(From left) Zoe, Katharine, Hasan, Matthew and Rachael enjoy their chai on Shakespeare Sarani on Friday. (Anindya Shankar Ray)
What: The Telegraph National Debate 2012, presented by Ballantine’s in association with Birla Sun Life
Where: Netaji Indoor Stadium, 6.30pm
Who: Oxford University vs Team Telegraph
The motion: In the opinion of the house, Calcutta is better ruled from London
They loved local chai in the earthen cup on Shakespeare Sarani — though they represent the cuppa of tea in fine China in the promos — and they are thrilled to bat for Calcutta — though they are from Britain’s oldest university.
The debating team from Oxford, which will be opposing the motion of The Telegraph National Debate 2012 — “In the opinion of the house Calcutta is better ruled from London” — is eager to take on the argumentative Indian at the Netaji Indoor Stadium on Saturday evening.
“Hasan (Dindjer) and I have gone up against an Indian team once and they were really good, especially in the back and forth arguments,” said Matthew Handley, a first-year history student at St. Hugh’s College.
Hasan, Matthew, Rachael Crook, Katharine Meadow-Brooks and Zoe Fannon are members of the prestigious Oxford Union Society, a debate and discussion club that is open primarily to students from the University of Oxford.
The team was chosen as per the regular union process. Members are asked to apply and they are selected by a committee on the basis of who is best suited to represent Oxford Union and who deserves to compete.
“If you want to compete in many debates you also have to help out at the union organising debates, school competitions, workshops,” said Katharine, a first-year MA student of International Relations at Wadham College.
The team, visiting Calcutta for the first time, took the opportunity of a free day on debate-eve to go sight-seeing on Friday. Mother House, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Victoria Memorial.... “It was great to see how the space is being used to show works by an Indian artist… It is strange to see how two different cultures have come together to become a cultural legacy of India,” said Rachael, an MPhil student of International Relations at St. Antony’s College.
The Oxonians are keen to take on the challenge of being the opposition at Saturday’s debate in front of thousands. “What is exciting is the whole subversion. We do not want to reinforce traditional opinion,” said Matthew, who is out to prove that Writers’ remains a better option for Calcutta than Whitehall.
“It will be challenging and we are really keen to see what line the other team takes,” added Hasan, a second-year law student of New College.
Not a tough task for the members of the Oxford Union for whom there is “no issue that cannot be challenged”.
“It is not about a speaker’s opinion but the technique, logic and analyses used that is more important in the debate,” said Zoe, a first-year bachelor student of philosophy, politics and economics at Somerville College.
In your opinion, is Calcutta better ruled from London? Tell [email protected]