I would like to start off this article by reminding everyone that this article is not meant to target or criticize anyone. What I am mentioning here is just what I think is wrong with
Techtatva. This is more of a marketing study, a business oriented study. I myself have been involved with techtatva in various capacities from my 1st to 3rd year. I was also the treasurer and a working committee member of IEEE Student Branch Manipal, so I do have experience in organizing student events and fests.
Now each year, in around September or October, MIT witnesses its annual techfest. Now as this is the first of our two fests in an academic year, the other being Revels, most 1st years tend to look forward to it, expecting a unique experience, a chance maybe to witness the technical level of our college.
Techtatva is supposed to be a national level inter college technical fest. This implies that one should see students from various colleges participating. For the past three years, outside participation here has been between 30 to 50. Now if we contrast this with the total participation ( around 2000 would be my guess) , this is just 2.5% of the total participation. Now for a technical fest that has been happening for more than 5 years, this number is pathetic. So what is wrong with the system, what needs to be done differently?
Well for starters, managing a technical fest is no easy task. TechTatva’s working structure can basically be compared to that of an organization which outsources all it’s functioning to smaller organizations and just compiles everything into one giant product. Different categories/events are handled by different clubs. These clubs are tasked with conducting events, which they mostly do very well because the category/event heads for each Techtatva would have been organizers or volunteers at previous editions of the fests and would thus have a fair bit of experience. The same cannot be said of the managers, which is basically the student council. Now these guys work very hard, but the problem is when you manage a fest without having any experience with it, any sort of result would seem to be a success. This is their second fest after Revels, but this is a different beast altogether. Revels has at most 5-6 different cultural clubs working together, TechTatva has 13-15. So the managers basically have to ensure co-ordination, adherence to deadlines, a good level of competition, sponsorship and also outstation participation. This is no easy task, as has been seen year after year. Maybe the next council could be mentored by the current one while organizing techtatva, but then that does not happen.
A side effect of this inexperience is outstation participation. There is no fixed model. Obviously getting people to manipal for technical competitions is going to be difficult, but then it is not impossible. MIT is one of the top 3 engineering colleges in Karnataka, a state with over 30 engineering colleges. Now outstation participation does not mean getting people from only NITK or VIT or BITS-Goa. All these colleges count, participation from here would boost TechTatva’s image. Yet year after year they are ignored. TechTatva is not Engineer(NITK’s techfest). Just sending posters to other colleges will never get you enough participation. Colleges in other parts of india have pre-fest workshops in other smaller colleges around them. This provides publicity and directly influences participation. Yet we never do that.
Another challenge is the budget utilization. I agree that the budget allotment for techtatva is pretty low. But then aren’t the organizers responsible for organizing sponsorship. Also it is important to set a good barometer for success. E.g. for techtatva just considering the total participation as a measure of success is stupid. Events such as the Amazing tech race have no right to be called technical. And with such events having more than 70% of total participation, one really needs to question the purpose and the handling of such a fest.
The guiding principle of every major event is that it should be in everyone’s face, everyone should know that it is happening. Alas, Techtatva organizers decided to ignore this and held the techtatva informals at the college hotspot, KC, before techtatva. So during techtatva KC was empty. Now again I acknowledge that managing a fest is difficult, getting people to notice it is even more difficult, but if you are not up to the task then why take it up. If the organizers tell me that the category heads were on a learning curve as they got such responsibility for the first time, then I think they should just put all their badges into a bonfire because if the technical fest of a technical college is organized on a experimental basis, then nothing can be more shameful.
The bottom line is that the council missed a golden opportunity. With the scope they had, with the timing of the fest, so much more could have been done. I am truly dismayed and disappointed at the level of this year’s fest. I don’t know why TedX did not happen but that was the best part of techtatva last time and it did not happen again, which is again awful. When a group of people get this much scope, this much freedom to organize a fest, they really should do better. But again, it is not their mistake. After all with this much inexperience, they were lucky to get a fest to run for 4 days. So congratulations people, you organized techtatva 2011, a fest that had events across all technical categories and over a 1000 people working on those events. I just wish that that the next time it is done, the organizers actually think about the technical level and how they actually do the events they end up doing.
Again this is just my opinion. I think that thinks could have been better with the resources that were available . Some people might see things differently. But then we live in a free country, don’t we!!!