Delhi College of Arts and Commerce

DMUNC 2011 and How It All Began

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“I’m going back to basics
To where it all began
I’m ready now to face it
I wanna understand”

So go the lyrics of a popular song by Christina Aguilera, and the same line of thought was followed by the students of the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, lovingly called DCAC, who in their maiden attempt at hosting a Model United Nations (MUN) conference, titled DMUNC (hosted between August 26-28), made sure they stood out from the rest.

For all those who are clueless about what MUNs are, we give you the official definition by the United Nations Association of the USA: “The Model United Nations is a simulation of the United Nations system. Students assume the roles of ambassadors to the United Nations and debate the current issues on the UN’s agenda. Through diplomacy and negotiation, Model UN students seek ways that the world community can deal with complex global concerns such as the environment, economic development, refugees, AIDS, conflict resolution, disarmament and human rights. Young people of all backgrounds and walks of life participate in these educational exercises to experience first-hand decision-making processes and diplomatic work at the United Nations.”

MUNing has become a verb in its own right and over the last few decades, it has seen a rapid increase in popularity amongst school and college students alike. For those who are frequent MUNers, it is nothing less than an addiction. For proof, search Facebook for a page titled ‘MUN Addicts Anonymous’. From actor Samuel L. Jackson to Chelsea Clinton (Don’t ask us who she is), many popular faces in law, arts and business have MUNed in their early years. Many claim that they have benefitted from this experience and it is regarded as a very engaging means to the development of important skills such as research, public speaking, problem-solving, cooperation, formal interaction and reporting. In India, the earliest MUNs were given an impetus by law schools, which deem it necessary for their students to have this experience. However, it wasn’t long before other colleges caught on, and schools followed suit too. College MUNs saw a relatively freer atmosphere than MUNs at the school level, because of the evident difference between the conduct of a school student and a college student, and it is a widely held opinion that school MUNs are relatively “stricter” in their rules and manner of running.

MUNs at the university level often witness a lot of frolicking and merriment, where flirtatious or cheeky exchanges between delegates abound in the formal course of the conference. Punning, mocking, innuendos and double-meaning statements are even more commonplace. While MUN Purists regard this playfulness as “degeneration” of MUN values, more liberal MUNers look forward to it as a good way of making new friends and added social interaction. Whether this takes away from the core spirit of an MUN, which involves stimulating debates and intense research, is a contentious question. Purists also believe that over the years, the quality of research and training, which a delegate ought to undertake before every MUN conference, has also seen a plunge. Participants are thought to be more concerned about the lunch timings than what they are presenting.

Sidharth Das, regarded as one of the best MUNers in the country (with a profile that boasts of 35+ MUNs), Secretary General of DMUNC ’11 and President of DCAC’s MUN society ‘MUNitions’, says about this degeneration: “A major difference between now and then is that almost every delegate was trained properly prior to an MUN and the difference between a trained delegate and the others was clearly visible when they stepped into council. Hours were spent in front of the computer reading through all possible documents that might help us in the council, that might give us an understanding of our countries’ foreign policy, or a flaw in another’s which we might point out and question them on.” He goes on to talk about the current scenario where most just browse through Wikipedia for information, how many are unaware of the rules of procedure, take greater pleasure in passing chits than raising a noteworthy point, and adds “While there isn’t anything wrong with having fun, but perhaps fun at the expense of the purpose of the Conference is a flaw that needs correction.”

When Das announced DMUNC, everyone knew it would be something to look forward to. And he proved them right by conducting a conference that followed the philosophy of “Back to Basics”, ensuring that everything in the conference would be just like a school MUN, minus any frivolity and solely for the purpose of competitive and stimulating debating. It was an effort that was much commended, and nobody could deny that delegates were enjoying the intellectual challenges posed to them.

It was an effort that was much commended, and nobody could deny that delegates were enjoying the intellectual challenges posed to them. Prakriti Kargeti, Undersecretary General, accrues the success of the conference to Das’ dedication and commitment, and adds that all their hard work and almost unfairly “rigorous sessions” of training paid off, enabling them to host an event that broke away from the tradition of contemporary Indian MUNs, from the initial application process to the closing ceremony.

No wonder so many tagged it as the ‘Das Model United Nations Conference’!

Aayushi Sinha
[email protected]

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