KCL Indian Political Society, a new society, hosted its first event of the year this weekend. Despite the engaging discussions on Day 1, they postponed Day 2 until further notice.
The KCL Indian Political Society hosted the first event of the year, titled “India: A Hindu Nation?” on Friday, the 18th of October. It was in collaboration with the KCL Political Economy Society and SOAS Political Society. The event was initially meant to last for two days, but due to a lack of representation in their parties, they have decided to postpone the second day until further notice. The reason being the lack of perspectives that come with a low turnout, especially given such a highly controversial and interesting topic.
Rhea Kher, the President, introduced the event by stating that the main aim of the society was to “help everyone learn more and understand the various points of view that colour our diverse nation [India].” Throughout the event, everyone was able to witness these different views through discussions between the participants and the audience. Every major Indian party was represented in the Parliament: the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), All India Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and Aam Admi Party (AAP).
The first day catered to each participant’s opening statements which would elucidate their argument. This activity was led by the Head of Events, Prashasti Saxena, in a very composed and organised manner. Each participant made heavy claims on their party’s behalf. From their speeches, it was very clear that they had tried their best to emulate current party members and their speech style. One notable participant was a member of the AAP who seemed to have been dressed like the (in)famous Arvind Kejriwal, the present national convener of AAP.
The major arguments between the major bipartisan factions (BJP vs INC) were unmissable; The BJP-led faction seemed to push forth the majoritarian view that the party wanted to appease the mostly-Hindu population of India; however, they were unclear on their stance with regards to their question. On the other hand, the INC made their argument very explicit, stating that India is a secular country and making a clear distinction between ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Hinduism’ as two different concepts.
Smaller and regional parties were able to make points on behalf of their own states. For example, the DMK, the Tamil party, put forth the notion that India, being a Republic, should have no religion pushing forward its agenda. One of the most compelling arguments was made by the representative of All India Trinamool Congress, Vatsav Soni. He brought up the most pressing issues that India is facing as of present: the refugee crisis, Article 370, and the role of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) in the BJP’s government. He also argued for bipartisanship and called for unity in the Parliament. His well-delivered speech was one of the most influential, not only with the other participants but also the audience.
The last argument caused quite a stir in the Parliament, and Phase 1 of the event ending with big questions surrounding Article 370, failing democracy and the BJP’s constitutional amends. The event ended with a closing comment by the President and the day was then adjourned.
Overall, despite the postponement of Day 2, the event showed off the Indian Political Society’s capabilities as event hosts. They were able to kick their society off with a very successful event and in my opinion, they were definitely able to achieve their goal of encouraging healthy and objective discussions of politics in India, currently. With the country facing various issues and controversial matters under the consecutive leadership of Narendra Modi, understanding Indian politics has become very relevant. The society is trying to make Indian politics more accessible not only for Indians but anyone who is interested.