Mr. Sambit Dash is a senior-grade lecturer from the Department of Biochemistry at Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal. He is the Secretary of the Cultural Coordination Committee which is entrusted with the task of organizing Utsav, without doubt, the biggest celebration in Manipal, set to begin from April 1 this year.
MTTN: Could you tell us a little about the history of Utsav? When did it begin and how has it changed over the years?
Mr. Dash: There is an interesting history to Utsav, which began back in the 1999-early 2000s. MAHE wanted to set up an inter-collegiate event, and the first event was curiously named Go Banana. Since 2002, the event has been renamed to Utsav, marking the beginning of Utsav as we know it. With every year, the event is changing due to the constant effort of the faculty and students who are wholeheartedly committed to improving the fest.
MTTN: What does your role as the Secretary of the Cultural Coordination Committee entail?
Mr. Dash: As the Secretary, my role is to largely oversee everything, assign work, and ensure that everything gets done. Forty-odd events are to be organized, for which judges are to be invited. Over a hundred judges take part in this great five-day fest. The interesting part is that the judges are outsiders to the MAHE system to ensure fairness and are from neighboring areas such as Surathkal, Mangalore and even Bangalore. There are various committees that work in Utsav such as design-printing, logistics, social media team and many more and my role is to oversee the smooth functioning of all of them.
MTTN: When does the preparation for Utsav begin? When do you realize that Utsav is looming and its management becomes a full-fledged responsibility?
Mr. Dash: The preparation for the event begins three to four months in advance, usually in January. We are well informed about the dates of Utsav, which usually takes place at the end of March- beginning of April. That’s an interesting question and the answer to it is a little convoluted. Last year, there was complete automation of the event which we were able to achieve with the help offered by Dr. Poornima from the Department of Master of Computer Application (MCA). This allowed the registration process, judging and result generation to be completely automated, leaving lesser room for error. The back-end work begins well in advance, but by the beginning of February, we realize that our backs are on fire.
MTTN: How is the planning and distribution of workload handled within the committee?
Mr. Dash: The Cultural Coordination Committee comprises of faculty coordinators from all the participating colleges of MAHE, who may be single in number or multiple. Then we also have the cultural secretaries from the institutions, who form a link between the students and the committee. They are all assigned roles and responsibilities on the basis of what they would like to do, and what they have been doing so far. There is a system of rotation in place, as everyone involved is competent enough to handle the responsibilities assigned to them.
MTTN: How has this extra responsibility for organizing Utsav impacted your daily life?
Mr. Dash: My routine in the college doesn’t get affected, as there is good cooperation from the department and the institution; that helps me balance all my roles.
MTTN: How is Utsav 2019 going to be different from last year’s extravaganza?
Mr. Dash: As clichéd as it may sound, Utsav keeps growing bigger and better each year, which is the best way to describe it. The participation number increases each year and our system of automation is becoming robust, enhancing the system year after year. We are bringing in new judges; approximately fifty percent of the judges have been changed as compared to last year. The hallmark of this year’s Utsav is that two sister campuses are also participating- the Dubai campus and the Sikkim campus. Also, to add to the uniqueness of Utsav, for the last three years we have been trying to use this extravaganza to increase the experiential learning for the students of the University. Promo videos are made by students of SOC, designing and printing are done by FOA, and a social media team handles the social media campaigning aspect of the fest. From these angles, Utsav 2019 is unique.
MTTN: What would you say are the highlight events of Utsav? As an organizer and as a part of the audience, do you have any favourite events?
Mr. Dash: In my opinion, all the forty-three events are the highlights; I can’t compare rangoli to a dance event. I definitely will give equal weightage to every single programme. As an organizer, all events are my favorite and as a part of the audience, I don’t get to see many events as I am holed up in the temporary office for Utsav, but I can’t comment on my favourite event although I have quite a few events that I enjoy.
MTTN: What message would you like to give the students who will witness Utsav this year?
Mr. Dash: I would like to tell the students to come in large numbers, as we can further expand the capacity of Greens to accommodate you. Everybody loves a large audience. Since it is your fraternity which is participating, your presence is the biggest encouragement they can receive. The amount of hard work that goes into preparing for Utsav is tremendous, to put it mildly. So, please come in large numbers and witness the events that are being put up for you. This is a completely university-sponsored event, MAHE’s beloved fest for its own students.
-As interviewed by Nitya Sai Teegala
-Photographs by Allan Castelino