- Introduction: age of controversy: supremacy belonging to good debater: mastery over debating comes through training and practice
- Debating in college: how organized and conducted: interesting features
- Benefits of college debates
- Requisites of successful debating in college
We live in an age of controversy. Our whole social fabric seems to be bound up by a chain of conflicting views and opinions, each competing for superiority over the rest. Whether in a family gathering a party meeting or in a sitting of the Parliament, so where anything is found to be accepted until its validity has been thoroughly debated upon. And in this whirlpool of conflicts, those who want to hold their own and convert others to their points of view, must of necessity be first-rate debaters, combining arguments with appeals, cogency with eloquence and excelling in smart repartee and good-humored rebuff. But this mastery over what is known as the art of debating is not an entirely innate faculty. It has to be acquired through a process of training and practice. Beyond doubt, the best time for this training is the college life when the mind is in a mood to learn and gather equipment for the life to follow. Hence the supreme necessity of introducing debating as an inalienable’s part of a college education.
Debating is one of the important functions discharged by the College Union. A Secretary, designated as Cultural Secretary or Debating Secretary, is placed in charge of this vital aspect of extra-academic life of the college. The most familiar practice is to organize and conduct debates on Parliamentary lines. After the fashion of the legislature, is notice is issued that a debate will be held on a certain day. The subject matter to be debated upon is set down in the shape of a resolution, couched in parliamentary jargons, such as: “In the opinion of the House, Pakistan should enter into the joint defense with India.” Names of intending speakers, both for and against the motion, are asked to be submitted beforehand. The notice also bears the name of the mover of the motion.
On the specified date students, who are taken to be members of the Parliament, assemble punctually in the venue of debate, usually the common room of the college. The Principal or some Professor takes the seat of the “Speaker” of the House. Speakers of both the sides may occupy their seats to the right and left of the “Speaker”, after the fashion of the Treasury Bench and the Opposition Bench o the legislature. The debate begins when the “Speaker” of the House invites the mover-also called the leader of the motion, to introduce the motion before the House. He does so and is followed by the leader of the opposition. Then other speakers deliver their speeches either for or against the motion. Last of all, the leader of the motion takes the floor again and replies to the points raised by the opposition as well as sums up those placed by his supporters, upon which the debate is closed. The President then puts the motion to vote and declares it either carried or lost. In a Parliamentary system, the President, like the Speaker of the Parliament, is only a symbolic entity. Parliamentary tradition does not permit him to express any view on this or that side. His business is to conduct the proceedings, count the votes and declare the result.
Even though held by young collegians, a Parliamentary system of debate is marked by certain formalities and interesting features. For instance, the speaker cannot address the House or appeal to it directly. He has to begin his speech by saying, Mr. Speaker, Sir and no more. If an appeal to the House etc. The name of another speaker cannot be mentioned If a speaker goes off the track, somebody may rise on a point of order and draw the President’s attention to it. A query has to be made by rising on a point of information. But whatever is sought to be done must have the permission of the “Speaker” of the House.
Many and far-reaching are the benefits of college debating. It stirs up the imagination of the students in general and set them to thinking and discussing as soon as a subject matter is announced. In the debating hall, those who take part in the deliberation find it extremely helpful to the development of their power of expression and reasoning, their ability to bear an attack and offer ready defense, It also creates in them an understanding of the temper of the audience and gradually develop their capacity to handle unsympathetic gatherings-both of which stand them in good stead in future life. Even those who only attend and hear return home with their knowledge enormously enriched and their intelligence definitely sharpened. Some of them also come forward to face the audience the next time. In this way, a few months of regular exercise in debating makes a courageous speaker of a usually timid soul. And to all-speakers and listeners, alike-this rings a splendid evening, resplendent with the sunshine of unbounded delight and laughter, which has a great restorative’ utility after days of the monotonous pursuit of learning.
With a view to reaping the maximum good out of college debates, certain requisitesło are to be fulfilled. Issues selected should be realistic in nature, preferably some burning question of the day, which will make debating of great academic value. Of great importance are the co-operation and guidance of the teachers. They should brief the intending speakers on both sides of the subject matter. Some of them should also take part in the actual deliberation which will both raise its standard and enable the students, particularly new-comers, to learn to debate. Besides, which is necessary for the peaceful conduct of business. Above all, distinguished lawyers and parliamentarians from outside may be invited to take part in college debates.
In fine, college debate in our country has already attained maturity. Every college now holds a number of debates in the course of an academic session. Some college are found to go several steps forward and convene17 sessions of the Parliament or the U.N.O. It offers an interesting sight to watch young students representing national and international celebrities and presenting the views of such persons in their immature languages.