To do that ... I happen to write!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Let there be Tranparency

"Yaar, there is too much work as of now..."
"Why - I guess all the competitions have ended?"
"Yes, but trophies still need to be decided"
"But the competitions have ended"
"Yes, but trophies aren't yet decided"
"That doesn't make sense"
" :) "

- Week1, March 2010

The institute night (called BHM) is approaching and winners are to be awarded. But it isn't yet decided who are going to be winners! Next 2 weeks are going to be devoted to intense round of negotiations to decide winners. Winning competitions round the year is not sufficient. You need to master politics! Ah, my IIT Delhi.

Those who get trophies during the negotiation are happy. Those who don't - think that they will negotiate better the next time. Everyone cribs about the system. Anyone has the power to change the system. No one does. The system continues. Ah, my powerless IIT Delhi.

Let me clarify the point once more: Passion oozes from people when they are competing. And winning definitely plays the major role in deciding the winners. But that's not all. This last line is what bothers me a lot.


"Today is the last date of submission. And every day you get late in submitting your term paper will see that 5 marks are deducted from your total marks"

"Attendance if for 10 marks"

"How did you present in the presentation was immaterial. How much of theory did you put in was important. That's how I am marking you"

- All dialogues belong to nearly last week of the semester and were never recited even ONCE during the whole semester

Professors are equally messed up in deciding clear policies. If they are first timers, I guess that's understandable. But when you have been teaching for x years: you are expected to know that students loose track of their priorities.

Students must attend all classes. O'course. Students must submit assignment before the last date. O'course. But why make all the reward and punishment rules on the last day itself. If such is the case what then gives teachers the authority to say that students do all the work at last minute!


One thing that dearly impressed me about TOYOTA was one of its management principles which said:

Use Visual Control so no problems are hidden

So tell me. Why can't each board and each course maintain an excel sheet which is updated every week?

Suppose you were to present your term paper on 2nd February. You didn't. Your marks on excel sheet show that you've got a zero. It's non-negotiable. Do you think that remaining people in the class would give their presentations on time?

Suppose attendance is daily updated. And so are the marks associated with it. I can just SEE my status. I don't have to keep running to the prof to keep asking him. It makes life easy for everyone.

Suppose you win an event in dance. Your hostel points shoot up. Suppose you have x articles accepted for publication in BSP. Your hostel get points accordingly. Immediately. The excel sheet shows that. The whole institute can see that. When the year will end all you would need to do is to sum up the points and see which hostel has most of them. No negotiations. No politics.


The gist of entire thing is this: When you use visible tools to express and monitor day to day performance of individual/hostel: all the problems will surface at once.

The main reason people don't do it is either because

  1. They can't decide in advance what rules to make. They just aren't gifted enough.

  2. They want to remain powerful by having the negotiating powers. They want to favor friends. They want people to come to them and beg.
Remember days when we used to prepare for JEE: wasn't test rank and instant feedback on our performance useful? Didn't it motivate us to take correcting steps?

In the beginning there will be clashes. There will be a certain level of inconvenience. An unsettling feeling. But this happens with every change. However, over a period of time things will smoothen out; people will being to respect the system and everyone will be able to divert their energy to better cause. Or probably to just enjoy, get time to chill out: to study.

Let there be Transparency


  1. Well written. But I am sure that its not the first time this idea has come up (it's not that brilliant anyways :P). Clearly, somebody needs to take initiative and noone is willing to take this idea through the red-tape system of IIT Delhi.

  2. Seems to me that you're a bit too eager to be a consultant! Lay back, Excel and these 'visual tools' you speak of will be all we'll be doing over the next 2 years or so. So, it'll be better if you lay off them for now :P

  3. @TSoS: Hopefully BSW will to do this thing from the next year. Hopefully!

    And yeah, this is a cliched idea: but then no one seems to care. And over and above that when I was explaining this idea to a few professors - they just did not see the advantage of creating a transparent system!

    @Sohil: Saw that coming :P

  4. Well said.............
    IITD desperately needs to move away from this 'politics of last minute negotiations'