We all have a parliamentarian inside us, don’t we? It’s no wonder that one of the most comprehensive books on Indian history is called ‘The Argumentative Indian.’ We have an opinion, and we need an excuse to express it. Chai stalls, water coolers, boardrooms, bedrooms.
To anyone, anywhere.
But consider the possibility of getting heard at the very seat of institutional democracy.
Goa institute of management received a special invitation from the state legislative assembly of Goa to participate in the student parliament, a competition organized by the state assembly every year for various college students across the state of Goa. The participants were from colleges like the Goa engineering college, BITS Goa, Dhempe college etc.
This was the first time GIM had been invited (as the tournament is usually amongst grad colleges, but this year it opened up) and we’re glad to say we left a mark. GIM claimed the trophies for the 2nd runner up college (overall) and a trophy for the best parliamentarian (Cedric Menezes) in its debut year itself.
Being pitted against political science and law graduates was a challenge with which most of us were overwhelmed with at first. But our 23 parliamentarians did not bow down in the face of adversity and with some superhuman powers of time management, struck a balance between daily assignments, class presentations, end term exams and parliamentary debating.
GIM’s twenty three were divided into the
treasury bench and the opposition. The competition involves a 90 minutes simulation of the Indian parliament or the state legislative assembly. These 90 minutes are broken down into a question answer hour and a parliamentary debate (in our case it was on the foreign university bill). The participants were so true to the cause, that in the process of simulation of the parliament, they emulated its processes in its entirety. The member’s speeches were interrupted with abrupt applause from their own party and boo’s from the opposition party. These interruptions became so blaring at times that the speaker himself had to convene and restore order in the house. In true parliament fashion, opposition members would take digs (sometimes personal, but all in light humour) against the ministers- being sarcastic about their past achievements and doubtful about their future plans.
The debate on the foreign universities bill turned out to be quite an aggressive and exhaustive one with opposition criticising it on various counts like it being elitist, it having no provision for backward classes, it not including a central regulating body etc. The government outlined the greater benefits of the bill in terms of better quality of education, availability of more subjects for students, substantial increase in research projects etc.
We had been involved in the preparation of the tournament for months and when it finally materialized, all of us were enthralled. I’m always wary of using clichés to express myself, but I’ll make an exception this time around as it was definitely an experience that most of us will cherish all our lives.