Institute of Eminence: Why is the intention missing?

In wake of the protest from the last few days, Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur presents to you a detailed analysis of all the shortcomings of the administration, and evidence and most importantly- guidelines for students from sister IITs and some other institutes calling back their students.

Director IIT Kharagpur had an open house with first-year undergraduate students on 31st January 2021. This open house was conducted to address various issues faced by them. It was mentioned by the director and conveyed by Vice President, Technology Students’ Gymkhana (linked here) that all the students including Y20 freshers will be called back to campus latest by 10th August.

Later, on 27th February 2021, a post was released by VP (linked here) mentioning that the administration will try to bring back all the students latest by October 2021. This led the student community to question the administration and the plan which is being formulated to call the students back to campus.

It is to be noted that there has been no official communication of the director with the students. In a recent interview with VP, a major concern raised by VP was the lack of proper communication from the administration towards the student body. On being asked about the administration’s response towards the mails and queries as put forward by the student representative body, it was quite disappointing to hear that there were multiple times when emails were ignored or no satisfactory response was given.

On 15 March, the students of IIT Kharagpur staged a mass protest by boycotting the classes, with the aim to have clarity about campus reopening- its procedure, feasibility, and timeline.

In the evening came the Director’s post, which did not directly mention the protests but seemed to be an attempt to instil confidence among the students that the institute is working in this direction. Proper details and issues faced by the students were missing in the post. The post seemed sugar-coated with the positive initiatives taken by the institute during the pandemic while the issues raised by the students weren’t given light. Major shortcomings of the post have been mentioned below. A major highlight being calling 50–60% of the students by July 2021. Neither did the post have any clear plan, nor was it followed by any official notice, from the Director’s Office. One wonders if the Director’s Facebook post has any accountability.

Then came an alarming message by the VP (officiating), TSG. Unlike the Director’s post, it was backed by an official resolution passed by the senate. It mentioned how the Administration is divorced from the Senate, and there is barely any communication from the administration side even after multiple follow-ups by the Senate. The resolution goes on to warn the Administration in case the problem persisted. The Senate may contact the Ministry of Education, or even take legal measures if deemed necessary if such situation still persists.

Also, the proposal which was posted by VP on 27th February 2021 has not been addressed yet by the Director officially.

Both Awaaz and the Senate are persuading the Director to conduct an Open house as soon as possible and to answer the queries faced by students. Students have demanded a complete plan of action as to how the administration plans to call the students in a phased manner.

There were many shortcomings in the post released by the Director. One of the major issues raised by students was why is everything being conveyed to students via Facebook page and why has there been no official communication at the administration’s end. This has led the students to question if the administration actually has any plan ready or not? Another major concern raised by students is if the administration has a plan why is the plan not being communicated with the students?

Another point mentioned in the post was that special arrangements were made to send back students after Unlock 1.0. This claim made by the Director seems to convey false information as special arrangements were made only for the students living close to campus. Initially on the Administrative notification no. 27/ 2020 Dated March 22, 2020, the administration had stated that no students will be forced to vacate the campus and they can stay on the campus as long as they wish to. Despite this, the students living in states with high corona cases were forced to move out of their halls in June 2020.

He has stated that evaluation methods were developed to access the progress of the students. We would like to mention that even though this point was raised several times during the Autumn Semester 2020- 2021 there were no steps taken by the administration to improve the evaluation methods. In the article Making Spring 2021 a better online semester Prof. Jeevanjyoti Chakraborty (Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department), Prof. Siddharth Sen (Professor, Electrical Engineering Department), and Prof. Mira Mitra (Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering Department) raised several concerns related to the current mode of evaluation still not many concrete steps were taken by the administration for the specific problems raised in the linked article. There has been hardly any structural change in the way of conducting the Spring Semester as compared to the previous one.

The Director has also pointed out some fun activities that were conducted to boost the morale of the students like online SF and online KTJ. But, no holiday was given by the Institute to attend these events. In fact, many students had online classes and/or tests on the said days when the fests were conducted.

It has also been mentioned by the Director that he “plans” to call 50–60% of students back on campus by July. But, without a proper plan of action and without any official communication by the administration students are finding this statement hard to believe.

Awaaz reinforces that in any decision by the Institute taken where the students are a stakeholder, the students have to be involved actively in the process; and condemns this lack of communication from the administration side.

Other colleges calling their students

It has been seen that some of the prominent institutes across the country like IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur, etc, are resuming and the return was voluntary. The necessary protocols and safety measures were followed efficiently. In many of these Institutes, mainly pre-final and final year students were called back to finish their remaining labs and projects. This decision helped the students who had a lack of resources back in their hometown. You can check the status of some of the government institutes in the pictures attached.

One thing to be noted here is that the cities like Mumbai and Delhi have cases much higher as compared to Kharagpur and still the administration has called back resource-constrained UG and research scholars.

Also, the population of cities like Kanpur, Mumbai, Delhi is much higher than Kharagpur yet the other administrations had devised a plan to bring back students to the campus.

PS: We used only official mails or documents sent to students from other colleges for this information.

The reason mentioned by the director for delaying the calling of students was that they are following a cautious approach in particular due to the limitations in clinical facilities in the region, and the nearest facilities being in Kolkata which would take about 3 hours to reach.

We want to ask the administration that even in the one year period why has the administration not spent on medical infrastructure. Another point to be noted is that IIT Kharagpur has a multispeciality hospital now which is also perfectly isolated from the rest of the campus. So, we would like to ask the administration why are medical facilities within the campus not improved despite being the only IIT to have a multi-speciality hospital.

For detailed guidelines for students returning to different institutes, visit the links given here:

IIT Kanpur:

IIT Roorkee:

IIT Bombay:

Awaaz, IIT Kharagpur stands in solidarity with the senate and the students to gain back the lost peace of IIT Kharagpur.