Karthik Sivaram is eloquent about the importance of promoting debating culture among students for cultivating in them a rational appetite.

Back from Dhaka after participating in the third edition of the Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) Championship hosted by the North South University (NSU) in the capital of Bangladesh, 21-year old Karthik, hailing from here and now forth-year Mechanical Engineering student at Rashtriya Vidyalaya College of Engineering (RVCE), Bangalore, was in the two-member team (RVCE-1) representing his college in the debating contest. The RVCE-1, one of the three RVCE teams that participated in the event, clinched the championship from the defending champions, National University of Singapore (NUS). Karthik and his partner Prasun Bhaiya, fourth-year Computer Science Engineering student in the college, from the position of the Opening Opposition, knocked down the motion of the debate ‘This House believes that micro-credit programme should stop exclusively targeting women’ in the grand final of the championship held earlier this month. The ABP is an annual debate tournament following the British Parliamentary format.

For Karthik, his participation in the contest was a great experience which underlines the importance of cultivating debating culture among students. “Not only does the debating skills ensure that one is thorough regarding issues concerning the world, it also cultivates a ‘rational appetite’, which teaches one the proper conduit to follow in the formation of opinions,” says Karthik, son of K. Sivaramakrishnan, psychiatrist practising here. The topic of the debate was introduced only 15 minutes before the competition began, he said.

This year’s ABP contest saw participation from nearly 100 universities all over Asia including the NUS, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore, Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. He said that the duo had broke records by being the first Indian team to make the Grand Finals of the ABP. Asked about his experience in the debating competition, Karthik said his team had argued that economic empowerment of women is the most effective means of emancipating women in underdeveloped and developing countries and of challenging the view that women are an economic liability on families.

“The lack of institutionalisation of debating in educational institutions in our country is often a handicap while participating in international debate contests,” he says adding that often students form strong opinions, but fail in the art of rationally articulating them. Noting that most of his seniors who were proficient in debating ended up in premier universities such as Stanford, Cambridge or Oxford, he has exuded the hope that the victory of the RVCE team in the contest will elicit support from educational institutions to efforts to cultivate debating skills in students.