This is an anonymous opinion voiced by a concerned student. It revolves around the decision of the committee to confer the Institute Blues award, the highest honour for sportsmen of the graduating batch. Comments by the General Secretary, Games and Sports Council of 2013-14 and 2014-15 follow up the opinion piece. This year, Aditya Ranade, who has brought laurels to the institute in Tennis, has been rewarded with the honour. The author argues that two other deserving players have been left out. The views conveyed in the article are solely of the author. The opinion section of Vox Populi provides a platform for the campus junta to voice their opinions.
IIT Kanpur has had a memorable run in the past two Inter-IIT Sports meets. While we had a watershed moment in the 49th meet hosted by IIT Guwahati where we won the General Championship for the first time ever, we strengthened our dominance by retaining it in the 50th meet hosted at IIT Bombay. This has been possible only because of the unwavering dedication of our athletes not only in the past two editions, but also in the earlier meets. They came together not only as a team in the sport they played but also as an contingent to orchestrate and lift the cherished GC crown. Momentum was built over several editions, countless cramps were braved and performances were synchronised to peak at the perfect moments. It was not just the sweat but also the tenacious mental make-up exhibited by our athletes that brought us glory.
And thus it saddens and shocks me immensely at the kind of recognition (or lack of it) the SPEC (Sports & Physical Education Committee) has decided to confer upon some of the superstar performers of the graduating batch. For the people unfamiliar with the process, institute organises a felicitation ceremony every year in recognition of the performances and spirit of all sporting teams. Exemplary athletes of the graduating batch, who have wowed everyone with their performance and commitment to sporting culture are awarded with ‘Institue Blues’ – an award of topmost prestige. And two such performers of the outgoing batch are refused this recognition on extremely vague and insensible grounds during the felicitation scheduled on 28th March. Here lies the core of my resentment.
I won’t shy away from taking names. Parth Tripathi from Aquatics and Rai Singh Meena from Athletics are players with performance personified. Both of them have led their teams from the front and have been representing our institute right from early years of their stay in campus. Both of them have a count of Inter-IIT medals in double digits individually. And to put a cherry on the top, both these players have Inter-IIT records in their name. They have continued and cultivated a culture of high standards in their respective teams which neither the existing members or the sporting alumni can question. Refusing them Institute Blues is a slap of insult on their contribution and dedication. I would also like to mention the cases of Devanshu Arya from Cricket and Ankur Singh from Hockey. Devanshu has been a key player of our team for the past four years and has single-handedly turned matches in our favour on innumerable occasions. Similarly, Ankur has been a regular at Inter-IITs right from his first year. He has played 5 Inter-IITs and has been an indispensable part of the team. Both these stars have been denied ‘Best Outgoing Sportsman’ award and have been clubbed with players with just a single Inter-IIT to their name 3 years back in the ‘Special Appreciation’ category. This is shameful and despairing.
I feel outgoing Games & Sports Council General Secretary Chirag Agarwal could have avoided this fiasco. To begin with, Chirag was very adamant on capping the number of Institute Blues awards. I feel this is quite ridiculous and the number of Institute Blues awarded in a particular year should only be determined by the quality of performers in the out-going batch. This has been the tradition and legacy associated with the award right since its inception. Denying Institute Blues to a Parth Tripathi does nothing but dilutes its prestige. His arguments regarding capping the number of awards revolves around the discontent expressed by alumni last year and committee decision following the incident. But I want to take this medium to remind him that alumni weren’t unhappy about the number of Institute Blues conferred. Rather it was about a very specific candidate who was conferred the award. And there exists no written record to cross-check his claim of committee decision. Another error from Chirag’s end has been a visible discord between what he has been communicating to students and the SPEC. While he has been extremely vocal supporting Parth’s nomination for Institute Blues publicly, it is surprising he didn’t resist SPEC decision with matching vigour. Given the structure of institutions, his position does hold influence in SPEC which finalises the awardees. His office has a crucial role in conveying and convincing the SPEC members to formalise the candidature of nominations forwarded by the student body. This is because unfortunately, as things stand, SPEC consists of several members who have negligible interaction with the sporting contingent. They have little idea about time, energy and focus that the contingent puts in. And they don’t even visit Inter-IIT tourneys. And going by the outcome, it seems Chirag has failed to do his job thoroughly in the SPEC meeting. I could only conclude that there is an encyclopedic gap between his genuine intentions and actual actions.
Majority of students that join a team do not have sports background. They pursue sports with sincerity and dedication and seeing their seniors get their due recognition is an immense motivation booster. Ignoring someone who are idols in their respective teams based on their performance, conduct and looked up by teammates for motivation and guidance, will set a bad precedence. It’s flawed to consider that someone who isn’t a part of the council is devoid of any leadership skill (another arbitrary reason provided by SPEC on rejection of Parth and Rai Singh) and hasn’t in anyway contributed to the contingent.
This rant is not to just bring attention to the injustice meted out to some of our celebrated athletes. This is about preserving the sporting culture. A culture that existing contingent as well as our alumni strived hard to develop and imbibe in the campus. And this move, at a time when we have won back-to-back GCs, will suffocate and nip this culture in the bud.
In order to maintain the prestige of the Institute Blues award an ex-captain (not the author) feels that –
- The criteria/yardstick for Institute Blues should be quantifiable rather than subjective.
- The process should not only be transparent and fair but also look fair to garner faith of students/onlookers.
- Yardsticks for deciding the Institute Blues should be pre-decided and consistent with previous years rather than flexible and perception based.
As a mark of protest, Aquatics and Athletics teams had already boycotted the Captains’ Handover ceremony. In response, only an informal meeting was organised by the administration. They are trying to trivialise a serious situation.
Aquatics team have decided to boycott Sports Felicitation Ceremony as well.
Samarth Bansal from Vox Populi spoke to Chirag Agarwal, outgoing General Secretary, Games and Sports Council and Anant Mundra, who served as the same during 2013-14. Here is what they had to say:
Chirag feels that the Institute Blues award should be given to at most two students. According to him, increasing the number will just dilute the prestige and value associated with the award. Chirag conveyed that last year, when four awards were given out, it was on the condition that next year, the number will be restricted to two. (The above statement can’t be verified though, as it was not minuted). As a General Secretary, he says that there is just so much he can do, and the final result is not his own dictat, but a decision made by the committee. He agrees that Parth Tripathi should have been a recipient owing to his exceptional performance and he tried his level best for the same.
This is what Anant had to say – “There is no cap on the number of Institute Blues awards being given out. But it being the most prestigious award, there has been a trend that it is generally given to 1-2 people. But whoever is deserving, should be given the award. It can exceed 2 because the performance of the contingent has improved over the recent years and there are bound to be more star players than before. So now the conflict of interest lies here that the prestige of the award should not reduce over the coming years. Students gymkhana works a lot on precedent. Now if this year they give 3-4 institute blues then next years even if we perform bad, they will make it a trend to give 3-4 Institute Blues. So basically the prestige of the award and its exclusivity should not reduce over the years which has happened with the awards which are given apart from institute blues.”
The Vox Populi team would like to direct the attention of our readers to the fact that prime responsibility of deciding the awards lies with the SPEC Chairman, as SPEC is the deciding committee. The General Secretary acts as a student representative in the committee, and puts forwards the recommendation made by students. As students, we have all the rights to question the administration, if the students are suffering due to their work. We plan to speak to the SPEC Chairman in the next few days, and will update everyone accordingly.
Given the importance of the issue in context of the sporting culture of campus, we invite thoughts from the junta. We encourage you to post your comments in the discussion thread or write to us at [email protected]