The art of debate involves mastering skills of obvious intrinsic value: the confidence to speak in public, the construction of a logical argument; and, perhaps most importantly, the willingness to hear others’ arguments and to respond to them. Model United Nations (MUNs) started off as a simulation of the workings and functioning of the United Nations, which gave young students from school and college the opportunity to discuss complex world issues, understand political conflicts and think of proactive solutions. In status quo, however, it has been reduced to a commercial competition, where students are solely motivated by the big cash prize, rather than looking forward to participate in a constructive debate and increase their knowledge.
When the MUN culture started, students would show up to the committee rooms dressed in loose formal clothes carrying big research binders that contained several printouts or handwritten articles from various charters and reports relevant to the agenda. The debate was constructive and followed a precise pattern, it was more about solving the problem rather than spending most of your speaking time alleging other delegates and creating unnecessary conflict. The awards were decided on the basis of how well a delegate understood the agenda and contributed substantially to the debate rather than a number of times they spoke in a committee. Lobbying in an unmoderated caucus actually meant displaying diplomatic behaviour rather than trying to assert your dominance by shouting. ‘Fake CV’s’ was a concept unknown to the world of MUNs and the participants did not actively look forward to getting a new profile picture after the conference.
The purpose of a MUN conference, ideally, is to research and arrive at a solution through negotiations, deliberations and cohesive decisions. In many cases, it has unfortunately been dumbed down to belittling the ‘opponent’ to bag the cash prize. With an overabundance of MUNs being organised in the circuit, many of bizarre committees and staggeringly high delegate fees in many, it’s a certainty that the culture has seen a significant shift over the past years.

Regardless of anyone’s motive for attending a MUN conference- be it to improve on spoken skills, an upgrade for the C.V, to attend the social events, or to simply get a new Display Picture clicked for Facebook; MUNs have left an indelible first mark on many young debaters. Those who have kept a traditional MUN’s sanctity intact should be lauded, and the ones who strive to indulge in meaningful learning experiences through a dialogue of relevant facts are praiseworthy examples. These conferences have been a stepping stone for a career in diplomacy and International Relations for many young speakers and enthusiastic research-oriented students. It hones speaking skills, encourages political awareness and develops leadership skills, and teaches the art of negotiation to students. Reducing it to just another competition undermines the value of this unique concept, and ensures the money-making part overshadows the learning experience gained. The question of its improvement begs to be a rhetoric, but there are plausible solutions nevertheless. Restricting on ‘socials’ and inviting only the serious candidates can easily be achieved by any organiser. The rest entirely depends on the delegates; their willingness to learn through constructive debating and greater emphasis on research can define newer, better paths for this concept.

Feature Image Credits: United Nations

Bhavya Banerjee

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Vijeata Balani

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As completes a century of US intervention in the first world war, a step foundation-stone to the century of its global dominance, the current global politics indices signal that the hourglass has reversed. With Uncle Sam’s hegemony finally dwindling, the process only hastened in this 100th year after the loss of the president-subject amity, it isn’t hard to imagine where the world goes from here, stuck amid two nations ardent efforts to claim the throne in spite of the third’s vehement refusal to relinquish.

The world keeps on teaching refined lessons. Belittling St. George’s who quit after killing one dragon, the United States of America successfully played the hero in both the world wars. The turn of events ended the ad infinitum era of European dominance consolidating US as the new bully in the block. The states singularly dominated the world diplomatically and economically throughout the 20th century.

At the advent of this century started the phase of decentralisation of power with China and Russia challenging this unipolar nature of world politics. Countries started identifying their self sufficiency in the age of  globalisation. This triggered the imperceptible loss of US supremacy although strong leadership ensured the delayed effects of the inevitable, making the americans believe, at the same time, that all was well.

With the departure of Barack Obama and the advent of the era of Trumpism deepening these writings on the wall, on the face of which, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Xi Jinping couldn’t have asked for a better U.S. premier. Both the national leaders capitalised on the subsequent  friction between the ruler and the ruled in America. Just in a matter of few months, it is clearly evident that Donald Trump’s nugatory ambitions of taming Russia and China diplomatically and hence making America great again had been a massive disillusionment.

Consequently he has resorted to other frantic measures of flexing muscles, with the spectacle of serious bombings in Afghanistan and foolery of locking horns with Russia over the Syrian crisis. Not quite unlike to Donald Trump’s decisions and policies, any sustainable result from these antics is unimaginable.

As secretary of state Rex Tillerson arrives at Moscow on Tuesday in a scheduled meeting with Sergei Lavrov, expecting a massive diplomatic dialogue would be too far fetched. As a third party, the most we should  hope is a mutual understanding of the global causes and a better understanding on the futility of powerplay on already war-torn nations.


Image Credits- pintrest.com


Nikhil Kumar

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