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11-year-old wins national debate competition; says participation more important than winning

From being unaware of the technique to winning her first-ever debate competition, Janvi Sharma’s journey has been full of learnings



“When the debate competition announcement was shared by the school, the first thing I told my mother was that I want to win it. There are so many competitions that the school tells us about, but this was the one that attracted me, but I can’t say why,” says Janvi Sharma, a student of class 6 from Apeejay School, Tanda Road, who won the recently held Frankenstein Debating Tournament. The national debating league was organised by AugLi Future Skills Academy and saw participation from school students from across the country.

This was Janvi’s first-ever inter-school competition. “I did not have much of an idea what goes into a debate. This was the first time I actually experienced it,” she reveals. More than being a competition, it was therefore a learning experience for the young champion. “In the masterclasses with which the tournament began, I learned to speak on the proposition and the opposition sides. In the process, I got to learn many new words that are typically used in a debate like “this house”, “motion”, etc.”

The entire debate tournament was themed on sustainability. “Many of us have the habit of throwing chips and bhujiya packets here and there. But through this debate, I learned how harmful they are to the environment. Now I know why the government has banned plastic bags,” says the Jalandhar student. The topics for the debate rounds included the use of plastics, fast fashion, and the conservation of animals.

Janvi’s two teammates, who jointly won the tournament, also taught her about debate techniques based on their prior experience at other competitions. “My team members were from the same school in Gurugram. We became friends in no time. I still chat with them sometimes. I learned from them how to deliver a convincing argument while being aware of the opponent’s argument.”

Talking about her preparation process, she adds, “For the three qualifiers, I just needed half an hour to think about the topic given to us and research it. This I did to build my understanding of the subject through examples. We could not prepare replies in advance because we had to give on-the-spot answers. Similarly, for the subsequent rounds, it took me 15-20 minutes to go through all the information available on the topics, which I then discussed with my teammates virtually.”

Having won her first-ever debate competition, Janvi naturally feels elated. “Not just winning, the reason I feel happy is that I got to participate in a national-level competition like this. I was very scared about the qualifier rounds, but when I cleared those, I felt very happy. I immediately informed my parents and grandparents, who were equally excited. We also told the school about it.” She has already started googling other debate competitions to explore her chances of participation. Simultaneously, she is watching debate videos on YouTube by international experts and learning a lot from them.

Not just debate, Janvi also likes other co-curricular activities like quizzes, dance, and declamation, to name a few, and has participated in several competitions. The latter two are her favourite. “I do not usually care about winning. I believe that by participating in these activities, I will be able to learn something new and that is what matters. My parents always encourage me to participate in events like these,” she signs off. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.