dear freshers


Razor-sharp jargon, layers of argumentation, and excessive hand gestures – dive into the world of college-level parliamentary debating.

Dear Freshers, as the floodgates of Delhi University have been opened to you try to soak in the vibrant extracurriculars scene on campus – from expressive Dramsocs, socially-committed Enactus to the absolutely beautiful monstrosity that are Debsocs. Debating at the college-level is quite different from the public speaking or ‘debating’ our English teachers forced us into during our schooling years. Have you come across groups of debaters rapidly scribbling notes and speaking without a single pause? Folks who wear, “Don’t Hate, Just Debate” T-shirts. The over-caffeinated curious species who attract starry-eyed freshers into the magnetic pull of debating. Yes, those are your ‘college debaters’.

Introduction to PDs

College debating, especially in colleges of Delhi University, focuses on the Parliamentary Format. Unlike school, debating at the varsity-level is a group activity with one team of 2-3 speakers arguing for the motion, known as Side Government, and another team against the motion, known as Side Opposition. There are several niches of Parliamentary formats, the most common of which are the Asian Parliamentary Debate (APD) and the British Parliamentary Debate (BPD). Loosely based on the style of discussion followed in legislatures, the PD format of debating involves dynamic cross- argumentation and enhanced teamwork.

Debates are judged by a panel of Adjudicators who analyze the entire debates and decide which team wins. They then give their justification behind the verdict. Similar to debating, adjudicating is a competitive activity as well. In addition to this, Debating also involves Tabbing which is a technical activity involving softwares for
organising debate tournaments, and Equity, a grievance redressal and diversity mechanism.

The DU Debating Circuit

The community of Debating Societies of all colleges in the varsity which come together for practice mock debates and intercollege tournaments is known as the “Debating Circuit”. There are two prominent circuits for English and Hindi debating each. It includes legacy debsocs such as those of Kirori Mal College, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, and Sri Venkateswara College which have dominated the space for decades, and up-and-coming fledging debsocs with dynamic debaters and much-needed fresh blood.

The circuit is known for fostering some of the closest friendships and team-ups, but also generational society rivalries. Some of India’s and the World’s largest debate tournaments are hosted within the Delhi Uni Debate community such as the Mukerji Memorial Debate by St. Stephens which is one of India’s oldest running debates (they hosted the 75 th edition this April, 2023) and the Shri Ram Debating Festival, by Shri Ram College of Commerce, which is Asia’s largest week-long debate extravaganza.

The circuit initially brought about for promoting healthy dialogue and discourse and enhancing the communication skills and critical thinking of its members, unfortunately, has it’s fair share of criticisms. In recent times, legacy colleges with age-old society machinery and admin backing have been able to dominate tournaments that require significant financial resources and English-speaking ability. People from privileged backgrounds find it easier to make it big in the debating sphere, thus excluding minority speakers. Those with pre-established reputations and status in the circuit (known as “Dinos”) get an edge over those trying to break into this highly competitive field.

With greater awareness and callouts, the circuit is trying to revamp itself to be more accommodative and inclusive. Year after year, fresh blood, from colleges all across DU, irrespective of campus, find their way into debate rooms and beyond, thus carrying on the century-old legacy of this varsity’s greatest orators.

So, if you are an enthusiastic fresher, enamored by the pull of debating, or someone unsure about their prowess to enter this dynamic field, fear not and take that leap. After all, your voice matters, and no better space to find its resonance than Debating.

Image Credits: DU Beat Archive

Bhavya Nayak
[email protected]

Here is a note from our Editor summing up the next three years of your life-the rollercoaster ride.

Every year around 55,000 students take admission to the prestigious University of Delhi. Many leave the comfort of their home to pursue their academic goals and become the best version of themselves. Undoubtedly, the University is a breeding ground for personal growth. It is one place which gives you an experience of a lifetime- be it friendships, fun, extracurricular activities, or academics.

Every day you are going to meet a number of people who have different ideas and opinions, who differ from your political and societal views. You might be hesitant in the starting, but as months pass by, you will witness a change within yourself, a change which will make you realise how important inclusivity is. You will gradually empathise with the boy from North-east and his conditions back at home, and also understand the struggles of the girl from Kashmir.

It probably feels great to know that you are no more a child who has to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning, wear that boring school uniform, and go to school. The thought of having the freedom to walk in the college anytime without anyone to question or the freedom to attend classes, party with friends, and shop makes everyone excited. However, one must also realise that this image created by Bollywood will soon be busted. Not always will you have the freedom to walk in, sometimes you will have to reach as early as 8 a.m. for that one important lecture, or will have to sacrifice a get-together plan because you are too broke. All the NCERT books, guides, model test papers, and reference books will soon be replaced with a number of readings, heaps of xeroxed notes, neverending assignments, and ten-year books to study two days before the exam.

The people who you are friends with, or the groups you are a part of, will play a huge part in shaping your personality and character. In the coming months, you will pick and choose many people who you think will stay with you forever, with whom you will have all the fun. But let’s burst this balloon. This is not going to be the case. There will be happy days when all of you will chill and have fun in the cafes of Hudson Lane or Satya Niketan. But not all days bring sunshine, there will be gloomy days also; how you handle it will truly shape you as a person.

There will be situations where your college life will appear to be harsh and unwelcoming. You will experience situations where you will end up feeling that you don’t fit in the cultural space. Trust me, when I joined college, I felt the same. Most people feel the same. You might feel left out. But it is important to understand that every transition brings its own ups and downs. It is slow, gradual, and definitely challenging. And when we talk about the transition which can probably shape your entire career and personality, it is not going to be easy. You might leave the University with a completely transformed version of yourself, but I am sure that version would be a more refinied, responsible, and experienced one.

My advice to each one of you will be to simply invest in yourselves, join societies, question everything, apply for internships, meet new people from different cultural backgrounds, plan night stays and road trips, explore the night life, explore Delhi, and most importantly explore yourself. Choose your friends wisely and you will find your chosen family who will stick by you during the most adventurous and exciting years of your life

Christian D. Larson said, “Believe in yourself and all that you are. know that there is something greater inside you that is greater inside you that is greater than any obstacle.

So, fasten your seatbelts as you embark on the journey of a lifetime!


Anoushka Sharma

[email protected]