We are

The IDG is one of the oldest and most respected societies of St. Stephen's College, Delhi. It looks to broaden perspectives by discussing a variety of issues with eminent personalities.

Our talks often throw up some very unexpected answers and, even more often, some very unexpected questions.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dodi and the Dingbats

Taking over from King Richard and courtiers,
Dodi-al-Fayed and company.

The Executive Council, 2008-2009.


Ashwati Menon

Vice Presidents:

Akash Bhattacharya, Maryam Fatima


Abhishek Bhattacharyya


Krittika Bhattacharjee


Swati Rawat


Arjun Rajkhowa

Gurnoor Dhillon

Nithya Kochuparampil

Roshni Kapoor

End Of Year Report, 2007-2008

Anoushka Shankar on Contemporary Music

Siddharth Varadarajan on Kashmir

Sumanta Banerjee on 'Chairman Mao in India'

The year began with Sumanta Banerjee’s opinions on ‘Chairman Mao in India’ interspersed with those of Chair Abhishek. All that could excite Vijay Shankar about the CBI was the ad hominem attacks on him by the media. Soli Sorabjee helped Stephanians develop a clear perspective on judicial activism by whispering his comments into our ears. Jean Dreze’s analysis of the NREGA was an eye-opener for many. Siddharth Varadarajan reminded us of the hellish state of the ‘Paradise on Earth’.

Coming to international issues, the IDG mistimed Parthasarathy’s talk on Pakistan- it was held when Mrs. Bhutto was optimistic about the upcoming elections. The Chinese Ambassador came face to face with Majnu Ka Tila in a highly volatile Sino-Tibetan debate. Swami Agnivesh was calm but unsparing in his criticism of religious dogma as opposed to ‘Proactive Social Spirituality’. S.N.Balagangadhara (and co.)’s attempt to redefine religion in India met with a confused appreciation.

All those hoping for musical treats by Advaita and Amjad Ali Khan had to satisfy themselves with ‘informal discussions’ on music with intermittent demonstrations. Madan Lal stunned many admirers of Indian cricket with a frank assessment of the problems and unique features of the same. Siddhartha Basu provided an insight into what goes on behind the television screen. That talk also provided an upset of sorts with Akash actually failing to ask a question during the course of the session. Dr. Jitendra Mohan made the complex ‘Science of Happiness’ seem entertaining. A couple of pleasant evenings were spent with Ajit Ninan and Sarnath Banerjee with discussions on cartoons and graphic novels respectively.

Dr. Roma Chatterji’s wonderful presentation of the ‘9/11 Impact’ on folk art of Bengal made those present feel pity for those who were not. Anoushka Shankar addressed an avid and mostly male audience on fusion music and the country Africa.

The IDG, elsewhere

Alternative title: look how famous we are.

Shashi Tharoor
: "This was the St. Stephen's I knew, and none of us who lived and breathed the Stephanian air saw any alien affectation in it...the nocturnal Informal Discussion Group saw articulate discussion of political issues."

(Shashi Tharoor, 'The Hindu', 12th September, 2004.)

A very similar sentence
. Shashi Tharoor, Inaugural Lecture, 125th Year Anniversary, St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

(Taken from Kooler Talk, Web Archive)

End Of Year Report, 2006-2007

Juan Carretero Ibanez, Cuban Ambassador to India.
And the boy who offered him a cigar.

An IDG talk in session.

Qana was being bombed as the IDG met for the first time, with David Danieli, the Israeli Ambassador to India. Later in the term, one-time fighter pilot and Palestinian envoy Osama Musa gave us the Palestinian Perspective on West Asia and 9/11. Ms. Aruna Roy, Mr. Sankar Singh and the MKSS was engaging as well as entertaining in enlightening us on the RTI act and its ramifications. The IDG (in association with the Student's Union Society) also organized a public debate on the RTI, this time with the administration's and the media's perspective added. Jyotiraditya Scindia wowed everyone with his Porsche and his Porsche.

Cricket Historian Boria Majumdar confided to us that sport is as apolitical and politics is sporting. Nandita Haksar, a lawyer-activist, speaking on the rights, wrongs and in-betweens of the Afzal Guru issue generated much heated discussion. There was a smile on every communist's face as they were treated to a multilingual delicacy by Juan Carretero Ibanez, the Cuban Ambassador to India, and party. William Dalrymple and his books and his projector came, and went. Nandan Nilekani was business-like in his dismissal of DU-prescribed readings on Labour Laws.

Former IDG member, Dilip Simeon provided us with a mature and thought-provoking analysis of the Naxalite movement. Mani Shankar Aiyer made the audience inebriated with his wit and with the brave defense of the UPA government. Shatrughan Sinha's presence attracted people never seen before at IDG talks and Shiv Shankar Menon could only have pleased both Senior and Junior members with his matter-of-fact analysis of India's foreign policy.

Pavan Varma waxed eloquent about being Indian. Jayant Narlikar brought the complex concept of Panspermia down to earth with his simple and elegant treatment of it. Vandana Shiva presented a survey of the largest US seed-producing companies in her discussion on India's need for small farmers . Ramachandra Guha re-found many admirers with his witty and energetic talk on the role of faith in Gandhi's politics. Screening of critically- acclaimed 'Khamosh Pani' and a discussion on the issues the film addresses- the partition and the rise of religious extremism in South Asia- by Director Sabiha Sumar marked the end of an eventful year.