Innovations in an Academic Event

Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain
Published on: 2nd March 2015
From September 2012 to  October 2013, I was part and parcel of a team which organized a series of activities for raising awareness on climate change, water crises and environmental challenges. These activities were part of C3W. When I joined this event as the Chairman of the Organising Committee, I realized that through this event we are creating a platform and a space for those who wish to think, speak and discuss on the issues of environment conservation. Rather than going with a structured agenda, we performed as enablers and moderators. At the end of the event, I realized that a semi-structured programme can give more space to the people, if it is the question of youth, who are filled with energy and motivation.   

What was mesmerizing about C3W was the involvement of students. Unlike other conferences, where students are mere spectators, it was conceived, planned and executed by students. It evolved out of chaotic process, which parallels the natural evolution process. Planning and evolutionary processes continued in parallel and reinforced each other at every stage. I had to stretch my imagination every week when new developments would force me to think beyond what I could earlier visualize.  

14 community forums (students clubs) pursued things of their own choice. They pursued goals, which were not imposed on them, but they had taken by choice. There where no external pressures, but the pressures were built by the student teams. Their initial work started when they organized Green Walk. I can say that the first major event was Green Walk. Mr. Pradeep Nirankari, who supported 14 student community clubs in Gyan Vihar University came with this idea. It was decided to organize the green walk on September 5th, 2012 to celebrate Teachers’ day. Over 1000 students joined the green walk. The process of change started with this walk. The students started emphasizing on environmental conversation at every stage. We made our conference virtually paperless event. At every stage, the students preferred to use less of paper. Students formed their voluntary groups in order to start different events. Jack (a student community club) created many plays  and entertaining presentations, which had a message in them. These events portrayed the ideas of environment conservation. The next 34 days were days of experimentation for the student clubs. Different student community clubs were engaged in different preparation. After the classes, the students used to brainstorm on different activities that they were planning to do. They would plan, re-plan and discuss about the events. Members of sporty (a students community club) were planning for a joint leg race where more than 100 students would run together for the cause of environment. Members of seeds  (a students community club) were organizing quizzes and environment awareness programs in different schools in Jaipur. Another student club was organizing poster competitions and water conservation chart preparations in different colleges and institutions in Jaipur.  
Innovations in an Academic Event
As I walked on 10th October, 2012 moving through different pavilions, I found Chinmaya (a student of B.Tech. Final year at that time) little bit disappointed. Chinmaya had organized envirothone. He had introduced many concepts relating to environment friendly cycling and other similar events. However, he was little bit disturbed as his events didn’t attract public attention. I motivated him and asked him to change the venue. He prepared his plan for the next day and for the next two days, his events were most attractive for the students. Today, Chinmaya is running his NGO to raise awareness on cycling. He has taken a tour on bicycle from Western India to Eastern India.   

Just a week before C3W 2012, Mr. Nirmal More and his team came to me and expressed their desire to add some flavours to C3W by organizing some events. I looked at all the ideas they had brought and encouraged them to take up a few events like live show on mass media and others. They went ahead and within a week they executed their events beyond my imagination. The energy and enthusiasm of this team was beyond description. “We want to have greater involvement of students in this event,” said Nirmal and truly it happened. Thereafter, the students continued their participation in many events and presented their creativity in different forms. They started thinking about environmental issues in all their projects and practicals.

We had created different students’ committees to steer different sessions and different activities. These committees (groups of students) were asked to prepare their responsibility charts clearly demarking their responsibilities and tasks to be accomplished. Responsibility charts had following format;

  • Resources required      
  • People to be contacted
  • Time and other constraints to be followed
  • Critical issues to be monitored
  • Expectations
  • Deadlines and goals
Well-known Gandhian Mr. S.N. Subba Rao was overwhelmed when he inaugurated the multi-legged race on 10/10/12, where 111 students ran having their legs tied together. He remarked it as “a great team work”. He couldn’t believe that it was just a week’s preparation. This event filled the students with amazing zeal and confidence. They kept on organizing different activities, where sports and learning were combined to generate a learning event. The cultural programs on 10th and 11th of October, 2012 were designed to give a message of conservation of environment. At the end of the programme at 10.30 pm, when everyone was departing, Prof. Ananta Giri, who had come from Madras Institute of Development Studies was going towards the stage. He embraced the organizer and told him that it was the most vibrant and exciting event he had ever seen and congratulated the team for creating a culture of innovation. Later on, we continued smaller activities throughout the year and then came October 2013, another C3W. Over 150 scholars, activists and scientists presented their talks in 25 sessions. The students were mesmerized by the amazing speakers like Rajendra Singh, Varun Arya, Sujit Lalwani, Medha Patkar, Devi Singh Bhati, R.K. Sutar, Nitin Parab and Puraram Gandhi. The hospitality of the guests was looked after by team 1234, which was a group of four students. They were on their toes 24 hours a day during the convention.
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