Authors- Maanvi Agarwal & Simran Keshwani
When somebody talks of Lady Shri Ram College For Women, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The answers would range from model-esque women in top notch brands, to elitist stereotypes, an aura of competitiveness as it being the coveted Numero Uno among Arts Colleges in the University Of Delhi comes with its pitfalls. But, set foot in LSR, and all of these stereotypes repudiate to pave way for an aura of feminism. confident women going the extra mile for what they believe in and building one another being the motive, not tearing each other down (like most people think of girls’colleges).
LSR puts forth its Annual Fest, Tarang 2016 from 5th-7th February this year. In a candid chat (which we managed with great difficulty as the Union was deluged with work and was running from post to panel to ensure the grandiose event sets a benchmark for itself) with Apoorva Kavin, President, Students’ Union, LSR, we find out what it takes to put forth a great show and how Tarang is so much more than glitterati an glamour, and aims at ”creating exceptional”. Here’s a glimpse from her tete-a-tete with our team!
Q) Being the President of the Number One Arts College in DU, comes with herculean responsibility, a careful perusing of tasks and most importantly, keeping calm all the while! What’s your secret?
I think my head is sorted, it has these various components.I think I can switch across modes easily, that’s one of the qualities god has gifted me with. I think that is one thing that every leader who wants to take up either a tiny position or something major should have.
So when you are calm, you are calm and when you shifting into the presidential mode and your personal mode with your friends, you will be able to do all of the things easily. I think that’s one of the thing that’s keeping me going.
Q) Pulling off an event as Huge as Tarang, you must’ve been inundated with To-Do lists and diaries, how was the experience?
We are working as a team; singlehandedly pulling off the entire work with just us four members who have their own positives and negatives. What I have learnt is that the earlier you start building up a rapport with your team and understanding their difficulties and challenges, then you will be able to balance out your own positives and negatives with the rest of them. Since we started really early, we have been able to balance ourselves with respect to each other.
Secondly speaking we started working on it from September second week so I think the earlier you start the better. As for the to-do lists, I will have to thank Yasha, the general secretary, and Surya, the treasurer, whose jobs are to maintain all these lists and diaries, they have made my work a lot easier.
Q) Did you have to be really thrifty or was it smooth sail with finance?
We had to be really, really thrifty. It wasn’t smooth sailing at all since the budget for this year’s fest is approximately 10-15 lakhs more than the previous year’s entire budget. Initially we had to get it passed through the college committee and get it sanctioned and approved which took us around two-three weeks because we had to convince them as to why we want to raise the budget.
Secondly, what are the channels through which we can get these budgets? A lot of companies have started to pull out from the college fests because there are various other channels of promotion for their marketing. We started tapping the startups, so if this year you look at our sponsor base, a lot of startups are there. We initially started building our base from them and when a lot of startups started pulling in the cash, that’s when all the bigger companies woke up and realized that since a lot of newbies are entering the market, we should also start socialising. If you look at it, all the big deals we have cracked like Pepsi, VH1, and MTV Indies, were all made in the last one week.
Another thing about sponsorship that you have to realize is, we are asking for money from somebody and your college doesn’t have an alum base (the funds for the college fest), which other colleges do.
We had to start from Rs. 1 to 45 lakhs; lot of calls had to be made, sponsors had to be contacted. We got into a lot of the negative side of the corporate venture, when people look at you and think you are nothing since you want money. We had to face the morality dilemma, as to ‘why am i doing this? Do i really have to pitch in for the money?’, which is all a part of the commercialisation. It’s something that still pricks me a lot, that a lot of money is being spent for three days of extravagance but still I think that on the positive side a lot of human spirit has been conjoined in this venture as one particular force; a lot of human interaction has been happening; a lot of spirit has been put into it, which balanced it out.
Q) There were a lot of expectations from you after the roaring win in the elections. How far do you believe you’ve lived up to the expectations of people?
As soon as i got elected, the thing that I had in mind, more than winning the election was how I am going to execute all the points I had in my plan. Thankfully, I have been able to do as much as i promised, we have only six more agenda points to be executed. And one thing that i have always realized is that the way you judge a union’s performance is not based on the fest (that’s how DU works, how big the fest is the direct calling on how the union is), but i would say that this is just one of the other things that we have been doing in college, for example we got the ATM installed, which took us three months. Tiny, tiny things like that, we have put the braille notice board which has been covered by newspapers as to how L.S.R is the only college with the braille notice board.
I think I have done as much as I could, but obviously human beings falter in certain aspects, so if I have disappointed someone, I think I have two more months to make-up for it and I promise to execute the other six more agendas in my plan before I retire.
Q) Any teething problems that you faced with the Union?
One thing with L.S.R is that they don’t allow you to run as a party so when you are standing, all four of you for four separate posts, you stand with you own ideas, separately. You can’t make joint campaigns, so after you win, all four of you with different ideologies and all of your campaigns and gangs will be separate. Initially it was pretty rough since we didn’t know each other that well, except for what promises the other person had made in her agenda. Then we started working, and the first 3-4 events we organized were a success, but we still had to face a lot of problems. We were put in one room, and were screaming at each others head, trying to sort things out and this had happened till now. At the end of the day we four realized that we are working for a mutual cause and to get that done, we will try never to fight.
So i think that if we have a mutual cause, we push aside our personal grievances against each other.
Q) Tell us about your baby – Tarang 2016!
It was a baby with a lot of tantrums! When i saw Tarang in my first and second year, there were 2-3 things that i wanted to do with the Tarang that i will be having as my baby.
First was to make it national, because i believe that a college like L.S.R should not limit cultural fest as big as Tarang to just the D.U circle, that’s how it has been limited up until now. There are so, so many entries that we have received from Lucknow, Assam, Gujarat and Bangalore!
Secondly we have made it more inclusive, as in a cultural fest what happens is that who we think are a part of the normal sector of the society participate while the other sectors don’t have any positions to come and attend, not in any cultural fest in India. This time on Tarang, we have made a special event in the formal events through which students can come in; we have special volunteers and logistics provided for them so that they can come in and participate with the normal crowd and also attend the pro nights because we have particular sectors called in for them. I hope it works out well.
Third, we have taken up the artist line to the international level, this is the first time it has happened in L.S.R. These were the three things i wanted to get done and got it done.
Q) What makes Tarang the acme of Fests? Why’s it different from all the other fests?
I will start from the logistical perspective, Tarang is an invite only fest so we give passes to students unlike other fests which are open entry fests. By invite we attract the most talented, quality crowd of students who can contribute to the cultural aspect of Tarang, because at the end of the day Tarang unlike other fests isn’t just about the pro nights, artists and the bling. It’s also about the events taking place from 9-4 that encompasses variety of productive events on the three days. We have involved companies, like the recycle partners, and there is this company called ‘EnviroChip’ that battles against the radiation emitted from our mobile phones. These companies are coming for free, so we aren’t looking at just the commercial components but other things. We needed the money, and when we got the money we went beyond that, we give these companies a platform as we realize that these companies will create an impact, maybe not now but maybe five years from now or in ten years, but they will. So, i think Tarang stands out in that.
We have also asked a lot of NGOs to come in and they ensure that a lot of waste is generated which can then be recycled to make products like pompoms.
Whichever person from any part of India wants to come in and participate for the Tarang can register for any event and get free entry for all three days.
We want the cultural component of Tarang to stand out and the companies that are coming are all ethical, which adds another factor to the fest based on the moral principles that L.S.R believes in.
Q) A shout out to the audience!
Three days you would be out there! We have put in a lot of effort and I understand that on the three days, the outward bling and the extravagance is what you will be seeing but please understand that there are other components as well, like the principles L.S.R believes in and that at the end of the day the event is more than the superficial sparkle. I hope you can understand that.
Q) Talking about the position you hold, a lot of people believe it is a means for growth. How far do you espouse that and why?
That’s definitely true and it’s a very good opportunity if you get it because it’s like a blessing that’s been given to you. As a person, your phase on this planet Earth involves interaction with your community and with other human beings and how much you are going to mold is going to be beneficial to your community and yourself. One way you can experience that on a very practical basis is when you get into the student union.
If your ambition involves becoming a politician or working for a better cause, then you can have it all written in your head but if you want to see how well you can mould yourself to that situation, then the best way is through the union. Here, you would have been changed for the better, you can take all the criticism, positive and some made for the sake of it calmly. You realize how to deal with the world and decompress all the negativity that comes with the job to focus on the better things.