SAC GSec - Gaurav Chauhan
What did your first year at IIT Delhi look like?
In my first year at IIT Delhi, I explored many things and participated in many events and sports, including athletics and basketball. I made a lot of great friends and got to know a lot of people. I’d say that I was involved in most of the activities happening in some way or the other. BSW rep is a position in which you need to interact with people easily, which I loved to do, so I chose to go for it. I believed that even if I could not guide students directly, I’d at least be able to show them to the right person because of the contacts I had already made.
Can you tell us about your experience as a BSW rep?
I had a lot of fun in my tenure as a rep and conducted many events for the new batch. The 2020 batch doesn’t know this, but it is a huge thing when a new batch enters IIT, and we were the ones guiding the freshers and their parents through all the registration proceedings. We had ice-breaking sessions with them and conducted campus tours. We even had a Delhi darshan trip where we took over 600 freshers all around Delhi. We also kept many events focusing on mental health throughout the year, and I spent a significant amount of time with academic mentorship. This was unique about my tenure because although these events weren't in the limelight that much, I could see the impact they were making. Finally, the time for Speranza came. It was the first time that Speranza was this big, and it went really well, and we had a lot of fun organizing it. The feeling that I could help so many people directly and make meaningful contributions to IIT stayed with me and motivated me to contribute even more.
Why did you choose SAC?
The thing that I felt was unique about SAC is that the work isn’t already decided like in most clubs. Every year new problems arise, and we have to find new ways to deal with them, so the work is entirely open-ended. You get to decide what initiative you want to work on, and then you can take it to the next level. I was also considering going for maintenance secretary because I had contributed to my hostel and had experience in that area. I chose SAC over it as I am a person who likes taking initiatives, interacting with people, and analyzing problems, and felt that SAC fits my personality. I was very enthusiastic and thought that the work in SAC was bringing out unique outcomes. My mentality has always been to give out the best to the student community in whatever ways possible and so I went with SAC.
How has your journey been till now?
During my tenure as a secretary, I took part in several projects. The unique thing about me was that I was pretty close to PG students, and they were on campus. Hence, I was able to find out about many problems on the campus like the IP-Nalanda A-type apartment issues and many more problems that weren’t being addressed before. The food bill hike was also a huge issue that I worked on; it took a lot of research to compare costs with previous years but was extremely necessary, considering that the prices had almost doubled in many hostels. I was the CAIC representative from SAC, and so I worked on various academic issues as well. The problems included attendance and audit policies in an online semester, which is very important and unique because the online environment was new for everyone. During the second wave of COVID, the situation was terrible, and we started a plasma donation initiative. It was not a very big initiative, but still, we could help people of IIT, and then we gave the database to NSS to take it forward. Another problem I recognized, that students in UG and PG were utterly unaware of, was the health insurance policies that IIT Delhi offers. We documented this properly and sent it out to numerous groups, which helped people realize this. We got many calls for the claiming process, which was good to see considering it was a pretty big insurance. We even collaborated with dev club for the e-notifications app, which will be extremely helpful to the students.
What role does SAC play in designing the student calendar?
So basically, there are three things, academics, OCS, and cultural events that need to be held so that none of them clash with each other. SAC plays a considerable role in ensuring this and managing the timelines of all three. There have been problems in the past regarding these schedules where the deadlines have clashed with each other, but being a member of BAP as well, I believe I will be able to serve as a great point of contact in managing these three so that the students can enjoy without missing out on any deadlines.
You have mentioned in your manifesto about creating a SAC booklet. Why do you feel the need to do so?
What happens is that in an online semester, most freshers have no idea who the house secretary is or the BHM secy, or the SAC secy. They have no knowledge about these people and many other important people in their hostel as well, who can help them. This is highly problematic. This was something that the freshers used to be aware of quickly in an offline semester but has not been happening in the online year. This is why I feel that to bridge this gap, a SAC booklet would be helpful, which would provide this valuable information to incoming UG and PG students about these people, their responsibilities and how they can be of help. It would serve as a one-point stop for knowing which people hold various responsibilities and how to reach them.
There are mentions of many tech-based initiatives in your manifesto. Can you elaborate upon them?
The first tech-based initiative that I have in mind is to create a scholarship portal. So what happens right now is that around 25-30 scholarships are available to students, and these have more or less redundant things like proofs of transcripts, family income, etc., that need to be applied for every time by the students. This portal will allow the students to upload all these documents beforehand. If a student is eligible for a particular scholarship, he will automatically receive mail for only that instead of receiving emails of every scholarship. In this way, a student won’t have to upload the same documents multiple times for each scholarship, and he won’t be spammed either, making the process much easier for everyone. This will also create a channel for alumni to give scholarships to students, which is very cumbersome for them at present.
Other than this, we will also further work on the e-notifications app. We are going to implement a bus tracking API in it. The query-redressal system had a lot of problems last year. It used to be answered only by SAC members, which was problematic since many were personalized to other boards or clubs. Now, these will be redirected to the concerned authorities to answer the queries in a better and more personalized manner. This query-redressal system will be integrated into the app itself.
We are also going to launch a project portal. The backend work for this has been done, and we have also taken the permissions of the concerned deans and authorities. Once established, all the professors will be able to upload their projects directly on the portal, and the students will be able to apply for them on the portal itself. We are very excited about this, and we believe this will end the mailing process that happens for projects right now and make things very easy. We are conducting personalized sessions with 10-15 professors each day to help them understand everything about the portal.
Another service that we are planning is to start online hospital booking so that people won’t have to wait in lines at the hospital and their slots will be automatically booked by itself.
All of these initiatives are aimed at making things easy and efficient for the students. Being a CS graduate, I can also understand the technology behind these initiatives, which helps me to know what can be done to make things better.
You have also talked about addressing several caste-based and gender-based issues. How do you aim to solve them?
Last year, I talked to many people who have faced gender harassment and found out that the internal complaints committee is not very encouraging for people to come out and complain. Our aim is to bring more people to the internal complaints committee who understand these issues, are professionals, and have legal knowledge. Another problem is that the turn-out at IGES events is very low, so we will try helping them by keeping theme nights about these issues collaborating with maybe the music club or the drama club, basically attracting more people. A women's cell will be set up, consisting of a group of students with similar initiatives who, in collaboration with IGES, will conduct various events regarding these issues. For caste-based issues, I aim at having a body similar to IGES to tackle these problems. This is something that I feel is required because right now, there are minimal means for voicing out these issues.
Can you tell us more about this idea of a GSecy showdown?
So, this is something I feel is very interesting and I want to start from this year which would be similar to the already existing secy-showdown. I believe this will increase the accountability of all Gsecs, lead to more work being done, and be something fun that everyone would like to do.
You can find his manifesto here
Interview by Parth Singhal