What does BSW mean to you and how has your journey been? Is there some special reason you want to be involved with the board?
Ans. Family! I’ve been a part of this board for two years. It has played an important role in shaping me as an individual and helped me become what I am today. If you could see fresher Prabhpreet and then see the current me, the difference will be clear. It has imbibed in me the values of culture.
I also have a lot of memories associated with BSW and a lot of great experiences. I have great friends and contacts here who have always helped me when needed.
How is BSW important for IITD students & community?
Ans. BSW is the body that is responsible for inculcating culture in the new batch. That also makes this role a bit scary when you realize that there is no scope for mistakes and that you have some degree of control in shaping how the juniors will behave. The BSW reps set the priorities of the freshers, what they should consider most important and what least. Everything that an individual goes on to become, BSW has played some part in that. Aside from freshers, the role of BSW has been increasing year after year for other students as well. Speranza has become more inclusive, with events focusing on PG and senior UG students. Alumni mentorship has been revolutionized, so as to target sophomores and junior undergrads, to mention a few.
Why did you choose this board over other activities or interests?
Ans. I sufficiently explored in my first year. I tried many things like PFC, fest teams, tech teams, creatives, etc. The major difference I felt in these activities was that everyone was trying to be better than you. There was too much competition. For me, a club should be a place where you like to chill, and that was not present anywhere other than BSW. BSW was more like a family and there was no competition between members.
I never joined BSW to get a POR or for fame. I got attracted to the board as I worked through the experiences and got to know about the ins and outs of BSW.
Is there any specific thing you did, as part of BSW, that you’re proud of?
Ans. I am really proud of the fact that I worked in almost all events under BSW. That also played a key role in me becoming the best rep. It means a lot to me that I got the opportunity to work closely with all the deans, even if the project was something simple like designing the calendar. The key benefit here was the exposure I got. As a secretary, the one thing I’m really proud of was a tech workshop for the members that I hosted entirely on my own. That was the first time I had an idea and I was able to bring it to life.
Do you recall any funny or embarrassing incident which makes BSW more memorable?
Ans. This story is of Speranza while I was in my rep tenure. We had an event called Guftagoo, and that year, the event was about Civil Services and the panelists were IAS officers. The event was conducted in Seminar Hall and there was a lot to eat and drink. The tables and chairs were placed in the center of the stage and BSW reps were asked to remove the chairs while the panelists were leaving to make space for the next event. I was on one side of the stage and another BSW rep was on the opposite side. We were both damn hungry by that point and we noticed a fully wrapped sandwich in the center of the table. Both of us started walking towards the table. When I saw that the other rep was also coming for the sandwich, I increased my pace, grabbed the sandwich and turned around. That was when I saw the chief guest standing right there and I offered the sandwich to her. But everyone in BSW had already seen what happened and that was very embarrassing at the moment.
Why did you go for the post of DGSec? What was the motivation?
Ans. Frankly, the major reason for choosing DGSec instead of GSec was to escape the politics. I am very well versed with the contributions I have made to the board over the past two years, and so was the team. I did not want to leave it in someone else’s hands to decide whether I was deserving or not. I know I was and hence I took this road.
I did not go for other positions such as Mentorship coordinator because those positions would give me an opportunity in only specific domains. As the Deputy General Secretary, I get to be involved in many verticals under the board. I also saw deserving candidates for other posts and did not want to contest for those posts so that it’s not unfair for them.
What do you think of the behind-the-scenes politics?
Ans. Politics is a key factor during elections and that is something I won’t deny. I would prefer to do away with politics but there are some pros of politics too. It inculcates a sense of competition and necessitates working with the board. Interacting with others is an important part of BSW and that is why I haven’t tried to free BSW of poltu. It also helps in developing personality.
What things do you feel should the BSW improve upon or have been missing until now?
Ans. The representative training process is something I have always wished would improve and that is why I make it a primary goal in my tenure as DGSec. In my rep tenure, the rep points allocated to each rep were proportional to their efforts and contributions. Since I was well versed with design which is an area in which I differ from others in BSW, I was able to contribute much more. I didn’t think it was very fair since there were reps who had no past experience and did not even try to learn the skill since I was already very good. That’s why I tried to teach things like photoshop in the tech workshop during my Secretary tenure but that didn’t go very well as the willingness was low from the reps. As the DGSec, I want to make the distribution of rep points more appropriate and holistic. I want to make the process more official and structured.
Earlier, there were no assistants to help with the freshers’ orientation process and we always encountered very common and repeated doubts from students and parents. This time we will make sure that all the resources are available in the form of a kit at a single place, unlike last year where the resources were more distributed.
You’ve already spent one year offline and one online. What new changes are you bringing in for the next online sem?
Ans. The rep training and interaction process was definitely something that did not go very well in the online mode. Another important thing was that BSW was not as involved in the fresher registration process as it used to be back in the offline mode. That was partly because the UG section didn’t feel the need to involve BSW as there were no large crowds to handle. But another factor was that the BSW team was formed late last year and soon after that, the freshers joined us. So the team was not ready enough to handle them. This year, I aim to make the involvement of BSW in the registration more like offline and we have sufficient time to prepare. I feel there was also some scope of improvement in certain aspects of the academic mentorship program. The recruitment process and overall framework in general, although not a key vertical of operations, is something we are planning to reform this year. Speranza and other endeavors of BSW went very well in the online sem.
Supposing that the next sem goes offline, how will some ideas like counselling and YourDost be incorporated?
Ans. Before the pandemic struck us, we were only versed in the offline mode of things. In one way, this online mode has been a blessing, especially for maintaining anonymity. Since we have experience with both modes now, it is not necessary to bring everything back offline. We will take the best of both worlds and proceed forward.
How exactly are you planning to get PG students involved in the board? What is the incentive for them?
Ans. The idea of involving PG students in BSW is not novel and the attempts have been going on for several years now. Several events like Speranza’s Guftagoo were supposed to be PG events but the outreach has not been good enough. I think that is largely because we don’t have them as members of the team yet, so perhaps they were not able to relate. We are planning to give executive positions to PG students rather than representative posts because reps have certain expectations that they need to perform upon but we will decide the key roles and responsibilities of the executives. The incentive for them always remains in the form of the adrenaline rush which one gets from contributing for someone’s good. PG students still go for SAC, so we can expect them to join us too, especially since some have shown interest.
Why do workshops for writing journals/research papers come under BSW?
Ans. There are many things in IITD that multiple boards or clubs should do together. For example, alumni mentorship is a project that AAIP will be able to contribute to greatly. That is why we are planning to collate things and do that in collaboration with AAIP from this year. I agree that these workshops should ideally be under CAIC, but it is more important that the student community benefits no matter who does it. BSW is much better equipped when it comes to interacting with the student community compared to any other board. Journal writing plays a crucial role in PG inclusion which is something BSW needs. We just have to create the PG culture once and hopefully, then it will sustain.
Any final message for our readers?
Ans. For the third year students – I know the intern process is very difficult and it is disheartening to see others getting an intern and you still being without one. But don’t worry, keep trying. Even I got my internship towards the end of April. The best thing is waiting for you.
For the second year students – This is the time to enjoy the campus. Come as soon as possible. You will be bogged down with work and responsibilities in third year.
For the BSW members – BSW has already been playing and will continue to play a significant role in your life. I would advise you to start valuing what you have right now rather than after it is gone. Many reps realize that they could have enjoyed more being a part of BSW after their tenure has ended.
You can find his manifesto here
Interview by: Arush Utkarsh