Symposium - Parliament of the Republic of Hindu College
Parliament of the Republic of Hindu College
Goal: The College Parliament is a student body that enriches the higher education experience of Hindu College students by exposing them to new frontiers and paradigms of education, discussion, and debate. Officially known as the Parliament of the Republic of Hindu College, it is a historic student body that aims at active student participation in running the College. It is a collective endeavour to build an engaged and informed community of students in the mode of parliamentary democracy. The running of the College and its everyday concerns is a collective process and the parliament allows all members of the College community to bring their unique strengths and perspectives in this open forum. The Parliament is a forum for discussions on academic and administrative issues. It is an excellent training ground for public speaking and leadership qualities. It has an annual budget session where it allocates funds to various societies and departments. It organizes and conducts seminars, festivals and other events throughout the year. The Parliament reconciles the emerging national and global responsibilities of the students with their local sensibilities.
Context: The Hindu College Parliament is the only student organisation of its kind not only in the University of Delhi but also in the entire country. All the students and teachers of the College are its members. In the beginning of the academic year, the College holds student elections, free from the general DUSU elections. The students elect the leader, known as the Prime Minister from amongst themselves at the beginning of the year and the student who polls the second highest number of votes gets designated the leader of the Opposition in true parliamentary tradition. The Speaker of the Parliament is a teacher nominated by the Principal in his/her capacity as the President of the Hindu College Republic. A Cabinet of Ministers is also constituted, to which the following portfolios are allocated: Finance, Cultural Activities, Literary Activities, Library, Sports, Students’ Welfare, Canteen, Environment, Girl Students’ Welfare, and Physically Disabled Students Welfare.
The Constitutional Clauses of the College Parliament allocate the Parliament with the power to enact such legislation which may promote the welfare of its members, and the power to debate national and international issues. The annual budget session is held to decide the fund allocation for the various cultural societies and student clubs for the duration of the academic year.
The Hindu College Parliament was initiated in order to inculcate in the students a sense of community and social responsibility. The Republic of Hindu College is considered a microcosm of the Republic of India and as such aims at a holistic education and preparation of its students as concerned citizens of the country. The Parliament, therefore, helps prepare the students to be active, involved and responsible members of the Indian democracy.
The origins of the Hindu College Parliament go back to India’s struggle for Independence, during which it was a centre for intellectual and political debate. It was constituted in the 1920s [begun as parliament - social union] to teach the students the art of public speaking and parliamentary etiquette, and was an active site of intellectual activitives during the years that followed, especially during the Quit India Movement. Over the decades, the College Parliament has hosted Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It helped secretly shelter the revolutionary leader Chandrashekhar Azad in the College. In 1927-29, its members came out in large numbers in Chandni Chowk’s streets to protest against the Simon Commission. Ever since its inception, this student body has been integrally associated with Indian national history.
The Practice: The College Parliament constantly strives to empower the students and evolve into a paradigm of inclusive and participative administration of college affairs. It unites an increasingly diverse student population, overcoming diversity arising from discipline, socio-economic background, region, religion, and language. Not only does it provide equal access and equal voice to each and every student, it also empowers those voices by including them in the practice of college administration. It provides an open space for the members of the College community for healthy debate and interaction.
It unifies all other cultural societies and student bodies that are part of the vibrant corporate life of the College. As such, it oversees the running of all cultural and extra-curricular academic activities, of all societies of the College. Over the last many years, the Parliament has been responsible for organizing the Annual College Festival called ‘Mecca’, which is one of the biggest college festivals in Delhi University, in terms of scale and corporate sponsorship. The Parliament forms a number of student committees to oversee all aspects of the annual festival – sponsorship, organization, as well as security. Aided by a large team of student volunteers, the Parliament has been responsible for the success of the annual festival over the last many years. Many popular and acclaimed artists, such as the bands Jal,Daayra and Euphoria, Javed Ali, Rekha Bhardwaj, and Vishal-Shekhar, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit-Chitra Singh, Daler Mehandi, Sabri Brothers Qawwals, Saleem Suleiman have visited and performed in the College through the initiative of the Parliament. Under the auspices of the Parliament, the College has also hosted prominent academicians, writers, and scholars namely Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Dr. Kunal Chakraborty, and Dr. Romila Thapar. During the centenary celebrations of the College a number of luminaries were invited in the College including the then Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Other important dignitaries that have visited this esteemed institution are Smt Shiela Dixit, Smt. Vaijayanthimala Bali, Smt Smriti Irani, Shri Arun Jaitley, Dr Subramanian Swamy among others.
The parliament has also recently begun organizing an annual literary festival called Mushairah which includes panel discussions, book discussions, presentations, and cultural performances.
The Parliament is also responsible for a number of other events organized every year such as the Freshers’ Meet and the Graduation Night. All of these events are conceptualized, organized and managed by committees constituted entirely by students.
Through its regular sessions of debate and discussion that are held in the College Parliament which is always filled to its capacity, the Parliament empowers Hindu College students with new and essential life-skills that would lead to experiential and wholesome learning. The wide array of perspectives that each and every member of the Parliament is exposed to ensures the kind of all-inclusive growth that would ensure the students become socially aware and responsible citizens once out of college.
The Parliament is equipped to address the accelerated pace of globalisation coupled with the ever-changing landscape of higher education in the country, which is evidenced by the increasing number of inter-college, inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental events it organizes. It actively involves itself in university, national, and international level debates and is cognizant of the increasing need of ensuring the evolution of pedagogical and administrative practices with the times. It has kept up with the legacy of political activism that it inherited from the time of its inception.
Evidence of Success: The success of the College Parliament is evident in the fact that it has survived decades of existence among ever-changing external conditions and has continued to teach and empower its members. All sessions of the College Parliament are attended by students in large numbers and it continues to foster a spirit of active communication and participation among them. The responsibilities shouldered by the student body have intensified over the years. The Parliament has integrated within it a large and very diverse student body and has gone a long way in making education a truly inclusive experience. Education, in Hindu College, is not limited to what is taught inside the classroom. The Parliament shoulders a bulk of the learning experience of Hindu College students outside the classroom. Its responsibilities extend to democratic allocation of funds for student events, notably the College fest Mecca. This is done in a budget session that the whole student body is encouraged to attend.