While fasting alongside social activist Anna Hazare in April, Vyomesh Panchmatia, 30, noticed that the youth participants at the protest were fewer than he expected.
“I realised that the youth really needs to speak out about issues that affect our country. They should see it as a duty to the society, and need a way to critique the existing socio-political scenario,” said Panchmatia, who runs a timber business in the city.
Inflamed by this thought, Panchmatia and Kushal Mehra, both of whom are members of the NGO, India Against Corruption (IAC), decided to organise an inter-collegiate debate to provide students a platform to express their opinions.
The debate, Kartavya, is being organised by the IAC in association with the Mumbai University and in partnership with the Hindustan Times. The elimination rounds began on July 20 and the finals will be held on August 6.
Students from 40 colleges across the city are currently participating in the competition. Each participant will receive a certificate signed by Anna Hazare. “I chose to participate in this event because IAC is a great movement in a country that is fighting against corruption,” said Divya Rao, 20, a student of Sir JJ College of Architecture.
“It has given me the chance to become more aware of events that affect us,” she added.
With topics such as ‘Is India truly secular?’ and ‘Are social networks the best way to take part in a social movement?’ the contest has seen a tremendous response from students who turned up in droves to be a part of the audience in different college campuses.
The finals of the debate will take place on August 6 at the Mumbai University Convocation Hall in Fort and is open to the public.
“My experience as a moderator has been tremendous. The participants were very well informed, and will go places with the right kind of mentoring,” said Anil Kohli, 54, one of many moderators for the debate. “It is heartening to see that the younger generation is both aware and alive,” said, Kohli, who gave up a corporate career after 33 years to focus on philanthropy.