The usually sober academic corridors of the prestigious National Law School of India University (NLSIU) are abuzz with activity. Groups of students huddle around in corners discussing a variety of things from international politics to human rights violations.
A closer look reveals that these students are a diverse lot, some from universities in Delhi or law schools in Karnataka, while others have travelled all the way from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the U.K., to be part of the Eighth NLSIU Parliamentary Debate.
The Hindu is a media partner for this event.
The six-day event, which commenced on November 28, has about 80 teams — compared to 60 and 42 in 2008 and 2007 — from across the world. This includes leading educational institutions such as St. Stephen’s College, the Indian Institutes of Management and other premier universities.
Parliamentary debating may have started as a niche genre of debating, popular mainly among law college students.
But, today students from engineering, arts and management faculties are all embracing this form of debating.
So, in classrooms and common areas around the campus, energy levels are high and temperatures soar to near parliamentary levels as young debaters argue out their points on a plethora of subjects. Backed by rationale and logic, students argue matters of policy, often in a context completely alien to them.
Take for instance, the current debate that is raging in one of these rooms. A team of Pakistani students from Lahore University is pitted against another team from Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, to deliberate on the policy for an issue that is rather India-specific: ban on cow slaughter in India.
High quality debate
The level of debate is excellent, as both teams hold forth on why the policy is “inclusive” and how health, nutrition and cost impact this proposed policy.
While Fatima Bokhari, a young law student from Pakistan, argues that a secular nation cannot enforce a policy so discriminatory, Shamalie Jayatange from the Sri Lankan team deliberated on the cost of livestock rearing and productivity of cows.
In scores of rooms across the campus, students wage wars with words on topics of similar importance, some national and some international.
What is different about this genre of debating is its format. While here too teams argue for and against, this format emulates the process of policy formulation in parliament where teams pose as the government and the opposition.
The type of parliament is left to the imagination of the team that poses as the government.
While some teams choose to narrow it down to small government committees, others play the international card and dabble in international law.
Ms. Jayatange, who is participating for the third year in a row, says: “The level of debating is excellent, as usual. And besides the fact that we get to interact with students from a different culture, we pick up a few cues on the art of debating too.”