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Battle of the best debaters in the country

Salwa Rafi | Published: October 24, 2019 00:26:13 | Updated: October 29, 2019 15:20:57


One of the finalists, Sajid Asbat Khandaker delivering his speech at the grand finale of BRAC Masters Invitational 2019

Bangladeshi debaters have been breaking records on national and international platforms with the power of rhetoric and phenomenal performance in front of the podium. In accordance with that, top debaters of Bangladesh have contested against each other to grab the championship title of BRAC Masters Invitational 6.0, one of the most awaited national debating tournaments of the year.

Organised by BRAC University Debate Club, BRAC Masters Invitationals 6.0 has brought the best debaters of the country together on October 18 and 19 at BRAC University. The tournament was sponsored by Aristopharma Limited Bangladesh.

BRAC Masters Invitational is a highly competitive British Parliamentary style open debate tournament where the top teams are selected based on merit. In each round of a British Parliamentary debate, four teams compete with each other. Unlike most tournaments in Bangladesh, BRAC Masters follows the 'Round Robin' format where the best teams are chosen and every team faces each other once. In the tournament, there were five preliminary rounds and a direct break to finals.

BRAC Masters has a long tradition of bringing together seniormost debaters of Bangladeshi debate circuit. This year was no exception. Sixteen selected teams participated in this year's BRAC Masters Invitational.

Among those sixteen participating teams, team comprising Aaquib Farhan Hossain and Sourodip Paul emerged as the champion of the tournament. For Aaquib Farhan Hossain, UADC 2018 champion, it is his second BRAC Masters Invitational win. Souradip Paul, Mexico WUDC quarterfinalist, was the best speaker of the tournament and the grand finale. Other top speakers of the tournament are Sajid Asbat Khandaker, ABP 2017 champion and Aaquib Farhan Hossain. The runner-up of the tournament was the team consisting of Mohammed Wasif Amin Khan and Yasin Shafi.

The tournament started with its preliminary rounds. The first four preliminary rounds took place on the first day of the tournament and the fifth round and the grand finale took place on the second. After fierce battles in five consecutive rounds, teams to have made it to the grand finale are Aaquib Farhan Hossain and Souradip Paul, Taosif Amin Khan and Sajid Asbat Khandaker, Mohammed Wasif Amin Khan and Yasin Shafi and Fardeen Amin and Kazi Ashfaqul Huq.

A host of motions on different topics were covered in the tournament. Starting from politics to philosophy to pop culture to policy making, debaters have voiced their ideas in front of the podium on a wide range of subject matters. In the first round of the tournament, debaters voiced their opinions on organisational structures of political parties. In the second round, they debated on a motion that believes that impeachment inquiry into Trump is a strategic error making debaters construct arguments on US policies. Interestingly, third round dealt with a pop culture motion. The  motion stated, this house regrets the recently released "Joker" movie. Certainly, the motion brought out the film critic in movie buff debaters. Debate motions also touched on self development as in the fourth round, the motion asked the debaters to regret the glorification of continued self-improvement. For the fifth round, the theme of the debate was: Given a way to accurately measure an individual's empathy, whether or not the house will allow individuals with high levels of empathy for people beyond their immediate circles, to vote in the elections. Nuanced criticisms of social narratives were presented throughout the tournament by debaters and how different stakeholders come into play amidst the existing social narratives was put under the microscope. One such motion where social narrative was challenged to a great deal was the motion for the final round where the narrative that forgiveness is a virtue was being regretted. To ensure competitive debate on top notch motions, a motion committee comprising experienced debaters was in place before the beginning of the tournament. Motions committee consisted of Mubarrat Wassey, Azraf Uddin Ahmad, Asif Hassan, JubayerIbn Hamid and Nayara Noor.

The heated debate rounds were judged by the adjudication panel and invited adjudicators. Adjudicators were invited directly by the organising committee and the core adjudication panel. Members of adjudication panel were Unayza Anika, Nawed Nafees, Mohammad Ebne Enayet, Abrar Farhan Zaman, Rakib Rahman and Shudipto Ahmed. Best adjudicator was selected from the invited adjudicators. Top three adjudicators were given prize money. Top adjudicators for BRAC Masters Invitational were Israt Karim, Shaeer Ahnaf and Arshae Tashfia.

The tournament had equity officers to make sure no misconduct takes place and there is accountability in case of misconduct of any sort. Equity officers for the tournament was Aliya Fairuz and Nayara Noor. Both of them are from BRAC University. Tab Director for the tournament was Ali Mashraf who made sure all the debate rounds run smoothly. Tab Director conducted the matchups for the tournament which was done following the round robin style of matchup for this tournament. 

The tournament opened up learning opportunities for novice debaters of Bangladesh. Observers from institutions all over Bangladesh were also present in the two day-debate competition to learn from the finest debaters of Bangladeshi debate circuit.

Break night was held on the second day of the tournament where breaks were announced. Breaking teams made it to the grand finale. In the breaknight, debaters used the platform to exhibit their talents beyond debating. Different cultural performances took place. Followed by cultural performances, the grand finale of the tournament began, and the tournament concluded with prize giving ceremony where crests were handed to the champions, runner-ups, finalists, top speakers and top adjudicators. 

Some of the best debaters in the country have battled to clench the title in the past. Pairs who previously won the championship title are Sajid Khandakar and Saad Ashraf (2017), Fardeen Amin and Abu Saleh Didar (2016), Aaquib Farhan Hossain and Saad Ashraf (2014), Asif Newaz and Wahid Bari (2013). 

The writer is currently studying in BRAC University. She can be reached at rafisalwa85@gmail.com

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