A debating society is a society or club, generally of students, to carry on a discussion on a particular subject. In such societies, speeches, either prepared or off-hand are delivered by the speakers in support of or in opposition to the subject chosen. Debating societies are now considered part of university education and they are usually found attached to schools and colleges. Such societies, independent of educational institutions, are not so common in Punjab, there being only a few of them.
The procedure followed in a debating society is very much like that in a public meeting. There is an elected president for a particular sitting. The subject-matter of the discussion is tabled as a motion, and after the sitting is declared open by the president, the member in charge of the motion is asked to move it. The member, while moving the motion, delivers a speech giving his reasons for supporting it. Those who hold the same views as the mover also speak stating their reasons for supporting the original motion. This done, the president calls upon the leader of the other side, which is the opposition, to oppose the motion. After the opposition party have given their grounds against the motion, the original mover is given the right to reply. The motion is now put to vote, and if the majority is found to be on the side of the mover, it is carried and passed into a resolution by the president it, however, the majority is on the side of the opposition, the motion is declared lost. The president then sums up the arguments on both sides and closes the debate with his own remarks.
A debating society is useful in many ways. It is the place where students can apply the knowledge they possess to practical things and develop their thinking and reasoning faculties. It is here that they learn to speak and argue. The power of independent thinking, speaking and arguing does not increase and develop unless it is brought into play. A debating society helps students become good speakers and successful debaters. These qualities are very useful in public and debating societies make it possible for students to acquire these qualities. Next, a debating society widens the range of knowledge and the power of deep investigation.
With all its advantages, a debating society is, however, not without its disadvantages. Debates between two parties should always be conducted in a right spirit, that is to say, in a spirit of argument alone, without any feeling of bitterness. No ill-feeling should mark the proceedings and the members of the respective parties should always have an eye on learning something of the discussions and not allow themselves to be carried away by jealousy and party spirit. It often happens that young debaters indulge in personal attacks. This cannot but result in bitterness and those who … had met as friends before the debate very often part as enemies. This is one of the greatest dangers to which debaters are exposed, and they should always be on their guard against this. Every member should cultivate the habit of admitting his own drawbacks and weak points and possess the manliness of acknowledging the merits of the rival party.