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Indians win the argument: School students win silver medal in world debating championship in Croatia

The five students were shortlisted after screening more than a thousand students from over 300 schools in 12 cities, said PR Venketrama Raja, chairman of Ramco Group, which supported the initiative.

india Updated: Aug 06, 2018 11:35 IST
CS Kotteswaran
CS Kotteswaran
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Indian students win silver medal in world debating championship,Indian students win Worlde Debating Championship,World Schools Debating Championship
Tamil Nadu school education secretary Pradeep Yadav, Ramco group, chairman, Venketrama Raja and Team India members who won the silver medal in World Schools Debating Championship 2018 pose during a felicitation program in Chennai. (HT Photo)

Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, in his book ‘The Argumentative Indian’, sings praise of India’s culture of dissent, debate and discussion. A group of Indian school students have proven it by winning a silver medal in the World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC 2018) held in Croatia last month.

On Wednesday, the Indian students were felicitated in Chennai by the Indian Schools Debating Society (ISDS) and the Ramco Group. The five students – Saranya Ravindran, Tejas Subramaniam and Hemanth Chakravarthy from Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) school, Chennai, Manya Gupta from Neerja Modi School, Jaipur, and Dhananjay Ashok from The International School, Bangalore – made a mark on a highly competitive international stage to bring accolades to India. The event was won by China.

The five students were shortlisted after screening more than a thousand students from over 300 schools in 12 cities, said PR Venketrama Raja, chairman of Ramco Group, which supported the initiative.

“Indian Teachers, next time when you see a student debating or arguing in a class do not punish, but encourage them as they may turn out to be good speakers,” says Dhananjay Ashok, who was adjudged the best speaker in the tournament in which teams from 68 countries participated.

“This is India’s best-ever performance. Team India reaching the finals and winning the silver of this internationally renowned debating competition is a matter of pride for all of us,” said Raja.

Explaining how the idea of fielding an Indian debating team came about, Raja said: “A conversation with my wife dating back to 2005 resulted in the concept of making English debates popular in schools. In 2008, the group started supporting ISDS, which is a non-profit society. We are happy that this took off, and today India not only competes but also wins at the global level.”

One of the members of the winning Indian team, Hemanth Bharatha Chakravarthy, said, “Singapore and England are always tough competitors as they are very good and thorough in preparations, but this year the Indian team managed to do well against them.”

Hemanth, who has just cleared Class 12, is looking forward to joining Harvard University, where he has been admitted to an Economics course.

Similarly, Dhananjay Ashok of International School of Bangalore, who captained the team, will soon head to the University of Toronto to study Computer Science. Two of the other team members, Tejas Subramanian and Manya Gupta, are in Class 11, while Saranya Ravindran is in Class 10.

“We prepared and went through rigorous training in the last one year. Even during the seven-hour flight to Croatia, we were just researching and reading a variety of books, ranging from Economics, international law, and arts and culture of various nations to understand our competitors and to work out our strategies,” says Manya Gupta.

The team narrowly lost to China in the all-Asian final with a 5-4 split verdict while proposing the motion: “This House believes that the West should end all arms sales and military cooperation with Saudi Arabia.”

According to an ISDS official, Indian teams found it very difficult to defeat teams from native English-speaking countries like England and New Zealand until a few years ago, but that is now a thing of the past.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 23:08 IST