From the 26th to the 29th of February, the Heritage Institute of Technology conducted the first Heritage Parliamentary Debate, bringing together a blend of some of the city’s finest debaters along with enthusiastic debutants, and everything in between.
Institutes with a penchant for logical argumentation around the city have for some time been committed to the development of a proper Kolkata Debating Circuit, and the success thus far in its growth has been noteworthy. One of the instruments of promoting healthy debating was this initiative by the Quiz and Debate Club of Heritage.
Core adjudicators for the Heritage PD were Arindrajit Basu (NUJS), Ira Chadha-Sridhar (NUJS) and Anuvab Bandopadhyay (Heritage) – three of the finest debaters and adjudicators in the city. Assisting them were the Presidency duo of Sargam Sharma and Saurya Sengupta. A host of students from colleges like Presidency, NUJS, St. Xavier’s, IIT Kharagpur and of course Heritage itself, participated as debaters and adjudicators.
This was the first time I had participated in a tournament as an adjudicator, and I was looking forward to the experience. For a lot of the first-time debaters, the demo debate on “This house being a Western liberal democracy, will make aid to developing countries contingent upon these countries repealing their anti-sodomy laws” held significant relevance in understanding speaker roles, case building and just generally setting a standard of argumentation.
Over the weekend of 27th and 28th February, we help five rounds of debating, culminating in the top 8 teams moving on to the knockout stages, and the top 2 novice teams to not make it into the knockouts (incidentally ranked 9th and 10th) made their way to the Novice Finals. Interestingly, the novice finals featured a cross team of one Heritage first year student along with two young school students from Birla High debating against an NUJS novice team. The cross team took home the title of Novice Champions and the cash prize that comes along with it.
After five intense rounds of debate and deliberation on topics as diverse as class distinction in India, the FIFA scandal, the exoticization of India is western popular culture, feminism, and whether soldiers should have the right to deny war duty based on their conscience, we had the top 8 teams making it into the business end of the tournament. Along with them, we had 14 adjudicators making the cut as well, yours truly being one of them.
Three NUJS teams filled the Semi Final berths, with the final spot taken by St. Xavier’s College. The Semi Finals and the Final were held on the final day of the tournament – 29th February. We celebrated the day that appears only once in four years with wonderful displays of logical rebuttal. The Final of the inaugural Heritage Parliamentary Debate tournament proved to be an all-NUJS affair, with the team of Nikhil Iyer, Kushagr Bakshi and Jalaj Pandey taking on eventual victors Suchisubhra Sarkar, Adithya Iyer and Arka Banerjee Chowdhury. The motion for the grand Final was “This house supports the glorification of the Indian Intellectual.”
The final debate was undoubtedly of very high quality, and so close that no unanimous decision could be achieved. The verdict was split 6-3 in favour of the Opposition by the 9 member adjudication panel. Suchicubhra Sarkar, Adithya Iyer and Arka Banerjee Chowdhury took home the Heritage Parliamentary Debate winners’ trophy. Srijeet Bhattacharjee, formerly of Presidency, took home the prize for best adjudicator, bringing the memorable tournament to an end.
This was a noteworthy event in the progress of Kolkata as a debating powerhouse. At this point, I must congratulate the Organizational Committee for somehow successfully carrying out the seemingly impossible job of organizing a tournament in just a fortnight. Special mention must be made of the Tabulation Team, who worked very hard and provided unbelievably quick and accurate results.
It was a pleasure adjudicating for the first time. Turns out, I was ranked 4th among all competitive adjudicators in the tournament. It was wonderful to oversee some really quality debates and to see the spirit of debating grow in my college. Heartiest congratulations to all the winners, and I’m proud to say we had very enthusiastic participation from Heritage freshmen and women, which is always a good sign.
On a different note, Kolkata Bloggers was the online partner for the debate tournament. At Kolkata Bloggers, we have always believed in speaking our minds as long as we make sense – which in essence is the pillar of debating as it exists. We were happy to be an instrument of promoting healthy debate as a form of mental exercise and personality development trait.
We hope you all had a wonderful time at the Heritage Parliamentary Debate 2016. We will be back again next year, bigger and better. Till then, here are a few frames frozen in time by Aditya Sanyal that you can relish.