A Statement Loud And Clear: Clarion's Success During Lockdown

A Statement Loud And Clear: Clarion's Success During Lockdown

Sai Vanshika Diptanshu Swain | Mar 22, 2021

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Nobody was prepared for this. It has been a year since college had shut down due to CoVid19, and still, not many have gotten used to this new lifestyle. The college life and club culture of NIT Rourkela suffer from the same problem. However, many clubs have risen to the challenge even in these unprecedented times.

Clarion, the Literary and Debating Club of NIT Rourkela, is among those who have kept the vibrant club culture of NIT Rourkela alive. Saying that they have performed well would be an understatement. Clarion has achieved outstanding success in this lockdown period by bagging several prizes in numerous National and International tournaments.

Before the pandemic happened, Clarion used to send contingents to various universities or organisations which conducted tournaments. This year, when almost all the activities took an online turn, online debate tournaments came into existence. Multiple organisations and debating societies started organising tournaments on platforms like Zoom, Discord, among others. Online tournaments were indeed convenient and cost-effective because of the ease to access. Each of them saw an increase in participation from all parts of the world and thus gave a better competition. Clarion used this opportunity to expand the competitive spirit of its members and fortunately established new legacies in tournaments that were otherwise impossible to attend in offline mode. For that matter, it was the first time Clarion participated and achieved in international tournaments. 

Introduction To Debating Tournaments

Clarion participates in tournaments that mainly organise debates in Asian or British Parliamentary Debate Formats (a few other formats like WSDC, WUDC mentioned in the article are on similar lines with these formats). In an Asian Parliamentary Debate, there are two teams debating against one another with three members in each. In the British Parliamentary Debate, there are four teams debating against each other, with two members in each team. In a particular tournament, there are two types of participants – Speakers and Adjudicators. Speakers are the ones who debate in a team against others, and adjudicators are the ones who judge the debates as a panel. After preliminary rounds, the participants are shortlisted and are allowed to participate in the break rounds (elimination rounds), i.e., Quarter Finals and further. There are special prizes for participants who perform exceptionally well in all the rounds. Some participants are also privileged with the title of an Invited Adjudicator, an adjudicator specially invited by the organising committee of the tournament who receives some remuneration for judging in the tournament. The criteria to be eligible for this are based on previous achievements. Several tournaments have the policy of Subsidised Adjudicator, who gets a waiver in the participation fee if he fulfils the criteria put by the tournament committee of the tournament, which generally focuses on an individual's credentials. 

Team Monday Morning covers these achievements and the brilliant year that Clarion has had.

timeline

AUGUST 2020:

NATIONAL DEBATING TOURNAMENT NEPAL:

The National Debating Tournament was conducted on 5th – 7th August 2020. The international-level tournament followed the World Universities Debating Championship Format with a cap of 25 adjudicators, out of which 10 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter-Finals. Tanaya Sahoo (3rd year, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering) was one among the 10 adjudicators to break-in. 

OCTOBER 2020:

UTTHAN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE:

The Utthan Debating Society organised the Utthan Parliamentary Debate on 10th – 11th October 2020. The national-level tournament followed the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format. After all the rounds came to an end, the team comprising Aditya Tripathi (3rd year, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering), Swayam Purna Mishra (4th year, Department of Computer Science and Engineering), and Siddhesh Borkar (Class of 2020, Department of Chemical Engineering) was placed in the top 10 speakers. They were individually declared as the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Best Speakers, respectively.

NOVEMBER 2020:

LA-LIBERTA PD:

The La-Liberta Parliamentary Debate was organised by the School of Law of Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal, on 20th – 22nd November 2020. The national-level tournament followed up the Asian Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 71 adjudicators, out of which 17 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter-Finals and 6 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Grand Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi was one of the panelists in the Grand Finals. After all rounds of the tournament ended, he was also declared as the 4th Best Adjudicator.

JAPAN BP, 2020:

The Japan BP (British Parliamentary) 2020 was organised on 28th – 29st November 2020. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 48 adjudicators, out of which 21 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter-Finals, and 5 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Novice Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi was a panelist in the Novice Grand Finals, and after all rounds of the tournament ended, he was also declared as the 7th Best Adjudicator of Japan BP 2020.

DECEMBER 2020:

ADU NOVICE CHAMPIONSHIP:

The ADU (Astana Debate Union) Novice Championship was organised by the Astana Debate Union on 11th – 13th December 2020. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a huge adjudicator pool out of which a handful broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals. A few of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Grand Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi was a panelist in the Grand Finals of the same.

MELBOURNE MINI 2020:

Melbourne University organised Melbourne Mini on 17th – 18th December 2020. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 48 adjudicators. Out of which, 20 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter-Finals, and 5 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the ESL Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi was a panelist in the ESL Grand Finals, and after all rounds of the tournament ended, he was also declared as the 6th Best Adjudicator of Melbourne Mini 2020.

HALCYON CHARITY DEBATES:

The Halcyon Charity Debate was organised by the Halcyon Debates Organising Committee, Philippines, on 19th – 21st December 2020. The international level tournament followed up the Asian Parliamentary Debate format and had a huge cap of adjudicators out of which a few broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter-Finals and further rounds of the tournament, and Aditya Tripathi was one of the adjudicators in the Grand Finals of the tournament. After all rounds of the tournament ended, he was also declared the Overall Best Adjudicator of the tournament.

JANUARY 2021

GLOBAL UNITALKS TOURNAMENT:

The Global Unitalks Tournament was organised by UNI TALKS in January 2021. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a  cap of 40 adjudicators, out of which 10 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals. Tanaya Sahoo was one of the breaking adjudicators.

UHURU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:

The Uhuru World Championship was organised by the Wits Debating Union and The Royalty Pact Debating Academy on 10th – 14th January 2021. The international level tournament followed the British Parliamentary Debate Format with a cap of 206 teams. Out of the 206 teams, 16 teams broke-in in the ESL category to the Quarter Finals of the tournament. The team comprising Swayam Purna Mishra and Aditya Tripathi was among the 24 teams to qualify for Quarter Finals.

SRI VISVESVARAYA MEMORIAL DEBATE:

Sri Visvesvaraya Memorial Debate was organised by the Debate Society of College of Engineering, Pune, on 15th – 17th January 2021. The national-level tournament followed the British Parliamentary Debate Format with a cap of 62 teams and 47 adjudicators. Out of the 62 teams, 16 teams broke-in into the Quarter Finals of the tournament. The team comprising Swayam Purna Mishra and Aditya Tripathi was among the 16 teams to qualify for Quarter Finals. Out of the 47 adjudicators present during the preliminary rounds, 22 adjudicators broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, and Tanaya Sahoo was one among the breaking adjudicators who adjudicated the Quarter Finals as a panellist.

DTU PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE:

The DTU Parliamentary Debate was organised by Delhi Technological University, Delhi, on 23rd – 25th January 2021. The national-level tournament followed the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format and had a cap of 50 teams and 110 adjudicators. Out of the 50 teams, 8 teams broke-in into the Quarter Finals of the tournament. The team comprising Nishan Sah (4th year, Department of Mechanical Engineering), Parul Rath (3rd year, Department of Chemical Engineering), and Tanaya Sahoo was among the 8 teams to qualify for Quarter Finals. Out of the 110 adjudicators present during the preliminary rounds, 20 adjudicators broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, and 10 of the breaking adjudicators were in the panel for Semi-Finals. Aditya Tripathi and Saketh Avula (2nd year, Department of Chemical Engineering) were among the breaking adjudicators who respectively adjudicated the Quarter Finals and Semi-Finals as a panelist.  After all the rounds of the tournament ended, Saketh Avula was declared as the 5th Best Adjudicator along with two other participants. Overall, the contingent had a very successful run in the whole tournament.

FEBRUARY 2021:

PALESTINE POP CULTURE ONLINE DEBATE:

The Palestine Pop Culture Online Debate Competition was organised by the Debate Society of An Najah National University, Palestine, on 5th – 7th February 2021. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 60 adjudicators, out of which 13 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, and 5 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Gold Finals of the tournament. Saketh Avula was a panelist in the Gold Finals of the same.

HONG KONG WSDC:

The Hong Kong WSDC (World Schools Debating Championships) was organised by HKOWSDCI (Hong Kong Online WSDC International) on 13th – 14th February 2021. The international level tournament followed up the WSDC format and had a cap of 55 adjudicators, out of which 27 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, and 6 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Novice Semi-Finals of the tournament. Saketh Avula was one of the 6 adjudicators.

SMART DEBATES OPEN 2021:

The Smart Debates Open 2021 was organised by the Smart Debates Organisation on 13th – 14th February 2021. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 30 adjudicators, out of which 12 broke-in and 7 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Grand Finals of the tournament. Tanaya Sahoo was a panelist in the Grand Finals of the same.

AXIOM 2021:

The Axiom Debate was organised by Janki Devi Memorial College, Delhi, on 20th – 22th February 2021. The national-level tournament followed the Asian Parliamentary Debate Format with a cap of 36 teams. Out of the 36 teams, 8 teams broke-in to the Quarter Finals, and 4 of the breaking teams went on to debate in the Semi-Finals of the tournament. The cross-team (participants from different colleges in a single team) comprising of Swayam Purna Mishra and Aditya Tripathi from NIT Rourkela, and Narayan Sharma from Sri Venkateswara College, was one among the 8 teams to qualify for Semi-Finals.

IITD PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE:

IIT Delhi organised the IIT Delhi Parliamentary Debate on 26th – 28th February 2021. The national-level tournament followed up the Asian Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 149 adjudicators, out of which 55 broke-in to adjudicate the Octo-Finals, and 20 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Quarter Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi was a panelist in the Quarter Finals of the same. 

ASIAN ENGLISH OLYMPICS 2021:

The AEO (Asian English Olympics) 2021 was organised by Binus University, Jakarta, on 25th – 26th February 2021. The international level tournament followed up the British Parliamentary Debate format and had a very qualified adjudicator pool. The break-in adjudicators had to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, and some others went on to adjudicate the Semi-Finals of the tournament. Aditya Tripathi, an Invited Adjudicator of the tournament, was one of the Semi-Final adjudicators.

MARCH 2021:

PRATIJJA PD v16.0:

The Pratijja Parliamentary Debate v16.0 was organised by the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar, on 6th – 8th March 2021. The national-level tournament followed the Asian Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 35 teams and 50 adjudicators, out of which 8 teams broke-in to Quarter Finals and 4 of the breaking teams went on to debate in the Semi-Finals of the tournament. Out of the 50 adjudicators, 27 broke-in to adjudicate the Quarter Finals, 10 of the breaking adjudicator went on to adjudicate the Semi-Finals, and 7 of the same went to adjudicate the Grand Finals of the tournament. A cross-team comprising Aditya Tripathi from NIT Rourkela, Narayan Sharma from Sri Venkateswara College and Paritosh Mishra from Motilal Nehru College was one among the 4 teams to qualify for the Semi-Finals.

Parul Rath and Tanaya Sahoo (joint 5th Best Adjudicator of the tournament) were in the panel to adjudicate Quarter Finals and Grand Finals, respectively. NIT Rourkela has had a successful legacy in previous versions of Pratijja, and this year, the legacy was continued by Clarion. 

PEOPLE SPEAK 2021:

The 18th People Speak 2021 was organised by the English Debating Society, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University on 19th – 21st March 2021. The national-level tournament followed the Asian Parliamentary Debate format and had a cap of 78 adjudicators, out of which 23 adjudicators broke-in to the Quarter Finals and 7 of the breaking adjudicators went on to adjudicate the Open Finals of the tournament. Saketh Avula, who was also declared as the Best Adjudicator of the tournament, was the chair in the Open Finals of People Speak 2021

Statement From The Achievers

The series of achievements that Clarion has had till now was not a cakewalk as it seems. There are multiple challenges that the participants had to face, like time-zone difference, hectic schedule, excess screen exposure, etc. Still, the enthusiasm of the debaters was in no way comprised, and they made sure that they set up high standards for the club and the juniors to come up. Team MM caught up with Aditya TripathiTanaya Sahoo and Saketh Avula, all very active and decorated members of Clarion, to know their views on all Clarion has achieved,

Monday Morning (MM): How did you manage your time between academics and the tournaments, which sometimes might have clashed with your academic schedule?

Aditya Tripathi: Time was never an issue this year. Owing to the pandemic, I was almost robbed of a lot of activities that I would have otherwise been occupied with. Tournaments are usually on weekends when there are no classes, the only problem was that post-break (elimination) rounds were mostly on Mondays but it was never a major issue simply because I enjoyed what I was doing.

Tanaya Sahoo: Drawing myself to competitive debating was the need of the hour to escape from a series of complacency the Pandemic brought. I have loved debating for as long as I remember: thanks to that undying fervour and ample modes of online tournaments popping up, it helped me keep my plate full while I remained engrossed with various other priorities. Speaking of clashes and debating over various time zones, it was essentially having a lot of opportunities and convenient dates as a choice that helped me schedule my weekends with priorities like online classes, Monday Morning CC-ship, or my personal life. All it needed was the right form of prioritizing and not overdoing stuff.

Saketh Avula: I think those are the little trade-offs you make for giving 100% to something you love and are passionate about. Handling time between academics and tournaments has been tough not only to me but to everyone at Clarion. I was making sure that I wasn't leaving behind academics to be good at debating but rather find a way to balance both and move forward.

MM: What were the challenges that you faced overall? Are there any particular instances that you weren’t prepared for?

Aditya: Competitive debating in general (at least in the first few tournaments) is largely contingent on the luck factor. Doing well but not getting the proportionate results was the only disappointment/ challenge that I faced in the beginning. But later, the activity became much more interesting especially when I made a lot of friends from different colleges and countries in the debating circuit. 

Tanaya: It was cumbersome to spend 2-3 days at stretches of 10- 12 hours each on online platforms. Though there were good breaks, I lost closely, and overall, I could bag reasonable experiences to look back on. The other challenges that recurred were mostly physical- keeping myself hydrated, taking adequate rest (taking care not to let migraines disorient me!), or not switch on my mic when my family members yelled. Finally, it was the missing ambience of physical tournaments. I remember this one instance at Pre- ABP Cross-DEBSOC tournament where Nishan Sah (my teammate) and I had to debate over 4 rounds on a single day. We lost the final round largely owing to exhaustion affecting the prep that led us narrowly missing a break. We still managed to be the Top 20 speakers; however, the loss stings. 

Saketh: The biggest challenge, I would say, was getting my bases straight. With everything being online, I found myself with more time to sit on those loose ends. I was looking for the right spark of confidence to reassure my debating potential, and that came just right in with my first tournament break. It took time but seeing where it brought me today makes me glad for putting in that extra effort. The whole experience's most demanding phase was staying up all night for international tournaments with flipped time zones and keeping the energy alive in one-day debate marathons; I never appreciated them but was needed for a good exposure.

MM: How did you think of utilizing this pandemic to the fullest in terms of debating?

Aditya: At the start of the pandemic, we (as a club) didn’t have a lot of good adjudicators and for some reason, we missed out on a lot of quality tournaments. It was just a matter of chance that I decided to take up competitive adjing (judging) and went to a few quality International tournaments where I surprisingly did well. Then it was just a matter of pushing myself to do even better every weekend. The most satisfying thing was that a lot of other Clarionites also took up competitive judging after this and went ahead to do well in the circuit. Now that exams are around the corner, I have stopped going to tournaments but I am completely sure that other Clarionites will do even better and utilise this pandemic to the fullest.

Tanaya: Learn and become a better version of a debater- this is what drives me to invest my time in competitive debating. It is not the nature of wins or losses but the likeliness of broadening your horizons and meeting outstanding debaters and adjudicators all over the word from established circuits that make it worthwhile. I believe I had a fair run over the year and will take in just a tad more of this extensive experience before closing on the academic year.

Saketh: Online tournaments have opened the doors to the biggest learning curve, and I dived right at it. Irrespective of the ups and downs, I always looked for taking something away that makes me a better debater tomorrow. I think the pandemic did have a silver lining for me, after all.

Statement From The Executive Body Of Clarion

Adjusting to online debating takes a significant amount of practice because you don’t physically interact with your teammates when the preparation time is given, or deliberation of the adjudicators is going on. The club members showed excellent cooperation and motivation to participate in online debate tournaments rather than wasting the whole year without any participation or competition. Team MM went on to talk with Parul Rath, the President of Clarion, to know her views:

MM: How has Clarion grown from offline debate tournaments and successes over there to attending even more online debate tournaments and establishing new legacies at each?

Parul Rath (PR): There has been significant exponential growth in our participation in debates and the frequency of accomplishments. A lot of it had to do with the convenience and feasibility of online tournaments. You can now attend tournaments in Indonesia and Japan while being at home. But more importantly, the exposure you get by debating with and against people internationally is unmatched. However, it eventually boils down to one’s personal interest in putting in the time and energy into these tournaments. So this was one of the good things to come out of this year, I’ll say.

MM: How do you plan to continue this achievements league when things are back to normal, as in when offline tournaments are back again?

PR: First of all, what is normal now, though? (laughs) The debating community has evolved throughout this pandemic. Online tournaments are something that we think will continue even when things go back to normal due to the convenience and practicality of it. It allows you to participate in a lot more tournaments as opposed to an otherwise offline scenario where we usually face problems with traveling. Registration fees are relatively less online since you no longer have to worry about accommodation, food, etc. Since our members have been performing so well, I’m hopeful but mostly confident that we will keep on adding to this legacy of achievements.

MM: How supportive was SAC this whole time? Do you have/had any expectations from SAC in terms of reimbursements or any other measures?

PR: Unfortunately, we did not receive any form of support from SAC. Due to certain hindrances early into this academic year, we realised that the sooner we come to terms with this reality, the better off we are. So we focused on trying to do as well as we possibly could within our capabilities. Reimbursements require concrete documentation like certificates of participation that most of these online tournaments don’t necessarily provide, so we could not apply for the same.

MM: As a whole, how do you feel about this series of achievements, the increased opportunities, the enthusiasm of club members, and other factors?

PR: It is incredible to see the progress and enthusiasm. Initially, we were all worried about how all the plans we made for an otherwise normal situation wouldn’t have been able to occur, and things would get monotonous. But now, almost everything that we would have done offline, we could do it online, and may I add, very successfully. All thanks to our supportive and enthusiastic members. It wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of every member—all credits to them. But more importantly, just how much we have been able to learn and grow has been impeccable, and I hope this only grows from now on.

Clarion had a very successful legacy last year, with NIT Rourkela contingents breaking-in in almost all the tournaments they had been to. Now, even when things are drastically different, Clarion has managed to continue the success streak and, in fact, in a much more significant amount. Let’s see what Swayam Purna Mishra, the ex-president of Clarion, has to say about this:

So this year started in a very haphazard manner. We were not able to announce the post holders the way we were supposed to. We are also not able to interact with freshers like we generally do. Everything happened in a way not as optimum as normal. Despite all this, some people did so well in the tournaments. As all the tournaments were conducted online, in a small way, it was beneficial as we were exposed to tournaments and circuits we otherwise would never have simply because it would not have been possible to travel there and many other obstacles. That is a silver lining that the club was able to derive out of the pandemic. Apart from this, we broke in many more tournaments than last year. The number of people enthusiastic to debate is ever rising. The debating culture as a whole is expanding, which I was afraid would have declined due to lack of interaction. Overall I am extremely happy about where the debating culture is there in the club right now.

Team MM congratulates Clarion for their achievements and wishes them good luck for all their future endeavours.

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