Taking debate to new heights | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:34 PM, February 16, 2020

Taking debate to new heights

In recent years, Bangladesh has seen many young debaters impress the audience with their wit and talent. Sourodip Paul and Sajid Khandaker of Team IBA DU A secured the 11th ranking among 434 teams from more than 350 universities in this year's World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), which is considered the World Cup of Debate in Thailand. Bangladesh's performance this year was the best one so far.

'Khandaker and Paul', their official team name, became an undeniable duo in debating tournaments.  Together, they have won 11 major championships so far. Their WUDC journey started back in 2018 with WUDC, Mexico. They participated in WUDC South Africa in the following year. They secured the 17th position in Mexico and the 23rd position in South Africa last year. They were announced as the best team in Asia, both in Mexico and Thailand this year.

Sajid has been a debater since he was a ninth grader. From participating in the World Schools Debating Championships to WUDC, his passion for debate grew over the years. "I had some of the best debaters as my professional trainers back in my school days, which made my transition to international competitions easier," shares Sajid.

While Sajid had professional help in his debating career, Sourodip's went through several individual struggles. He got into debating seriously when he was a student at Notre Dame College and participated in several activities after getting into IBA. In his first year, Sourodip won Creadive, an inter university business case competition organised by BUP and in his final year, he won Battle of Minds, an inter university business competition arranged by British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's first major breakthrough in WUDC was in 2013, when BRAC University won ESL and IBA DU's performances in 2015 established a solid reputation for our country in the international debate circuit. 

 "Previously, there were biases against accents, different backgrounds and some form of structural racism in the international debating scene. However, gradually, the international debating society has become more open and accepting of different people," shares Sourodip.

"Years of participating and performing greatly in international tournaments finally established Bangladesh's strong position internationally. It would not come as a surprise if Bangladesh wins WUDC now," says Sajid.

Debating requires a huge amount of time and sacrifice than any other competition, and those who have an affinity for debating are more concerned about trophies and achievements. Sajid and Sourodip's advice to the next generation of debaters is to create their own style. "Debate is a mental game and creativity has a major role in it. Developing your unique style is more important than bagging trophies," says Sajid.  On the other hand, Sourodip believes that regardless of their achievements, people will remember both of them for their unique style of debating.

Sourodip is leaving for Australia to pursue his higher studies in Economics soon. He is an avid fan of standup comedy and the football team, Manchester United. Sajid, on the other hand, is in his final year at IBA and is passionate about political philosophy and Liverpool. The duo have truly changed the debating standards in Bangladesh.

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