The legendary Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, played out most spectacularly in the annual boat race on the Thames, is coming to Calcutta, not to cross oars but to wage a war of words. Students of the two oldest universities of Britain will be pitted against each other in two successive debates, for the first time in India, possibly even the first time outside the UK.
Titled Calcutta Club The Telegraph International Debate 2012, presented by Alsoc and Calcutta Debating Circle, the cerebral crossfire will be held on the Calcutta Club lawns on Sunday evening, over the motion “Populism not policy defines parliamentary democracy”. The visiting students from Oxford and Cambridge will be joined by their alumni from Calcutta. So, while Ranjan Roychowdhury and Rudrangshu Mukherjee will lend vocal muscle to their alma mater, Oxford, Rajat K. Ray and Sugato Bose will bat for Team Cambridge.
“Calcutta was once considered the debating and quizzing capital of the country, but the culture of free-flowing discussions and thoughts seems to have died. Through this debate we hope to rekindle that healthy exercise, especially among the youth,” said Kunal Sarkar of the Calcutta Debating Circle, who will chair Sunday’s debate.
But before they take on each other, the Oxbridge visitors will have to battle wits with city students on Friday for the Alsoc Challenge Debate, presented by The Alumnorum Societas (St. Xavier’s School Old Boys’ Association), in association with The Telegraph and Calcutta Debating Circle. Two-member teams from Calcutta University, Loreto College, Presidency University and St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, as well as Oxford and Cambridge, will argue for and against “Social Networking is a failure of communication”. Moderated by Sandip Chatterjee, the debate will be held at the St. Xavier’s auditorium at 6pm.