Election Time at
- by Vinamra Srivastava *
All through my life, I had held
various positions of responsibility. School head-boy, house-captain,
class-monitor, general-secretary... but all of them were linked through one
common thread - they were all selected positions, not elected. I had never ever
contested in an election.
And hence, when the time came for the election of the Students Affairs Council
(SAC) Secretaries at IIM-A, my eyes lit up. I knew here is another chance for me
to do something which I had never done before; IIM-A is going to give me another
first in my life!
The SAC consists of 8 secretaries
representing diverse spheres of activities, namely Recruitment, Cultural,
Sports, Acads, Media, IT, Mess and the Gen Secy himself. Once I made up my mind
to stand for the elections, the next decision was not very tough. There was no
doubt in my mind that I will contest for the post of Sports Secy. Sports is a
field about which I have always been very passionate. And I had strong opinions
about how the sports infrastructure and opportunities at the institute could be
made better. After the Sangharsh victory, I knew that there is no dearth of
sporting talent at IIM-A. And despite the huge academic load, people do take out
time to indulge in their favourite sports. All this was motivation enough for me
to apply for this post.
Application submitted, the real
test then began. I can say with confidence that the next few days were the most
hectic and tough days for me in the third term, except for the time I spent
working for Chaos. And since there was not much gap between Chaos and the
elections, I was on my toes for almost the entire first month of the third term.
And all this does not include the long hours that needed to be put in for
academics, which was in some ways 'first term revisited'. Anyways, I will come
to that in my next post.
So why was this period crazily
hectic? Ok, so here it goes! After filing our candidature, the next step was to
come up with an election manifesto that needed to be uploaded by a certain
deadline to our central server. I had to spend considerable time on preparing
the same since each and every point written there would later on be scrutinized
by everyone. Once this was done, the next step was campaigning - the most hectic
period. I had prepared a 10 minute pitch highlighting the central areas of
action that I would act upon, if selected. Campaigning did not mean the 'Vote
for Vinz' slogans! Neither did it mean explaining to people why you are the
best candidate for the post. All it meant was to put forth your agenda of what
you intend to do for the students and the institute, if selected.
Now, the aim was to ensure that
all fellow fachchas (only fellow batchmates are allowed to vote; not the
seniors) have heard my pitch. This in turn implied that I had to go to each of
the 23 dorms and catch hold of as many people as I could and pitch to them.
Since its practically impossible to find everyone in the dorm at the same time,
I had to keep track who I have missed out and make repeat trips to those dorms.
All this meant that every day, till the end of campaign time, I had to make
multiple visits to all dorms to deliver my pitch. I had to compromise on my
studies and group work and 24 hours started to seem less.
But this was not my story alone.
Every candidate for every post had to undergo the same routine. Just imagine the
plight of poor batchmates! They had to listen to the pitches of 25-odd
candidates day-in and day-out and towards the end, it seemed that all that the
people on campus were doing was either delivering pitches or listening to them!
Some dorms even went a bit whacky as they put down 'pitching rules' on
the dorm blackboards: 5 minutes or less, all votes guaranteed; 5-10 minutes, few
less votes and so on! Ha Ha Ha... I can understand how tiring it was for them. I
remember in the end how I would literary drag people out of their rooms to
listen to the pitch.
Anyway, once the campaigning time
was over, the last step before voting was the 'Soap Box'. It takes place
in a classroom where every candidate appears before an audience (comprising of
fachchas as well as tuchchas), delivers the pitch, and then
answers sharp and probing questions thrown at him/her. The entire event is
video-recorded and essentially measures how well the candidate is prepared for
the post, and whether he/she can withstand pressure and maintain calm while
answering challenging questions. The Soap Box is intended to help the voters
make a much more informed decision. Mine went quite decent, I suppose, I was
able to answer almost all questions thrown at me satisfactorily.
And finally, the D-Day arrived!
Voting started in the evening. Turnout was nearly cent-percent and after 2-3
hours, counting began for each post. I remember how we all were gathered outside
the classroom, chatting with each other, trying to quell our anxieties! After
every 15-20 minutes, one result would be announced... cheers, jubilations, and
of course, bumps would follow! And then it was the turn of Sports! My fellow
candidate was a strong favourite, and deservedly so. He was one of the best
sportsman on campus and had good experience in handling such posts in the past.
But somehow I felt confident inside and waited with bated breath! 20 minutes of
agonizing wait, and the results were finally out. I was beaten quite
comfortably. It took time to sink in. I at least expected the margin of defeat
to be very narrow. Alas, that was not to be.
But I was happy for him. I had no
regrets in losing out to a person who completely deserved the victory. His
passion, commitment and humbleness are his biggest strengths, and I was sure the
post has gone into the right hands. I got reminded of a statement one
of my friends had made prior to the voting, "Irrespective of who wins, we know
that Sports at IIM-A would be in safe hands." It was an honour for both of us.
I was selected to the Sports
committee later on and now it is indeed a great pleasure and experience to work
with the team together. We have already hosted few events in the third term and
will be working out on plans for the coming year. The elections were a great
experience. The frenetic pace at which I had to work was killing, but it was
once in a life-time moment. I made friends with so many more people in my batch;
that was one of the biggest gains. The highs and lows have etched themselves as
yet another unforgettable experience of my life at IIM-A.