The event that started as Verbattle the debate championship has today reached a point of being recognized as the best and the most efficient platform for growth, leadership and thought-exchange for children and young people.
It all started when a search was made on the internet for a possible academic partnership between a school in India and a school abroad sharing similar values. The search threw up a list of many knowledge based activities out of which the most prominent ones were the debating championships held all over the world, particularly in North America and Europe.
It was surprising to note that while countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh were either hosting international debate events or being part of big global debating championships, India, the biggest democracy in the world, a country with unity in diversity achieved through a parliamentary system of governance with a history of debate and healthy argument, was nowhere in the scene.
My first thought here was that if the use of debate in an open society has to be most effective in any nation, that nation should be India where it can work better than anywhere else. Unless it encourages its citizens to debate responsibly and to settle issues democratically and non-violently, India, with its vast diversity and differences and the unlimited potential for conflict at every level and in every corner will have disastrous social catastrophes as the only possibilities in the future.
It is the developing world - the third world countries and the nascent democracies- that needs debate as a civilized alternative to armed conflict to settle issues. It is this thought that brought about the urge to start and establish a debating platform for children and young people in this country. The idea, once germinated caused enough restlessness till the concept was discussed with like-minded people and on the spur of the moment a word was created - Verbattle.
With Verbal, an adjective, and Battle, a verb, coming together, the word Verbattle was formed, which is an adjective, a noun, as well as a verb. Therefore when the very civilized expression that is verbal, deals with a very brutal, crude and uncivilized action that is battle, the cerebrally activated mechanisms of offense and defense transform into a meaningful and humane output of speech with corresponding gestures, conquering the urge to battle, nevertheless retaining the spirit, aggression and passion of battle.
Verbattle could be the only word that can express how two opposing parties or a group of people with differences can redefine battle and discover a more evolved way to settle differences or to win over each other..
Originally conceptualized as just a debate event to be started as a state level debate championship in English for school students- in the age group of 12 to 16 years - in the state of Karnataka, Verbattle has been evolving into a bigger platform ever since. This evolution was a natural process based on inputs from people who believed in its potential, participant -response and the result of the conduct of the event itself.
It was surprising and exhilarating to watch some children displaying amazing acumen in recollecting facts, putting forth sensible argument and expressing ideas and opinions that were never heard before and least expected from a child in that age group. Verbattle could just not remain a mere debate competition, it had to move on to a bigger space with a better role.
After selection at the school level of participating teams , the zonal level becomes a selection process to identify those teams that are well-structured on the basis of language and thinking abilities, mannerism, voice. Also the constitution of the team of two itself is considered on the basis of evaluating both members to see if they fine minds that are capable of seeing all sides of an issue, and most importantly, both sides of an argument.
The next stages leading up to the finals are processes to discover the best three teams that can debate, deliberate and discuss on their own any subject with the necessary alacrity and wisdom equipped with information, means and skills when they reach the finals.
The best team thus reaching the finals is believed to have the qualities, talents, skills and diverse knowledge essential to independently argue for a considerable amount of time under thorough and tough scrutiny by their opponents, opponent's mentors, judges and the audience. In the eight events of Verbattle the workability and veracity of this method has been proven and established. Verbattle's aim to discover the ability in children to display human competence has been uncompromisingly achieved.
Deepak Thimaya Founder