(This report first appeared in ThePrint on 8th October 2020)
The fifth edition of ConQuest, India’s premier national quiz on the Constitution, history and politics, went completely online.
An initiative by the Centre for Law & Policy Research (CLPR), the quiz saw more than 180 three-member teams from across disciplines participate in the regional preliminary rounds that were conducted over the weekend of 3-4 October.
Questions a mix of Indian political, constitutional history
The questions were an interesting mix of Indian political and constitutional history, with some being pegged to contemporary developments, both in India and abroad.
Contestants in the East Regional Preliminary Round were flummoxed by a question about a historical constitutional document. Shown a picture of Maharaja Bochchandra Singh, teams had to answer: Which short-lived Act gave President-like powers to this monarch during the early days of Independence?
The teams were given clues, such as the fact that the Act was repealed due to the Instrument of Accession. However, out of 36 teams, only two got the answer right — the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947.
Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh of the princely state of Manipur wanted Manipur to be an independent state, rather than become a part of the Indian Union. When his subjects pushed for democratic governance, the Maharaja acceded to their demands and appointed a Constitution-making committee. This committee drafted the Manipur State Constitution Act, which made Manipur a constitutional monarchy, similar to England, and gave the Maharaja powers comparable to the President of India, or the British monarch. However, political pressures led to Manipur becoming a part of the Indian Union; and the Act was repealed by the signing of the Instrument of Accession.
Contestants in the South Regional Preliminary Round performed well on the question about the ‘Back to Track’ initiative in Los Angeles, California. They had to identify which ‘frequenter of Chennai’s Besant Nagar Beach’ had introduced this initiative, which equips former prisoners with skills to improve their employability. Given the immense publicity surrounding the US elections’ first Vice-Presidential candidate of Indian origin, more than half the teams were able to guess the correct answer: Kamala Harris.
The teams that made it
Among the 56 teams from the North Regional Round, the following eight made to the next round — Shaheed Bhagat Singh College; St. Stephens; University School of Law and Legal Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University; Hindu College; Delhi School of Journalism; Ramjas College; Sri Venkateswara College; and two teams from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University.
The South Regional Round, too, saw 56 teams battling it out. The top eight teams include two teams from National Law School of India University, Bangalore; 2 teams from School of Law Christ; NALSAR; Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad and St Joseph’s College (Autonomous).
Out of the 35 teams from the West Regional Round, the ones that made it to the next level were: Government Law College; NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law; ILS Law College, Pune; two teams from the National Law Institute University, Bhopal; two teams from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
The East Regional Rounds saw 36 teams participate. The top eight teams that made it to the next round are two teams from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata; Chanakya National Law University; National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur; two teams from National Law University-Odisha; National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi and Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College.
Over the next two weekends, these teams will be matched up in the Knock-Out Rounds to win a spot in the Grand Finale to be held on 25 October.
ThePrint is a digital partner for ConQuest 2020.