August witnessed the first ever Student Faculty Debate in the history of IIM Ahmedabad, organized by the Speaking Cell of the Literary Symposium Desk (LSD). The event was conceptualized around the idea of facilitating a deep and proactive interaction between the students and the faculty outside of the classroom, on issues of contemporary significance. The event was structured loosely as a British Parliamentary Style debate, with appropriate changes to reflect the scope of the topic.
The preliminaries for the debate were held over a period of three days to choose the best two speakers among the student fraternity who would represent them and debate with the faculty members. Out of a total of 14 teams in the preliminary rounds, Aniketh Talwai (PGP-2) and Dhiraj Ramakrishnan (PGPX) were selected to face off against an eminent faculty team consisting of Prof. Neharika Vohra and Prof. Sebastian Morris, on the topic of “Gender based selection criteria for educational institutions is justified/not justified”. The event was attended by around 100 people and quite a few people from outside the student community came to watch the debate.
The participating teams made several interesting arguments over the course of discussion that defined, explicated and expanded the scope of discussion. Prof. Vohra stated the need to understand this issue from a perspective of a driver of social justice and financial incentives, rather than just as relaxation of admission criteria directed at any one gender in particular. Prof. Morris talked about the absence of an idealistic world which necessitated the presence of such affirmative action policies. These arguments were strongly refuted by the student team, who believed you could not create a level playing field by digging up the field in the other direction.
At the end of the debate, the members of the audience posed a number of questions to the participating members related to their arguments and stances. The LSD team hopes to institute this event as a regular annual fixture.