Debating Matters India in its fifth year is a thriving high school level debate competition, organized by the Institute of Ideas in collaboration with the British Council. As a national level debate competition, students were expected to confront and engage with some of the most taxing issues that the society faces today.
On 19th January, the team from National Public School-Koramangala comprising Sanjay Pitchai, Nikhil Amarnath, Ilhaam Ashraf, Avantika Shenoy, Pratik Ramesh and Anjani Barhanpure, emerged victorious at the national finals. They are students of Grade 11 and 12.
After four months of extensive competition and preparation, National Public School, Koramangala first cleared the Online Elimination Test in October to qualify for the next round in Chennai where the team proceeded to win the Regional Finals. The opening round was a fierce knockout round where NPS Koramangala defended the stance "UID; the benefits of the UID scheme outweigh the civil liberties concerns". After winning this round, they entered the group stage round where the team simultaneously defended "Foreign supermarkets are good for India" and went against "Financial incentives are the best solution for the crisis of organ donation". By winning both debates, they entered the finals where they successfully propagated the stance "Clinical trials in India are exploitative" and triumphed as Regional Champions and qualified for the National Finals in Delhi.
The National Finals began with "Expert Witness" rounds on January 17th, where many eminent personalities debated on key issues that were to be discussed by the participants the next day. The first day concluded with a panel discussion on "Freedom of Press" which included Sir Mark Tully, Austin Williams, KG Suresh, Suparna Sharma and Aditya Yogi Kalra. The first debate had NPS Koramangala defending the stance "Celebrity Culture is not conducive to politics" which they proceeded to win, which was judged by Simon Sharpe, Arvind Betigeri and Barun Mitra. This was followed by "Question Time", a very entertaining round which had the panelists directly answering questions from the audience to shape the opinion of the participants. It was a very inspirational event where the panel consisting of Swapan Das Gupta, Giti Chandra, KG Suresh, Dolan Cummings and chaired by the director of the Institute of Ideas, Claire Fox, addressed a multitude of social, political and ethical issues. The next day started with the semifinals, which was based on "Genetic screening of embryos devalues human life" and took National Public School, Koramagala to the final debate on "Curbs on free speech are justified in the interests of social harmony". After a hard fought battle with Paljor Namgyal Girls' School from Sikkim, NPS Koramangala bagged the National Championship and now will be travelling to UK to face their British counterparts at the Battle of Ideas festival in October. Their teacher and mentor Mrs Poornima Shekhar, felt that the students' ideas were so credible that she wished that they could have an actual impact at the grassroots level of our society. Avantika Shenoy enjoyed the research and appreciated the depth of the competition, which brought a new perspective to the issues debated. Anjani Barhanpure expressed appreciation for the format of the debate, which hinged around the content rather than conventional debates which are judged solely on articulation. Sanjay Pitchai added that this format teaches us to respect others' opinions and grow tolerant to diverse ideas.
Ilhaam Ashraf and Pratik Ramesh received honourable mentions for their invaluable contributions to the competition. Nikhil Amarnath was adjudged the Best Individual Speaker at both the regional finals and the national finals.