November, 2016

An introduction to the Ashoka Debating Union 

By Sparsh Agarwal

The ADU is invested in its quest to look for newer forms of debate and discourse which are not limited to traditional forms and hoping to conduct debates in the vernacular and unconventional as well

Believing in the might of the pen, the power of words and the mesmerizing nature of speech, the Ashoka Debating Union (ADU) is an integral part of the culture that Ashokans hold dear to their campus.

The ADU was formed by the founding undergraduate batch of the University. The vision that the founders had of the ADU was to prevent it from becoming just another exclusive body only focusing on competitive debates, much like debate societies in general across the nation.


“The ADU aims to become on elf the most active clubs on campus, both within the college as well as outside. The aim of the ADU is to be able to facilitate students to reach constructive conclusions on issues relevant to our private and public lives,” says  Aditya Khemka, one of the Directors of the Ashoka Debating Union. The ADU envisions itself hoping to instill and embody the spirit of discourse and discussion seen within the lecture rooms and to promote the purview of this spirit of debate from the residence halls to the common rooms and beyond. In this regard, the ADU aims not just to be a competitively participating body but also to be a channel to hold public debates featuring students, faculty and administration members on important issues.

Initiatives taken 

In the previous semesters, important debates in light of events have taken place. The public debate on the absolute right of the freedom of speech was moderated by Prof. Vaiju Naravane (Head of Department, Media Studies, Ashoka University) and saw a record attendance of close to 100 people. Another public debate was held discussing Ambedkar’s selection of the greatest Indian of the 21st century moderated by Mr. Deepak Varma, who is the founder of the India Debating League. Through this 6 vs 6 format of debating with an absolute vote taken in the end, the ADU, aims to promulgate discourse on ideas and opinions.

As a competitive body, the ADU, has done well in representing the University. Having secured first place in the official debate organized by the British High Commission and the debate organized by Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi and the best delegation award at Jindal Global Universty’s MUN, they have done the University proud. The core team also travelled to the Asia Universities Debating Championship that was held in Bangkok last semester and Chandigarh for the Debate organized by Punjab Engineering College this semester.

The road ahead

In order to instill a cult for debating within the college where people share the passion of looking at debating as a ‘blood’ sport, the ADU aims to create and execute modules to conduct workshops on certain specifics like case building, oratory and argumentation. The ADU had conducted such workshops during the orientation week for freshers, ultimately also conducting a debate for freshers which saw the participation of 60 freshers divided among 18 teams.

With the support of the YIF community, the ADU, hopes to become an international name. It envisions itself being a part of the World Universities Debating Championships in the near future. The ADU is keeping busy as of now as work has started in full swing for the first Parliamentary Debate Competition of Ashoka University which is supposed to take place on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of January next year.

Hoping to host even more public debates, whenever the need arises for them on campus, the ADU is eternally invested in its quest to look for newer forms of debate and discourse which are not limited to traditional forms and hoping to conduct debates in the vernacular and unconventional as well. As the ADU try to eulogies the power of speech realizing how it has reigned through the countless march of epochs; shaping the atomies and the fabric of our existence and rousing even the smallest of atoms, leading to wars and peace, coups and overtures, acclivities and anticlines, nadirs and zeniths, it aims to preserve and enshrine the need for every Ashokan to be able to debate.


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