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Food for thought

St John's Diocesan Girls' School celebrated its annual carnival on November 24. The event was inaugurated by Bishop of Calcutta, Rev. P.S.P. Raju, and the principal of the school. The ground was decked with several stalls that offered interesting games like 'basket the ball' and 'kill the rat'. Beautiful handicraft items created by the students were also on display. There were food stalls too, with mouth watering delicacies on sale. Proceeds from the sales went to the school welfare fund.

Shatabdi Jayaswal, Class X,

St John's Diocesan Girls' H.S. School, Calcutta

Wax eloquent

Eleven students from leading educational institutes across the country were at their eloquent best as they fought a battle of words and tried to convince the judges and the audience on whether Nationalism is Fundamentalism, at the finals of the eighth Inter-Institutional L.N. Birla National Debate. The winners and runners-up in the school and college categories were divided as far as the motion was concerned.

Afrah Saleem of NASR School, Hyderabad and Shruti Bhaskaran of PS Secondary School, Chennai, the winner and runners-up in the school category spoke for the motion. When it came to the college category, the winners, Sakshi Arora of Presidency College, Calcutta and Prachi Arya of Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, spoke against the motion.

The finals got off to an interesting start with chief guest, the Governor of West Bengal, Gopal Krishna Gandhi, fielding questions from the participants.

Gandhi explained to the students that a debate is a conversation, an attempt to share a thought and not an imposition of one's views. Commenting on the theme of the debate, he said, "Nationalism is a cousin of fundamentalism, which is a cousin of chauvinism, which is again a cousin of fanaticism."

The winners in both the categories won themselves a laptop each while the runners-up bagged an I-pod each besides a plethora of other prizes. Other participants in the school category were Vinayak Banerjee of Laksmipat Singhania (for the motion), Arjun Singh of Springdales School, Pusa, New Delhi and Shalmali Jadhan of Fergusson Junior College (against the motion).

In the college category, Rituraj Sapkota of Loyola Academy Degree College, Hyderabad, Sooraj Vishwanathan of School of Excellence in Law, Chennai and Utatthya Chattopadhyay of Hindu College, New Delhi tried defending the motion, while Tuhin Mukherjee of National Defence Academy, Pune, spoke against the motion. Deconstruction of the topic and dictionary definitions did indeed abound, but what was noteworthy was the students' quick-witted responses to the judges' comments.

The debate began as an annual inter school event in Calcutta, but soon, reached out and outstripped its local confines to bring together members of the student community (high school and college) of almost all the major metropolis of the nation who meet to speak either for or against contentious and topical issues of social, cultural, ethical, economic and humanitarian concern.

The Inter-Institutional L.N. Birla National Debate, which has grown over the years, has now become a national event for the school and college students and keen debaters across the country look forward to this very prestigious event, with the winners in the finals being acknowledged as the best debaters in the country in their categories.

This year, students from different schools and colleges in Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur and Calcutta (East Zone); New Delhi and Jaipur (North); Mumbai and Pune (West); Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Secunderabad (South) fought the battle of words in the preliminary rounds before the eleven gladiators took their places in the national finals.

"The debate started with five centres, Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore and gradually expanded to cities like Hyderabad, Jaipur and Pune," added Sharmila Bose, principal, Birla High School (Girls). "Seeing the overwhelming response we have received over the years, we decided to reach out to students from across the country and added centres like Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Jamshedpur."

Urja Ojha, Class XII,

Birla High School (Girls)

Media clones

Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), along with NSHM Institute of Media and Communication (NIMC) - in association with The Telegraph - conducted a media seminar on November 29 at Vidya Mandir. The seminar was titled, Footprints 2007.

About 300 youngsters from the different colleges of Calcutta took part in the event. The notion of the day was, "Is media creating clones?" The programme was inaugurated by actor Soumitro Chatterjee and the dean of SIMC and NIMC who lit the lamp and set the tone for the day. The discussions were enriched by prominent personalities from the different fields of media namely journalism, advertising and PR, radio and cinema with the active participation of the audience through the question-answer session.

Overall it was a wondrous effort by the students of SIMC & NIMC, which made the programme a success.

Ishita Majumdar

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