Students’ Union of Lady Shri Ram College proposes cancelling Tarang, their Annual Cultural Fest in the current political scenario, however, receives arguments on both ends.
In a political scenario as such being faced by the country today- with unpopular bills being enacted into laws, unlawful internet shutdowns being imposed, students widely protesting across the country and many being victims of sheer violence by the Delhi police while others not being protected by them, the Students’ Union of Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) proposed the cancellation of Tarang, the annual cultural fest of the college, which was to be held during the first week of February.
Tarang is a platform for societies to organise inter-college competitions and for students to enjoy pro-nights with popular artists being invited by the Students’ Union. It is a commercialised event where sponsorships are raised to fund these artists (their fee, travel and accommodation), setting up of stages and food-stalls etc.
A General Body Meeting (GBM) was conducted by the Students’ Union on 9th January so as to discuss whether or not Tarang, a celebration, should be hosted in today’s political situation. The GBM entertained arguments from both sides- those who believed Tarang should take place, and those who felt otherwise.
Some of the claims of those against the cancellation of Tarang suggested that this cancellation would be a rather tokenistic action by the college and the students should instead actively participate in protests and carry out dissent during and beyond Tarang. Some believe that cancelling Tarang isn’t enough to represent solidarity if other DU colleges continue to host their annual fests. They believe that this would not guarantee any impact on the government and only be a huge waste of resources.
Students, particularly from performing societies, argued that these societies and the Organising Committee (OC) have worked tirelessly for months preparing for this event and with the cancellation, will also incur a huge financial loss given the sponsorships were raised several months prior. However, they suggested that if this loss is compensated for, they would not have any reservations against cancellation.
Other arguments were presented suggesting using Tarang itself as a platform of expressing dissent via art forms, moulding the agenda and theme of the event so as to make a political statement. They suggested removing the “celebration aspect” of the fest, particularly the pro-night.
These arguments were countered by the claims of students advocating the cancellation of Tarang. It was argued that in this grim scenario where public universities and fellow students are under attack, and where our democracy is in danger, it would be “insensitive” to hold Tarang, while the students of LSR affirm to support the students’ struggles. A commercial fest in such a scenario appears unfitting.
They believe that cancelling Tarang would be the most decent and bare minimum step by the students, making a strong political statement. Given that it is one of the biggest college fests in the country, it would also set a precedent for other colleges to take equally significant political stances in their capacities.
“My personal opinion is that we shouldn’t hold Tarang during these fascist times where students like us are protesting day and night, where brave woman of Shaheen Bagh have taken up the streets leaving the comfort of their homes to raise their voices against what is happening in the country. We cannot justify having a celebration when we do not know what is happening in Kashmir, Assam and people have lost their jobs, degrees, daily wages and lives. Dissent is never comfortable and we, as students of LSR need to look beyond the factor of our enjoyment. Tarang cannot be politicised so anyone believing that we can is just cannot look beyond their apathy, indifference and insensitivity”, quoted Prashansa Singh, Treasurer of LSR’s Students’ Union.
Some students also argue that this commercialised fest has also failed to be inclusive of the marginalised groups. It usually represents a homogeneous culture and most of the food stalls, etc. are not affordable for everyone.
The minutes of this GBM was shared by the Students’ Union across the students of LSR where in the opinion of the union was cited- “The union expressed that they do not feel appropriate to have Tarang at this point, given that it revolves around a sense of enjoyment by having pro nights and food fests. While going to protest is a choice, by cancelling Tarang – a student body initiative the students have the power to make a huge political statement against what’s happening in the country right now. Furthermore, protest and resistance are not meant to be comfortable and convenient. Students’ Union feels that even if Tarang moulds itself as a way of showing active dissent, it would be an appropriation of the protests happening on the streets in an enclosed safe space”.
The Students’ Union has suggested the release of a poll on the matter so as to collect the general opinion of the student body. However, this too is opposed by many students claiming that polls would fail to collect well-versed opinions. Some also argued that by favouring majority vote, we would be basically “oppressing” the minority, leaving no difference between ourselves and the very government we are opposing.
On an Instagram page “overheardlsr”, multiple anonymous messages were received suggesting that the GBM held by the Students’ Union on this issue was highly biased and appeared to be “threatening” to those who supported the hosting of Tarang. The Students’ Union allegedly seemed judgemental against the performing societies and did not allow easy arguments against their own stance.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives