Yale University, US, hosted its second Yale Hindi Debate
Yale Hindi Debate
YALE UNIVERSITY,US,HOSTED ITS SECOND YALE HINDI DEBATE THAT SAW STUDENTS FROM ACROSS AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENT.NIKHIL SUD, FOUNDING PRESIDENT,SHARES HOW IT ALL STARTED
The Yale Hindi Debate was conceptualised and created by its founding president, Nikhil Sud, an undergraduate student at Yale University (class of 2010). It began as an internal Yale event in 2008.
Initially, Sud was apprehensive about the kind of enthusiasm the event would inspire. “To solve the potential pitfalls, I, along with my team, designed the debate not as an examination of linguistic proficiency but as a platform for students with a view and a voice. The rules were crafted in a way to ensure that the debate became a friendly opportunity to express one’s opinion, not a grammar-and-vocabulary test,” he says.
So, with the support of Seema Khurana (senior lector in South Asia Studies at Yale), and his classmate Ronik Bhangoo, Sud managed to turn a wish into a reality.
This year, the theme was ‘Religion is more divisive than unifying.’ Speakers are judged on both content as well as form. The criteria include logic, creativity, structure, diction and rebuttal among others.
Olivia Dowling (class of 2011, Yale University), an American, won the ‘Best Speaker’ award in the non-native non-heritage category this year. Dowling first became interested in India during her senior year at high school. Coming from a small town in Texas, she did not have many Indian friends, but rather experienced India through the popular culture of Bollywood, food, and music.
She says, “The more I learned about India, the more I liked: its colourful and vibrant culture, its differences and similarities to America, and its importance to international affairs. I thought if I wanted to make India a lifetime interest, I had better learn Hindi.” She took Hindi for a year at Yale, before spending a summer in Jaipur learning Hindi through the American Institute of Indian Studies.
The speakers are judged by eminent members of faculty from some of the nation’s prestigious universities and occasionally, people who have worked in the media. “This year’s debate was judged by Richard Delacy (perceptor in Urdu and Hindi in the department of Sanskrit, Faculty of Arts and Science, Harvard University), Susham Bedi (leading author of South Asian literature in the US and adjunct instructor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences), Rakesh Ranjan (senior lecturer in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University) and Ashwini Deo (assistant professor, linguistics, Yale University).”
After two years, Sud feels that the debate gives students like Dowling an opportunity to express their views, listen to, and debate other people’s views on a subject that is relevant. “Isn’t that what education is all about?” he asks.