th October to 1st November, 2015. The student fraternity was eagerly awaiting the invocation of these three days of mind tingling business simulation events and opportunities to interact with powerful speakers in TEDex, and finally the night before, one couldn’t help but notice the buzz in the campus among students and teachers alike making last minute preparations for coordinating, participating or judging events. While there were a number of flagship events whose birds’ eye view is coming up, there were a number of impromptu fun events as well.
White Knight was an event in which business plans were invited from students across the country in three broad categories – social innovation, gen next technopreneur and products and services. Over a 37 day window, there were 305 registered participants from colleges across the country which finally came down to 6 finalist teams who came down to the IIMK campus to finally present their plans. The event was judged by industry experts from Nabard and Tie Kerala, on the basis of feasibility, profitability, scalability, and innovation and presentation prowess. The students came up with various pioneering ideas, a few of them being about making smart toys, innovative ways for market enhancement of cupcakes, devising complete lifestyle based food solutions for healthier lives and so on. The winners were awarded cash prize worth 50,000 rupees followed by prize money worth 25000 for the runners up. The event was well concluded by a hearty interactive session among the finalist teams and the judges.
Following vigorous social media promotions TEDx at Backwaters was a huge success among the student fraternity offering talks by eminent motivational speakers from varied paths of life. Alongside, videos were shown of performances by Preston Reed, Usman Riaz as well as of a talk of the noted TEDx speaker, Sugata Mitra. Talks were given by Prasant Nair, the district collector of Kozhikode, who is also involved with a social welfare activity named Compassionate Kozhikode. His speech hovered around the importance of compassion in the lives of the many polished professionals graduating from places like IIMs in contrast with the millions of underprivileged citizens. There was Malvika Iyer, who survived a bomb blast when she was 13 but had lost both her hands and had severely injured her legs. She braved all odds and emerged victorious to be symbol of courage and optimism in later years. A Global Shaper, she pressed upon the message that “bad attitude is the only disability in life”. Mr V S Sudhakar, cofounder of BigBasket, prior founder and CEO of Indiaplaza Pvt. Ltd. and a noted alumnus of IIM-A, who had started India’s first internet services company, Planetasia.com talked about the pros and cons of being in a startup with an insightful analogy with the performance of cricketer Keith Miller in the 1948 tour of Australia to England. He concluded his speech in a thoughtful note with an effing hint towards the depletion of water from the blue planet and said that “water is the next big thing”. With IIM K currently in the limelight across the country for creating graduates with an entrepreneurship oriented mindset, this talk was surely a great hit. The adventure sports junkie, Archana Sardana, India’s only woman Master Scuba Diver Trainer certified by PADI, USA, the country’s only woman BASE jumper, and also the first Indian to skydive with the Indian flag in the USA and to BASE jump the KL Tower, Malaysia spoke about her life and its motto to explore, dream and discover. With 335 skydives and 45 BASE jumps done, she shared interesting stories about her life including getting married to an army officer and spending 7 days of her honeymoon doing adventure sports.
Arunabh Das Sarma, current president of Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (Times group), owner of newspaper branches like Times of India and The Economic Times having had extensive experience of working in Coca Cola, GSK, Whirlpool as well as a startup discussed about navigating unchartered territories in every aspect and motivated students to go beyond mere commercial success and strive to make full use of one’s potential.
Shiksha 2015 was held on all three days of Backwaters. On day 1 (30th October), workshop for school children were held. The program saw a total participation of 68 students from classes 8 to 10. Students from 31 schools all over Kerala participated in the event and the group was a truly diverse one. The event opened with a brief welcome given by the Shiksha team and the representatives from our sponsors: Health care Foundation. This was followed by a half-day session held by Mr. Unnikrishnan Balakrishnan a renowned motivational speaker and life style coach. He took the kids through various fun group activities and confidence building sessions which were well received and filled the children with positivity. Day 2 and day 3 was meant for undergraduate students from various specializations like engineering, commerce, arts etc. The prime motive behind the workshop was to give the undergrad students a look into the life at IIM. Many of the students were CAT aspirants who needed guidance and clarity on how to chase their dreams. The workshop for undergrads started with a full day session by Mr. Unnikrishnan Balakrishnan again. There were a variety of sessions such as discovering self, public speaking, working in diverse teams, self-confidence workshop etc. On day 3, the students interacted with faculty and research students from IIMK. The interactive sessions were followed by a 1 hour mock test held in association with Career Launcher. Experts from Career Launcher interacted with the students and gave them valuable tips on how to crack CAT. The top scorers in the test were felicitated. Shiksha is an integral part of Backwaters since the time of its inception. A program aimed at inclusivity of school and undergraduate students on Backwaters platform, Shiksha has grown to be an event with the maximum participation so much so that the number of seats had to be capped at 120.
Avatar-The Ultimate CEO Challenge, one of the six flagship events at Backwaters, annual management festival of IIMK saw participation from 22 different colleges across India with 38 applications. Participants were put through stressful conditions spanning across three days, in challenges encompassing all verticals of management including Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Operations, HR as well as on their creativity and general knowledge through storyboard making and a quiz. The event also included a venture capitalist pitch and a self-pitch to conclude with.
The event was planned keeping in mind that a CEO has to perform well in all spheres of management under stringent deadlines. The shortlisting criteria for applicants from outside IIMK was based on CV and a one minute video pitch explaining how they were suitable for the role of a CEO. The invited colleges were open to send in multiple entries and 7 participants were finally selected to represent their college. For selecting IIMK representative we held Echelon 2.0, wherein we invited entries from PGP 18 and 19 and selected 6 students from each batch. Final selection was based on cumulative score of 3 rounds which included a Chairman GD, Case study and turncoat debate.
Model United Nations is a simulation of United Nations’ councils participants were supposed to be delegates representing countries, the delegates had to use United Nations rules including various motions and pleas and had to come up with a working paper which would be debated in different formats and would be voted by the delegates, the ultimate aim was to draft a resolution have a concrete debate, move amendments, additions and deletions, and ultimately vote on it. On getting 2/3rd majority the draft resolution would be adopted. Here it was United Nations Human Rights Council debating about Syrian refugee crisis, Syria moved a working paper on refugee welfare which was defeated after 2 versus 2 debate, Iraq moved a working paper on funding of refugees which was accepted, the final working paper moved by Syria after an extensive QnA session and multiple amendments failed to obtain the 2/3rd majority required as the house was split on his views. The delegate representing Syria and Germany were awarded best delegates for their performance.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change was aimed at coming up with a legally binding solution to climate change on the backdrop of Kyoto protocol and other conventions. A motion for discussion on innovative methods to cap emissions and related tax laws was initiated by South Korea. Developed countries like France and Denmark responded with the assurance that they would help in the implementation of innovative solutions across the developing nations. Delegates from India and UK spoke about allowing positive tax breaks to industries abiding the regulatory standards. Canadian delegate raised the use of innovative technologies in energy sector. This lead to a discussion on nuclear energy, energy generation through biological waste and waste management. Towards the end of the day, two working papers were presented on the use of alternative sources of energy and setting up new regulations governing carbon emissions.
If you think Backwaters was only about serious business simulations and academic pursuits, you can’t go more wrong! There were scintillating performances by the popular comedy rock band, Vir Das and the Alien Chutney who, with their funky jokes, witty and sometimes nuanced humor successfully kept the crowd ROFLing and LMAOing before, after and between their comedy rock numbers. Where the IIMK fraternity enjoyed their share of titillating humor on the first day by Vir Das, the final day saw the audience getting swayed to the incredibly popular number “Bhula do” composed of the well-known Indo-Pakistani Sufi pop rock band, Raeth! While the crowd went all gaga over the musical renditions of the final evening, it was an evening of fulfillment of dreams for the organizers of Backwaters, 2015, who have toiled heart and soul since weeks for making the event such a big success. For the final year students, especially, the evening ended on a note of melancholy as the silhouettes of the trusses of the Backwaters stage gradually got absorbed in the lights of the wee hours of yet another morning of wandering clouds in the IIM K campus.
Article written by: Noel Roychowdhury