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My coming of age in debates

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I remember the first ever Parliamentary Debate I had participated in. It was an Intra in my University (RMLNLU holds intras for every debate to fairly decide who gets to go). I had a faint idea, if at all, of the rules and had memorised the timings of the speakers as 7-7-8 so that I wouldn't forget the duration of time for which I was supposed to speak. I knew that the proposition gets to define the house and the terms of the motion. I went up with my three member team, and in the draw of lots we had to stand up against a fourth year team. I was confident I had everything in mind. My confidence was boosted by the motion: THBT An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I had my points framed and was ready for tackling the opponents, when they came up with an ingenious plan. The house was defined to be "Confederation of Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs). My mind went blank. I was to go up as deputy leader of Opposition. I looked down at the notes I had taken in defence of my cause. All of them were addressed to the cause of physical violence, wars and destruction. I had never perceived violence to be economic. I went up to the stage in a daze, and though my teammates cheered me on, few could suppress their giggles at the calamity that was left of my "foolproof" arguments.

Then with steady practice at the intras held for various debating fests, I slowly began to understand what I was supposed to do. That unlike a conventional debate, where you may even get away with a few airy arguments this was a debate where you would have to stick to arguments you could strongly back. You could be cross-examined by the speakers of the other team. The point was to stick to your line of thought no matter how many interruptions you faced. But, even after learning all of this, I still went on losing the intras. When you read this you have to keep in mind that law schools, and especially National Law Schools, comprise extremely promising debaters with a keen eye for current affairs, and other matters relating to governance. There was a time when I had given up all hope of ever winning an intra-let alone going for a debate.

And yet-it happened. My team was chosen. And although we didn't win, we made some memories and learnt some skills that I believe did us a world of good as debaters and as people. And now you'll find me saying that debating is one of the biggest confidence-boosters in law school. Who would have thought that I am the same person who had decided to quit back less than a year? Above all, it taught me one very important lesson- if you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel- BULLDOZE through.. :)
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