Welcome to the world of full fledged practice, Mr. Chhaya.
It’s official… beloved of many, professor Neelkanth Chhaya is retiring from active duty as Dean at Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University.
A farewell speech on Tuesday the 19th at CEPT.
1. Typical contractor’s life is not elite anymore. Despite the Audis and BMWs…
- The respect and reputation once enjoyed by civil engineer run construction companies are now shifting to PMCs
- It is assumed your product would be the worst possible
- Most of those who know the problems you face create all the safeguards in contracting to protect themselves, against you, assuming you are scheming
2. Every side you are dealing with expects you to bear their costs and expectations:
- Labour force expects you to pay them more
- Client expects to pay you less
- The designer wants you to carry out their wishes
- Other professionals e.g. services, lighting or landscape designer, are either ordering you around or questioning your performance
- The project management peeps want to prove their worth by cutting down on project cost, and so, are ever trying to find ways to shrink areas open for profit
- Third Party Inspectors are ever calling your bills inflated, or your work substandard
3. You are dealing with the severest pressure to complete the work
- All delay and time lost at all other stages of the project planning is supposed to be rectified at execution stage
- You have the most unskilled and unorganised bunch of folks at your disposal to do that work
- You need a lot of money upfront to carry out the work - because most people have not heard of mobilisation advance, certainly not of timely payment – excepting your daily wagers
- Huge capacities are required on your side – It’s not easy to pack up and just leave once the work begins
4. Most big projects will be decided based on, or negotiated to, the lowest quote – even where technical competence/ good quality work is a prerequisite
- So you are expected to complete on your (high) quality but compete on the quality of the lowest bidder
- Governments are increasingly adding the clause of no extra payment to the contracts, but there is almost always extra work
- Even the contracts which are fair to begin with turn into financial nightmares because of delays, not always from your side
- The line between what may be termed reasonable and beyond reasonable time is blurred, and so the revisions are not easy to come by
5. Your calculated profit is very often punctured
- There are almost always delays and extra work. Time is a cost and the prices rise and rise:
- Now, you are expected to absorb the cost of occasional whims within the same price – when earlier, extra work was where you made your money when the quote had to be competitive
- You are expected to charge only on the work finished – No one wants to pay for delays caused on their side
- The work that you are doing is not always guaranteed to be paid up, tempting you to plan it in such a way that you can’t be shown the door abruptly. This is the enemy of doing the right thing
- Often the last payment won’t come – and it doesn’t surprise you anymore
6. The shadyness in this profession is mind boggling
- If you are dealing with land, the laws are over a century old, and you get to see the worst of government bureaucracy and legal system in your course of work
- The paperwork is a mess, and the land ownership status, permissions and transactions are grey at best of times
- There’s more black money finding its way in your profession than anywhere else
- Use of force is common. Squatters and forceful occupiers, as well as those who are required to remove them by using force, are invariable parts of the game
7. It’s not a great world you inhabit, being treated as a scum and/ or a meal ticket
- In a government contract, nearly everyone involved wants you to pay them a percentage
- In a corporate set up, either the sleaze is the same or more than in a government project
- The individual client is in no doubt that you are ripping her/ him off, and so is weary of trusting you
- The only people you can exploit are poor. The most money you can make is by pinching on the safety and benefits of the unorganised and poor workers
8. Your payoffs go beyond the work even when you are expected to charge only for work
- In order to survive and prosper, you ought to keep an open mind towards cops, politicians and their relations, local government officials, unions, naxalites and local gangs
- Because the work deals with materials, stealing and associated worries are yours to deal with
- Designers/ other consultants are often expecting a cut from you – to make up for the money the client refused to pay them, or out of plain greed
- Money is required to be poured to clear your pending dues – something the Government Schedule of Rates doesn’t account for
9. This is after the already high social costs
- Praise is difficult to come by
- It is a crude profession, many people you’d spend your time with are rough at edges and low on sophistication
- People are pleasantly surprised, and never miss pointing out the fact, if you turn out to be educated or articulate
- Those who dig you are after your money and what it can buy
So you are expected to, and blamed if you do not, deliver the best quality work. This is fair to expect, except that all the others don’t keep their end of the bargain. It is very difficult to have a long term perspective on things if everything is so hurried and unorganised. Things are not always formal, and when they are, the burden of paperwork is truly depressing. Tweaking a famous saying, ‘it’s not that being a contractor corrupts, but it sure attracts the corruptible’. So either you are not nice, or the world you’re in is not nice. You are required to forgo your respect for a legit, honourable and transperant society and the law of the land if you have to make decent money. Those who know the problems don’t want to address them, and nobody wants to pay for them. The way things are, it has severe constraints and great temptations. In this aspect, this profession is the same as a business. It basically needs people who can swim in murky waters. This often throws out the good within you. And it’s not fun anymore.
Till yesterday there was some hope, at least for students as Garba continued on a small scale, only for ‘insiders’ i.e. students and faculty.
Now that the Garba is cancelled ‘on account of heavy rains’ and the stage dismantled, all one can do is to contend with rumors and half truths. One of them stating that the student’s councils refused to shoulder the burden of any controversy and carry on with the Garba and so it is called off.
Already there is shock and anger over faking of passes: @
If the stories doing rounds are true, then someone couldn’t hold their drink, and misbehaved. If true, it raises many questions on how the growing big/ growing up process is going to be painful for CEPT. Also, there are incredible stories about someone misbehaving with some very important persons (a concept properly understood only in India) and also about students carrying prohibited substances into the campus (that part is credible, to tell the truth) So notably, being rounded up for that.
The ownership, liberties, and casualness with which campus life has carried on for the past years will and ought to change, with growth in numbers and statutes. Bigger things are at stake, both from students’ side, as well as from those who have the responsibility to run the show. Just hoping both parties would become more responsible as they go along, and nurture the spirit that supported this place for all this while, without losing the responsibility that the future is placing on them.
If any or all of the hushed stories be true, these are the troubles of coming of age, I hope. And also, I wish Garba is not sacrificed because of individual stupidities or systemic lapses…
Its truly disheartening and disappointing – what is happening at School, and CEPT.
Navratri has always been a point to look forward to for all who are associated with CEPT. There is a lot of energy and students are willing to go the extra mile by making decorations, manning the gates and in general, dancing and yet showing up for regular classes/ submissions. Many alumni plan to visit school and meet during this time. Faculties, past students, their children, all come and everyone has fond memories of learning or teaching garba, warm atmosphere, glowing diyas, enhanced by some of the young children coming back as students.
For many years, the profits made during Navratri were able to support the Students’ Festival held in February each year. So it always was a big event, smaller in stature only to the once hot rock shows. Only for Navratri it was easy to get sponsorship. Those who are not from CEPT, are always eager to drop by; and passes to CEPT Garba, as they are available in very limited numbers, are endowed with privilege, and difficult to come by. People who are otherwise pricey will recognise the obligation of the one who got them an entry.
When passes were expensive and there was a cap on the number of people students could bring in, there was always the temptation to create fakes, or work around the system by using the same pass twice. Some students knew the places where the campus boundaries were porous and where one could get an illegal entry or transfer the pass once used. Also because of the same, those involved in checking the security would always keep checking the perimeter during any events.
In the beginning, they put students from each school on campus to ascertain the alumni and students were not finding a false entry at the gates. Those guys sacrificed their garba time to do this duty. Most student sentries overlooked alumni getting a couple friends or family members under the names of their batch-mates; also recent past students using their student id cards to gain entry. All in all, the system worked on trust and was loosely monitored. But that changed this year.
This year, someone thought of shaking that trust. Of creating fake passes and selling them for a profit.
There are more skeletons in the CEPT closet… Part II will break your heart if you loved School.
Crime pays Council of Architecture.
The thugs at Council are at it again. Coercing new educational institutes – to bribe them for granting recognition – or threatening to put their name on their website where they’ve derecognised an institute/ college. A team of three architects (academicians, practitioners, active members) visits to physically examine a college when the Council has to grant or renew its recognition which enables students graduated from the same to obtain registration from Council.
They carry an elaborate evaluation format to account for the infrastructure, academic strength and other support facilities to students. The visitors interact with faculties, personally examine the laboratories, library, classrooms and other ancillary and note down their findings. Proper paperwork is always submitted. On the basis of adequateness emerging out of this visit, Council is able to determine if an institute/ college is good enough to impart architectural degree worth recognising.
Now for quite some time, this is the situation: Whether their team comes for the first time or to renew the CoA, they are either assumed corrupt, or, actually are corrupt. Most of us know someone who has been asked to entertain them or pay them off when they come visiting an existing institute.
There are examples of them making a big show about cancelling the recognition (all the while pressurising a head or owner of a private college to shell out) knowing very well they will give back the recognition notwithstanding the other merits or demerits.
Why they can get away with this:
Because of The Architects’ Act 1972 that established their monopoly to register architects granting them licence to practice.
So if you are from an institute that taught you enough to become a good architect (design, build etc etc), it won’t do. To run a professional practice, you must have a Council of Architecture registration,
There being huge variation in the quality of education provided by the various institutes, a college considered adequate by Council is accepted as halfway decent (to ensure an architect is well trained is the said recognition for her/ his Alma mater).
More and more clients are falling for limiting the competitions and public projects to Council registered architects.
What is plaguing them:
1. There is power grabbing and infighting within. Imagine forcing shut the president’s office or one faction breaking the lock put by the other faction on the same. All within India Habitat Centre premises.
2. Most office bearers have been there for a long time, and they are there without merit. They are also so bureaucratic one can’t believe it.
3. Their greed knows no limit.
They are stupid enough to charge Rs. 10 per day of delay when a certificate of registration is not renewed in time. Whether this delay in renewing is for a few days, or months, they have the same stick to beat you. Heaven forbid if you were away for some years – they’ll still claim that you have made profit or otherwise benefited from their certificate, so you should pay.
This is over and above the registrar sitting in the office for far too long, and all the benefits that brings.
4. They have abused and will keep abusing the power vested in them by the parliament, and there are no checks. Whoever could imagine them derecognising a college because the head refused to bow down/ address the Council member in a certain manner. Instances of taking personal offence and doing this for egotistic reasons are rampant.
5. Oh, and in a sure method to harm other professionals, they are pushing for private architectural practices which are individually owned (proprietorship) or partnerships – which means that one may not dare to risk raising their liability for big projects. True, it will keep engineering behemoths from hogging projects meant for architects, but client is unlikely to know the difference between an all architect company and a partnership between an architect and an engineer.
6. They have started making their own standards for considering who does and who doesn’t qualify for registration/ to practice, even if recognition is granted to their university. For example, some students who entered early and finished their course in later than 5 years are at their mercy – all because their college became a university and switched to degree certificate. They won’t agree to register them – despite same campus, same teachers, same education.
7. They have started their own course, which is clearly a conflict of interest.
In short, they’ve gone rogue… Pity architects are not activists. MHRD, please wake up.
Remembering Rishi Balasariya, beloved son of Rini and Lokendra.
Now it’s one month since you are not with your brave parents, but all those who knew you will always remember your brightness and your smile. RIP Rishi.
Peace and strength to your family.
They say that in academics, the battles are so vicious because the stakes are so low…
A letter arrives/ is put up saying “Read this”
And then one gets to read through unimaginable amount of manure that covers whatever bit of truth there may be in the text.
At first I wanted to show my bewilderment at the great depth at which all involved are stooping, and how stupid it comes across to the others. Then, I was amazed at the intensity of the sparring, and now, I have sort of given up thinking about it…
For my views on C. E. P. T. and what is happening before this went to papers/ arrived in everyone’s inboxes:
How BHP Conquered CEPT: A similie on 67th Independence Day
On India’s 67th Independence Day, let me narrate this story that began a long time ago.
It was a divided nation that I speak of. Started as a great one, but one that had degenerated slowly.
Sparring at best, warring at worst.
Everyone to their own little fiefdoms. All untrusting of all others, marred by conflicts.
Weak from inside, threatened from within and wide open to outside threats.
All afraid of a bigger fish, or licking up to the closest alley (resulting in some strange alliances, often) and for the shortest term easy gains. Anarchy for most, convenience for some.
Society rotten to the point of breakdown of all economic and moral systems with no inclination to collaborate and think of a bigger dream.
Yet unwilling to give up their booty… even at the peril of losing it all.
An outsider, a third person, observes this opportunity. With earlier attempts at penetration having failed, now recognising that their time has come. They enter as friends, observe all weaknesses. Some genuinely frustrated functionaries, misfits, and some who were plainly out of favour welcome the Trojans.
The new entrant, like a virus, feeds on the weak flesh, and grows stronger. They open the door for more soldiers from own army and also get other insiders to help them. They divide the already divided (or rather, never united) society. Now the new armada advances with full lethal force, and attack the dilapidated structure.
The Czars of erstwhile territories, with their immunity destroyed by their own stupidity crumble, and ultimately the whole crydom comes tumbling down.
And everyone now looks to the rising Sun as future. Most are ready to put the past behind and look at things fresh.
Nature’s way of cleaning, or colonising: you decide.
At first, the wall said: ‘Hum Nahin Zukenge’ (We will not bow down)
Next, it shouted in bold red: ‘Keep Calm and Embrace the Change’
Opposite, in small letters, now it says DO NOT KEEP CALM: THE TIME HAS COME (We support BPLAN)…
On the wall at entry, a series of them… one says “Do not experiment.”
And many other things about unity, resolve to fight, and some caricatures about those who are, supposedly asking them to keep calm. Small posters, lining the entrance to School buildings, and at other random places including the basement. Apart from this statue tied up in ropes outside the office. Strangely reminds one of similar things in past. Only better organised, and as is obvious, by more aware students.
Wishing them a bright future and a satisfying resolution of whatever is causing the black and red letters.
A movie by Hindi Film Industry (Bollywood, as some call it, mostly those who’ve never been to Hollywood) depicting ‘South’ India is sure to make some mistakes. But now I’m tiring of people complaining about movie Faux pas as regards how it portrays the South. And it’s not even released yet.
Those who are upset by the trailers and promotion which are a mere tip of the iceberg, take note:
Firstly, it is not supposed to be realistic. You go see it to be entertained. Enter only if you understand it’s a work of fiction!
Secondly, people don’t go to see a Shahrukh Khan movie to learn about South Indian culture. They either know enough about it or they already have an ignorant, stereotypical idea of South, just like many Indians have about India they don’t know. (For example, enough people don’t seem to realise that MP is in central India, and Assam is not in China)
Thirdly, most people are aware that an actress is playing a character, and her accent is not to be taken as perfect even if she has tried to work on a faithful portrayal. Sticklers, please stop fretting about Dipika Padukone hailing from Karnataka and not TN, and her accent not being anywhere near Tamil – it’s ‘south Indian’ enough for the rest of the world.
Fourthly, not one who is not bothered about other cultures need complain about caricaturisation of their cultures, it’s our way of assimilating. If we did not want to see a multiple extras Bollywood variant of any traditional dance, we will not show up for a Chennai Express or a Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Really. Like it or not, we are all one nation (Mumbai being bigger than that), and 25 variants of English won’t change anything.
Lastly, know that A) people will be lazy. Some will not do enough research, some will not rehearse enough, or some will cast wrong stars in wrong roles. B) people will be greedy. Movies will be made by the stars, for the stars, and not for middle class sentiments about their crumbling cultures. and C) people are stupid: They will go and watch idiotic cinema, believe in stupidest of stereotypes and make money and contribute to continue the cycle forever.
So, like the rest of the country, see the movie as a rendering by Mumbai media (and a whole melting pot of India), and enjoy it if you can.