The competition was tough with 81 publications from 43 universities across 15 countries. But Raintree Notes from the Campus, the campus magazine of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), beat them to win the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) PR, Marketing and Communications Awards, 2010.
Launched in April 2009, Raintree, created for and by the IIT-B community, provides a platform to showcase the talents of young editors, contributors, illustrators and photographers. The magazine is the common thread that runs through the entire IIT community including students,
faculty, staff, their families, other residents, retired faculty and alumni.
“Winning the award was fantastic, but the best moment was when the international audience that reviewed the magazine regarded it as a practice that should be adopted by other universities as well,” said Jaya Joshi, the editor of the magazine, who travelled to Australia to collect the award in November. “The aim was to create a publication that would reinforce IIT Bombay’s image as world-class, self-confident and self- assured institution of learning.”
While the institute brings out a host of technical and research magazines, Raintree’s issues are thematic and have dealt with topics such as alternative school education, debates on fundamental research versus applied research, campus ecology and the barbers who have cut the hair of the likes of Nandan Nilekani, former head of Infosys. The unique visual arts in the magazine is a team effort of students and faculty from Industrial Design Centre (IDC).
“IIT-B has brought out lots of so-called technical magazines, but this is something everyone who is interested to know about the IIT-B relates to. It is a window for looking-in and looking-out of the institute and one magazine that is read by all section of the IIT community, both present and past. No other institute magazine can claim to do that,” said Damayanti Bhattacharya, COO, IIT-B Alumni Association, who wrote the first draft of the concept note of the magazine. The magazine even inspired alumni to publish a book of their escapades called Madhouse: True stories of the Inmates of Hostel 4. “We all started writing anecdotes of our past for Raintree and then decided to publish a book,” said Bakul Desai, an alumni and contributor.
For the student community, the magazine is a platform to express their views that go beyond academics. “We have got students to write on issues that everyone can relate to. For example, a girl wrote on how it is to stay on a campus dominated by boys. We have done articles on faculty-student relations and what students want from it,” said Antariksh Bothale, a mechanical engineering student and part of the editorial team.
Faculty members, too, are avid contributors. “For an educational institution it is very important to have a space that can accommodates diverse points of view with no agenda and Raintree serves that purpose for IIT-B,” said Shishir Jha, a member of faculty and part of the editorial team.