Techfest 2013: An interview with the Techfest OC: Anish Sankhe

Continued from: Techfest Review: 2013

InsIghT: One thing that most people wonder about not just Techfest – but all IBs is how the footfall is calculated. Your comments?

Anish: A lot of factors are taken into account in order to estimate footfall. We take into account all the registrations and confirmations we’ve received online, the total number of visitor cards that we give out to people at the main gate and an estimate of the number of campus residents. There are also a lot of media-persons who are annual visitors here. Based on what they see, they give us an estimate of the number of people on campus. We take all of this into account before releasing a figure.

InsIghT: What was the total footfall this year?

Anish: At least 95,000. But, that number includes 15,000 campus residents as well.

InsIghT: Why was Techfest shifted into the winter vacations this year?

Anish: So, the exact problem was that 3-4 co-ordinators got de-registered last year since they missed a few classes in their first week due to their involvement with Techfest. Since no-one wanted this to be repeated this year, the Dean AP originally recommended conducting Techfest between 31st December and 2nd January. Somehow, we convinced him to let us shift it off the slot and the best possible dates we could negotiate were from the 3rd to the 5th of January.

InsIghT: Didn’t the lack of time between Mood Indigo and Techfest bother you?

Anish: Initially, of course, it did. But, we decided to just compress our timeline since we knew, right from the outset, that we’d have very little time. We warned all our vendors and labourers about the time constraints this year well in advance. They hiked their prices a bit – but we got all the work done on time anyway.

InsIghT: A lot of people raise concerns that Techfest is becoming less and less “Tech” with each passing year…

Anish: That’s not really a fair assessment. This year, we’ve increased both, the quantity and quality of the competitions. We also hosted IRC – which had its elimination rounds in 8 countries. Clearly, there’s been a tremendous increase in the tech events that we’ve conducted.

InsIghT: Alright, let’s rephrase that. Techfest is hosting more and more “Non-Tech” events with each passing year. TNOQ was introduced last year and TIMUN this year and there were quite a few lit-based events conducted under Ozone. A lot of Initiatives and Ideate problems had seemingly nothing to do with Tech either.

Anish: Our first priority is always Tech events. But, if the team is interested in going forward with any kind of event that we think we can pull off well, we don’t hesitate to go ahead with it. Every year, we approach Techfest with the intent of creating something completely different from the past.

InsIghT: On that point, a lot of seniors have also expressed concerns about the repetitiveness that’s been creeping into Technoholix…

Anish: I totally agree with that. The difficulty that we face with TechX is that we never have sufficient funds to bring in the artists that we initially aim for – and that’s because we’re adamant about keeping the show completely free for anyone who wants to drop by. The really fresh shows that we think of always end up just a little outside our budget. I can see how a third or fourth year student might have found a few acts similar to previous ones, but we’ll be working on a different format for TechX this year.

InsIghT: Different format?

Anish: Every year we have about 11-12 acts lined up for Technoholix. We’re thinking about having just one long act every night. That way, we’d free up a lot of our funds and be able to afford far better performers. This was an idea that we had this time too, but we were only able to confirm the show after MI. We just couldn’t manage it at such short notice.

InsIghT: While we’re still talking about TechX, don’t you feel a little bit sorry for the non-Insti junta that has to wait in line for almost 3-4 hours? Isn’t there something you guys can do about this?

Anish: We ask them not to queue up. We really do! But, they have nothing else to do after 5pm – so they wait out there in order to get the choicest seats. There’s really nothing we can do. If even a single artist is running late, we have to delay the entire show for them. With an event like this, you have to ensure that they’ve all had run-throughs and invariably, there are always some last minute hiccups. Moreover, if we were to declare the scheduled time as 8.30, it would discourage people from waiting for the show.

InsIghT: Given that Techfest doesn’t have a “theme” per se, how do you go about planning the ambience?

Anish: Again, we don’t put that much thought into it. If someone from within the team comes up with an idea that is simultaneously interesting and executable, we go ahead with it.