Oliphant Debates 2019

This year marked the 29th edition of the annual Oliphant Memorial Inter-school English Debates, organised in the memory of Ms. Hersilia Susie Oliphant, the founder of Welham Boys’ School. The debates, held on 30 and 31 August, had 80 participants from local as well as outstation schools. The first day of the tournament had three Preliminary rounds that were based on the modified British Parliamentary format. The teams were put into five matchups, consisting of four teams. Each team had four participants, of whom two delivered their speeches at the end of their preparation time.

‘THR the Anthropomorphisation (humanisation) of Robots’ was the first motion given to the teams with a rider that the evolution of robots needs to become more and more human-like in terms of their physical and cognitive behavior.

The motion for round two was ‘TH (India) opposes minority educational institutes’. ‘THBT underdeveloped countries should sell their natural resources as a means to salvage international debt’ was the motion for the third preliminary round. All three motions were relevant to present times and were debated in terms of principled arguments as well as practical implication and judged by esteemed and eminent persons from various fields of expertise. The overall Best Speakers for the preliminary rounds were Drisha Dadheech and Shubhankar Dhulia from Shiv Nadar and Welham Boys’ School respectively, and were awarded a cash prize of Rs. 5000 each. Piya Sharma and Samishta Bhatt from Shiv Nadar School and Doon International School shared the award for the Most Promising Speaker and received a cash prize of Rs 4000 each, as well.

St. Joseph’s Academy, Welham Girls’ School, Wynberg Allen and Welham Boys’ School were the four teams that qualified for the Semi-finals. The motion for this round was ‘THBT students should study a single uniform national curriculum till the time they graduate from school’. Ms. Anupama Khanna and Mr. Tathagatha Chowdhury were the two esteemed judges for the Semi-final rounds. This debate saw students think and engage with each other on the importance of a single uniform curriculum vs multiple curriculums as moves to attain the common goal of a standard and equal education for all. The Semi-finals and Finals followed the same format as the Prelims. Yash Goyal and Saloni Kathait from St. Joseph’s Academy and Sridip Mukherjee of Wynberg Allen were adjudged the three Best Speakers in the two Semi-final debates. They exhibited consistent and persuasive oratory skills and were awarded with a cash prize of Rs. 3000 each.

‘THW make exercising of civil liberties that violate another individual’s civil rights, illegal’ was the Finals motion, debated by Welham Girls’ School and St. Joseph’s Academy on side proposition and Wynberg Allen School and Welham Boys’ School on side opposition. The debate was very closely contested by all four teams, making the decision very difficult for the judges. Mr. Tathagatha Chowdhury and Ms. Anupama Khanna were joined by Mr. Philip Burrett to form the Finals panel of judges. Their expertise in several disciplines helped the audience understand the debate between the importance of one’s civil rights and liberties.

St. Joseph’s Academy went on to bag the title of the Winners and were awarded a cash prize of Rs 20000 for the same. Welham Boys’ School followed closely, winning the Runners Up trophy along with a cash prize of Rs 12000. The award for the Best Debater went to Saloni Kathait from St Joseph’s Academy. Like every year, this year too the cash prizes were benevolently sponsored by Mr. Hitesh Mahajan, an ex-student of the School.

Mr. Lawrence William Hartnett, an educationist with several years of experience as Principal and Administrator of various schools and colleges, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and Chairperson for the Final Round of the Oliphant Memorial Inter-school English Debates, 2019. The winners were presented a trophy by the Chief Guest and Dr. Ms. Gunmeet Bindra, Principal, Welham Boys’ School, and the debates were formally closed.