BANGALORE: The third edition of NLS Union Debate was conducted recently, on the Nagarbhavi Campus of the National Law School of India University. An initiative of the literary and debating society, associated with the law and society committee, the Union Debate was modelled on the Oxford and Cambridge formats and was a bid to restore falling civil consciousness and engagement. The first edition in May focused on the legitimacy of conducting hunger strikes and the second edition focused on the sub-judiced issue of legislative oversight over intelligence agencies in India.
The third edition debated ‘This House Condemns Delhi University’s Decision to Remove ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translations’ from its History Syllabus’” The debate started with opening remarks by Chandan Gowda, a sociologist from the University of Michigan. On this occasion, he gave some background on the essay and Delhi University’s decision to ban it. Speaking about the topic, he said that it was important to understand about the idea of a unified Ramayana or allowing heterogeneity rather than the question of secularism. The debate started with Dr Sitaramam Kakarala, Director and Senior Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society. He addressed the issue of what knowledge and classroom learning was perceived to be and how it was an insult to the intellect of youth to believe they cannot question and understand what they read. Other speakers in the debate, discussed about the issues such as bans on controversial works and the litigation history of this case. They also questioned the validity of the assumption that undergraduate students cannot appreciate the nuances of the Ramayana.
Speakers also discussed the importance of expanding academic scope as one moves from school to college and the difference between the academic field and social field. They illustrated how it was impossible to have a single perception, not just of an essay, but also of History or the Social Sciences as a whole.
The debate concluded with the floor open to questions and the audience voting on the issue. The proposition won with 80 per cent
of the votes.