And It’s Started: Backwaters 2016!

Backwaters, the annual management fest kicked off with great gusto Friday morning. The institute has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the theme of the 2016 edition of the flagship fest, suitably, is “Nurturing Young India”.

At 9 am, the Model United Nations conference had already come to order. Delegates representing 30 countries discussed on “combating terrorism and human rights violations” and “non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” in two committees. The discussions were chaired by Shashank and Harish from MUN India. The highly nuanced debates bore testimony to the extensive research done by candidates and the informed opinions held by them. Delicate geopolitical aspects were examined and interpreted from all possible angles. The deliberations continued till well after the warm Kerela sun set over the day, only to be resumed with the same intentness Saturday morning. The event was covered by Radio Mango.

At the same time, not far away, another battle raged. This was Bizzathlon, the quizzing marathon. The event spanned over two categories, college business quiz and open general quiz. Major Chandrakant Nair, arguably the best quizmaster in this part of the country, fired the contestants’ brain cells over multiple rounds of increasing complexity. Though the marathon event lasted almost eight hours, not one dull moment could be counted as the quizmaster kept not just the contestants but the audience on their toes with his carefully crafted, tantalizingly easy, but more often than not just-out-of-your-reach questions that had everyone going “ooooh” once the right answer was found.

The Hult Prize is a partnership event of Clinton Global Initiative and the Hult International Business School. It is the world’s biggest social entrepreneurship competition promoting the budding social entrepreneurs with the most compelling social business ideas that address the grave issues faced by billions of people across the world. The 2017 Hult Prize “President’s Challenge” is “Refugees – Reawakening Human Potential” which will focus on restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies who are forced into motion due to various injustices and pressures. The campus round was held where the ideas of all participating teams were judged, and the campus winners announced.

Meanwhile, at Avatar, the flagship invite-only leadership event, the quest commenced to find the one who is best suited to be a CEO. One representative was selected from each of the over 30 invited colleges, and in the first battle of what is to be a three day war, the participants clashed to establish their supremacy in the mastery of business concepts and practices.

But business is not about profits, and to re-iterate this in a time when more and more companies are striving towards a triple bottom line approach, Shiksha is our attempt at making a difference to the lives of school and undergraduate students. Aimed at promoting higher education, Shiksha strived to create a unique learning experience by way of simulated IIM classroom learning, career counseling, a soft skills development session and much more. Recognizing the need for early career guidance, Shiksha also conducted a workshop for school students to help these children make informed career choices. The participants of the workshop were also exposed to the history of Indian businesses through a visit to the country’s first ever Business Museum set up here, in IIM Kozhikode.

To relieve the stress of all the complex business challenges being thrown around, spot events like Komikaze and Minute to Win It evaluated the fun quotient of the participants with mini games that tested hand-eye coordination, team synergy and on-your-feet thinking.

The evening’s attraction was Glory Road, a first of its kind achievers talk at campus. The event featured five eminent speakers from five different domains, who inspired the audience with their stories. First on the stage was Ms Moira Dickson, Ex HR Head, BBC Worlwide, Co-Founder, Audience of One Foundation. She talked of her journey spanning roles from broadcasting to investment banking to charity, and all over the world, and of the importance of situational learning, and, ergo, of general management. She stressed and restressed the importance of accountability – never miss a deadline, never hide things – and of not chasing money, but seeking to bring more responsibility to whatever role one is in.

She was followed on stage by Mr Amar Bhushan, author and ex-RAW Special Secretary. With decades of experience behind him, he started his talk with, “the last time I addressed students was in 1965,” – to a huge round of applause from the crowd. He talked of the day-night difference between corporate and RAW culture, but emphasized that the underlying leadership qualities are quite similar. Through numerous anecdotes, he drove home the importance of being a good listener, of not being ruthless – “it’s easy to be ruthless, but very difficult to take people along” – and the utmost, indispensable value of integrity. He ended his talk with valuable advice: “If you’re a good leader, if you’ve carried people, you’ve been honest, passionate, and you’ve managed to inspire that passion in your team… then you’ll be remembered.”

The next speaker on stage was Mr Rahul Chari, Co-Founder PhonePe, Ex Vice President, Flipkart. He talked of his journey through various startups like Mallers, PhonePe, and at Flipkart, Snapshopr and Qiddle. He emphasized the importance of failing, failing faster and failing better. He urged the students to view failure not as impediments but as stepping stones.

The next speaker, Chetan Shiva, Logo Creator, Mind Tree Consulting, captured the audience with a straight from heart account of his struggles with cerebral palsy, his journey from engineering to philosophy, his interest in defense and research papers therein, and the importance of pursuing your destiny no matter what obstacles life puts in one’s way. The captivated audience showed their admiration through a spontaneous two minute long standing ovation.

The final speaker was Mr Subhash Talekar, General Secretary, Mumbai Dabbawala Association. The fits of laughter never stopped among the audience as he regaled them with witty accounts of the Dabbawala’s achievements and milestones, one after the other, from the time they were invited to dine with PM Manmohan Singh, to when they attended Prince Charles and Camilla “bhabhi’s” wedding. But through all the jokes and puns, he drove home the importance of dreaming big.

As the event wrapped up, the audience, enriched with food for thought, dispersed into the food stalls to find (delicious) nourishment for their bodies too, to grab a bite, and then rush to the auditorium just in time for the night’s movie screening… and with that the first day of Backwaters drew to a close.

Compiled by Anirudh Gupta | Public Relations Cell, IIM Kozhikode

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