Keeping Up with Veeranna


CONNECT spent a day with a Deputy Registrar who wears many hats

Photo: Ananthapathmanabhan MS


For Veeranna Kammar, “seeing is believing”– a mantra he learned from his first job as a journalist. Veeranna’s first job, as a sub-editor in the Kannada daily Prajavani in 1998, came before he even completed his post-graduation degree.

In 2015, he joined IISc as an Assistant Registrar. Now serving as the Deputy Registrar for Gymkhana, Campus Support Services, Guest House, Amenities, and Public Relations at IISc, Veeranna asserts: “Once a journalist, always a journalist.”

It is this curiosity that drives Veeranna to be present in person at various spots on campus. Veeranna easily completes 10,000 steps every day, visiting spaces around the Institute, from the amenity centres to the sports ground.

He is up at 6 am every morning. The day starts not with a coffee but with a throat-clearing kashaya mix.

For breakfast, he prefers to eat ragi and rice-based items made at home.

By 9 am, he is at work. On this day, his first visit is to the solid waste management premises and he meticulously examines the area, asking the workers about the segregation and amount of waste that were received the previous day. It is straight to the swimming pool next, about 100 m down the road. The pool is temporarily closed due to the ongoing water crisis, but Veeranna has to make sure that things are maintained well.


Veeranna easily completes 10,000 steps every day, visiting spaces around the Institute


“We do not know when the water supply will resume. So, we must be ready to open the pool if the authorities instruct us to tomorrow,” Veeranna reiterates to the pool staff. He heads into the filtration room, checking to see if everything is maintained well. While thick dirty water is pumped out as the drain pipe gets cleaned, Veeranna heads to the other side of the room to check if the sand-bed filter is in place. There is never a moment of hesitation in clarifying with the pool staff even about the smallest of doubts.

“If I see something new, I am very curious to know about it. That curiosity will lead you to learn and experience a lot of new things,” he explains, as we head towards the IISc Guest House, another facility under his purview. “While walking, I will visit some places and I will make a mind map of ‘requirements on a particular day,’” he reveals. It helps him prioritise his day.

As he trots down the roads, he talks about his former life as a journalist.

“In the mornings, I used to go to college. We had a good mess in the Deccan Herald-Prajavani office, and we used to have lunch there and start the newspaper work around 3 pm,” says Veeranna.

After earning his journalism degree, Veeranna continued to work for the newspaper for seven years, learning the ropes and developing a healthy appreciation for the art of telling stories. When he eventually left journalism in 2005, he joined the information and publicity department of the Karnataka Government.

Veeranna in discussion with student representatives for various sports events
(Photo: Ananthapathmanabhan MS)

“Initially, I was posted in Bijapur for more than a year, then I was transferred to Delhi,” he reveals. He was in the capital for four years after which he returned to Bangalore for a year-long stint at the Karnataka Chief Minister’s media wing. He then took a job as an Assistant Registrar at Karnataka Central University before moving to IISc.

As we approach the guest house, Vipin, an administrative assistant, comes out of his cabin to have a conversation with Veeranna.

As he continues to walk around the campus, students greet him. Immensely popular among the students, Veeranna has plenty of time for the youngsters. “Every day, I encounter a lot of students and I ask them about their specialisation and their thesis,” says Veeranna, smiling. “One student was telling me about tectonic plates which I got interested in. I will ask him about it again.”

He finds every day on campus refreshing. “I stay in the campus quarters and today I woke up to a peacock’s song. There are also a lot of flowers. It is very safe as well,” he says.

For Veeranna, staying on campus offers a sense of belonging, as he chances upon many people at IISc including faculty, students, workers, and frequent visitors at his Public Relations Office.


‘Everyday, I encounter a lot of students and I ask them about their specialisation and their thesis’


At 10 am, he reaches his office, and nodding to his colleagues, he pops into his cabin and turns on his computer. On the wall is a spread of the top view of the upcoming sports ground at the Institute. He checks his emails, focusing on the upcoming Spectrum interdepartmental sports fest, as he prepares for a meeting with the students at the Gymkhana in the evening.

Apart from overseeing Public Relations, he also heads other sections. So, signing documents related to tenders from various vendors is part of his job. Veeranna rings the bell, beckoning a staff member to check the forms related to a recent tender document. As he makes corrections to the content, his phone rings. The call is from the National Building Construction Corporation seeking an office space on campus. Before he could finish the call, another call chimes in, with the speaker wanting to discuss the inaugural ceremony of Spectrum. Next, he dials the Director’s office to see if the Director is available for the next day’s torch run, to kick off the sports fest. He rings the table bell again and the office assistant, Manjula, arrives. Another tender document. Eyebrows scrunched, he reads it carefully, flagging any loopholes.

He then gets up from his chair to visit the Janata Bazaar, where some of the sports and recreational facilities are to be shifted, but is interrupted by another call and a visitor. He sits down again to receive them.

“As a government servant, I must serve them [visitors] to the best of my knowledge,” Veeranna says.


Apart from overseeing Public Relations, he also heads other sections


Two more people arrive, seeking clarity on how to join IISc for an academic programme. Veeranna asks the whereabouts and interests of the student, before suggesting that they explore the JEE mains and advises them to join the new BTech in Mathematics and Computing course in IISc.

He makes another phone call, this time to a person named Anoop, who is the Assistant Registrar at the Academic Section. Veeranna suggests that the visitors meet Anoop for further clarity.

He gets up from his chair, seeing the visitors off as he heads out. Just outside of the office, he runs into two people standing by to meet him. He greets them with warm handshakes and carries on a short conversation with them. At the end of the conversation, he gets another call, one he cannot take at the moment. Right away, there are four visitors in person and another one on the phone. Veeranna handles the small crowd seamlessly. He concludes the conversations and ensures the visitors are led to places where they can find what they need and sets out to visit the Main Building where a quick meeting with one of the Deans is set to start in minutes.


A former journalist, he believes in being present and engaging with workers, staff, and students


It is noon. The meeting with the Dean is over. Veeranna walks towards Janata Bazaar to check out the new space coming up for recreational activities like Zumba, yoga, dance and so on. He calls Manjula and requests her to bring the keys. The building is also known as the North Campus Amenity Centre. He, along with Manjula, makes sure that the lights, fans and plug points are all working. He claps in the empty hall to check for echoes. It is not just about room acoustics, he is also keen to know how much cross-ventilation the room has so that people will be at ease in the studio. Next, he walks to check the eatery at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering (ECE). With the canteen staff, he enquires about the cost of the food and the daily business. Before he breaks for lunch, he once again confirms the evening meeting at the Gymkhana.

Often, Veeranna puts off lunch for a later time as work tends to spring up during the course of the day. But today, he can eat lunch around 1 pm. Veeranna prefers a north Karnataka diet that includes chapati, rice, and sabzi. After lunch at his home, he is back to his desk to resume work. He goes about documenting his work forms, checking some, and delegating others. As a former journalist, he believes in being present in person and engaging with workers, staff, and students to make sure things are all set.

A staff member steps into his office, with a public relations document. He sifts through the document and signs it. He gets another call from the Director’s office saying that the Director has agreed to inaugurate Spectrum.

He checks the time – it is five minutes to his meeting – and sets out towards the Gymkhana. He is interrupted by another document to be scanned and approved. As soon as he is done, Anoop calls him and enquires about some finer points regarding the Students’ Council election dates. After glancing at the computer screen to check for any new emails, Veeranna closes the array of tabs in the browser and sets out towards the Gymkhana. It is now 15 minutes past five in the evening.

Veeranna Kammar chats with the ground workers at the sports ground
(Photo: Ananthapathmanabhan MS)


As soon as he walks over the bridge that connects the main campus and the Gymkhana, Veeranna is greeted by students passing by and the staff at the sports centre. He responds with a smile, mirroring the greetings. He asks a Gymkhana staff member to prepare for the meeting. In 10 minutes, all the student representatives are present and the meeting starts.

Veeranna does not believe in micromanaging, as he delegates. He even encourages the student representatives to delegate some work to other members so that they can stave away the pressure. Together, they set up the agenda for the inaugural meeting: the opening ceremony, torch run and regrouping at the inaugural space for the closing ceremony. He makes sure that the representatives are aware of what needs to be done and by what time each checkpoint on the agenda should be finished. Before he finishes the meeting, he makes a call to the photographer, KG Haridasan, to arrange for pictures of the event. He walks out of the meeting room and checks on the amenities at the Gymkhana. He stops by the dance room and the instructor, Devajani Sen, invites him to visit for an upcoming event. He assures her of his presence, enquires about the dance classes, and makes sure that the teacher feels heard.

He comes out of the building and walks towards the tennis court. A new court is coming up in addition to the existing court. He eyes the construction work. On his way to the cricket ground, he is greeted by three students. They ask about the upcoming grounds. Veeranna explains the ongoing work and the expected date of completion. Although concerned by the delay, the students are convinced by Veeranna’s explanation.

He continues to walk towards the student amenity centre and walks onto the stage where preparations related to a freshers’ event are ongoing. Two students quickly approach him and say, “Thank you very much, sir, for your help.” They are members of the music band Rhythmica, expressing their gratitude towards Veeranna who helped set up their previous event. He spends around 10 minutes with the students and encourages them to be involved in more extracurricular programmes beyond academia.

Clearly, Veeranna is a people person. Nonetheless, when it comes to work, he is a man of rules. “Since the beginning of my career in the government sector, I have been treated as a man of rules by my colleagues. I will not violate any rule … Even if I want to help [people], I cannot help if the rule does not permit me to do so,” says Veeranna. “Even if you are friendly, even if you are jovial, if you follow the rules, nothing will happen. That is my belief.”

The day is winding up, the campus lights are turning on. It is seven in the evening when Veeranna decides to call it a day. He sets off to his house, where there are plants to be watered.

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