Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Himalaya- the MESS

All of us are aware of the fact that the sole purpose of setting up the Giga mess is to provide better quality of food through competition. At least that was reason we were told, when the idea of Giga mess came up. And last month’s reshuffling strategy disproves all this notion of competition.

To those of you who are not aware of what happened last month, here is the account. A large number of students opted for CR, where the quality of food was better than others. It turned out that the number of students who opted for CR was almost the double of the next mess. The management and the “caterers” decided that this was an unacceptable distribution. It seems that the CR management themselves expressed their inability to cater to such a large number of students. Hence people were distributed almost equally to the three caterers. Some 150 were given the facility to dine in CR and 50 in RR, to provide the “competitive edge”. I don’t think the previous statement explains the situation clearly.

Let me be more precise.

If ‘x’ is the number of students dining in Sakthi, then ‘x+50’ is the number dining in RR and ‘x+150’ is the number dining in CR.

If I am not wrong with the figures, each mess gets almost equal number of students and in a total strength of 2300+ students, I am not sure how this 50 or 150 students is going to bring in a competitive edge! And the spirit of competition that was the essence of this Giga mess concept is surely sidetracked. So why do we have Giga mess?

As coming to choices made by students, I don’t think many people got the mess of their choice. They were redistributed randomly to suit the number quota, making a mockery of the whole process of choosing options. [And dropping votes in a ballot box.] If they were in anyway going to be distributed randomly, why these claims of letting us make our choice? This is not directed at any individual, but at the system and the forces that run it.

And does the present system breed competition in anyway?

Besides being assured of the minimum number of students a caterer is bound to get, he is also assured of the fact that the number he has is going to stay for a month. Not only does this inhibits competition, but makes them complacent .If I know that I will get at least 700 people to eat the food I cook for a month, what attempt will I make to improve the quality? I can even afford to compromise on taste sometime during the middle of the month. All I need is to make sure that the food tastes good during the last week or may be ten days of the month. Is this what we wanted? Is it for this that we are forced to walk long distances, during sun and rain, even for tea?

In the ideal model as I see it, mess allotment should be on a daily basis. We have our smart cards anyway and their advantage has already been demonstrated in Cenlib. So why not let us choose our caterers on a daily basis? Let the caterers put up their menu daily. We can go to the mess of our choice by using the smart card. Swipe or whatever the card at the mess you want to eat and the cost of the dinner/breakfast gets transferred from your account to the caterers. This is more like a hotel where our bills are prepaid. This method of daily choice not only keeps the caterers on their heels, but also improves the quality of food. When I am not sure about how many people are going to eat at my mess, I try to draw more people by providing tasty food. Who doesn’t want to maximize his profit? This search for profit is what is going to improve the quality.

You may ask me one question. What if the food gets over and people are left without food? This can only be a short term problem, for a week at most. After all this is what it takes to enjoy good food, a minor glitch before the start of great days.

This is the idea of a perfect competition. This may be a utopian vision but certainly not difficult to implement. Good food can be the only pay off for all the fight we put to go to Himalaya.


VARUN AV said...

you know what?
when they asked to apply for a choice, i simply did'nt...
on the final day, i just had to ask
the guys sitting there to change mine to CR..
and they did..
CR rocks man...
RR sux.

Shankar said...

i takes a lil effort to implement all this..but insti is lazy :(

?v&s said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
?v&s said...

'd understand it this way....the implications of haiving the kinda of system ure suggesting will be far reaching....and not necessarily as you think :for the good....
wat if on a given day some caterer decides to offer good food and lures all the ppl away....special dinner.....who is supposed to pay for the unconsumed food at the other mess.( one thats been going really good) u think the pricing stategies are goint to be the which case....are you still going to pay for the breakfast...or wat if you decide to skip a meal...i mean i dont have the time to delve further but since uve foddered the idea..i wish u come up with a better engineered solution...notwithstanding my

Sri Vallabha said...

@ v&s

dear aditya,
the idea is to charge you for the food you eat. swipe the card before you enter the mess and you are billed. also you will not be charged for the day u dont eat. isn't that fair enough?

i will engineer the solution if i am sure that any one is going to consider it seriously. given our insti and the situation, no point in refining details.

?v&s said...

yep..insti is next only to me interms of being lethargic..
any way keep posting...
i'll have a jolly good time reading...and finally a quote..
" the practitioner of theory ,only wen also a pratitioner of practice is a good practitioner"....anonymous( urs truly )

Sri Vallabha said...

eye-opener: it seems that the redistribution has been sacked and students can go to the mess they opted for.