Lahore schoolchildren win debating honours

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When three students, including a girl, from Lahore College of Arts and Sciences left Pakistan a few days ago for an inter-school debating competition in Vasant Valley School in South Delhi, they never thought they would score many firsts.

They represented the first school from Pakistan to participate in the competition. And, in their maiden appearance, they emerged winners of the 15th Vasant Valley Inter-School Debate for the India Today Cup.

At the end of two days —Thursday and Friday — of entertaining debate, they not only defeated a strong field of 24 Indian schools but also lifted the first two Best Speaker trophies. Hashim Bajwa was adjudged Best Speaker, teammate Umar Ali became the runner-up, while Parth Jhaveri of Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai, took the third prize.

The Lahore team and Cathedral and John Connon School reached the final on Friday after winning the preliminary rounds. The topic was whether nations committing human rights violations should be allowed to take part in the Olympics.

Vidya Surendran, one of the organisers of the contest, said there was an impressive field this year because "schools send their best debators to this prestigious event".

"The semi-finals were held on Friday morning. It was based on the Cambridge format. Lahore College of Arts and Sciences defeated Vasant Valley, while Cathedral and John Connon got the better of Sri Ram School. The final was held on the parliamentary format," Surendran said.

"All the three participants in each team were allowed to speak. Topics were given on the spot and the students got just 45 minutes to prepare," she said.

"There were nine schools from outside Delhi. Other than Cathedral and John Connon School, Kolkata-based La Martiniere for Boys, Vidyashilp of Bangalore, Scindia School in Gwalior, Vivek High of Chandigarh, Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, The Doon School (Dehradun) and Mayo College Girls' School (Ajmer) participated," Surendran said.

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