Letter to the Members of the Student Think Tank for India (July 8th, 2014)

the conference image

Hello everyone.

I hope you have been having a fun and productive summer.

I wanted to update all the core STTI members about the recent developments in our organization. There are three main components to this update: (1) Analysis of our Organization’s Strategy Last Semester, (2) New Officer and Organizational Structure, (3) STTI Chapters in India. I hope you go through this letter as it will bring you up to speed with what’s been going on.

(1) Analysis of our Organization’s Strategy Last Semester:
There are three components to this analysis,
(i) Description of Last Semester’s Strategy: Our primary approach to implement our objectives was to split into multiple groups and have each group put together a research paper. The research paper would then be scrutinized by an editorial board and then published on our website. Apart from this we looked to organize regular events like screening documentaries, having discussions and so on.
(ii) Problems with Last Semester’s Strategy: After taking notes from our ground level experience, I am convinced that the research paper approach is not sustainable. This is because, (1) Only a few people were able to invest the time needed to put together material of high quality, (2) The process of the editorial board editing the paper to reasonable quality was too tedious and difficult to implement, (3) Most of the key players in the club have high work-loads.
(iii) Inference from this Analysis: Realistically I don’t see us being able to scale up this model without becoming restrictive and compromising our goal of maximizing our reach. I am also convinced that our key members should be investing their limited time doing things with the club that will have much higher returns for them as individuals and for the Indian community.
The big positive lesson from last semester is that events work really, really well. The discussions were really energetic/involved and are a sign that we can do really effective things if we focus on organizing relatively fun events. So next semester should be about organizing a variety of engaging events that will, as a whole, incorporate the things we were trying to do with the whole research process approach. The two big changes we will make to implement this new approach are (1) have a new officer structure that focuses on helping individuals develop important skills (leadership, communication, administration, organization, networking, innovation etc) and (2) have a strategy completely rooted in organizing events.

(2) New Officer Structure:
Broadly speaking, there will be two officer bodies, the executive board and the committee leadership.

1. The Executive Board: The new executive board will have five officers. They are, Aakash Pydi – President, Mohnish Yerra – Vice President, Vidisha Sarda – Treasurer, Smita Samanta – Director of Marketing, Abhishek Balaji – Director of Event Operations and Planning.

I am confident that we put together a committed executive board that will strive to dynamically figure out the best way forward for our organization.

2. The Committee Leadership: The research groups that we had last semester will be replaced with “committee’s”. Each committee will have a Committee Head and  an Assistant Committee Head. Like last time, the Committee Heads will have a tremendous opportunity to grow as individuals and develop critical skills (listed in (1)). The primary responsibility of the Committee Heads will be to organize events that will implement our objectives.
So far the events we have in mind are, modified discussions (improved versions of the ones we had last semester), screening documentaries, panel discussions etc. We will also look to work closely with other clubs like AIF Purdue, the Purdue Economics Association etc to maximize the reach of our organization through its events. I have requested Abhishek (Director of Event Planning and Operations) to send a mail about the different events we have in mind.

There are two types of committees you guys can join and take leadership roles in. They are,
1. Administrative Committees: We will have two administrative committees, the Event Planning and Operations Committee and the Marketing Committee. Abhishek and Smita will head these committees.
2. Issue-Based Committees: The executive board has identified and confirmed two issue-based committees for next semester. They are, (i) The Committee for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights: Anshi will be the head of this committee, and (ii) The Entrepreneurship Committee: The VP of STTI, Mohnish will be the head of this committee.

We also thought that we could definitely have an Education Committee and an Economics Committee. I would like those of you who are interested in being the heads of these committee’s to inform the executive board by the end of this week.
I would also like Pratiksha, Abhishek, and Tejeshwar (the members who worked on the agrarian crisis and the paid media bias issues last semester), to inform the executive board if they are interested in starting committees for these issues.

As always any member has the freedom to start their own committee and express interest in taking on leadership roles in the listed committees. Our intention is to plan out the entire semester over the next month so that we have minimum administrative overhead during the semester. So we want to identify all our committee heads by the end of this week.

(3) STTI Chapters in India: Mohnish has been doing tremendous work in Hyderabad and has set the stage for the start of an STTI Hyderabad chapter. We are currently working with DPS Hyderabad’s management and Dr Jayaprakash Narayan’s office to formally launch the chapter in mid-August at an event that could be attended by 700 – 800 students.
I want to urge those of you who are back home in India to consider trying to start a chapter of STTI at your high schools. I am confident that it will be an extremely productive experience irrespective of whether or not you actually manage to make it happen. If you do manage to make it happen, you will be directly responsible for improving the educational experience of hundreds of students. This is an opportunity to grow tremendously as an individual, make significant change happen and showcase your individual caliber. I strongly recommend giving it a shot. At the very least, you will have a great story for your job interviews, your parents and most importantly, for yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to go through all these updates. Everything we have managed to do so far is because of your energy, intent and actions. Let’s keep going forward. Please feel free to get back to me.

Aakash Pydi
President, STTI Purdue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *