When Mahatma Gandhi held a public debate with the orthodox thinkers on the evils of untouchability, Hindus were forced to concentrate on the issue they had hitherto taken very lightly. Indian freedom fighter Bhulabhai Desai’s capabilities as a lawyer were realised when he defended three soldiers of the Indian National Army in court, who had been accused of treason to India during the World War II. In 7th century AD, Adi Shankara travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. India’s glorious past in debating is no hidden fact.
To celebrate this tradition of debate and discussion, the University of Delhi (DU) teamed up with the British High Commission to organise the Great Debate — an inter-college competition in which 46 DU colleges participated.
Five qualifying teams then competed for the top prize at the Viceregal Lodge before DU vice chancellor Dinesh Singh, the UK high commissioner Sir James Bevan and the panel of judges. The topic for the finale was, ‘It is the best time to be young.’
Akshay Labroo and Nikhil Saha from Ramjas College were declared the winners of the debate, earning a one-week sponsored tour in the UK, which includes visits to historical sites, academic institutions, and cultural events along with peer group interactions. A visit to the UK Parliament and a Virgin Atlantic training facility are also planned.
The other four teams that made it to the final round are: Sri Venkateswara, Dyal Singh, Miranda House and Janki Devi Memorial Colleges.
“Debating is not just an art; it is also a science. There is form and there is substance – if you have the facts on your side, then make sure you hammer that into the judges. And if you only have form, then make sure you hammer it into the audience so that they applaud for you. Eventually, what clinches a debate is a punch line based on conviction that comes from a source of higher moral authority. We would like to engender and encourage debating in the university,” the DU VC said.
In his speech, Sir James Bevan listed the top ten reasons as to why Indian students must choose UK as the place to pursue their higher studies. As for the amount that goes into sponsoring a UK education, he said, “Studying in the UK is not cheap. But in life, you get what you pay for; quality costs money. And the cost of a UK education is possibly the best single investment you can make in your own future.”