Student life and culture in Indian Institutes of Technology

Student life and culture in Indian Institutes of Technology

The Student life and culture of IITs refers to the characteristics of student life and culture that are common to among the various IITs. This prominently includes the lifestyle of students, both about studies and co-curricular activities.


Hostel life

All the IITs provide residential facilities to its students, research scholars and faculty inside their campus. The students live in hostels (referred to as halls in IIT Kanpur and IIT Kharagpur) throughout their stay in the IIT. Many IITs have proper names, drawn from the Indian culture, for each hostel on campus (e.g. IIT Madras has hostels named after Indian rivers). There are separate hostels for men and women, and even the postgraduate and doctoral students/research scholars live in single-sex hostels. A student gets single, double or triple accommodation (i.e. one, two, three students per room).

The usual structure of the hostels is an array of rooms, clubbed usually in groups of 11 or 12 rooms to form a wing. The standard size of a single room is 12 feet by 9 feet. Every hostel has its own common room(s) and usually provides mess facilities to its boarders.

All students have broadband Internet access in their rooms, which is generally limited by time of access or by the amount of downloads, each IIT having its own rules. Each campus also has a hostel wide local area network (LAN) connecting all rooms in all hostels.

Co-curricular activities

Undergraduate students in various IITs have to compulsorily choose between National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Sports Organization (NSO) in their first years. The choice for later years vary from one IIT to the other. The National Cadet Corps (India) is the Indian military cadet corps. Most IITs urge students to take up NCC in the first year to instil in them a sense of patriotism and discipline. The NSS is another national organization that strives to reach out to the needy population of the country through its volunteers by organizing camps at regular intervals of time. Both the NCC and NSS hold a camp at the end of the first semester at a location near the IITs and the students attend these as a part of the curriculum. The NSO is a national level sports organization that strives to improve the quality of sports talent in the country by providing coaching facilities to budding athletes. All the IITs have playgrounds of various sports including Cricket, Football, Hockey, Volleyball, Lawn Tennis, Badminton, Athletics, and swimming pools for aquatic events. Usually the hostels also have their own sports grounds. A raging debate is on regarding the ill effects of the LAN, meant primarily for educational purposes but contributing to lack of social interaction and participation among the students.

Student body

All the IITs have their own students' council elected through an election among the students. The students are represented in the IIT Senate and other forums through the Vice President of the Student's Council, elected through the elections. The election process in IITs is quite unlike the other colleges. Formation or affiliation to political parties is strongly discouraged. Poll graffiti, rallies and processions are also not allowed. Use of loudspeakers for election purposes is also banned.

Technical festivals

All IITs organize annual technical festivals in which students from the IIT and even other colleges participate. Usually the technical festivals last 3 to 4 days. The various technical festivals organized by IITs are Techfest (IIT Bombay), Shaastra (IIT Madras), Techkriti (IIT Kanpur), Kshitij (IIT Kharagpur), Wissenaire (IIT Bhubaneswar), Cognizance (IIT Roorkee), Tryst (IIT Delhi), and Techniche (IIT Guwahati). Most of the technical festivals are organized in the month of February or March. Apart from the technical festivals mentioned above, some IITs also organize annual robotics contest and other technical events for the students.

Shaastra is the annual technical festival of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Beginning as Pragma in 1997, this festival has traditionally focused on quizzes related to engineering and technology, technical workshops and video conferences, as well as contests that test engineering skill and intuition. Pragma was renamed to Shaastra in 2000, a year which also saw a substantial overhaul of the model by which it was organized. Shaastra takes its name from the Sanskrit word for science. Shaastra holds the distinction of being the first student managed event in the world to implement a formal Quality Management System, one that has earned it the ISO 9001:2000 certification and as of now, it is considered the best student managed and the biggest technical festival in the whole of Asia.

Techfest is the annual science and technology festival of IIT Bombay. Started in 1998 as a two day festival it has achieved a lot in a short span of 10 years. Now it is the largest fest of its kind in Asia and attracts over 30,000 students from 1000 colleges in India and countries like USA, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The competitions, lecture series, exhibitions and workshops expose students to the latest research in developing cutting edge technology. The fest is also very popular amongst academicians and professionals.

Techkriti is the annual science and technology festival of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. It is usually held in the last week of February or the first week of March each year. Techkriti is an inter-collegiate festival wherein colleges from all over India are eligible to participate. The scope of this festival is ever widening with emiment people being called for lectures (Ex. Ankit Fadia, although his eminence can be debated upon.) and the level of competition ever increasing

Kshitij is the annual techno-management festival of IIT Kharagpur. Its literal translation in English is "Horizon". It has participation from colleges all over India (and even some from abroad) apart from the 4000 strong student community within the campus. Previously started as Ideon, Kshitij took off in its present Avatar in 2004, when 260 participants from outside the campus came for the Fest. Robotix, the annual robotics competition, is also held during Kshitij. It aims to bring forth the technical talent in the country. It was started in the year 2001.

Techniche is the Annual Techno-Management festival of IIT Guwahati which takes place in the first week of September. It plays host to more than 20 different online and on the spot events ranging from robotics, programming events, glider making contest (to name a few) to events like Virtual Stock Market and other management events. Techniche '07 launched a completely independent website for the online events which received more than 70,000 clicks in a few hours on some days. The participation in year 2007 consisted of more than 5000 teams which included International participation as well (China, US- Berkley, MIT, Stanford, LSE from the UK). Techniche '07 also played host to a Laser show for the first time. Techniche also consists of workshops and lectures from eminent personalities over the country. The aim of the festival is to give a platform for the budding and young talent to showcase and compete against the best in the country.

Cognizance is the annual technical festival of IIT Roorkee. In heraldry a cognizance is an emblem, badge or device, used as a distinguishing mark by the body of retainers of a royal or noble house. It is held over 3 days which include Robotics, Innovation of the Year, Industrial Challenges, Series of Online Events, Design competitions, Gaming contests, Workshops, and Guest Lectures among others. It subscribes to the basic idea of innovating for the future and serves as a platform for participants to exploit their talents and skills to the best. What sets it apart from the hoard of technical festivals, is the fact that it brings people from various academic, social and regional backgrounds in one arena to foster an atmosphere of learning, unlearning and relearning through an application-oriented approach.himalayas. Over 5 years Cognizance has expanded vastly through a large support by its sponsor as well as interactive and innovative youth international community. The Online Cryptic events include Illushun , Insomnia, Quizzotica (Cognizance 2009) and many more.

Cultural festivals

Annual cultural festivals are organised by the IITs. These include Mood Indigo (IIT Bombay), Spring Fest (IIT Kharagpur), Saarang (IIT Madras), Antaragni (IIT Kanpur), Alcheringa (IIT Guwahati), Rendezvous (IIT Delhi), Zeitgeist (IIT Ropar), Alma Fiesta (IIT Bhubaneswar), Blithchron (IIT Gandhinagar) and Thomso (IIT Roorkee). These cultural festivals are organized by a student group within each institute, and typically last 3 to 4 days. All the money required for the organization of these events are sourced from sponsors of the event, and if required the remainder from the students of the institute. The institute remains closed during these festivals to allow better participation of the students. Students from other colleges are also invited to participate in the various events of the festival. Although all IITs have different set of events for their festivals, there are usually a set of literary events (like extempore speech and debate), fashion shows and art-related events (like dramatics, singing, and instrumentals).

Mood Indigo (also known as Mood-I) is the annual cultural festival (Culfest) of IIT Bombay held around the last week of December. The festival lasts for 4–5 days. One of the biggest cultural festivals in India, MoodI (as it is popularly known) has almost 40,000 students from over 300 colleges assembled in the plush environs of IIT Bombay. There's also plenty of "laid-back fun" for students not interested in competitions. Many informal and fun events, as well as aquagames, take place round the clock, going on till late at night. There are workshops, plays, rare & beautiful films, and dance performances to keep one fully occupied for the 4 days.

Alcheringa is the annual cultural festival of IIT Guwahati. The theme for Alcheringa'08 is Revel in Retro.

Spring Fest (also known as SF) is held annually in January and is one of the largest social and cultural fests in India . Spread over four days, Spring Fest hosts a variety of competitions and performances by some of the best professionals (Individual performers and bands) in India and abroad.Colleges from all over India participate in this fest. Major events are Pal(Bollywood Star Performance), Taal ( Western Star Performance), Wildfire, Centrifuge, Nukkad(streetplay), a wide variety of Quizzes, Vocals, Face painting and many more. The festival is popularly known by its tagline "The true spirit of youth".

A performance by Indian Ocean during Antaragni 2004

Antaragni (which stands for 'The Fire Within') is the cultural festival of IIT Kanpur, held annually in October, and is one of the biggest college fests in India. The festival spans four days, and attracts participation from all the major colleges of India. Antaragni manages to attract a sizable crowd which stay on the campus in shared accommodation for the duration of the event. As part of Antaragni, issues of national importance are debated upon by experts.

Saarang (a musical is the culfest of IIT Madras, Chennai. It is held annually in the third week of January. The culfest was known as Mardi Gras from its inception until 1996, when it was renamed Saarang. It is host to around 50,000 students over the four days that it runs. Every evening has a 'pro-show', which refers to a professional music artist or band act. The Saarang Main Quiz has a reputation of being the only one of its sort. It starts at 11 PM and continues until 6 AM (sunrise), and is held in an open-air auditorium. When students are not competing or watching others compete, they are often found partying to loud music, or simply relaxing in the beautiful campus of IIT Madras, which is set inside a national forest reserve.

Other unique festivals

Illumination festival

Illumination festival in IIT Kharagpur. The outlines are made by earthen lamps.

In addition to the cultural festivals mentioned above, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Bombay celebrate festivals unique to them. IIT Kharagpur celebrates Illumination festival, a festival unique to it. It is celebrated on the eve of Diwali. In this festival, large bamboo structures (called chatais), sometimes even as high as 20 feet are made and earthen lamps (diyas) are placed on them forming outlines of people of showcasing a monument or an event. Held in a competitive environment as a competition between the hostels, it even gets a lot of outside visitors. A lot of care is taken to avoid fire hazards and the placing of chatais so as to minimize the effect of breeze. Coupled with the Illumination festival is the Rangoli festival. In this, large panels of an event or a concept are made on the ground by fine powder and sometimes even by crushed bangles.

Performing Arts Festival

A festival unique to IIT Bombay is the Performing Arts Festival, popularly known as PAF. Though technically a drama, each PAF is a combination of all cultural arts including dramatics, literature, music, fine arts, debating, dance, etc. All PAFs are held in the Open Air Theater (OAT) located within the main campus of IIT Bombay, inside the Students' Activity Center. Typically two or three hostels (out of 14) tie up by random draw for each PAF. A peculiarity about PAF is that all the dialogues are delivered as voice overs and not by the actors, mainly owing to the structure and the huge size of the OAT.

Inter IIT Sports Meet

All the IITs compete in a variety of sports held under the purview of the Annual Inter IIT Sports Meet. The competition is organized every year in the month of December in one of the seven IITs by a policy of rotation. The first Inter IIT Sports Meet was held in IIT Bombay in 1961. The total number of participants in any Inter IIT Sports Meet is usually around 700. The award consists of a running shield that is passed over to the winning IIT every year. The winner is decided based on the weighted average of the points of the events. There are three prizes for every event: gold, silver and bronze. Separate events for boys and girls are organized and points are tallied separately for determining the final winner. Gold medalist gets sport-scholarship also, though no scholarship for silver and bronze medalists.

The twelve events in the Inter IIT Sports are athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, swimming, lawn and squash tennis, table tennis, volleyball, water polo and weightlifting. As swimming and water polo are played in water, which is usually very cold by the month of December, the Inter IIT Sports Meet for them is usually held in the first week of October and is called Inter IIT Aquatics Meet. IIT Madras has won the Inter IIT Trophy for most number of times.[citation needed]

See also

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