BSA GSec - Harsh Pratap Singh
Describe your journey with BSA and sports in general.
My journey with BSA started on 24th July 2018 at IIT Delhi's Swimming Pool. That was two days after I stepped inside the campus. I had participated in swimming tournaments when I was in class 8th or 9th and regularly attended the aquatics practice sessions following the fresher's trial. One day, it rained and caused the aquatics practice session to get cancelled, due to which, I entered the cricket trials for freshers. I bowled very well that day (probably beginner's luck had a part to play in that), and the coach asked me to play a match the very next day. I kept on taking wickets and became a regular member of the squad. I conceded very few runs in the penultimate at the inter-IIT finals, winning my team's match. With time, I got involved with batting and other managerial roles within the team as well. I rose through the ranks to become a Junior Executive, Operations in my second year and a coordinator, Operations in my third year. I had been conferred with both Best Junior Executive as well as the Best Coordinator award for my contribution.
As far as sports are concerned, I try to follow all sports. My favourite cricketer is Kane Williamson, and my favourite footballer is Lionel Messi.
As a cricketer, what, according to you, was the most memorable match that you played?
The most memorable match I played was the Inter IIT final at Guwahati during my first year. Our opponents were from IIT Kanpur. It was supposed to be a T20 match, but it got reduced to 12 overs per side due to rains. All the other sporting events had been concluded before the cricket final, so there was much viewership. We batted first and scored a meagre 72 runs after an early collapse. In the second innings, we fought back with the ball. Our opponent needed some 12-14 runs in the last two overs, and I was asked to bowl the penultimate over, which was crucial in determining the game's outcome. Freshers generally don't even get to play in Inter IIT finals, and I picked up a couple of wickets and conceded 2-3 runs, and that won us the match. I ended up impressing many seniors in that process; hence that match was unforgettable for me.
At what point during your journey did you realize that you could lead BSA?
Throughout this journey, I had the opportunity to interact with professors, admins, staff team and learned a lot from them. BSA became an integral part of my college life. As a coordinator, I successfully conducted many informal events and enjoyed doing the same. That is when I realized that I am capable of leading and managing BSA as a General Secretary.
Elections can be very stressful, and everyone needs help during such a time. Could you tell us more about your opponent and all those who helped you and your candidature?
My opponent contesting for BSA General Secretary was Sakshi Mirge, who is a proficient volleyball player. She was a brilliant candidate, but I had certain advantages over her nonetheless. The first and foremost advantage that I had was that I played Inter IIT during my first year, and she started playing in Inter IIT in her second year. Unfortunately, she could not get much exposure in tournaments because of the pandemic and everything moving online. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to interact with lots of seniors, which naturally helped my candidature, amongst other things.
Lots of people helped me during the business end of my journey with BSA. The current Football Vice-Captain Ishan Singh, whom I have known since class 6th, contributed significantly to my journey along with Sanaz Aggarwal, the Aquatics Captain, and my wingmate. My friends Chand and Manish, both in the cricket team, and Ashish, Karakoram's athletics captain, also played an instrumental role. Besides, I also received help from seniors such as Amit Dubey sir (Former Deputy G Sec) and Adarsh sir (Former Cricket Vice-Captain in 2019).
What major technical changes do you wish to bring about in your tenure as the G. Sec.?
The first and foremost change that I feel needs to occur is a functional revamping of BSA's website. Even the slightest amount of traffic causes it to hang and makes it laggy. For that, we'll use a different hosting platform other than AWS. For this purpose, we'll keep a technical team comprising highly qualified web developers to maintain the website.
Another meaningful change that I would bring about is to decentralize BSA's funding. Right now, donors don't have the right to choose the sport they want to make their donation. The final authority of allocating the funds lies with the BSA. By decentralizing the funding, donors will donate to whichever sport they feel like, inevitably increasing BSA's funding. We also plan to collaborate with AAIP to legitimize the Alumni Fund. Because of their donations, the alumni will also become a stakeholder as BSA, giving them incentives to visit the campus now and then. This, in turn, can improve the sports culture as juniors will get a chance to interact with their alumni.
How much did you miss your life at the campus during the lockdown? Now that there is a looming possibility of everything returning to the offline mode, how do you want to make use of it?
I have onboarded and attend sports practices regularly. But I did miss my campus a lot. Reforming BSA's ground booking system is required so that things run smoothly in the offline semester. At present, to book a ground, one needs to send a mail. However, there is no way to check the legitimacy of such e-mails. Moreover, grounds often undergo renovation or construction, which is not known to the teams during ground booking. BSA's Ground Booking system aims at solving these problems and making the system more transparent. Other than online events, we also plan on conducting at least one offline tournament by the end of the semester (such as Sportech or Inter IIT). If the pandemic remains under control, we will conduct the PG tournament, "Oorja" in October or November. Following this, we plan on resuming inter hostel sports in January or February.
How much do you agree with the idea that "Sports are all about culture"? What steps will you be taking to maintain that culture, especially in the online semester?
I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that sports are indeed all about culture. It is much more than what goes on the field. The environment in the dressing room or chilling out with your teammates post-practice sessions or matches is as important as one's performance on the pitch. For example, Jwalamukhi was able to win the GC for the 4th time in a row in 2018 without having many big names in their teams. This was possible because of the culture which developed after winning the GC in succession for the last three years. Activities such as cheering or anti cheering (as long as things don't get out of hand) are an integral part of the GC and a significant reason why GC is the most awaited inter-hostel event. Therefore, carrying out team bonding exercises is the need of the hour. The BSA discord server for streaming important matches throughout the year, events such as "Know Your Contingent" and telecasting the Treasure Hunt will help in this process and facilitate a more significant amount of interaction between the players themselves as well as between the players and coaches. This will ensure that IIT Delhi's team in the next Inter IIT Sports Meet in the post-covid world will not be utterly devoid of culture. Incorporating E-sports in BSA is another step we would take to improve BSA's culture, especially in the online semester. Moreover, following India's success at the Olympics, we're planning to invite Neeraj Chopra for a talk to further enhance IIT Delhi's culture in athletic events that are not very popular, such as javelin throw or pole vault.
It is said that GC is the most awaited Inter-hostel event at IIT. But this often holds true only for the boys' hostels. How do you plan on improving the sports culture in girls' hostels as well?
During my tenure as Sportech coordinator, we successfully conducted IIT Delhi's first-ever Women's cricket tournament. We took help from Rekha ma'am, a sports officer, who recommended organizing a trial cricket event and then including Women's cricket in GC if the trial was successful. This was conducted as an informal event, wherein the teams were formed year-wise or department-wise. It attracted much online and offline viewership, and bills were passed to award the players in that tournament. Unfortunately, GC could not be conducted due to the pandemic, but whenever it happens in the future, we'll push for women's cricket to be included.
Moreover, two new girls' hostels are being formed, and their number is increasing every year at IIT. So, we can afford to be optimistic about women's participation in the GC. Right now, the focus is on conducting quality tournaments to attract viewership and further enhance the incentives for girls' hostels to participate more actively.
Will the 2020 batch be getting the option to choose NSO instead of NSS?
Earlier, the rule stated that every student had to complete their NSO/NSS/NCC by the end of their second year, but now that has been extended to the fourth year. Our primary focus right now is on the graduating students completing their NSO hours through at-home events such as virtual marathons. Of course, there is a lot of scope for cheating in such events, but again, that's the best we can do in the online mode. Things will run smoother if everyone is onboarded; however, that's not possible. If students from the 2020 batch can get onboarded this year, they'll get the option of switching between NSS and NSO. Again, it all depends on what the pandemic situation of the country is.
Do you want to give any advice to your juniors (who are yet to visit the campus) regarding sports?
A vital lesson that I learnt as a fresher is that anyone can learn any sport from scratch at IIT Delhi without any prerequisites. Many outstanding seniors would guide you in your journey. As a learner, all you need is to be humble to everyone and have an open mind.
You can find his manifesto here
Interview by Sampan Manna