By Shivani Chimnani:
Debating, the practice of regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides, still remains an unpopular sport in a majority of universities and colleges across India. The reasons for the same are pretty clear: ignorance, self-doubt, anxiety and obviously, stage fright. But, the secret is, debate is the best way to get rid of these. A robust debating culture must be instilled in every university and school because it grooms one to be confident, cognizant and a vigilant being, and perpetuates discourse among young students on affairs affecting each one of us, about which we don’t bother to talk otherwise. The benefits are manifold:
1. Pumps self-confidence: Speaking in public is a common fear amongst most individuals, whether it’s the leader of a country addressing the nation or a 13 year old student addressing his class. Before one starts debating, one goes through the phase of ‘paramount nervousness’, involving pre-debate jitters, stuttering, cold feet which are pretty natural. However once that stage is conquered you rise as a confident, fearless, and ingenious person, it’s almost magical. Debating is pretty much like a confidence building boot camp.
2. Information booster: Sadly a majority of young students of our country are utterly oblivious to existing global conditions. When regular discourse takes place on matters affecting each one of us, you are bound to read and gauge the various happenings, and start taking a bit of interest in the affairs of your country. Eventually debate teaches skills which help us fulfill our responsibilities as dutiful democratic citizens by making us an aware individual.
3. A tool for self-discovery: Each time you debate, you will certainly learn something new. You discover traits you thought you never had like a confident demeanor, the skill of voice modulation, and powers of persuasion. You might also unravel your fierce side, staunch poise, convictions, humour, quick-wit and maybe even your dark side. It’s an endless journey of discovery and each debate leads to a moment of sheer epiphany.
4. Dose of discipline: The common perception about debating is that it’s a heated argument followed by grating cacophony and relentless violence, involving furniture breaking ultimately leading to complete anarchy. Well, college level debates are quite different from Lok Sabha ones (actually, most debates are). Debating requires you to be civilized, follow a certain set of rules and maintain proper decorum. You express your point well within your turn, so does your opposition and you make refutations by the power of your wit and voice, not your hand.
5. Sign of erudition: Debating isn’t brash blurting of nonsensical jargon but insightful discussion of the erudite. Contrary to popular perception, debating is a formal discussion between two groups having opposing ideals that come together, display their contentions, duly hear the opposition’s argument and make the necessary rebuttals. Post the verdict, the winning or the losing side accepts their victory or failure with utmost grace without any melodramatic breakdown. As Aristotle once said, “It’s the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
6. Improves oratory skills: One of the primary advantages of regular debating is attainment of impeccable oratory skills in the long run. Having eloquent conversational skills is essential for any situation or any profession for that matter. The key benefit is that debating acts as a direct precursor to better social and communication skills. Communication skills can’t be taught in schools or colleges, they can only be acquired through practical experience like debating. This non-physical sport can prove to be your best shot at effective communication skills, or rather your best shot at effective communication in life.
7. The power of dialogue: To thrive as a civilized society, it is essential to have peaceful discussions rather than aggressive confrontations. Inculcating young students, who will eventually comprise the global community, with the importance of dialogue, on matters of supreme or basic importance, would render them at a position to make better and informed decisions. Dialogue is a tool of liberation, progress and most importantly, change. Dialogue builds leaders. Dialogue leads to evolution. Debates give you a forum where problems are openly discussed, and by discussing the injustices suffered or wounds inflicted, there can be a profound impact on society at large. It may even lead to the ‘change’ you always desired, such is the power of dialogue.
The importance of debating can never be undermined, it is essential for the upliftment of mankind in general. If young students imbibe the practice of discussing everything, accepting multiple views, presenting their disagreement, despite being in the unpopular stand, they can one day attain the much dreamed of ideal civilized society.