Welham Boys' School organized the 33rd edition of The Oliphant Memorial Debates on August 18 and 19, 2023. This prestigious annual debate is held in memory of Ms. Hersilia Susie Oliphant, the School’s Founder.
Over the last thirty-two years, the debate has been conducted in several formats, and this year's edition followed the Modified British Parliamentary format. In this format, the judging criteria hinged on (1) Matter, Manner, and Method.
The tournament saw the participation of 16 teams, who shared the dais and engaged in meaningful debates on issues pertaining to socio-economic, philosophical, and political domains. After three intense preliminary rounds of debating on subjects such as climate change, education methods, and public policy, eight teams qualified for the semi-finals. The topic for the semi-finals was "This House supports the use of the rhetoric about women being more empathetic or more caring than men as part of feminist advocacy."
The teams that made it into the semi-finals were – Mayo College, St. Joseph’s Academy, Welham Boys’ School, Vasant Valley, Pathways School, Welham Girls' School, The Daly College, and Sunbeam School. All teams delivered wonderful performances, given the nuanced subject matter, and the best speaker in the Semi-final rounds was Saara Lunawat from The Daly College, Indore.
After the highly competitive semi-finals, Vasant Valley School, Delhi, St. Joseph's Academy, Dehradun, The Daly College, Indore, and Welham Boys' School, Dehradun qualified for the Finals. The topic for the Final Debate was, "This House believes that parents in liberal democracies should teach their children to be primarily responsible for the happiness of others instead of their own happiness". All the teams rose to the challenge and did justice to the elevated rigour at the final stage of the competition. In an incredibly well-contested and close final, Vasant Valley School, Delhi emerged victorious and The Daly College, Indore was adjudged the runners-up. The best speaker in the Final round was Lalnunkimi Hnamte of Vasant Valley School.
The concluding debate was presided over by Mr. Atul Sethi, one of the most acclaimed Indian journalists. He is the recipient of the prestigious Charles Wallace Fellowship for research studies in the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, UK, and has also been felicitated with the Jefferson Media Fellowship by the US government think-tank, East-West Centre.