\

Concept of debate

Public Debates on pertinent issues have formed the basis of all great democracies. It is said the Demosthenes, the orator from ancient Greece, taught himself the art of public speaking by placing pebbles in his mouth, standing on the seashore and speaking against the noise of the sea; he also recited verses while running ! Prof. Amartya Sen in his essay, "India : Large and Small", in "The Argumentative Indian", states that the dialogic tradition is not new to India. Some of the earliest public meetings aimed at debating divergent points of view, were held in ancient Buddhist councils, such as the one organized in Rajagriha shortly after the death of Gautam Buddha. Emporer Ashoka also tried to formulate a set of rules for public arguments and insisted on restraint in one's speech and refraining from public extolment of one's own set and disparagement of other sects. Acceptance of alternative points of view is therefore the very essence of democracy and in modern India too debates on various issues must be encouraged if we wish to preserve our pluralistic culture.

This is the underlying objective of the The L.N. Birla Memorial Debate, organized by Birla High School, Kolkata. The management and faculty of this institution believe that an inter-institutional debate is a fitting tribute to our late founder Sri L. N. Birla, as it encapsulates his vision of a complete, "man-making" education. Sri L. N. Birla founded Hindi High School, (now re-named Birla High School), in 1941 with the express purpose of imparting to its students an education that would combine Indian tradition and culture with the principles of Western science. The L. N. Birla Memorial Debate is consequently one of our most prominent mission statements today.

This mega event is a validation of our commitment to the youth of India to create leaders who can agree to disagree with civility and in a manner befitting the citizens of the world's largest democracy.