Loud and Clear: National Champions At National Law University, Cuttack

Loud and Clear: National Champions At National Law University, Cuttack

Afif Janjirkar | Apr 01, 2019

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Clarion, the official debating club of NITR, last won a speaking competition in 2017 at KIIT, Bhubaneshwar. Please do not misinterpret the first sentence as belittling or mocking the clubs achievements, but rather it serves as a testament to the difficulty of competing and winning from within a pool of the best debaters in a country with more than 20 million students. But these enormous odds did not deter Clarion who after 6 days of practice sessions per week, 2 years, 104 weeks, 728 days later, finally, deservedly, was crowned the Novice Champions at National Law University, Odisha. They were vouchsafed with this title on 24th March, when the team of Animesh Pradhan and Chodaganga Pradhan clinched the first place in the novice category, Brtish Parliamentary Debate (BPD) format at the National Law University Odisha, Cuttack. 

What is British Parliamentary Debate?

The British Parliamentary style debate is the main form of academic debate. It is the official style of the World Universities Debating Championship, European Universities Debating Championship etc. There are two sides called the Government and Opposition. These two sides are divided into four teams and the speakers are titled:

  • Opening Government (Team 1):

  1. Prime Minister

  2. Deputy Prime Minister

  • Opening Opposition (Team 2):

  1. The leader of the Opposition

  2. Deputy Leader of the Opposition

  • Closing Government (Team 3):

  1. Member of Government

  2. Government Whip

  • Closing Opposition (Team 4):

  1. Member of Opposition

  2. Opposition Whip

Speaking alternates between the two sides and the order of the debate are, therefore:

  1. Prime Minister

  2. The leader of the Opposition

  3. Deputy Prime Minister

  4. Deputy Leader of the Opposition

  5. Member of Government

  6. Member of Opposition

  7. Government Whip

  8. Opposition Whip

* Speeches are usually asked to speak for seven minutes in duration in BPD.

To gain a more connate and informal understanding of the working and intricacies of the BPD, team MM had a brief conversation with Siddhesh Borkar, President of Clarion.

Below is an excerpt of the same which provides insight into Clarion’s journey at NLUO and more.

Monday Morning: Tell us about what happened at NLUO?

Siddhesh Borkar: It was a British Parliamentary debate tournament. There are basically 2 types of Parliamentary Debates:  Asian parliamentary and British parliamentary. We usually participate in the Asian parliamentary debates but this time we decided that we’d go for British as well. The main difference is that APD has a team of 3 while BPD has a team of 2. We were 5 teams, out of which three were novice teams: Chodaganga (who we affectionately call Hitish) and Animesh, Aishworya Roy and Aditya Tripathi, and Rudransh Sharma and Rajnandini Panda, and two were senior teams: me and Swayampurna, Nishan and Anubhav. Apart from this, there were 4 adjudicators as well. There are 4 preliminary rounds and on the basis of that, four teams qualify for the novice category in the finals and 12 teams qualify for the mains semifinal and final.

Aditya and Aishworya broke into the mains whereas Hitish and Animesh qualified for the Novice finals. The team that are novices are separately ranked from the mains team. The 12 mains teams can also include novice teams, and because Aditya and Aishworya were very good, they were bumped up to the mains. We used to have our own NITR parliamentary debate but it could not be conducted last year due to administrative issues. So this year, instead of organising our own PD we decided to focus more on tournaments outside. In PDs most of the participants are from Law schools. Their primary focus in their college is speaking, and other English related exercises, making it difficult for engineering students to vie with them. So winning is a huge deal, and these guys won this time. Other than that we consider reaching the Semis, Quarters etc. to be a coup. 

MM: What were the problems you faced?

SB: One of the major problems in SAC is that the authorities judge the clubs’ performance by the number of events orchestrated within the Institute. But our agenda isn't exactly to conduct events. Our objective is to train the Clarionites here to become better debaters so that they can go outside and excel there, rather than doing an event for the sake of doing it. Last year we were asked the question “What are the events you’ve conducted inside the institute?”, and since they don't exactly understand what parliamentary debate is, they can't really appreciate when we win or perform well. But our faculty advisor is really good and he vouches for us everywhere.

MM: What are your thoughts on the current debating culture at NITR?

SB: One of the main problems that NITR has is that most of the people communicate in Hindi, Odia etc. At the National level, most of the competitions where people engage from different states, take place in English. As a result, we feel that the students here, even those who are inquisitive in literary competitions do not get good enough exposure. And there is only so much we can teach them at NITR as we are also limited in our knowledge. If there was an event conducted by the institute to improve the general vocabulary and communication skills then that would be better as an oratory exercise because first, you need to be confident to speak, only then can you form proper opinions.

MM: How do you feel about the victory?

SB: I think that since I have been active in Clarion, for the past 2 years, the culture has improved a lot. Our activities and achievements are on a steady increasing graph with each passing month. I think that the juniors are going to do a very good job of carrying this forward. I can definitely see us winning in an open category and not just in the novice category in the next 1-2 years.

Past Stratagems

Glory Road

As a debater, it feels ecstatic to win a parliamentary debate. The entire credit goes to Clarion for grooming and guiding us in the right direction. The NITR contingent has been very supportive and encouraging throughout the journey. None of this would have been possible with anyone other than Chodaganga. He is the best partner one can ask for. Moreover, this victory has instilled a sense of confidence in me as a debater and opened up new avenues for improvements. I hope we bring more laurels to the Institute in future.

-Animesh Pradhan

The team of 14 departed NIT Rourkela for Cuttack on the evening of the 22nd March. The competition was held at NLUO and was partaken by 32 teams (30 visiting, 2 home) across the mains and novice category.

The preliminaries consisted of 4 rounds for the Novice section out of which the 4 teams with the highest points advance to the finals. The team placed first in each round was awarded 3 points and the points were subsequently reduced by 1 with each fall in position. The last placed team ends up with 0 points.

The Preliminaries:

Round 1: The motion was “This House (TH) as the feminist movement will treat women who promote patriarchal values as victims of internationalisation of those values and not enemies to rally against.”

Animesh and Hitish formed the opening opposition. They came second, entering the second round with 2 points.

Round 2: The motion was “TH supports protectionism in the Indian technology sector.”

Animesh and Hitish formed the closing opposition this time rounds and placed third, taking their points tally to 3.

Round 3: The motion was “TH, as India, will extend military support to the protests in favour of an independent Balochistan.”

(Context to the motion was provided)

The Clarion team took on the role of the closing government and placed second in this round.

Round 4:  The motion was: “THBT states should be held liable for human rights violation for companies operating within their territory.”

The Clarion team was positioned as the opening government and once again placed second.

The debate team from NITR finished the preliminaries with a tally of 7 points, the highest in the novice section making them the first team to break into the finals.

Novice Finals:

The motion: “TH Regrets the glorification of purpose-driven education as opposed to the inherent value of learning.”

Position: Closing Government

Points: 3

Verdict: Champions

BPD at NLUO was my first BPD and I didn't have much prior knowledge or experience in BPD. Thankfully, the Intra-Clarion practice debates happened before NLUO BPD and they helped me gain some experience in the format. So, NLUO BPD will always remain memorable for me being the first notable achievement in parliamentary debate. First of all, I am grateful for having an amazing debating partner in Animesh Pradhan. The best thing about both us is we are frank wiht each other regarding debates. Be it mistakes or misunderstandings or demands for more practice, we share it unequivocally. So, transparency is something which makes our partnership special. Animesh goes as the first speaker, and I go as the second speaker. The best thing about him is- even if we have less content, he can structure his speech and substantiate in such a way that it exactly fits 7 minutes and 20 seconds, which helps me a lot and allows me as a second speaker to build my arguments on it. Secondly, of course, I would like to thank each and every member of Clarion who supported us in this achievement. I would especially like to thank our president Siddhesh, who motivated us to participate in this BPD at a point when we were about to give up going to Cuttack for some reason. He trusted us and genuinely believed that we could do it, and fortunately, his constant contagious motivation worked and we did it. Apart from that, all other Clarionites who participated in practice debates, who went with us to NLUO and kept cheering us up till the final roundwere indispensable in this win.

-Chodaganga Pradhan

Team Monday Morning congratulates Clarion for its success at the 4th NLUO Parliamentary Debate, Cuttack.


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