Ghandi Commemoration and Tour of Parliament
October 12, 2023

Ghandi Commemoration and Tour of Parliament

On Monday, the A- Level Politics and History students had the opportunity to attend a ceremony marking Mahatma Ghandi’s Birthday followed by a tour of Parliament. We were lucky enough to experience this thanks to Sahil Vaid Hansrani, a former civil servant and a friend of Dr. Handa’s who was organising the ceremony in Ghandi’s honour in his role as Director of the All-Party parliamentary group on India.

The ceremony was led by the Indian High Commissioner, Vikram K. Doraiswami and Baron Meghnad Desai, member of the House of Lords. We listened to speeches about Ghandi and his contribution to causes of peace, self-determination, and racial equality. High Commissioner Doraiswami, in his speech, thanked St. James’ School for attending the ceremony.

After the speeches, Indian military officials laid flowers at the feet of the statue, as did Baron Desai and the High Commissioner. Edward was also invited lay flowers, representing the school. The event ended with a photo of us with the Indian diplomatic officials in front of the statue of Ghandi at Parliament square. The High Commission officials were particularly interested in us, engaging with many of us in conversation saying they appreciated our attendance.

Once the attendees of the ceremony had started to disperse, Sahil and Baron Desai led us to Parliament where we entered through Portcullis House, due to an event occurring in Westminster Hall hosted by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. This gave us the unique experience of entering the open, modern office building where most MP’s have their offices. We then passed under the road through the tunnel and onto the historic Parliamentary Estate, which is where we walked passed Andrew Bridgen, Reclaim Party MP for North West Leicestershire. We carried on through the Parliamentary estate to a House of Lords Committee room, where we were seated and got to ask questions to Baron Desai and Sahil. Baron Desai took questions on: his views on the War on Terror, the Invasion of Iraq, how he became a Lord, the Shadow Cabinet, constitutional reform and more. Baron Desai gave lengthy and in-depth answers to our questions which gave us different, interesting and intelligent perspectives many of us may not have considered. Once the questions drew to a close, we all gathered to take a photo of us in the Committee room, before Sahil and Baron Desai took us to the House of Lords chamber and the throne room where he explained the history and significance of the art and the purposes of the rooms in which we stood. Sahil led us to the House of Commons chamber. We stood in front of the front benches, either side of the dispatch box, where we were told about the history of the Commons chamber, and realised how much smaller it is in person.

We started to make our way out of the Parliamentary estate, by the Victoria Tower, where we thanked Sahil and were dismissed. We were incredibly lucky and grateful to receive such an enriching experience which will help to contextualise much of our History and Politics A-Level courses. This trip was incredibly useful for those of us who study History, with Ghandi, De-Colonisation and other parts of parliamentary history being on our course. The relevance to Politics students is somewhat obvious, Parliament is the heart of the British political system and we were grateful to be brought right to the heart of it by two insiders. The trip was more than just relevant to both our History and Politics A-Level courses, it was also a fascinating and fun experience we were very privileged to have. Many of us hadn’t been to Parliament before Monday and it was a really amazing and enjoyable experience for all of us and a great way to see it for the first time.

Lucas S – Year 12

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