A war of words laced with dissent, disagreement and sarcasm was followed by camaraderie fostered over coffee and cookies at the finale of Speak for India, a youth empowerment CSR initiative by Federal Bank in association with The Times of India on Friday afternoon. The first edition of Speak for India in Bengal, which witnessed more than 18,000 youths from 600 colleges in the state registering for the debate, concluded with Abhigyan Saha of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, walking away with the first prize.
The jury included actor and theatre personality Kaushik Sen, director Sudeshna Roy, cardiac surgeon Kunal Sarkar and elocutionist and actor Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee.
Responding in favour of the motion — “if students should engage in campus politics” — Saha built his discourse around how students were leading the protests against the new citizenship law, police brutalities on students, hike in fee in colleges and universities and fascism. “Students are on the front line of the agitations around the country. In our own city, students of Jadavpur University and Presidency University are standing up for issues. If students distance themselves from campus politics where will we get the leaders of tomorrow? We must not forget that those in power today in the state and in the Centre emerged from campus politics. Campus politics must be constructive, peaceful and revolve around issues,” said Saha.
But he was up against a tough opponent in Paramita Nandi from St Xavier’s College in Burdwan, who launched her attack by saying campus politics would not help one clear examinations or “fetch two meals in future”. “Time has come to think if we want to waste taxpayers’ money by engaging in campus politics or studying hard to give back to the city what we get from it. It only distracts us from our studies,” said Nandi.
Shyam Srinivasan, MD and CEO of Federal Bank, said he found the quality of debating in the state among the top in the entire country. “Speak for India is an initiative to give students a platform to develop and acknowledge their oratory skills,” he said.
Source: Times of India