The IITK fiasco

I had been wanting to write about this for a while now. But I thought if I’m going to write something, might as well write it to a good end. So I decided to write to the Director himself. Yes, thats Dr. S. G. Dhande for you. Here’s the mail, I’ll post replies that I get (if any)

The Director, Indian Institute of Technology,
Kanpur - 208016

Dear Sir,

My name is Diwaker and I'm a recent alumnus (graduated May 2003), and I'm
writing this mail because of the recent events at IIT Kanpur. As you might very
well have expected, the news has spread across the globe like wildfire, with
complete details (including your mail[s] and various assorted posts from the
newsgroup). I just wanted to express my thoughts and views on the issue.

In my four years at IITK, we saw a lot of changes, both at an infra-structural
level as well as at a philosophical and cultural level -- the shooting incident
at HBTI (followed by the stringent security), the abolishment of "traditional"
galaxy (ending the decades old rivalry between Hall II and Hall III), the
transformation of antaragni, the construction of new hostels and laboratories
to name a few. I was of the view that IITK was going through a renaissance and
that we had seen the worst that was to come, and that the coming years would
see IITK rising to new heights of glory. Our batch also saw the dip in
placements and the slight turnaround towards the end. We also saw the birth of
the business school, the changing role of the student gymkhana and increased
interaction between students and administration. To be honest, it was all
looking very positive when we left.

Not surprisingly then, the recent events have come as a shock and a
disappointment to many of us here. I hope you will convey our sentiments to the
students. Having been a student there not so long ago, I just hope that my
comments will not be treated as that of a complete outsider -- I have a very
good understanding of the students' side also. Considering the whole situation
however, I feel that its high time the student community at IITK sit back and
think through this whole issue -- its time for an introspection.

To begin with, the event that sparked this unfortunate chain, the people who
indulged in the so-called "eve teasing" should be ashamed of themselves. Yes I
know this will instigate fierce opposition from the students, but let me be
more analytical. The students' arguments are generally one of the following (as
inferred from newsgroup posts and otherwise)

o everyone does it! -- this is perhaps the worst argument possible. IITK
students are not kids anymore. They are grown up young adults, fully aware that
hundreds of thousands of people in the country and the world over look up to
them. I know people get sick of hearing this "you're from IIT, you ought to be
great" -- but leave that aside for a while. Most of my friends are non-IITians,
but all of them have enough common sense judge these things. I mean, it was
cheap, outright!

o she might be someone else's sister, not mine, what do I care! -- thats like
saying that "you're mother is not my mother, so what do I care and let me fling
all kinds of obscenities at you". What do people feel about that? This is such
a callous and insensitive attitude. I know IITK doesn't have the best
"balanced" co-ed environment as far as IITs go, and I'm sure all IITK guys are
aware of the notorious "frustu" image that we enjoy everywhere. If at all, you
guys should be working to change this image!

o she over-reacted! -- while this is subject to much debate, I'd still like to
make one point. Girls and guys are attracted to each other naturally, its
biological. People flirt all the time, make passes, comments and jokes. This is
a *universal* phenomenon. However, targeting a girl when you're in a group of
guys yourself comes nowhere close to any of these. Occasional flirtations and
passes and compliments usually make a girl feel good, not scared or intimated.
If you have to approach someone, be suave, be charming, impress her. Why resort
to such cheap tactics? And there's a limit to all good humor. When we were kids
we used to make our friends cry, and it wasn't a big deal because we didn't
know any better. But you're all over 18 for God's sake!

I can go on and on, but thats not the point. I feel that there were two major
blunders on the students' part -- the first was not to take any action on the
scene at that very instant -- as a friend put it, things could have been
stopped then and there, but as many students have also pointed out on the
newsgroups, there is widespread feeling both inside and outside IITK that the
guys are chicken. I certainly don't believe that, but the students should be
the best judge of this.

The other was of course to divert the whole issue over to DOSA's resignation.
That is such an escapist attitude -- instead of dealing with the problem at
hand, they dug up year old issues and grudges. I would urge the junta not rush
to any conclusions that I'm biased against them or anything like that. In fact,
I fully agree that there have been mistakes on the part of the administration
as well, and there most certainly has been a communication gap. But DOSA's
resignation? I mean come on, is there *any* possible logic behind this action?

Of course then there are all those stories about PEC students being given
security and escorted to Rave by SiS for a movie and so forth. I am not sure of
the authenticity of these reports, so I will not comment on them. But I do feel
that the authorities should have been a little more compassionate towards the
IITK community. While we were at fault, PEC was not far behind either. Giving
them the upper hand just makes the students feel alienated, which doesn't do
anyone any good.

I would just like to say (and everyone has probably heard this a zillion times
over and it probably sounds stereotypical, but take it from someone who
thought the same a year back) IITK is a great place, and I truly love
it. In fact, I was quite pleased with our immediate junior batch for their
excitement and enthusiasm -- the setting up of Navya, the scholarship database,
the student gymkhana activities, the success of Techkriti and
especially Antaragni last year -- they all made me feel so good.

Just look around you -- all the news makers these days are in their 20s. You
can't be those news makers, you *are* those news makers! Take pride in this
glorious institute, make people talk about you. Wouldn't it be great if people
said "look at the IITK guys, they're so cool, so smart, and so suave". And
though the administration will probably resent my making this statement, you
can take it from me that IITK guys are really *the* brightest. It should
probably make you think why IITB and IITKGP do so well in CAT and apping than
us. Its not always about being brainy, thats why. Guys and girls, stay happy
people! there's enough trouble in this world already!!

best regards,
Diwaker Gupta (99143)
PS: May I request that you convey my message to the students, perhaps put (the
relevant portions) out on the newsgroups?

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