War cries can be heard amidst scores of people seated in the Hindu College auditorium. It’s the day of the Prime Ministerial Debate, a battleground among warring factions that sets the tone for the highly anticipated college elections a couple of days later. It’s a pleasant pandemonium. Each Member of Parliament, seated, or standing high in passion to congratulate or hit back at the contestants in the cult like rhythmic chants of the crowd, is engaged in rhetoric, enabling a process that also keeps the person next seat engaged, politically. In what might seem like a cacophonic environment characterised by sloganeering lies the political dispensation of Republic of Hindu College that every student here actively engages in.
Poetics doesn’t seem to shy away from the jam-packed auditorium for the right and the left sides support different candidates. The event, which is in its 5th year now is organised by the Symposium society of the college. It is a celebration of the parliamentary system that the college follows, a microcosm of the national level parliament.
The college parliament is a students’ representative body that has a Prime Minister with her cabinet, the leader of opposition, Speaker and the President. Members of Parliament are the students of the college who sustain the ethos of the system by coming out in large numbers to vote on the day of elections. The cabinet has ministers with individual responsibilities of Finance, Literature, Sports, Culture, etc. The Prime Minister, on her discretion elects the cabinet ministers. Even the Civil Services finds representationas secretaries actively work under various ministries.
With the beginning of the session, political activity in the multi-layered structure of varsity politics at DU is visible in the college, much in line with other colleges. In the run up to elections, bringing in various departments (smaller political bodies) and societies within the fold of a faction forms a major part of the political strategy. That identity politics keeps at an arms-length from the college’s political contest is evident from systematic bludgeoning of any attempts at giving the contest an identity based colour.
The Parliament is also responsible for allocating funds to various societies that run in the college. Part of the agenda is focused on enabling impediment free environment to the societies and their functioning.
As an institution, its functioning is steered by the Speaker (a faculty member) whose appointment is done by the President (College Principal). With seasonal sessions, on lines with the national Parliament, one dispensation of the Hindu College parliament functions for one fiscal year.
Over the years, debates and discussions on various international issues like the Cold War, 1962 War with China, 1972 Liberation of Bangladesh and state sanctioned excesses and human rights violations have upheld the sundry nature of issues discussed. The parliament has passed various bills in relation to issues of national and international importance.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s approval of the college’s system while claiming that “India has only 2 Prime Ministers. One sits in the Indian parliament and other in Hindu College”; his categorical equation, is symptomatic of not just the structural credibility of the institution but also its workability in representing the students.