An engineer, a professional Kathak dancer and a professional with four years of work experience, Vishruti represents the student body of XLRI as the General Secretary of the Student Affairs Council. Vishruti is truly representative of the student body at XLRI – highly intelligent, highly ambitious and highly motivated. However, as with her cohort, she is driven by a need to do more, to give back to the institution and to society. And this is a result of the culture at XLRI. Excerpts from a conversation:
Tell us what led to you standing for elections.
The atmosphere at XLRI. Unlike most other institutions or organisations, the environment here is highly conducive for contribution. Everything is student-run. All committees - from placements to exam scheduling to media management – are student-run. To experience that first-hand, to be a part of the decision-making body is something that really excited me.
The election process is also interesting. We give out nominations, candidates pitch to the student body, there is a Question-and-Answer session and we go straight to polling. There is no campaigning. This unusual practice also stems from the XL culture. It has been like this historically. The underlying belief is that candidates are standing for elections to represent the students, so it is expected that students already know you. All that is needed is to let students know your specific plans for the community. This also deters negative campaigning or the possibility of the environment becoming vitiated.
Also, unlike other institutes, the entire election process is managed by the outgoing Student Affairs Council. No faculty representation is solicited, offered or required. All of us at XL strongly feel that this is how it should be.
This is a space where one can be political without being politicised, where one can explore what it means to be part of a productive community, of civil society.
As General Secretary SAC, what do you consider your primary responsibility towards the various stakeholder groups?
The first stakeholder group is the student body that I formally represent. Activities – academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular - are constantly on and the committees do a fantastic job by themselves. My responsibility is not to enhance activities or even academics, but instead, to enhance the entire experience of student life - how students live and experience the institution.
The second stakeholder is the organization itself. It is an immense privilege and honour to be elected as the General Secretary during XLRI’s Platinum Jubilee year. There’s such a lot of history and of course, with the Jubilee activities on, there is so much more opportunity to give back to the organization. This is primarily by connecting with the alums, learning how General Secretaries worked then and knowing what they wanted to achieve but couldn’t, and trying to take their work forward.
The third stakeholder is myself. I stood for elections in order to contribute to my cohort and to the organization and achieving some measure of contribution will be my responsibility to myself.
What are the advantages of being a part of the council or the committees?
Learning how to deal with people! While many of us have come here after working in the industry, these two years have been on a different level. The reason is simple – as a premiere MBA institute, each and every student is highly intelligent, highly ambitious and highly competitive. But, not all ideas can be taken, nor can one please everybody. Unless one learns to draw the line, there will be chaos. So, one learns to say no. One learns that tough conversations are not only unavoidable, they are necessary.
How vibrant is campus life?
Extremely. Every single weekend, something is happening. Each of the 30 committees on campus has a flagship event as well as a smaller one - 60 events straightaway. Then there are the calendar events and all the college activities. Our calendar is full with a diverse mix of events ranging from finance or marketing competitions to dance presentations to social service drives.
What is the level of involvement of research scholars?
FPM scholars are included in activities, in so much as they can afford to be involved. Especially when we have performing teams. But, when it comes to organizing or committee work, they are not involved as it is difficult to categorise them.
Also, the nature of their work is isolating to an extent. And even more intense than ours. The support they need is from their own cohort – and they get that.
Tell us about the support system in place for someone in distress.
We have a counsellor as mandated by government regulations. She is there throughout. The SAC and the Inter-Student Affairs Council keep in touch with her to check if there are any spikes, especially during placement season. We provide as much support as we can.
What else is the batch of 2024 looking to achieve in the Platinum Jubilee year?
A common thread running through the 75th year conversations has been how to give back to the state where we are located. How to work for the development of the tribal population of Jharkhand. We are working on this as a team - trying to get them to come to campus for skill development, having events for and with them. Also, the 11 regional committees are now trying to identify some issue in their region that we as MBA students can help solve.
To sum up, we are committed to giving back to society in any way we can. I am hopeful that these initiatives will gather momentum and we will be able to contribute to the greater good – something that XLRI has always stood for.