Thursday, November 23, 2017
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SJC Debate Winner

St. Joseph’s College Old Boys Association organized the Sharad Varma Memorial English Debate Competition between St. Joseph’s College and St. Mary’s Convent  recently in the St. Joseph’s College.The topic for the class 9-10 category was “Junk Food should be banned from schools” and the first prize was won by Aditya Kapoor and Anahad Narain jointly, while the second and third went to Shakshi Shukla and Shivani Pandey. For the class 11-12 the topic was “Coalition Government is a hindrance to stability and growth.” The first prize was won by Purvangi Ranjan, the second went to Prabhavendra Singh and the third was won by Pranjal Awasthi and Anand Shankar Deb jointly. St. Joseph’s College lifted the Sharad Varma Memorial Trophy as a team.The Chief Guest, Neeraj Kanta Verma appreciated the high quality of the debate and emphasized that the art of good debating meant that one should be persuasive but not aggressive, and logical but not belligerent. Both the Principal and the Chief Guest stressed on the need for over-all development of the students, with special emphasis on academics. The prizes were given away by Mrs. Verma.
The debate was organized by OBA President Col. Gurmeet Singh, Secretary Justice Vikram Nath, Joint Secretary Sanjeev Singh, C.K.Pathak and Ambrish Mathur. The judges were Prof. Ranjana Kakar, Prof. Nisha Srivastava, and Prof. Pratima Gaur.

Father Louis Mascerenhas blessed the meet. Father K.K.Anthony, and  Smt. and Sri S.N.Varma, the parents of Sharad Varma, graced the occasion with their presence.C.K.Pathak proposed a vote of thanks, and the meet was conducted by Sanjeev Singh and Ambrish Mathur. The following is the text of the speech of chief guest Neeraj Kanta Verma, Addl. Govt Advocate: “Respected Father Louis Mascerenhas, respected Father K.K.Anthony, respected Mrs. and Mr. S.N.Varma, respected judges, my brothers of the Old Boys Association, and dear students.It is indeed a privilege and an honour for me to be here today. Every occasion we get to visit one’s old school is a memorable experience. The fact that today’s programme is in memory of, and to pay tribute to, Sharad Varma, makes today very special for me. Sharad was just like my younger brother. He was an excellent debater and a very fine human being.

“The art of debating can never be defined properly or understood, unless it is viewed in the perspective of a particular situation. We must distinguish between the formal format of debate, as we witnessed today, and the wider connotation ingrained in its genesis, which is the gift of articulate speech. However, we shall come to the latter after discussing the genre of formal debate. We are fortunate to have witnessed today a high level of debating, and I congratulate all the participants for your laudable efforts.To illustrate the power of a good debater to influence events, depending on the mastery over the language and oratorical skills, let us consider an example from history. The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of persons which included his closest and trusted friend Brutus. Shakespeare has written a play titled Julius Caesar, and like his other superb writings, he has portrayed the characters in vivid and easily identifiable images, using his unequalled command over English to relive those sordid moments just after the assassination. Brutus and his associates address the Roman populace, and successfully convince them that Caesar was killed because he was an evil and ambitious man and that, since they loved Rome, it was for the betterment of the country that he was removed. The effects of this speech are swept away when Mark Anthony subsequently addresses the people and gives his famous “Friends, Romans and Countrymen” speech. The populace is convinced that Caesar’s death was actually a heinous crime, and a shameful consequence of betrayal and treachery. Much has been said about the fickle nature of the Roman people, but it is important to accept that the oratorical skills of the antagonists, Brutus and Anthony, swayed them from one side to the other, and the debate between the two was of unparalleled excellence.

“Another example to stress the importance of debate, from the contemporary world, must also be considered. The President of the U.S.A., is indisputably the most powerful man in the world. The electoral process in America is very complicated. They have primaries and preliminaries but eventually, the person who will occupy the coveted chair in the White House is chosen after a public debate. The two finalists engage in a public debate which is telecast live, and watched by millions of people. The impact of the debaters on the voters decides who will get the majority of the final vote, and will consequently win the election.
‘We were fortunate to have an English teacher like Father Rego, who taught us, amongst many other things, the true concept of debate. He said that to be a good debater, we must be persuasive, but not belligerent. We must be logical without being aggressive. We must realize that debate does not necessarily mean a dispute. It involves considering something, or to ponder over it. Whenever there is a lack of unanimity, we enter into a debate. In everyday lives, families debate about choice of schools, which movie to see, what should be cooked for dinner, etc. The fact is that, as we discussed earlier, the genesis of debate is the Divine gift of articulate speech. Words are also powerful weapons. Like all weapons, like all other sources of power, they can be destructive or constructive. The elements in nature are the primary source of all physical consequences. Air is best perceived as life sustaining breath, and water is a sine qua non for existence. However, when the two combine as a Tsunami, they wreak havoc. Nature’s fury is terrible, and her signature is brutal. Words can also have two diametrically opposite effects. They can be used to give solace to one who has been bereaved; they can also express sympathy with one in pain, thereby alleviating the suffering by extending support. However, words used indiscreetly or harshly can lead to strife and bitterness. We must always first believe in something before we convey it to another. If we ourselves are convinced, we can be convincing. I congratulate you all for a fine performance. Keep it up, be good debaters, and more importantly, be good human beings. Always accord top priority to academics, without ignoring extra curricular and co-curricular activities. And, if you wish to give debating a pride of place in your curriculum, I recommend that you study for a degree in law, and get enrolled as an advocate. Because, that is what we do the whole day in the Courts, for a living. A lawyer is a professional debater! “

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