Ritanjali Hastir, Associate Editor, 9th May, 2019, Shimla

Some things are compelling, but not convincing; some things are convincing, but not compelling and hence what can be a better way to strike a balance than a healthy debate over the topic. The much awaited grand annual event organized by Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, brought yet another thrilling Inter-School English Debate (The Twenty fourth Slater Debates) Competition where dynamic students from 16 different school around the country placed their best foot forward and proved that solutions are not found by pointing fingers they are reached by extending hands.

The debates were inaugurated by Pankaj Rai, Municipal Commissioner, Shimla, on May 8, 2019, where on the first day twelve debates were held which were at the pre-quarter final level. The debates will conclude with the final on May 11, 2019.

Bishop Cotton School strives to adhere and maintain the highest standards of excellence in tile programme of total education, empowering men rooted in India’s heritage to live as committed and good human beings contributing positively to the country.

Topics for the debates included, “The Media in India is not Really Free”, “Our Only Constant Companion is Our Conscience”;  “Group Survival is Not Necessarily Goodness”; “Carbon Footprints Needs to be Minimized in India Immediately”; “Who We Are Solely Depends On Whom We Associate With”; “The Impending Demise of the World Trade Organization is Premature”; “Authenticity Sets One Free”; “It is Advantageous for India to become a Cashless Economy”;  “IPL is Mare of a Business than a Game”; “Urgent Police Reforms are Needed in India” and “Goodness is Often Mistaken for Weakness and Impotence of Will”; “The Joy Lies in Journey and Not in some Distant Goal”; “Gene Editing can Make us Different, Not Better”; “The Content of our History Textbooks in Schools Needs a Desperate Positive Change”; “Advertising is a Waste of Resources”; “Today’s Children are Fashion Victims” to name some.

On the second day, twelve pre-quarter final debates were held between the best schools in the country. Eight teams reached the quarter final level. The teams are 1. Bishop Cotton School, Shimla; 2. La Martiniere College for Girls, Lucknow; 3. R.I.M.Collège, Dehradun; 4. Mayo College Girls School, Ajmer; 5. St. Georges College, Mussoorie; 6. Auckland House School, Shimla; 7. La Martiniere College for Boys, Lucknow; 8. The Sri Ram School, Delhi.

The quarter final debates will be held on 10th May 2019 from 9:00 am onwards.

Revd. Samuel Slater was appointed the first Headmaster of Bishop Cotton School, he was from St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling, and thereafter went on to serve Cottons school for twenty years, thereby laying a solid foundation and transforming the school into a prestigious institution which grew to attract students from among the Indian elite seeking to develop Indian leadership.

By the turn of the century, the reputation of the School was undeniable and greatly helped by the staff which was mainly educated at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1995, after 136 years, under the Headmastership of Kabir K. Must., it was felt that there was a need to bring about an inter-public school debating exchange spread over a period of four days to facilitate friendship, exchange of views and ideas with a view to foster student interaction, so that they can gather together and debate in a friendly and competitive spirit. Consequently in 1996, along with the Revd. J. Cherian, Chaplain of the School and Master Charge Debates, formal invitations were sent out to the students studying in classes X, XI and XII of Mayo Boys – Ajmer, Mayo Girls – Ajmer. Wynberg-Allen – Mussoorie, RIMC Dehradun, Welham Girls – Dehradun, Scindia School – Gwalior, Yadavindra Public School – Patiala, Doon School- Dehradun, Auckland House School – Shimla and St. Bede’s – Shimla, inviting them to participate in the First Revd. Dr. Samuel Slater Memorial Invitational Inter-School English Debates.

The paucity of space within the School premises limited the number of schools that could be invited for the event. The format of the debates was set on the Cambridge Pattern (three speakers for, and three speakers against), to generate a healthy debate on certain prevalent issues faced by our country. As many as nineteen topics were placed before the participants, from abstract to the topical and the result was a revealing relevance of the topics in the lives of children.

Following schools participated in the Revd. Dr. Samuel Slater Memorial Invitational Inter-School English Debates this year: Scindia Boys, Gwalior;  Auckland House Girls School, Shimla; Auckland Boys, Shimla; La Martiniere Boys College, Lucknow ; R.I.M.C, Dehradun; Mayo Girls, Ajmer; St. George’s Mussoorie; Pinegrove School; Lawrence School, Sanawar; Neerja Modi School, Jaipur; Assam Valley School; Bishop Cotton School, Shimla; La Martiniere Boys, Kolkata; Vasant Valley School, Delhi; La Martiniere Girls, Lucknow and The Shri Ram School, Delhi. (CLICK TO SEE ALL VIDEOS)

The judges who are invited for the Revd. Dr. Samuel Slater Memorial Invitational Inter-School English Debates are from a wide cross-section of society excelling in their respective fields of interest. Some of the judges have been the Late Mrs. Amita Malik, Dr. Shobhna Bhattacharya, Mark Tully, Kishie Singh, Shama Fatehally, Umesh Anand and Roopinder Singh.

This year too many prestigious people of Shimla who are masters in their respective fields graced the occasion as Judges that included Dr. Purnima Chauhan (IAS Shimla), Puneeta Bhardwaj (IG Police, Shimla), Raveen Singh (Principal Eurokids, Shimla) along with English teachers from St. Bede’s College, Shimla.

The winners of the Revd. Dr. Samuel Slater Memorial Invitational Inter-School English Debates over the past years have been:

1996 The Doon School Dehradun
1997 The Doon School Dehradun
1998 Bishop Cotton School, Shimla
1999 Is Martiniere Boys’ School Calcutta
2000 St. James School, Calcutta
2001 Mayo College for Girls. Ajmer
2002 La Martiniere Boys’ School, Kolkata
2003 The Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai
2004 Is Martiniere Girls School, Kolkata
2005 Bishop Cotton School. Shimla
2006 Is Martiniere Girls School, Kolkata
2007 The Doon School, Dehradun
2008 The Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun
2009 Mayo College for Girls. Ajmer
2010 La Martiniere Boys’ School, Kolkata
2011 La Martiniere Boys’ School
2012 La Martiniere Boys’ School, Kolkata
2013 Vasant Valley, Delhi & Bishop Cotton, Shimla
2014 Bishop Cotton School, Shimla
2015 The Doon School, Dehradun
2016 The Sri Ram School, Gurgaon
2017 La Martiniere Boys’ School, Kolkata
2018 La Martiniere Girls’, Lucknow

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