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The Power Of Debate: 7 Ways It Makes You Confident, Aware And Smart

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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:

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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