12th August 2008

Helen Jerwood Debate – St Thomas’ School, Mandir Marg

Next up, I went for the Helen Jerwood Debate at St Thomas’ School. Actually, I went for this one accidentally. Smita Ma’am, the English HOD, recommended my name for the Interjector’s position. Normally, I am not much into debating and was not interested in going as the interjector. But finally when ma’am requested and coaxed me to go, I decided to give it a shot. The topic for the debate was – “Money Matters, Matters Don’t”. This selection of mine was done only a day before the event. I did zilch preparation for this one because interjection has to be mostly done spontaneously and impromptu. Kakolee Ma’am went along with us (4 students – 2 speakers, Jasmine and Sanjmeet and 2 Interjectors – Hitesh and I). I was totally tension-free and was expecting nothing – Just going there for the experience and fun. I had a look at the speeches of our team and interjected them in the car when we were going along. The topic was an interesting one, no doubt. St Thomas’ is located at Mandir Marg and many of the teachers of our school are alumni from this institute. This was the first time I was going to this school and this was the first time they were conducting this debate. Their auditorium was a nice one, air-conditioned and had a great ambience. There were around 12-13 schools in all. Cross-questioning on interjections was not allowed. I made 2 interjections I asked one question about the nuclear deal from one of the schools and did not quite receive a convincing answer. The second interjection I made was to the host school’s speaker. There was a lot of booing from the audience on my question. This girl was speaking for the motion and spoke well, but made some not-so-great points about how money had taken centre stage in Parliament on the day of the Nuclear Deal Trust Vote and also how money was the important aspect of the Indian Premier League. I asked her if she had listened to the speeches of P Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, Laloo Prasad Yadav etc – They spoke about the merits of the deal and also, the money-for-vote scandal was not proved. I stressed about the fact that our PM believed in the Nuclear Deal and the “matter” here was most important and not the money factor, which she so conveniently chose to remember. I also made a point about how the most inexpensive team, the Rajasthan Royals won the IPL and also Shane Watson, one of the least valued players, won the MVP Award. Its not money which can buy the hardwork, determination, performance to excel on the field and the game of cricket is most important….This did the trick – She almost faltered to give me a reply, but then answered that yes those were true facts, but there are always exceptions and she mentioned something else too – Not quite the best of answers…Later on, she said, “Good Question.” Sadly they did not let Hitesh ask any question because they said – Only 2 interjections allowed per school and I had made both of them….Anyways our speakers had a great speech and they spoke quite well. The judges included a journalist – who later mentioned that she was a bit disappointed from the interjectors. (They asked too many repetitive and useless questions and stuff and I do agree with her). Then came the time to announce the results – We bagged the Best School Prize, Best Speaker (Proposition) and surprise surprise!! – Best Interjector also. This was least expected a day back, but quite a sweet moment of victory! I got the novel “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts as the prize. It was a nice experience in all. Refreshments were served later, after the debate was over. We went back to school – And the Principal was quite happy with our performance. She gave Rs 1000 (The note which was used as a part of the debate by one of the speakers) to us. She also gave a book to Jasmine, who spoke against the motion (A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini) from her personal library as she had got nothing as a prize. And also a book to Hitesh (The Night by Elie Wiesel)….She seemed to be in the best of moods that day! Anyways, all in all, a fulfilling day came to an end. Special Thanks to Smita Ma’am for sending me for the debate!

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