A debating team from BRAC University has recently become the first-ever Bangladeshi team to clinch the championship title of Cambridge Intervarsity (IV) 2021, one of the world’s most competitive and prestigious debate tournaments, organized by the Cambridge Union. The BRAC University team consisting of two students came out victorious from a total of 124 teams this year. Participating teams included teams from institution like Harvard University, the University of Oxford, London School of Economics, Cornell University, Princeton University and Imperial College London.
Sajid Asbat Khandaker and Sourodip Paul, students of Master of Science in Applied Economics at BRAC University clinched this title in the finals on 14 November 2021. The other three teams in the finals were Imperial College London (UK), McGill University (Canada) and Ateneo de Manila University (The Philippines). Sajid Asbat Khandaker was also adjudged the best English-as-a-second-language (ESL) speaker and 4th best speaker overall. Sourodip Paul was the 2nd best ESL speaker and 8th best speaker overall.
In the finals, the BRAC University team opposed transhumanism, which is a movement that endorses the study and creation of technologies to modify the body to surpass natural limits of human abilities. The debating format was of British parliamentary system where four teams participated, two representing the government and two representing the opposition. The Brac University duo navigated through five qualification and three knockout (quarters, semis and finals) rounds. In these rounds, they encountered motions on different topics including Latin American geopolitics, European Union, healthcare policy and electoral politics.
The duo has been debating together since 2017 in tournaments across the world including in Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. “Naturally it feels surreal to accomplish something that has never been done before - but we hope that this is only the beginning of many more ground breaking achievements to come,” said Sajid Asbat Khandaker in his initial reaction.
“I owe a lot of the skills and knowledge to this activity that always demands the best from the participants. It has helped me become a critical thinker. The activity has given me the confidence to be able to go up to a podium and give a great speech,” said Sourodip Paul. “Sajid and I plan to participate in more global tournaments representing BRAC University on the global stage,” he added.