Saturday, 9 April 2005

The Debating Indians - Have We Made Debating Our National Sport?

We love to debate. After all, being in a democracy our constitution gives us a right to express our views and solicit them at our own will. Be it the erudite graduate or an uneducated villager we all have opinions right from what the government should or should not have done to who Katrina should or should not marry. But the question really is, are we becoming more aware of the issues which grapple our nation or the solutions which might solve the core issues or it has just become a national sport of sorts, fuelled by media and not so constructively used time at hand.

The Problem at Hand

On the 29th of July, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announced the five recipients of award for the year 2015 and two of the awardees were Indians Anshu Gupta, running the initiative called Goonj and the righteous ex-government officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi. The news felicitating the good work these individuals had put through, was marred by a bigger national controversy about the righteousness of the capital punishment being given. Without giving in to my instincts to say in favour or against the topic I would simply try to question why we did not have a debate on what pertinent issues Goonj was working on or what difficulties Sanjiv Chaturvedi had faced during his tenure. The tendency to laude a symptom called "drawing - room" debaters is becoming too common where everyone voices their opinion in the cosy comfort of their homes with a regular supply of your favourite samosa-chai or chicken-tikka- wiskey to gulp down the opinions of their feisty opponents with relish, and a much recent phenomenon of tweeting and posting opinions on Facebook to hoard 'nays and ayes'.

We felt a surge of national pride run through our veins as the much decorated Shashi Tharoor, the ex MP and writer of eminence brilliantly argued why Britain owes reparations for its exploitation of the subcontinent in his tutored Britsh accent. What was funny was we had conveniently forgotten only a while ago we had reprimanded him nationally for calling us the 'cattle-class'. Perhaps, we were playing up to his words that public memory is rather short lived.

Debating the Right Cause

Debating is indeed a powerful medium as long as we can justify it by drawing meaningful conclusions and effective follow ups. In a nation where farmers are still committing suicide and the basics amenities like food, shelter and sanitation still hinders our progress, it seems a tad bit inappropriate that our precious time and energy is being willfully taken up by issues which in reality matter less. Our nation needs debates but on innovative ways to tackle the problem of food shortage and inclusive growth among other problems which still mar our nations' progress. So debate the obvious rather than debating and applauding the word play like "maun-vrat" and "man-ki-baat".

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