Harish Natarajan introduces the debating community to Chennai’s WUDC bid.
In its 32 year history the World Universities Debating Championship has morphed. From a competition that attracted just 43 teams from 7 nations in 1981, its become a thousand plus person tournament with teams from over 40 countries. Worlds has not only become bigger but its also more inclusive. It has grown into a genuine World Championships – where student from all continents and countries complete for the title of World Champion.
One sign of the internationalization of WUDC is the diversity of host countries. In the last decade, Worlds has been hosted in North America (Vancouver), Europe (Cork, Dublin and Antalya), Africa (Stellenbosch and Botswana) and much of Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand).
Given the number of different countries and regions that have hosted Worlds, it is amazing that the Indian Subcontinent has never done so. India, in particular, seems like a natural venue. India has a large English-speaking population, a number of incredible universities and is one of the world’s largest economies. India’s internal debating circuit is well developed. Over 70 universities participate in the activity; they run 60 competitions between them and generate approximately $500,000 in sponsorship money. The largest Indian competitions (run by RVCE and the National Law School) regularly attract 350 plus participants. To get a sense of that scale – NLS and RVCE’s competitions are slightly larger than the Oxford and Cambridge IVs! Indian teams have also had an international presence. The National Law School has regularly sent teams to Worlds, and in recent years so have colleges in Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Bombay. And in 2011, RVCE became the first Indian team to win the Asian British Parliamentary Championships.