NOTE: This is for current or future Delhi Technological University students. If you aren’t one, it will hardly make any sense to you.
Ok fellow DTU-ites, so here is a piece of my mind. This is going to be long. And this is going to offend a few people, juniors and seniors both. But this needs be said. We all know about various societies, clubs, and their SIGs, IDGs, workshops, sessions (call whatever you like) that take place in our college regularly. There are a few things going wrong, like VERY VERY WRONG regarding them, and that needs to be called out. Let me first tell all of you, that these activities are, according to me, the soul of the college. Here at DTU, this is what is going to make or break a lot of us. In the two years, the people I have seen achieving success with jobs, interns, projects or anything, often swear by “that one session by seniors I attended, without that I would not have been able to do this”. In the words of our very own Pro VC, Dr. S K Garg, “the regular classes you have, enhance your theoretical knowledge, but these sessions and activities conducted by your peers and seniors, are going to give you practical knowledge, and you’ll learn implementing many things”. I have visited many colleges in Delhi and interacted with many students, and everyone is actually envious (including my friends from IIT Delhi) of the awesome student-student interaction here, as far as technical knowledge sharing goes. But coming to things that are not working the way they should. I am not here for niceties and “a certain society/person I would not like to name”. I thought for a second that this should probably be better off as an anonymous answer to some Quora question, but no, if things are going wrong, someone has to speak up against it and not with a mask on.
1. SOCROFT’s paid C-72 classes. (and anything similar to that going on in campus)
Ok here it is guys. SOCROFT is a pile of shit. If someone takes 1000 odd rupees to teach you what pointers and functions are, they ought to fucking go die in a well, in shame. I will expand upon this point in a more general way. Dear juniors, be vary of any seniors teaching you for money. This isn’t goddamned tuition. I know many people who are so technically sound, large tech companies fight to grab them up during placements. And these people, when passionate to teach something to their juniors, would come on holidays to college, take the pain of booking rooms, take care of YOUR problems and not make sessions clash, and teach you. Giving every last bit of knowledge they accumulated over the last few years, over to you. And they do not do it for money. They do it because of a) the feel-good factor about sharing knowledge; and b) from my own experience of conducting OSS SIG sessions, it helps enhance many soft skills, and to some extent the technical skills too, of the person teaching. So if anyone asks you to spend bucks for teaching you basic programming language (come on, that is even part of your syllabus in 1st year), it is pure bullshit. Steer clear.
2. Society feuds, closed SIG/IDG, and other narrow minded business
What are tech societies here for ? Yeah really ask that question to yourselves, and especially I want it to ask to the “council” and “executive committee” members of the plethora of societies we can in college. Why ? Do we have a gazillion societies, with a gazillion council members just so that every final year student passing out from college has at least one line to fill in the “Positions of Responsibility” field in their resume ?
I ask this because, sadly, I see societies more often than not become feeding grounds for bloated egos. Let me put this across in as clear words as I can. If you think your society is better than others (it probably is, but the fact that you think it is . . .) then you my dear are an asshole, and if your society taught that to you, or promotes such views among it’s members, then your society is the biggest stinking pile of crap. Get over it. If this continues for a few more years, we will have more societies than students, and ironically with each society harbouring venomously un’social’ feelings for each other. When you charge say a few hundred bucks for society membership, and then say that your SIGs and IDGs and workshops are only for your members, then your society is doing exactly what I pointed out in point (1). You have opened up a tuition inside campus, where you are teaching basic things, that are probably already in the 4 year curriculum of the attendees, and charging a tuition fee for it. Guess what, it is not just immoral or unethical. It is bloody illegal.
Many people would point this out as hypocrisy, given that I am myself a member of a society (IEEE). So yes, let me accept this. There is problem with red tape, there are politics, there is friction, and often insanity wins over logic down here at IEEE DTU too. I knew this is how it will be when I joined it in 1st year, and I have seen it has been like this for the last 2 years, and still I am renewing my membership for the 3rd year, because, there are good things too. And most importantly, I feel the 1600 odd bucks I spend every on IEEE membership renewal, pays itself out in terms of the opportunities and networking benefits I get being a IEEE (the international organisation, not IEEE DTU chapter) member. As far as IEEE DTU goes, there are good people doing lots of good stuff, that helps in fostering of knowledge and growth of people of this college. I try to do my bit as well, because a society is as good as it’s members make it, and I would be a scumbag, if I criticized something without doing my part to make it better. I am so tired of juniors asking me over and over questions like “Should I join CSI or IEEE? I like the Windows IDG in CSI and I like the WebD SIG in IEEE, and I am confused” Why are we gifting our juniors an ecosystem where choosing something automatically disqualifies you for something else? Isn’t this the basic problem with our official education system that we whine about a lot ?
3. Hacking/Robotics workshops for only Rs.
(Rs. 100 less for members of XYZ club/society)
I think it should be made compulsory to have a “This is a fraud. We are conning your money. Such workshops are injurious to your brain and wallet” warning at the bottom of these posters, just like the Govt. makes is compulsory for Cigarette boxes.
Ok here’s what is really the idea behind such workshops. Clubs and societies cannot run free of cost. There are logistics costs, overhead costs, and trust me they are lot. It isn’t easy to make ends meet at a tech society at DTU. Since most membership fund money goes to the parent organisation and does not stay with the student chapter, the only way to make money is by fooling 1st years (who else? Everyone else has smartened up already) into “hacking workshops” (ooohhhh yeaaahhh!! imma gonna hack the fb profile of that poor girl whom I already stalk to death on fb, cuz I haz a crush on her…) or “robotics workshops” (yo bro, I’ll make a robot that will whup Asimo’s ass and blow away the Terminator). There you have ideal people to fool into spending $$$. But this is just so wrong.
Firstly these people Ankit Fadia, Sunny Vaghela and whoever else, know shit about hacking. (Google up their names and you’ll know), but unfortunately in India, even conmen are celebrated, and people teaching how to install Windows on MTV are considered hackers and people consider hacking something that can be taught over a weekend by people who mention ‘stealing cookies’ with so ease that you won’t be blamed for thinking that they actually mean stealing the edible cookies from your mom’s kitchen. And those posters that mention that you will get Rs. 5000 worth of “kits” and “software” by paying Rs.3000 for registering, are the biggest cons.
I am so very sure you cannot “teach” robotics over a weekend to people who do not know assembly language, or microprocessor/microcontroller architectures, basic electrical and electronics, and semiconductors.
4. SIG/IDG – You are doing it totally wrong.
“Special Interest Group”, “Interest Development Group”. Yeah, I am quoting the expansions of the acronyms here because we often forget what an SIG or an IDG is. It isn’t about one man coming and dumping a pile of technical gibberish and a ppt to a class full of blank faces. Nope. You are not doing it right if that’s how it’s happening. Maybe for the first 4-5 sessions, yes, but please don’t turn these things into mass tuitions for semesters, and years, on end. These groups are so that people with common interests “meet” and “share” their experiences. This is give and take. For example, if there is an Android SIG, everyone should be developing apps, and every time there is a sessions, different people should come up and share their experiences, challenges they faced and how they solved them, tips and tricks they devised. I know mostly SIG/IDG are like just another class, after regular college hours, albeit with little more devoted and passionate professors. It may take some time, but let’s make an effort, to not let it remain that. And for this, I would ask you attendees, to not just go and sit like ‘obedient students’. Build, explore, ask, hack, disrupt. The knowledge you can gather by exploring things on your own is far more than the knowledge that someone can share with you.
Coming to another point about SIGs, please remember something, the guy taking the session is doing neither you nor himself a favour. He probably would have been better off finishing some assignment, working on his minor project, or tinkering with some codes or arduinos or making something with his friends, or hanging out at a movie or a food joint, or just plain sleeping. But he wanted to share his knowledge, so he probably came 20 kilometers from home, staying back for 2 hours after an already hectic college day, and showing you presentation he prepared last night, when he could have had slept and saved missing the 9 o’clock class.
I have been that guy. And let me tell you something, while I like to share my knowledge, I don’t give too much of a shit about how many sessions you missed. This isn’t private tuition. Some of the people most interested in Android, attended each and every session of the Android SIGs we had last year. And frankly, to me it hardly matters if the attendance is 80 or 10. You are going to learn, only if you WANT to learn. The guy explaining it, can do little to make you WANT to learn, he can only help you UNDERSTAND. I am not saying you cannot miss SIG sessions even if there is a genuine reason. It is exactly like you weigh factors like laziness, attendance %, and importance of a class before deciding whether or not to get up from the bed every morning, apply the same logic here. It’s your decision.
5. THAT FUCKING FARCE OF A TECHFEST
Yes that is exactly what it is. Please repeat with me once again “Our college has a fucking farce in the name of a techfest”. Say it a few more times. Those who are in 1st year and haven’t attended the Techfest even once yet, you can come back and read that out in February, and I know you will agree.
It is not a farce in terms of absolute measure. We have a pretty good fest in fact. Being the ‘second best engineering college in Delhi’ (damn those Outlook rankings, that place us above IIIT-D), we attract a lot of IP college crowd who rush to the magical faraway Bawanaland in search of good tech fest events. But, with 20+ societies or something out here, we have probably 10+ robotics events, 30+ coding events, 10+ gaming events, all almost carbon copies of each other (because well, there aren’t a lot of different ways to organise a coding sprint or a quiz are they ?).
What do we get ? A couple of crores (my ballpark estimate) of rupees gone down the gutter, trying to compete with each other ? Because who wants to pool resources together and make a big fest ? I want to be the fucking chief organiser of my own event, even if there are another 11 exact same events taking place, and mine is not even standing out from them, and will get only 5 participants. Because fuck logic, this is Bawanaland, and the competition isn’t Tryst or Techkriti or Techfest IITB. Competition is with the society next door. Ughhh. “Humari fest ki chaud pata hai ? Hum sabse pehle room book karwate hai, aur baki fest ko fir wo room nai milta !!!” Oh really ? WOW !Why didn’t you get the (Ig)Nobel yet ? Should I clap or fart ? In my first year, I was so sick of seeing Troika and Innova people bickering over who gets the charging socket and who gets the table and who gets to put their poster (on a particular 8in X 14in space on a tree that no one will even look at), that I just didn’t care giving a single damn, and vent on vacation during this year’s fest. And while I will work on making Troika’s app, and help preparing problem statements and make arrangements (because that I feel is a learning experience), I will end up skipping the 4 days of fest this time again, because it is just plain painful to see the collective intellect, resource, finance, and manpower of the college, just cancel itself out, and implode, to turn something potentially amazing into a shitpile. And trust me, the quality of people we have here, who make apps, websites, prototpyes for fests of OTHER COLLEGES (I have been approached by 5 different colleges in a the past to make apps for them, so have the Cistoner guys I believe, and many more whom I don’t know), can work together to do wonders, if only the need to feed egos and stamp fake positions on Resumes weren’t there.
Oh, and to burst your bubble, I have seen how recruitment process works in a couple of companies I have interned, and “Organiser of random stupid event, at random stupid ass fest, at DTU” is point they do not even care to read. (I cannot tell about non-tech jobs, but in tech recruitments, such points are pretty worthless, trust me. I have seen it from the other side of the table)
I do not know what was the point wasting a couple hours writing this up. Maybe it will come down to some people hating me more, and some new haters in college. But, like I said, someone had to say this, and sooner the better. I feel bad when I see seniors often doing certain things, just because their seniors did it that way, and despite knowing, organising a certain event, workshop, SIG is going to do little to help their juniors, or help them grow, will go forward with it. There is bullshit all around us. Sometimes because it’s tradition, sometimes because it is norm, and sometimes because of apathy, but painfully often because seniors are just “chutiya kato”-ing juniors. And what is the most unfortunate thing is often people know it is not right, but just want to let things run as they run, and not change anything. Yes I have been part of discussions where there are lines spoken like “are wo wala event to rakhna hi padega. Wo to fuchcho ka katne ke liye hai”.
It is a sad world. I don’t think any of us come from an upbringing where we are taught to do this to our juniors. Ask yourself, are we ? Is this that we have come to learn at college, and is this the way we want to spend the days in college ? Getting fooled the first 2 years, and fooling others the next two ? This is worse than ragging. This is worse than corruption. I am not writing this, for people to rise up in revolution against this. It doesn’t work that way. Things cannot be changed so easily. Human nature cannot be changed. I am not writing this to put people are loggerheads with each other. This is just for certain people to introspect and think what they are doing, whether it is morally and ethically right. But again, I don’t know, maybe some people are beyond that, and do not care. But anyway, my message to my juniors is, be vary, be cautious, be smart. There are a lot of people and schemes our there to fuck with you. This is how life is. After college it will probably be worse, so this where you can learn to prepare yourself for that. Learn to tread carefully in a world full of lies, deceit and conceit.
I will still ask, is it necessary to con freshers to gather money to run a society ? Are there no better means ? Isn’t it better to ask for money honestly, by showing balance sheets, and expenditures, than by making people pay for fraudulent things ? Do you really need to earn money by teaching your juniors ? Has inflation or recession hit you that hard ? Can’t we promote a open, co-operative ecosystem, rather than a closed and competitive one ?
The education system is already gone to dogs, but in niches within this system, exist these beautiful ecosystems consisting of students (sometimes teachers too), growing together, interacting with each other and creating awesomeness. Let’s improve them, instead of spoiling them.
And to conclude, as a tribute to one my favourite film closing sequences from Se7en, and originally quoted from Ernst Hemingway, > “DTU is a fine place, and worth fighting for”, I agree with the second part.
** P.S. There could be accusations here, that are vague and general. Painting a broad brush, which is unfair. Things mentioned here do not apply universally for all people, groups, or all situations or circumstances. There are some specific accusations too, that might be unfounded due to certain misinformation I have had, or misinterpretation of certain facts. I apologize for that. The reality might not be as bad as I have painted, because I have focused on the negatives only, but the truth isn’t much far from what I have described as well. I have nothing personal against any person or any decision taken by anyone. Often people are victims of circumstances. I know this article offends more people than it pleases, but trust me, that isn’t the primary objective.**