By Prajita Shrestha
Not a long time ago, a guy who had been all over Asia as a part of his job told me that it is difficult working with most of the Nepali people since they do not make proper discussions or present valid arguments during meetings. As much as I liked to deny this, I also believed that he was making a true judgment. Nepali people, indeed, build arguments based on very little content and focus more on tone and pitch while presenting their opinion.
But who are we to blame? I believe we shall blame Nepali debate ideology.
Since childhood, we are taught to follow the traditional debating format, as a result of which, we never learned to focus on critical analysis, active thinking and substance of discourse, instead, we focused more on raising voices with aggressive expressions.
While a lot of debating platforms in Nepal still follow the traditional debating format, Debate Network Nepal (DNN)—nation’s leading debate body that also serves as national debate organisation—follows a rather unique and global approach to debating, something known as ‘Parliamentary Style of Debating’.
Following this international system, DNN replicates the structure of a parliament and engages upon issues proposed in the motion, just like debating upon a bill tabled in the house. DNN divides the participating teams into two sides, where one proposes and defends a motion while the other side opposes the same motion with strategically constructed argument. The panel of judges, whose members analyse the debate like an average reasonable voter, then decides the winning team and provides the participants with a thorough feedback highlighting both the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of the case presented.
By installing this inclusive and methodical idea of debating into the Nepali community, DNN hopes to help the Nepali youths break their own shells, discuss about all sorts of matter, break down these issues into several rational and pragmatic principles, and then finally use these acquired perspectives and values to develop a plan of action while envisioning its possible consequences.
DNN is continuously striving to help Nepali youths build on five thematic areas: empowerment, establishment, tournament, representation, and advocacy. As a part of this strive for creating a vibrant level of debate community in Nepal, DNN has established dozens of debate related institutions, engaged hundreds of them in tournaments, brought forth dozens of debaters from among them to represent Nepal in international arena like WSDC and WUDC, and by all these means, actively advocated for the promotion of debating culture in a nation which has always struggled for a democracy that functions well.
The best part of DNN is, however, the fact that the organisation understands the importance of inculcating both teens and youths from the entire nation under their umbrella. That is why DNN has established institutional debate clubs and societies in schools, colleges, and universities which eventually could become an effective civil society with strong democratic values.
Since 2012, the year of DNN’s establishment, the company has created some of the unique debating arenas in the country. Some of the organisation’s recent hits include Maha Sangram and Chal Chamkilo. MahaSangram 2017 was the biggest British Parliamentary Debating Championship to ever happen in Nepal with 62 (5 international) teams. Chal Chamkilo, on the other hand, was a community outreach project that started off engaging debaters for a shoe polish fundraising campaign and later evolved into a debating, career counselling and public speaking training campaign. It also evolved as being able to distribute stationery goods to six different government schools of five different districts of Nepal.
DNN, at the moment, is not only focusing on directing open training programs such as Kose Dhunga and Tarkashala but also on organising different institutional tournaments like Law Debates and Tech Debates. By conducting debates as such, DNN aims to maximise the reach as well as the impact of debating among individuals and among institutions so as to ensure a sustainable debating culture.
Today, DNN has produced many graduates, each of whom has time and again shared their life-changing experience with DNN. The graduates find themselves armoured with an ability to analyse issues in ways people normally wouldn’t, a certain level of confidence with which they can communicate and mark their influence, and an opportunity to know a lot of people from different walks of life. DNN graduates have become successful entrepreneurs, politicians, social activists, while some others have been enrolled into excellent universities with prestigious scholarships worldwide.
While DNN cannot be more proud of all of its achievements, the organisation accepts that there are still miles to go before debating culture absolutely gets institutionalised in Nepal. As a long-term plan, DNN hopes to build Nepal where students have easier access to quality debating. Further, DNN is also working to have DNN chapters established all around Nepal for independent functioning. This year, DNN also plans to host a major international tournament, but this is yet to gain a rigid shape.
We, at WAVE, have always believed in the calibre of youths and hence, relate with DNN on its continuous endeavours to shift the responsibility of the coming times to the youths of our nation by arming them with the power of speech and rational wisdom. Here’s to our journey towards a comprehensive and just Nepal!
“DNN IS STRIVING TO CREATE A VIBRANT LEVEL OF DEBATE COMMUNITY IN NEPAL, INSTITUTIONALISE THE DEBATE CULTURE IN THE NATION, AND MAKE SURE EVERYONE FOCUSES ON CRITICAL ANALYSIS, ACTIVE THINKING AND SUBSTANCE OF DISCOURSE RATHER THAN RAISING VOICES WITH AGGRESSIVE EXPRESSIONS.”