Protest at PESIT – an account

Today, I witnessed something that was shocking, surprising, ruthless, emotional – all at once in college. A second year EC student committed suicide in his hostel room by hanging himself and without leaving behind a note. I got the news at around 9am while looking out of the classroom window where a huge crowd had gathered outside the boys hostel which is right next to our building. The classes still continued, with many rumors floating around. We had lab internals at 10am which was disrupted when a teacher walked in to announce that the day was called off due to the sad demise of this student. We were asked to leave the campus immediately. As I waked towards the main gate with my friend and the rest of the college crowd, we realized that the gates were locked and saw a big group of students shouting / protesting against the institute management (especially against the hostel warden). We didn’t know the real story yet and watched a bigger crowd gather near the main building and gates. Press and media had already arrived at the scene – students didn’t allow them inside the campus so they climbed the magnum gate and took videos. Cops came soon in jeeps and vans. Students continued to shout slogans against the hostel warden and the principal. I couldn’t fathom what the actual cause of the protest was – as some people shouted against the college rules while some were against the hostel warden. There were many mixed up issues about the whole situation. By this time, the crowed moved towards the main building along with the director as he struggled to walk through the crowd with the police without being pushed or pulled. Some unruly students then threw stones at the glass building and broke principal’s office. They were immediately made to stop acting this way by other students who went and calmed them down.

We moved towards the cricket field (due to larger area that could occupy everyone) to discuss the issue with the management. Agitated students gathered at the field to listen to what the director had to say. In between shouting and all the chaos – I gathered that an unofficial student union was being formed to discuss the issue with them – as 500 people can’t do it all together. A couple of students who had spoken aloud before – formed a group and would represent the student body. To calm us all down, the DCP took in charge and spoke up loudly. We obliged to her and sat on the field. First – the cops and media were asked to leave as it was now more of a student vs management issue. We told our problems to the reps. Some of which were:

  • 5 marks for attendance to be removed.
  • We should have 3 internals (best of 3) instead of the currently existing compulsory 2 internals. Follow the VTU system.
  • The minimum marks for semester end exam writing eligibility criteria makes no sense in the GPA system. It was asked to be removed.
  • Councilors and doctors to be in the college premises on most days. We have no medical center as well.
  • Support extra curricular activities. Not treat students as prisoners.

While these were some academic demands, there were many demands for the victim’s family as well – college should compensate for travel of his parents, cremation. Warden’s apology for his mishandling of the situation and letting in media barge to film the student – while he was still hanging from the ceiling. Apology for the late arrival of the ambulance which arrived 3 hours late. The principal also clarified that he had not given any statement to the media yet, and everything that was telecasted was based on assumptions.

The director listened to every point and agreed on most changes. (Some illogical demands came up too – which I have not mentioned and don’t think are necessary). I think the principal and the director handled the situation well, and took a stride to support the students. By this time, both the management and students were on terms. The student union announced a candlelight march in the memory of the victim. It was extremely intriguing to see such a huge crowd turn up for it in the evening (more than the number of people who were protesting). We lit candles – the teachers and the principal guided us through the campus starting from the boys hostel. It is the largest crowd I’ve seen in my campus – more than during the cultural fest times. It was something that I’d never though I’d witness in (my) college. It was an emotional and a proud moment.

My take – since the boy left no note, the blame game has started. Yes, the pressure is unbearable sometimes. Too many tests, reports, assignment submission along with project work takes a toll on us. But is suicide the last option? Certainly not. Many have survived this system (and even tougher ones) and passed through it successfully – with happy and depressing memories. Some rules can be removed or tweaked, but this kind of situation should never be taken advantage of. Some students protested today without sticking on to the actual cause and drifted towards irrelevant and illogical demands. Yes, this is probably  a good opportunity to make the management listen to us and bring reforms, but not at the cost of unruly behavior and breaking college property. But in the end, I think the students showed some great character by listening to the authorities and calming down. When this happened, the whole atmosphere changed and provided an opportunity to carry out talks and stop the chaos. One thing that sickened me was watching the video of the boy hanging being shown on television channels and media coming up with random cooked up reasons to justify it. Read more about how the media reported the issue here.

Amongst all this, we are just lost in between deciding what is right and what is wrong.

the importance of being alone

Today, I walked back home from college all alone, and it was one of the most satisfying experiences that I’ve had in a long time. I usually travel by bike but today I decided walk. It was sunny at first, but later became cloudy and drizzled a little. It was so pleasant.

Many years back, when I was in school, I used to travel by bus all around the city, sitting by the window, staring at strangers pass by and thinking about myself, my future, and the like. I miss that now. I’ve never given any time for myself in the past couple of years at all. There are always multiple thoughts running in my mind – all at once. It’s like one big traffic jam of thoughts in my brain, directionless and annoying. Today I learnt how important it was to spent time for “me” and not think/worry about anything for some time. I also realized that I am the most happy when I’m with myself. I don’t know how to confer this, but yeah. In his post to the class of 2010, Ben Jones writes, “#9. Carve out an hour every single day to be alone. (Sleeping doesn’t count.)“. This is such a simple thing, but so important and powerful. Of course, I am always alone in my room, but am I really with myself during that time? Not at all. Internet and books provide the best company, but they cannot think on our behalf. We are constantly interacting with people virtually, we never interact with ourselves. I had forgotten what I liked, what I wanted, WHY I wanted what I wanted…

I think the time has become such that we sort our daily schedule for everyone else, but never for ourselves. Our calendars are filled with appointments with other people; one has to take a lot of effort to make an appointment for oneself.

about my camera

I have a confession to make. My camera died two weeks back during the Pondicherry trip. The waves of the sea washed away my bag (which was safely kept far away just so you know) and everything in the bag got wet – along with my mobile phone and camera. I cried myself to sleep the next few days. I didn’t have the nerve to discuss it on the web so I just let it be. I felt that the news would hurt the people who made it possible for me. This is my first digital SLR camera and is the most special gadget that I’ve ever owned till date. Many memories are attached with it. It was something that I earned for myself, if I can say so. I remember the day I bought it with my dad. I remember everything – the past and the present associated with it. How many months I had waited for it! And all those moments and experiences of shooting with it!

I gave it for servicing today. It must be in working condition in 2 weeks, according to the confident service person at Canon. “I’ve repaired many big cameras which were drowned in oceans before, this will be ok madam” he said. For him, it is just another camera and another lens. For me, it is a dream turned into reality.

They say that if you lose something, you realize the worth of it. This is just like that. I don’t know if I should feel ashamed or guilty. That day on the beach, it was like I didn’t deserve a vacation. My friends’ phones got screwed too, but nothing even remotely comes close to this. I will NEVER EVER take a camera to the beach again! I am so glad that it’ll be alright. I have learnt my lesson. My sister always used to shout at me “you don’t respect the things that you have”. This keeps echoing in my mind every time something crappy like this happens or every time I buy something. While coming back home, dad told me that all gadgets get conked during their lifetime. It’s a part of the entire ‘gadget owning’ experience. After all, they’re just inanimate things. Good part is that they can be fixed.