Instilling confidence

Debating never means cramming, it means thinking your own way

Debating in Kashmir:

Debating in Kashmir, unfortunately, is just a poor illusion of real debating. In our society, debating means getting a topic beforehand, googling, cramming up and presenting your ‘individual’ self before audience; thus creating situations where air heads are masked as debaters. If it is all about mere rhetoric and communicating flowery punch lines, then why call it debating and not public speaking in the first place?

Looking at the magnitude of importance debating enmeshes in the present day world, it becomes mandatory to mention that Kashmir exists nowhere in the realm of debating. But there is a hope – an overwhelming response has been noticed whenever a debate-like activity is introduced in Kashmir; students pick up pretty skillfully. It thus becomes need of the hour to introduce the real spirit of debate in the youth. If debate culture improves in the right direction, it will hopefully  reflect the betterment in standard of thinking and expression in Kashmir.

Why debating?

Debating is a titanic sport and is gaining popularity in the world, including India. It involves the process of critical thinking, providing analysis and reasoning of every argument you put forth; answering a ‘why’ to every statement you make. The whole spirit of debating boils down to ‘proving’ every thought you believe.

The fact cannot be denied that a degree alone is insufficient to get you employed in the current scenario. Gone are the days when marks sheet used to speak on behalf of a person at the time of assessing his or her abilities. Status quo demands a verbal proof of what certificates claim you are. Debating equips students with a fair level of confidence and brushes their personality into a charismatic one. The most beautiful feature associated with debating is that it instills in a powerful capability to listen patiently and speak or interject within set constraints. Participating in a debating tournament; interacting and understanding the ideas of debaters from different places and backgrounds open latent dimensions of human brain. The mental horizon widens and you believe in a fact because it makes sense rather than because it is just said!

Most of the educational institutes have debating societies where students attend regular debate trainings. When an institute is hosting a debating tournament, invitations are sent to different debating societies worldwide. Interested students can register by submitting the fee which includes accommodation and inter-city travel.  Students can participate as speakers, adjudicators or volunteers. Participation at speaker level is in teams of two or three depending on the format of the tournament while individually students can participate as adjudicators or volunteers. Most of the tournaments extend for three days and the first day involves a workshop on format and rules of debate. Multiple rounds are held and all participants are required to debate in the preliminary rounds. On the basis of team scores there is a cut off for selection to further rounds. The topic for a debate is out a few minutes before the round starts. Debaters can carry printed material and books along. Paper reading, pronunciation and accent hardly matters; the crux is that debate has to be informative, convincing and to the point. Debates are carried out in standard formats, the most common being British parliamentary, Australs and Asians.

Details of debating tournaments:-

The most prestigious debating event is the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) which is held at the end of every year; each year in a different country decided by World Universities Debating Council. The other magnanimous events include United Asian Debating Championship (UADC), Australian Women Debating Championship (AWDC) and Australs. India alone hosts a handsome number of tournaments including those at NLS Bangalore, RVCE Bangalore, IIT Mumbai, IIT Delhi, IIT Roorke, IIT Madras, INDC, NALSAR Hyderabad, VIT Vellore and others.

Way ahead

Debate societies are very encouraging and supportive. The only eligibility is a wish to participate – focus and determination. The participation procedure starts by connecting to debating circles and organizers over internet.

The author can be contacted at malik.zia754@gmail.com