Not everything’s fine in Bawanaland . . .

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.


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.