve joined college, we’ve heard ourselves complaining about various issues in campus, and we’ve questioned what the student council and admin are doing. I think the best way to solve this is to do something yourself, and that is one reason. The next reason is because in my years here in college, I’ve learnt so much about what the college has to offer to us as students. I really want to give back to the college in all the ways I can.

A lot of people in NITT feel that most manifesto points are empty promises. How do you change that mindset?

Whatever I say right now, my words, it’s tough for them to convince people. The only thing that can convince them is my actions, so that next year if the council does a good job, then in the future elections, people will feel that if they vote on merit and the candidate’s capability, and not on language and region as it has been for the past few years, that something good will actually happen on campus.

You had mentioned about more institute collaborations in your manifesto. Currently however, NIT has quite a few MoUs with national and international universities, but they don’t have clauses of student exchange. How do you tackle that?

So we do have a few MoUs with a few universities, and two of them actually have student and faculty exchange programs. Our previous director really wanted to have better collaborations with institutes and industries, and so they went ahead with signing MoUs. But once the MoUs are signed, we need to regularly follow up about these MoUs with the Dean’s office to make sure they are executed, and that’s what we need to do next year.

You mentioned club budget allocation by getting the needs of other clubs and then formulating the budget. How do you gauge the needs of various clubs?

We have club budget presentations every year which the technical secretary, the cultural secretary, and president oversee, where each clubs presents what they want to do and what their plans are for the next year. When I was the chairman of Aaveg, we presented last year’s budget, and described what our new plans were and accordingly asked for the extra amount we needed, and that’s what all clubs do. So something we can do is check how clubs have used budgets allocated to them in the previous years. We also need to make the entire bills system more transparent, and maybe come up with a system where the council can perhaps aid the bills office in checking the bills. Suppose a club has spent X amount last year, we check how much was actually needed, and this year, we analyse their plans and the amount needed for those plans with a proper background check.

Why do you think that we haven’t gotten sports coaches all these years, and if you do get them, how do you plan to assign them?

I spoke to previous councils about why this hasn’t been done. From admin point of view, getting coaches is very expensive and the amount will have to be deducted from the DA of the sports teams if they want coaches. What happens during the orientation program is that they get coaches for one month from the TN Government. We have a large number of sports teams and it’s very hard to get coaches for all teams throughout the year overnight. Maybe we could talk to the coaches and get them maybe a month before tournaments, and then move forward from there in terms of budget allocation.

Your manifesto says something about student activity zones. Do you have any plans to improve the existing facilities of the new SAC?

The student activity zones idea I had focused on was for providing places where both boys and girls have common places to work together till 11PM. With regards to the facilities, I’ve heard that the new SAC is more of a temporary arrangement for clubs and that efforts are being put in for better facilities. They’re looking to shift all tech clubs to SCIENT as far as I know, and they’re coming up with a solution for non tech clubs.

At the soapbox yesterday, one of the CIC Reps spoke to you about the obstacles in implementing deferred placements. What are your thoughts on the topic after that?

So at the Soapbox yesterday, one of the CIC Reps mentioned why deferred placements would be a problem and the reasons are justifiable. But I feel that even if it doesn’t happen in my tenure if I’m elected, I think it’s something that should happen two or three years down the line. It’s happening in IITM. IITB, IITD, where there’s a push for the startup culture, I feel we will lag behind if it isn’t implemented. So if not in my tenure if elected, then I hope future councils push for it as well, because I feel it is very important.

Will there be a separate mess squad for the vacation mess? How will the mess squads be planned?

One member of the student council usually stays back over the holidays. If anybody from the mess squad stays back, and I think one or two definitely will, they can oversee the quality of the mess. Worst case where no one does stay back, we could ask our friends to help out, or maybe open a forum where we ask for volunteers.

What is your opinion about curfew for girls?

Personally, as an individual, I feel curfew should not be there as this hinders access to equal opportunities for girls. But that being said, security in our college and accountability needs to be improved. If we could implement the student activity zones that I had mentioned and show that the college is safe for girls, that would be great too. And lastly, support from parents is required as well. But it is very difficult to change the system overnight.

What do you think are the major issues that currently affect our campus?

Firstly, drinking water and WiFi. We also need to improve in academics in the sense that we need to implement the online e-book portal and improve MoUs as well. We also need a proper channel where students can inform us about their complaints, rather than ranting on Facebook. We need more transparency from the admin side, and we also need to create places where girls can work till 11PM. Transport is another issue. The current council has bought 5 battery cars and 3 buses. We need to focus on systematisation of the transport and that will make the lives of students much easier. Coaches for sports teams also needs to be worked on. Lastly, the creation of an NITT app is necessary, which is basically a single app for all formalities.

Most of of the sports facilities in NITT are almost always occupied by sports teams. So there’s very less chance for amateurs to learn sports. How do you tackle that?

I don’t think  any team will refuse non team students to play when they want to. We cannot have reserved times for sports teams and non sports teams students as well. Two years ago, the then council got eight volleyball courts build around campus. So I think for students to play sports, we need to increase the number of facilities. It will be tough as we need to get a budget and convince admin that a need is there, but I think we can definitely work towards it.

Is there something that you want to tell to our readers?

The message which I wish to convey is that the student council is a body that represents the students. I want the council to become a place where students can walk in any time they want, and they shouldn’t feel scared to do so. I want to strengthen to bridge between the admin and the students that is the student council in a way that the council is open, approachable, and transparent in its functioning.

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