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‘It is important to understand economics in the Indian context’, says RBI governor

Dr. Duvvuri Subbarao, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, had come to deliver the M.Ct.M. Chidambaram Chettyar Memorial Lecture at the Institute on August 27, 2010. The team from Voices interviewed the Governor on the sidelines of the lecture. Here are the Governor’s thoughts on various issues raised by the Voices’ team of student journalists.

On shifting from Physics to Economics
Governor: Since I was not into research, my shifting from Physics to Economics was not a tectonic shift in the sense you mean. It happened quite organically. After completing my masters in Physics from IIT Kanpur, I joined the civil services in 1972. My postings during the early years in the IAS were mostly in rural areas. During this time, I realized that I would be a more relevant and useful civil servant if I knew a bit of economics and that was the motivation for this ‘shift from physics to economics’ as you put it. Since I had no background in economics, I was not eligible for admission to a masters programme in economics in the Indian system. Therefore, I went to Ohio State University in the US to study economics.

On research interest
Governor: I got my PhD from Andhra University. My dissertation was on ‘Fiscal Reforms at the State Level’. The economic reforms we embarked upon in 1991 were characterized by three big ticket items: (i) dismantling of the industrial licencing regime; (ii) liberalization of the external sector; and (iii) disinvestment from public enterprises. As you will note, these were all macro reforms carried out by the central government. But very soon we realized that these reforms had to be followed up by microlevel reforms, and that required the proactive involvement of the states. My research interest was triggered by the context of what needs to be done at the sub-national level to carry forward the reform effort. My stint as Finance Secretary in Government of Andhra Pradesh for over five years also gave me valuable domain knowledge of fiscal reforms at the cutting edge level.

On why was India relatively unscathed from the recent financial crisis
Governor: There are several reasons why India was relatively unscathed by the recent global crisis. Let me state three important ones. First, our banks did not have significant exposure to the toxic assets and tainted institutions and their off-balance sheet business was limited. Second, our exports are small in relative terms, less than 15% of GDP. So, the impact of the global downturn was muted. Third, the Reserve Bank instituted pre-emptory countercyclical regulatory measures to check the flow of credit to some vulnerable sectors. All these factors helped in insulating India from the worst impacts of the crisis.

On monetary policy being independent from political expectation
Governor: I can answer this question at several levels. First, the Reserve Bank is a public institution and it is only right that everyone has a stake in our policy. The Government too is a stakeholder, and a big one at that. Importantly, what we in the Reserve Bank do to manage inflation has vital implications for the Government. So, political expectations of monetary policy are not only inevitable, but I believe, also not inappropriate. This is true not just for India but for all countries, particularly for democracies. The important thing though is that Government’s expectations should not compromise the independence of monetary policy.

At another level, it is important to understand that there is a nexus between the Government’s fiscal policy and the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy. The size of the Government’s borrowing affects the interest rates in the economy which has a bearing on monetary policy. Vice versa, the Reserve Bank’s decision on policy interest rates affects the interest costs of the government and hence their fiscal position.

Over the years, the Government and the Reserve Bank have established a healthy working relationship. The Reserve Bank consults the Government but the final decision on monetary policy issues is ours and ours alone.

On the role of a central bank in a developed country as compared to one in a developing country

Governor: RBI has a much wider mandate than most other central banks. For example, the Bank of England is a pure inflation targetter; the US Fed has responsibility for inflation and unemployment. In contrast, the Reserve Bank is a full service central bank. In addition to being the monetary authority, the Reserve Bank is the regulator and supervisor of banks, non-bank finance companies and of important segments of the financial markets. We regulate the payment and settlement system and manage the external sector of the economy. We are the debt managers for the central and state governments. The Reserve Bank has historically played an important role in building development institutions in the country. For example, the Reserve Bank started off the UTI, IDBI, NABARD, NHB etc. In that sense, as compared to a developed country, the central bank of a developing country has a larger responsibility for growth and economic development in addition to the standard mandate for price stability and financial stability.

On economic education in the country
Governor: At the outset, I must confess that I am not familiar with the current state of economic education in the country and it will be inappropriate on my part to make any definitive statement. I do have some thoughts though on somethings that we must be focusing on. First, I think it is important to teach and understand economics in the Indian context. Let me elaborate. There are certain textbook concepts which are not relevant for a developing economy. For example, the concept of ‘Ricardian Equivalence’ does not strictly operate in a poor country. Similarly, the problems of monetary transmission we have here are different from those in advanced economies. In studying economics, therefore, we should be looking for the Indian context. Second, I think, economics education should have a greater empirical orientation. In other words, our teachers and students of economics ‘should get their hands dirty’. Third, there should be larger focus on studying the diversity of India’s development experience so as to understand what works, where and why. This is possibly the most efficient way for us to mainstream successful ‘enclave’ experiments.

On communicating the economic policies and decisions to the people
Governor: Central banks are increasingly realizing the importance of communication for improving the effectiveness of their policies. Let me give an example. The Reserve Bank has primary responsibility for managing inflation. But inflation is influenced not only by the supply-demand balance but also by inflation expectations. The Reserve Bank can shape inflation expectations by explaining the rationale for its policy decisions and thereby better deliver its mandate on price stability.

Beyond, monetary policy issues too, the Reserve Bank attaches value to communication. As a public institution, we have an obligation to explain the background and rationale of our policies as a way of rendering accountability.

On being a columnist with Economic Times
Governor: I was not a regular columnist. I used to write occasionally for Economic Times and also for a few other publications on fiscal and external sector issues. It was an intellectually rewarding experience. Reading is one thing, but when one starts writing, one’s understanding of the subject becomes deeper.

[Shyam (Mgmt), Madhurima (Mgmt) and Abraham (Mgmt) interviewed the Governor. Our special thanks to Mr. Susobhan Sinha (Deputy General Manager, RBI), Prof. P. Balaram (Director, IISc), Prof. M.H. Bala Subrahmanya (Chairman, Mgmt) and Ms. V. Thilagam, PRO, IISc]

Psychology, Neuroscience and Research: An Interview with Dr. Shyamala Mani

Dr Shyamala Mani, from the Centre for Neurosciences, here at the Indian Institute of Science, has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Palms).

The award was conferred during a ceremony on June 14 at the Alliance Française de Bangalore. The prestigious award is given by the French Government to individuals, recognizing their distinguished contribution to academia and education. It is one of the oldest and highest civil decorations, dating back to the 1808, when it was created by Napoleon. It was reinstated in 1955. Previous awardees of the Palmes Academiques include Dr Goverdhan Mehta, IISc; Prof CNR Rao, JNCASR; Dr KJ Rao, IISc; and Dr KJ Mahale, Karnataka University.

The Consul General of France, Dominique Causse will confer the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Acadèmiques on Dr Shyamala Mani for her significant contributions to neurosciences, in particular her work under the ICMR-Inserm collaboration and the International Associated Laboratory ‘Protect’ (DBT-Inserm) on neonatal lesions and the influence of malnutrition on the development of the foetal brain. Dr. Mani has a grant from the French Governement and has been collaborating with them since 2004.

1. You’ve recently been conferred the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Palms) by the French Government.  Congratulations.  How do you feel about it?

It was an honour, it was nice…. different from your normal award. It was nice to be able to prepare for a public talk; to be able to communicate to non-scientific people and the general public. I had to think about how I could make it interesting to people who had no background in the field; you can’t show them your gels or immunos!

It was nice to get out of the normal routine for a while. I really enjoyed it. I had a wonderful time.  It feels good that this award was given for the contribution to French education and culture.

2. You’ve done your MS in Clinical Psychology and have later moved on to studying neurogenesis.  What inspired you to work in this area?

I was very interested in psychology. I did my BA in psychology from Delhi University and then Masters in Clinical Psychology from Marquette University. I really enjoyed it. But I think, at some point, I felt I wanted something more concrete. Psychology was, I felt, more abstract and prone to interpretation. Maybe I wanted something where I could clearly say whether a particular thing’s there or not there (viz… a band on a gel), as opposed to trying to infer someone’s thinking or reasoning. I wanted something more quantitative, something more tangible; something that I could actually see.

It was a very logical reasoning. I was always interested in the functional brain. I remember clearly thinking that unless I have a handle on what the brain is about, I’m not going to be able to understand why certain people behave the way they do; what abnormal behaviour is and what cognitive and psychological illnesses [really] are.

Now it’s possible to do clinical psychology and try to understand trends alone, but at that age I didn’t see it that way. I wanted to do something more basic. I was doing my PhD in psychology in Upstate Medical University.  I left it mid-way, went back and took all the basic biology courses.

3. How was your experience in the transition?

At that point it was fantastic; I was really excited. But nowadays, I sometimes feel a tinge of regret. There was some joy – a different kind of intellectual excitement – in trying to understand behaviour. It’s different from trying to understand how the brain works. I do miss that. It would have been nice if at some point, when I was doing my PhD, I could have tried to integrate the two. A synthesis might have been possible.  But I am so deep in what I am doing now that I cannot see myself changing fields right now.

4. In the present day scenario, how do you perceive the contribution of women in research?

I’ve never thought of it in that compartmentalized way. I think a lot of women scientists are doing great research – their contribution is as much as that of men. In fact, there is more pressure on men to make a quick buck because they have to be the bread winners, but women can take up careers like science and contribute because society doesn’t thrust upon women the role of the main bread winner. Women will contribute more due to this but there are other pressures on them. Women are seen as the center of the family; as the one who upholds it. It’s a huge challenge for women. In the case of men, if you raise the bar so that they earn as much as in some other field, many will come into pure sciences. But in the case of women, the pressure is more subtle and therefore, more difficult to solve. If we could take care of these pressures on women, they could achieve more.

But I must add that this is a very general outlook.  Different people might face different pressures, so this view is true in a very general sense.  One has to, at some point, sometimes generalize.

But then again 26:30, it is improper to build a “menu” in science that only certain women are capable of succeeding in science.  One cannot select for a certain set of “phenotypes” and leave the rest out because you never know which “phenotype” you really need to solve the big problems in science.

5. Do you think there is sufficient dialogue between practicing doctors and researchers in medicine?

No. We need to establish that kind of dialogue. We have specific problems in India that need to be overcome for that to happen. Firstly, MD-PhD programmes don’t exist at any level here. And we have fundamental problems of rural health care. There aren’t enough people to treat the sick and the patient numbers are so high. Doctors get so involved in treating – what matters to them is ‘How many lives have I saved today?’. They are used to a different way of thinking. For them, it is instant gratification – do an operation and a life’s better. For a doctor to understand science, where it doesn’t happen that way, he has to understand how things work in this field. He can’t ask me, “How long have you been working on stem cells? Can we give them to patients? No? Then what’s the point?” The two outlooks need to find some common ground, but I do agree that we need to have some kind of a dialogue.

6. Do you believe that companies can play a role in helping to have an increased dialogue between the two, doctors and researchers?

Sure, I think companies could play a role, but we have to be a little careful.  Because, a company is by nature for profit.  And so, we can bring companies in only when we kind of stabilize to a certain extent in our [respective] fields.  If we bring too many things in too early, and research becomes driven by profit or [becomes] competitive in a different kind of way, then we might miss asking the really difficult questions that might seem very long term, very boring at this point, seeming to have no applications, but I think, this is the point when you need to ask the difficult questions that might give you the real answers.

So there is a danger in getting practical too fast.  So maybe we need to hold off initially until we figure out for ourselves what we do think are the things to think about and then brainstorm and see whether it makes sense.  But, if you don’t do that exercise, then you’re in the danger  But the huge part of it is that one doesn’t want to get them in too early.

I am all for getting the doctors in as soon as possible, if that is the case, because they provide a valuable perspective to the way one has been thinking about the field. That’s a different issue.  You don’t want to make things too complicated or think to apply too fast.  The initial stages are best driven purely by academic interests.

7. In what ways does your research improve the quality of life of patients?

The effect is not direct. My research provides some of the keys to understand the development of the human brain.

If you wish to use a particular therapy, for instance stem cell therapy, you need to understand the fundamental biology of stem cells. You might be doing a therapy that is not optimal or counter-productive because you don’t understand the biology behind it. Or if you wish to understand diseases that may have developmental origins, understanding brain development is, I think, really important to understanding disease.

So I’d say yes, I think that the kind of work that we do is important in understanding, but if [you ask whether] it will directly impinge on the patient, maybe not.

8. What, in your opinion, are the thrust areas in neuroscience?

The thrust area in neuroscience is to understand how we experience the outside world, the way we experience it, the quality of our experience. At one level you have electrochemical signaling going on in the networks in the brain. At another level, you have the experience of living and the relationship between the two is not clear. I think to understand this relationship is the frontier, the cutting edge of neuroscience. For example, when you see red, your experience is not a wavelength, it’s the quality of red. We understand how the ganglion cells in the brain code for different colours but we don’t understand what happens beyond that.

There are other challenges in development. Like how genes specify shape – be it the shape of an embryo or a single neuron. We don’t understand the translation of genes to morphology or patterning.

9. Your views on standards of brain research in India/IISc as compared to those abroad..

We have had stronger traditions in theoretical subjects in India, and Biology, requiring a lot of infrastructure, has come in a little later.  And so Biology is a young field, but in  Biology, neuroscience is a fledgling fieldunlike Chemistry or Physics or Mathematics. IISc being 100 years old has just started its neuroscience department! There were people doing it before too but it’s not an old tradition. All neuroscientists in India could be found in a University or maybe a cluster of universities in India. Maybe Chicago has more neuroscientists than all of India put together!  Right now we’re at a stage where we need to build the discipline of neuroscience and figure out what the important questions are that we need to address, and what kind of direction we need to take.  It would really be fantastic even if, in the next 10 years or so, if somebody wants to do Neuroscience in India, it’s not necessary for him/her to think that there is no option in India and he/she has to go abroad. And any branch of neuroscience that someone wants to work on, he/she can do so right here.

When you train enough people, automatically the system builds up; but if you pressurize the system into a competitive mode in the beginning itself, you’ll miss the boat and just end up doing me-too research. We should be careful about how we nurture and build the field.

10. Your vision for the future of the department

My vision would be a group of neuroscientists who are working on all aspects of neuroscience – trying to understand cognition, neural networks, diseases etc. That if somehow, all of us work in a co-ordinated fashion, we could address common problems and really make a contribution to the field of neuroscience. I think that’s possible in a place like this.

A place like this is a great opportunity for people to come together – people with different points of view looking at the same point and people from other fields like Mathematics, Physics and Engineering- to come up with innovative ideas. Also, it would be good to work with people from other areas of biology. At the end of the day, a neuron is a cell too, maybe a specialized cell but it’s still a cell. You never know where the real insights would come from. If you really do your own thing, it’s not going to happen. You need to chat with people who think in a completely different way; you need to be able to look beyond.

That’s my vision – to really do something different.

11. Your message to students, on pursuing a career in research and to students who wish to work in areas of neuroscience…

I think, in Science you just have to have a passion for it – you either really want to do science or you don’t. If you don’t want to do science, it’s ok. I’d say if a student is really interested in science, he’d not give up his dream and get pressurized into doing something else because that was expected. If you’ve a passion for science, keep at it.

If you don’t have passion for science, don’t do it as a career; it won’t work. At the end of the day, you won’t feel happy.

I am more worried about the former. Many students who’re really passionate about science leave science, either for lack of information or due to pressures. I’d say if you love science, just go ahead and somehow make it true.

To me (this is biased), studying anything about the brain is so exciting. If a student is interested in any aspect of the brain, there are now many places in India where you could get a good education in neuroscience, or a PhD in neurosciences.

Interviewed by Bhavana Sekhar (ECE), Smrithi Murthy (MRDG) and K. Vijayanth Reddy (ECE)

SC elections 2010 – Voices’ interview with the candidates

Voices conducted interviews via e-mail with the candidates standing for the SC elections 2010.

The following are their replies. Please note that the questionnaires were sent out prior to receipt of the candidates’ manifestos.

Deepak also had this to say :

“The fact that Voices interview questions have not changed, over the last one year, should already have sent some signal about my answers. Any change in the answers to the same set of questions is tantamount to acknowledging that something has changed. Since I strongly believe things have remained the same as they were one year back, my reply to most of the questions also remains the same.”

The questions we asked and the replies we received are as follow :

How would you define the role of the SC?

Srinidhi : To me, the role of the SC is to be an active representative body adept at addressing students’ concerns by optimizing on time and effort constraints.

Deepak : Jai Karnataka.
The SC is like the midwife who takes care of the mother (student) during the most crucial time of labor to successfully deliver the baby

Rishikesh : I think it must act as a bridge between student community and administrative body. Better communication between student representatives, faculties, staff and administration can resolve several problems which are trivial in nature but wide spread. An institute is meant for her students, therefore their needs and inconveniences must be represented by a student body, that’s what I feel is the major role of the student council.

Suman : The SC, as an elected body, will be responsible for listening to all the issues student’s face during their term in the institute and following them up with the concerned authority till they are resolved. It will play an active role wherever necessary. Also, and not less importantly, it will consider the aspirations of the student community and work to address them within its capacity. In all the above processes the SC will be fully accountable to the student community.

Everyone in the institute has a lot of work to do. The student council job will entail greater responsibilities. Why then are you choosing to take on greater tasks? In other words, what is your personal motivation for Standing for elections?

Srinidhi : Greater responsibilities unleash inherent potential. I believe I have the potential to attend a multitude of responsibilities. We know issues are plenty!

Deepak : Padmabhooshana Dada saheb phalke award winner Dr. Raj says “Sky has no limit, needs are infinite,why do you pipe-dream, take it easy take it easy”
Hair today, gone tomorrow.
Time is the only inexhaustible resource. With time everything changes and I want to be the change that I want to see in the actions of the SC.

Rishikesh : I agree that everybody is busy with work but surely students have problems too. If everyone will look at administration to solve their problem without conveying anything to them, then it is unreasonable to expect that student problems will be solved in a reasonable time. Every year several students come forward to take the responsibility so that the dialogue is maintained and institute runs smoothly. Every IIScian expects good research environment with basic and sufficient student amenities. In case if students will neglect their responsibility and everybody will depend on others to bring about the changes, then the students will be the ultimate sufferers. Even the alumni association is trying to contribute for its alma mater then how can we sit and watch that admin should come forward to take steps in favour of us. It is the sense of belongingness and responsibility that has motivated me to stand for the election.

Suman : Responsibilities motivate me. Being responsible, first at the individual level and then at the collective level as a representative motivates me. In such a position I wish to serve the student community beyond my normal working hours, whenever required.

Issues in the past have been of two kinds – long-standing, recurring ones (like hot water problem in hostels; lack of water for basic use) and new ones which come up and are quickly solved (like scholarship hike). If you had to choose one of these, which would be your priority?

Srinidhi : It is unfortunate that most of the long-standing problems are related to basic needs (water problems). I view scholarship under the same category. Many scholars are married and a few have children, with stipend being the main source of income. Both cannot be neglected and will be given equal priority.

Deepak : No peccadillo is trivial”…In the same way issues do not come in different sizes like small, medium and large. All the issues are extra large and have to be dealt with the same effectiveness and willingness to resolve.

Rishikesh : Basically, it will depend on the urgency and seriousness of the problem. In my view, priority will be given to the issues which are the main concerns of the students and affect day to day research in the campus. In resolving these issues we will not bank only on the few members of the student council but will try to form volunteer groups which could take up different tasks and deal them effectively. This will improve efficiency and students will participate in resolving their own problems as a team, collective efforts can bring lot of differences.

Suman : The criteria for such a decision should be those that immediately affect our performance as students and then only the rest. In this sense basic amenities will be my priority. As said, seriousness of the issue is not a constant in time, I will respond accordingly within my capacity. It will be challenging to focus on important and overlapping issues.

Do you plan to bring in a new work-culture, different from the existing SC’s, which will let you work more effectively? If yes, how would it be different?

Srinidhi : Demanding incentives for those who publish in top journals. Demanding effective allocation of HRA for those scholars opting to live outside the campus. Ensuring cross-departmental interactions in an informal set-up.

Deepak : I believe in collective participation of the student community for a smooth and meaningful functioning of SC. I would like the student community to shed their lackadaisical “been there and done that” attitude after the elections, but want them to actively take part in locating, brainstorming and resolving all problems faced by their fellow colleagues.
Justice to all and favour to none.

Rishikesh : Yes, we would like to slightly modify the work-culture of the existing council so that it could be more efficient and accessible to students. Presently I feel that council’s activities do not reach out to the students as we would like it to be. Two major ideas that I personally feel would connect students with their own council in a better way would be (1) the use of common platform like broadcast to provide information about working of the council and initiating discussions on major issues (2) students could send their suggestions and complaints to the council through the mail or could drop letters in mail box outside the council office. Increased student participation in council’s activities will help council to take decisions which will reflect consent of the majority.

Suman : Yes, for the interest of the whole student community, integrating various independent student efforts under our common identity is necessary. We should emphasize on having a single voice, an effective unison. This takes it much farther.

What, in your view, is the one thing that separates you from the other candidates? In other words, what is your Unique Selling Point?

Srinidhi : Every one is unique in their own way. I am specialized in administration and management and have been through very!

Deepak : a. I myself being a victim of the faulty system, I have a better understanding of where the problem lies and how to attack it.
b. One more USP is MUSIC, MUSIC and more MUSIC…..aaaaaaa….aaaaaa…

Rishikesh : My experiences as volunteer in centenary conference, TMC science quiz, Science and technology run, help the needy drive have provided me some great opportunities to learn and serve my parent institute. Even before joining IISc I was actively involved in various group activities. I hope those organizational and managerial skills, commitment and desire to serve will help me be a better SC chairman.

Suman : My inter-disciplinary interests coupled with a working background in a multi-disciplinary field like ‘Design’ have enabled me understand the benefits of considering issues both at the generic and specific level as demanded by the situation’s worth. In my view this skill is essential for problem solving and is not common.

The SC is accountable to the student community. How will you ensure accountability at the administrative end?

Srinidhi : Everyone will be encouraged to participate while taking administrative decisions. Transparency is the key for successful administration. I believe in this principle!

Deepak : The SC has been accountable to the student community (theoretically). Administration has been accountable to student community (theoretically). If the students have an indomitable determination to enliven this theoretical link and make it work in flesh and blood, this question does not arise at all.
Ravi Belegere says ” Never do somebody else’s work”…

Rishikesh : As I mentioned earlier, accountability and transparency will be instituted by making forum for discussion (via emails) on any of the council’s activities and decisions. Students aspirations will be translated to authorities and their decisions will be communicated and discussed with the student community at large.

Suman : I will ensure that the decisions and actions of the SC are made available to the students and would encourage them to be constructive critics on all issues the SC presides on.

What strategy would you employ to present students’ problems to the Administration?

Srinidhi : Making everyone understand that SC is ‘by’ the students, ‘of’ the students, and ‘for’ the students. Many droplets form an ocean. There always exists a solution in unity. My focus would be to unite the student community in taking the problems to the administration.

Deepak : Convince, cajole, confuse and conquer

Rishikesh : Firstly, we will try to convey our problems in a decent manner and wait for the reply in a given reasonable time. If still the administration does not respond we will send stern reminders. As a last alternative, if administration turns out to be completely inert we will urge student community to stand united and demonstrate their strength as has been done in past.

Suman : I believe presenting fact-based precise statements is a good way to approach, though it may not be feasible in all cases.

On what basis would you prioritize students’ problems to help solve them faster?

Srinidhi : We will follow the Maslow prioritization.

Deepak : Dr. Raj says ” If you come today, its too early. If you come tomorrow, its too late. You pick the time…tick tick tick tick….”
Please refer the answer to question number 3.
(I hope I am not taking a psychometric test:)…)

Rishikesh : As I mentioned earlier, priorities will be given to the issues that affect day to day research of the students. Priorities will be purely based on the number students being affected by a particular problem and the urgency of the problem. Decisions will be based on what needs to be dealt today and for what we can wait until tomorrow. For these kinds of situations only, I press on the need of student volunteers, those who can work in favour of student community.

Suman : The basis for such a decision should be those that immediately affect our performance as students and then only the rest.

What, in your view, are the biggest achievements and failures of the outgoing SC? What do you think were their greatest strengths?

Srinidhi : It is the strenuous efforts of the past SC that has made me contest this election. They are following a road map and we will elevate it to the next level.

Deepak : Biggest achievement- Attempting to organize a memorable Miditha…
Biggest Failure-  Organizing an unforgettable Miditha..:)…
Greatest strength- Student community
Vande Mataram

Rishikesh : Biggest achievements in the credit of outgoing SC are resolving hot water problem in the new block, fees waiver for sixth year students, organization of IISc fest after a long gap. The biggest failures were the lack of communication between SC and students at large. This point has been central since I am in the institute but still most of the students remain unaware what’s happening in the council. Most of the decisions by the council did not involve consensus of majority of the students. Since long, students have been demanding for one more cycle repair shop but this demand has not been met with yet. Everybody is aware of the Tea board issue, which remains unsolved even to this day. Though bicycle drive was an appreciable initiative but once it failed there was no effort to revive it after learning from the past experience.

Suman : Organizing Miditha is no normal thing though its content is arguable. Given the student turn-out right from their election till now, their level of motivation and functioning is an achievement.

Interview with the Presiding Officer, SC Elections 2010 – Prof. Anjali Karande

1.What are the election guidelines for the candidates?

  • The candidate should be a bona-fide student of the Institute.
  • They should be really involved with the student community.

2.As per the campaign rules, the candidates cannot campaign post 6pm. How do they reach the day scholars in such a case?

  • The soapbox is the occasion when the candidates can interact with the day scholars.

3.This year we have students contesting who are at the verge of submitting their thesis; almost finishing PhD. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Though we do not have a rule stating that students nearing the completion of their tenure cannot stand for elections, I feel this is problematic. The reason being that once the student gives defence, they cease to be a student of the institute and they may leave in between their tenure as a student representative. In a case like this, the student has to understand the priorities and take a decision.

4.What is the role of the outgoing SC in the elections?

  • The outgoing SC will inform the incoming SC about the rules and regulations pertaining to the SC.
  • This time, we also plan to have overlap tenure, when the old team will work with the new team for sometime. This is to ensure a smooth transition for all student activities.

5.What have been the achievements and the shortcomings of the outgoing SC team?

  • Fortunately, there have been no failures.
  • I have to admit that comparing with the year before, this year has been extremely productive, with the Chairman and the General Secretary being unbelievably responsible. They have really reached out to people and addressed several complaints of the students successfully. They have managed to get a fest going after many years, despite various difficulties.

6.What is your view on the use of language and community support to get votes, in short the language politics?

  • I hate regionalism/ language politics. I cannot identify with this but I do not know how to change this. I feel it should not percolate to this level.

7.What is your message to the Incoming SC?

  • Please take your roles very seriously and enjoy the roles.