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Mind Spark: Unlocking the debating potential of students
December 21, 2014, 9:41 am
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Maurya Kala Parisar Kuwait, a socio-cultural organization of people from Bihar and Jharkhand in Kuwait, marked the 130th birth anniversary of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the Republic of India, by holding a debating competition for students of Indian schools in the country.

The ‘Dr. Rajendra Prasad Memorial Debate Competition 2014’ under the title of ‘Mind Spark – Unlocking the Treasure Within’, was held at the Reyazat Villa in Ras Salmiya on Friday, 19 December. More than 100 students of classes 8 to 11, from 13 Indian schools in Kuwait, participated in the event. A large gathering of students, teachers and parents attended the exciting debates and enthusiastically supported the debaters.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who served two consecutive terms as President of India from 1952 to 1962, was also the President of the Constituent Assembly that was mandated to frame the Constitution of India. Recipient of India’s highest civilian honor the Bharat Ratna, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was also an eminent scholar and educationist, after earning a Doctorate in Law from the University of Allahabad in 1937, he served in various educational institutions as teacher and principal before immersing himself in the India Freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.

There can be no better role model for Indian students than Dr. Rajendra Prasad, said Ujwal Ritwik, the president of the Maurya Kala Parisar, while speaking about the debate competitions organized by his association for students. Since 1995, the Maurya Kala Parisar, which is registered with Indian Embassy in Kuwait, has been active in supporting social causes and promoting cultural events in the country. Highlighting some of the activities of the association in 2014, the president said it included the highly successful Maurya Manch 2014 with its Dinkar Poetry Awards, the Sports and Wellness Day and the Ethnic Food Festival.

Besides providing an anchor for different cultural events, the Maurya Kala Parisar has been involved in socially beneficial causes, including developing positive qualities in individuals, especially the children. The organization has demonstrated its commitment to fostering optimism, positive attitude, courage, future-mindedness, interpersonal skills and social responsibility among students.

The exciting debating competitions, which extended for well-over four hours, centered on two topics; the first was on ‘Internet and social media make us less intelligent’, while the second was on ‘India needs a presidential form of government’.  The competitions, which saw the students divided into groups based on their class and took place in different halls over four debating sessions, was a creative venue for the students to express their ideas. 

The event began with students from class 8 speaking on both the selected topics, followed by students from class 10 and 11 debating on the first topic. After a short break for refreshments, students from classes 9, 10 and 11 debated on the topic of ‘India needs a presidential form of government’. This was then followed by class 11 debating whether ‘Internet and Social Media make us less intelligent’.

Students speaking for the topic ‘Internet and social media are making people less intelligent’, stated how people around the world spend a lot of time on the internet and then complained that they did not have time to complete their work.

They also spoke about how we have become so much dependent on the internet and social media for inter-communications that we were in danger of losing our personal touch with each other. Presenting the opposite view, students attempted to prove the importance of internet and social media in our lives by stating how it helped us to know more about what is happening in the world around us, even if we are far removed from the event, and how it provided us with latest information at the click of a button.

Meanwhile, the two groups speaking for and against the topic ‘India needs a presidential form of government’, engaged in fierce debate on the virtues and vices of this form of government. One group upheld the view that our country should have a government like the USA, where the president is elected by the people. They pointed out that this would make the president more accountable to the people and better able to efficiently carry out his work for the betterment of the country.

Opposing this, the second group said that the parliamentary form of government is fine for a country like India with its large and diverse population. They cited some of the changes that have taken place in India and made the point that a parliamentary form of government was better at managing and representing the diversity of the country. They pointed out that change could be brought about more quickly and more efficiently through the people working together for the country.

Reactions of the student participants were a mixture of both joy at having done well or for participating in the event, while some felt sad that they could not do as well as their expectations. But a large number of parents who were present on the occasion welcomed such an event and hoped this would be repeated more often as it would help students improve their academics as well as improve their inter-personal and public speaking skills.

The first and second place winners from the four sessions were then given a third topic, ‘School examinations should be open book’, and allowed 20-minutes each to prepare and speak on the subject. The students were judged on how well they understood the topics allocated to them, the clarity with which they were able to present their views and opinions, their debating style, their composure and voice delivery as they pitched their points across to the audience.

The panel of seven judges had a hard time picking a winner from the eight semi-finalists of the ‘Dr. Rajendra Prasad Memorial Debate Competition’. Eventually, Miss Asama Khanam Patan of Class IX, from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, emerged as the Best Debater for 2014. The president thanked all the sponsors for their generous support, as well as students, teachers and parents for their participation and attendance in making the debating competitions a resounding success.

Noting that the competition was the first of its kind for the association and one of the largest competitions ever for students, considering the number of participants, Mr. Ritwik commended the volunteers and members of the organizing committee for helping make the event a grand success.

He added, “Above all, we thank our members with whose help we seek to transform a few accomplishments into a lasting movement.” At the end of the program, the Event Coordinator, Abhay Kashyap, thanked the participants and urged the students to prepare and return next year for even more exciting competitions.

- By Madhuri Madhukar

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