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Polt’ of Students Gymkhana Elections

by Bumblebee
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What makes this 4th edition of Poll Khul Gayi (PKG4) unique?

  • PKG reappears after a hiatus of almost 15 months.
  • This poll was conducted only amongst students of IITB, since this issue is extensively student-centric. Alumni and faculty were deprived of the opportunity to click on checkboxes.
  • This poll was about polls- about the gymkhana elections, which have miraculously survived since the 60s, much like the Lok Sabha elections which make us proud that democracy is alive and thriving in India.

It is strictly a coincidence that the students of IITB decided to do a poll on the gymkhana elections during the much-talked-about General Elections that are currently underway. Disclaimer: This piece is being written on the 10th day of May, 2014. You are likely to read this after the 16th of May. We are not sure whether, by the time you read t this, India has been Modi-fied  or Kejri-walled; whether it may be singing a new RaGa or, maybe, led by a front sitting in the third row from the back.

Current Gymkhana office-bearers may be pleased to learn that some of the leading and respected politicians who are IITB alumni honed their skills at electioneering during their student days at IITB. Aadhar King and maybe-an-MP-now Nandan Nilekani was a popular GSSA. Goa CM Manohar Parrikar was the Mess Secy and G-Sec of H4. Minister Jairam Ramesh (we’re sorry if he’s not a minister anymore when you read this) was a culture vulture who won many trophies for IITB. We’re not sure if former Health Minister of Gujarat Jai Narayan Vyas held any post during his 2 year M. Tech stint (He’s from H1). Former BJP ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni too was politically active on the campus, though as a notorious rebel who fought against the system.  We are not sure if politician-alumni from other IITs ever contested elections within their respective gymkhanas. Going by the antics of some alumni like Union Minister Ajit Singh, former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and former Delhi Minister Somnath Bharati, we would be very surprised if they didn’t rouse any rabble back then!

While we find that a lot has remained unchanged for over five decades-even the names of various posts is the same as before-a lot has changed. We are not sure if it has evolved for the better or worse. Since the poll was relatively simple in as much as it was conducted amongst the students alone, our Graph-IT-I section does not show any comparative graphs between students, alumni and faculty, as in the case of our first 2 polls, or between males and females, as in the case of our third poll which was conducted to seek opinions about the rapes in India that had outraged an entire nation in the wake of the ‘Nirbhaya’ case. We made do with some simple self-explanatory tables. All tables and all charts always tell a story, and the tables that accompany this piece are no different. But again, all tables and all charts leave many stories untold, and we always seek to unravel the untold stories in our Poll-Ination section.

We do hope that future issues of Fundamatics, 20 years hence, will feature interviews from PMs, CMs, ministers and other eminent folk who are currently office-bearers of the Students Gymkhana of IITB.





On what basis do you vote for a candidate? Total Per
Soapbox/Campaigning 118 37%
Manifesto 94 29%
Acquaintance/Friend 44 14%
Recommended by a friend (Ex: “Iska dekh lena yaar…”) 30 9%
Random 21 7%
Belongs to same hostel/department/club etc 14 4%
Grand Total 321 100%



Do you think the most deserving candidate always wins the election? Total Per
No 176 55%
It’s democracy, you can’t say Yes/No 119 37%
Yes 22 7%
Doesn’t matter 4 1%
Grand Total 321 100%


From what you have seen and heard, why do candidates contest in elections? Total Per
The additional spike in the CV 176 55%
Power that comes with the position 57 18%
Publicity from POR 40 12%
Genuine Interest 30 9%
Other 16 5%
All of the above 2 1%
Grand Total 321 100%



On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate the election system in institute? Total Per
6 57 18%
7 52 16%
8 46 14%
1 38 12%
5 34 11%
4 32 10%
2 25 8%
3 19 6%
9 16 5%
10 2 1%
Grand Total 321 100%



According to you, is the quantum of expenses (on flexes, treats, election fees etc.) during & after the election process a negative factor for some potential candidates? Total Per
Unfortunately, this is unavoidable 161 50%
No. It is just too expensive 92 29%
Yes, this is necessary 68 21%
Grand Total 321 100%


Are you satisfied by the rules and measures set in place by the gymkhana election committee? Total Per
No, it needs to be more robust 172 54%
Yes, they are doing their best 82 26%
What rules? 40 12%
Maybe 27 8%
Grand Total 321 100%


Generally, do you think that candidates follow fair and ethical practices at the time of elections? Total Per
No 219 68%
Maybe 65 20%
Yes 26 8%
I don’t give a damn 11 3%
Grand Total 321 100%



How much impact do the elected representatives have on your campus life & experience? Total Per
Not much in their hands 157 49%
Very high 99 31%
Nothing at all 65 20%
Grand Total 321 100%


Comparing Institute Elections with National Elections, which one is more fair and transparent? Total Per
It is like comparing apples and oranges 151 47%
Institute Elections 111 35%
National Elections 36 11%
I don’t give a damn. 23 7%
Grand Total 321 100%


Do you believe reforms are necessary in the structure of the election committee? Total Per
Yes, a complete revamp is needed 182 57%
Only few changes are required 109 34%
No, this is the best system possible 30 9%
Grand Total 321 100%





As we mentioned earlier, the tables tell their own story. But the most obvious inference may be lost to most readers. The respondents number a paltry 321 from amongst about 8800 students of IITB. Is this a case of bad messaging? Lack of interest? Or voter apathy? It may be some time before our students learn something from the average Indian voter who recorded a massive 62%+ polling percentage by standing for hours in long queues in the hot sun for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. This edition of PKG was like its predecessors, an online poll which was mouse-click-friendly and could be indulged in in the comfort of one’s room. To the questions “Generally, do you think that candidates follow fair and ethical practices at the time of elections?” and “Comparing Institute Elections with National Elections, which one is more fair and transparent?” there was an option which said “I don’t give a damn”. It now appears that most non-voters do not give a damn about participating in polls!

We noticed another striking difference as compared to our previous 3 polls. In our earlier polls, most answers were overwhelmingly similar, to the point of appearing near unanimous (almost 80%+ in most cases). And in the few questions where the answers were divided, the division was almost vertical. Too close to the 50% mark. We had even commented that IITians were like minded and proved the adage that “wise men think alike”. However, in this poll, we do not see any overwhelming affinity for any answer. To quantify our argument further, let us look at the percentages of the “winning answer”. 37%, 55%, 55%, 18%, 50%, 54%, 68%, 49%, 47%, 57%. What does this prove? Are the current students not wise men who think alike? Or maybe they’re wise, but not yet men.

The fact that many respondents do not seem to have applied their mind while polling is evident from the fact that the answers appear inconsistent when correlated with different questions. For instance, 68% feel that candidates do not follow fair and ethical practices during elections. Only 55% feel that deserving candidates do not win elections. Does that mean that the remaining 13% of those polled believe that deserving candidates use unfair means?

We also noticed a few more inconsistencies. According to probability theories taught at IIT’s Maths department, the number of students who answered with all winning answers should be 37%X55%X55%X18%X50%X54%X68%X49%X47%X57% which is equal to 0.05% of 321 i.e. NIL. In other words, no student is likely to have answered with all winning answers, probabilistically speaking. But we find 3 students who fit the bill i.e. almost 1% of the respondents. Hence, actual occurrences are 20 times that of probabilistic occurrences. This finding suggests that the questions are related to one another in a way. Student saying that rules and measures set in place by the gymkhana committee needs to be robust is not likely to say that reform is not necessary in the election committee while answering the other question. Yes, the inconsistency shown in the ethical practices question does exist, but this inconsistency is not uniform.

We went back to explore the answers to the 2 questions cited above viz. “Do you think the most deserving candidate always wins the election?” and “Generally, do you think that candidates follow fair and ethical practices at the time of elections?” No was the favourite answer to both questions. At 68% and 55% respectively. Now, how many are likely to have answered “No” to both questions. If the questions were totally unrelated, we should have had 68%X55% i.e. 37% or 120 folks answering with a No in both cases. But we can clearly see that the questions are related and we should have had either 68% (219 folks) or 55% (176 folks) answering No to both questions. As it turned out, 139 people answered No to both questions, suggesting a very minor relationship between the questions. Similarly, in other cases, we find that the relationship between questions does not get answers in proportion to our perception of the relationship. Neither does it get answers according to the probability theory applicable to unrelated questions. The actual answer hovers between these two extremes.

Maybe the respondents are not fully “wisened” and not fully “men-ed” yet. Or maybe they turned in a hurried assignment at the last minute, confident that this poll will not impair their grade in any way. Or maybe 93% want to say politely what 7% have said point-blank. “I don’t give a damn.”

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