On forming Adj Cores

The practice of flying down debaters from overseas to be a part of the adj core isn't recent to the Indian circuit, but has become an increasingly popular option for tournaments with large war chests. Debaters from abroad add to the circuit in many ways. I'v learnt new ways of case building, argument formation, analyzing debates and approaching motions and issues among several other things from them. I believe systems stop evolving beyond a point no matter what scale of effort, if they are insular. Therefore it is imperative for more and more Indian debaters to compete at international tournaments (a trend that has been declining off late) and perhaps fly down people who have done well at them in order to expose ourselves to higher standards of debating and thereby raise the benchmarks for debating quality withing the circuit. Ask anyone who has competed at Asians and they'll tell you how much they have learnt in the process. This of course is predicated on the individual committing oneself to learning and grasping as much as possible from this exchange.

But there's something that bothers me and has been raised as a concern in varying forms by several debaters.     Back when I was new to debating, foreign debaters in the adj cores of tournaments were few and far apart. These were mostly people who had significant interactions with the Indian debating circuit and were interested in being associated with it. Soon after, Indian debaters competing at Asians or Worlds began interacting with their contemporaries from other circuits in the process of being adjed by them, watching them give speeches or even through colorful conversations at room parties post debates. These debaters began inviting people they were positively impressioned by to be a part of their tournaments. I remember the impact certain  debaters at Asians who adjed me and against whom I spoke had on me back on the day. The depth of analysis and the line of argumentation was significantly more evolved than what I had been exposed to. These people had a lot to offer and it made sense to try and get them to adj or speak at Indian tournaments.

However, off late a lot of tournaments have begun roping in foreign debaters to feature in the adj cores of their tournaments just for the sake of having a foreign adjudicators. In certain cases, their names are arrived upon after a protracted head hunting operation where most of the big league debaters are off the list due to availability issues and a compromise is struck, resulting in the addition of the best available CV to the adj core. This is problematic on multiple levels. Them having broken as a speaker at some international tournament in most cases has no bearing on the individual's ability to form motions, adjudicate in an alternative environment, be able to incorporate the sensibilities that come with the turf and be a constructive in terms of imparting value to the circuit.

The ideal growth trajectory involves setting an end objective and taking well calibrated steps towards achieving it. Different debating circuits have drastically different styles. You know what I mean if you have ever debated against a Philippino team and a Malay team. You can notice the variations in the way they build arguments, their responses, their manner, their feedback and in pretty much everything that constitutes debating. This is in addition to the natural uniqueness in style each debater possesses. There is a dire need for discourse on what  foreign adjes (as a part of the core) will complement and augment the current disposition of Indian debaters while steering it towards the desired direction.

Whether the blame lies on an incompatibility in sensibilities or sheer incompetency, in cases where foreign adjes reward or penalize teams on logical premises that seem arbitrary or unreasonable, the sole result is chaos. Given that these adjudicators are perceived to have a high degree of authority in their affairs, it results in confusion when teams lose debates on parameters that are either flawed as a result of the gap in comprehension on behalf of these adjudicators or due to their inability to adjudicate at par with their other accomplishments (even more so given that they have limited understanding of the circuit).

So here's what I'm saying in conclusion:
1) If you're organizing a tournament, please do not invite someone just for the sake of it. I can ensure you that the perception benefits are paltry compared to the possible harm that can come out of it. A series of unfavorable decisions or even motions can seriously deck your tournaments' credibility. Again, there is no value of having a firang on your adj core in and by itself.
2) Talk to other debaters about their experiences with people you are planning to fly down from abroad.
3) Think in terms of where you want your debate society and tournament headed and factor for that in your decision.

I'm writing this in reaction to observing many a debater from other circuits who have made it to the adj core of our tournaments despite the existence of a small army of Indian debaters who are more accomplished than them. There are empirical results to show the end result of such arrangements...

Comments

Ambar Bhushan said…
"3) Think in terms of where you want your debate society and tournament headed and factor for that in your decision."

you're just encouraging DU*...







* See: Rana, Uday Singh, How I won my own college's tournament and got away with it , nth edition 2012, Delhi University Press, Bhagalpur

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