Suppose you are a Bangladeshi using social media. In that case, chances are you already know that a team from Bangladesh consisting of Sajid Khandaker and Sourodip Paul from BRAC University became champions of the World Universities Debating Championship in Belgrade 2022.
They defeated renowned universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, National University of Singapore, Ateneo de Manila University and many more to become the best in the world and win the WUDC (popularly known under the name Debate World Cup or Worlds).
The turmoil of the debate
Learning to debate is a gradual process. You don’t start debating today and win Worlds the next day. It takes years to develop into a debater capable of winning Worlds. It takes a lot of effort. He focused after Sourodip Paul and Sajid Asbat Khandaker won the world championships. But the whole Bangladeshi debating community has had a lot of remarkable achievements in the past. When you grow as a debater, you also enrich the community you belong to and benefit from collaborative community development.
Both Sajid and Sourodip started debating early in their lives. Sajid started debating in school, representing Dhanmondi Tutorial, and Sourodip used to debate for Notre Dame College. At that time, they dominated national debate competitions. We are talking about 2014.
Later, they both managed to participate in different admissions of the BBA program at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka (IBA-DU). This duo has participated in many major international tournaments since then.
On the way to glory
In 2017, their team of IBA-DU placed third in the Cambodia United Asia Debating Championship (UADC) team tab, where Sourodip became the 5th best debater in Asia and Sajid became the best speaker in Asia. ‘Asia. Later that year, Sajid, along with Rawnak Zaheen Wasi, became the Asia Champion in the Krabi Asian British Parliamentary Debate (ABP), representing the IBA-DU. It was the first ever Asian championship for a Bangladeshi team.
Alongside UADC and ABP there is the Australasian Inter-College Debating Championship which happens to be the Australian and Asian championship and one of the oldest debating championships in existence, which takes place every year. These three are what we call the regional majors. Each continent has its major tournament.
In 2018, Sajid and Sourodip broke into the Australasians open category. This time they became the second open breaking team of Bandung UADC 2018 where another Bangladeshi team from Bangladesh Independent University consisting of Zobayer Ahmed, Aaqib Farhan Hossain and Nabil Hossain became the champions.
It was time for Bali Australasians 2019, and this time Sourodip and Sajid didn’t just make it to the knockout stages; they withdrew as open semi-finalists. It was the farthest a South Asian side had ever made so far in the competition.
At Yogyakarta ABP 2019, Sourodip and Sajid once again reached the semi-finals after becoming the top performing team in the preliminary rounds. In Thailand WUDC 2019, they became the 11th open breaking team in the world and pulled out of the open quarterfinals again. However, it is the gradual progress to becoming the best in the world.
After graduating from IBA-DU, Sourodip went on to study at the Australian National University (ANU). He became Australasians 2020 Best General Speaker and ANU Representing Champion.
Eventually, they were both admitted to BRAC University for their Masters and became Oxford IV 2021 finalists as BRAC A. Later, they became Cambridge IV 2021 champions. These are two important tournaments on the world stage.
They only had one tournament left to win: the WUDC.
All eyes are on CMMU 2022
The competition was fierce, with 373 teams and 267 institutions competing around the world to become world champions. Either way, the Bangladeshi side of Sajid and Sourodip are among the favorites for the competition. All of their hard work before had led to achievements that had created a pipeline of success for them, making them a favorite in this edition of Worlds.
In the preliminary stages, Sajid and Sourodip finished fifth in the Open category after a total of nine rounds of debate. Before the open final, they faced Ateneo de Manila University, National University of Singapore and Princeton University for the title of world champion. They won the final, with all nine judges returning a verdict in their favour.
“It seems unreal. We only dreamed about this. I used to dream about this as an 11th grader watching debates on YouTube. I can’t believe I could be in the same league as Absolute Legends,” said Sourodip Paul.
what does it really mean
Fardeen Ameen, Former President of the Bangladesh Debating Council (BDC), said: “Since they were children, Sajid and Sourodip have made countless sacrifices and made incredible efforts to pursue their passion while balancing their studies and life. They are a true testament to what raw passion can achieve and the whole nation is proud of them.
Today, the whole nation celebrates this achievement, as it proved that despite all its barriers, Bangladesh can wreak havoc against any competition in the world.
In fact, at the start of his speech at the Open Finals, Sajid Khandaker remarked, “We’re a small community that really strives to do well in the global debating community, and I’m sure that’s not only the beginning of a wonderful journey”. for Bangladesh.
“This is the first time in over 40 years of WUDC history that someone from an Asian institution has managed to win. It’s an unthinkable achievement in a sport that often ends up favoring those who come from the Ivy League, Oxbridge and Australia’s Group of Eight,” said Shudipto Ahmed of the University of Dhaka, one of the best debate judges in the world who was a judge for the WUDC EFL (English as a Foreign Language) final. Aliya Fairuz of BRAC University also judged the EFL finals this year.
Unlike many other parts of the world where the barrier of language, funding, institutional support or prestige is not prevalent, they have not enjoyed these privileges. Yet these two prodigious debaters from Bangladesh triumphed against all odds to bring glory to the nation!
Sourodip Paul added saying, “Never give up on your dreams, kids, ever.”
Now that this legendary duo has shattered prejudice and glass ceilings, it is up to the next generation of Bangladeshi debaters to carry this legacy forward.
Ahmad Tousif Jami is a research assistant at the Independent University of Bangladesh. KM Najib Hayder is a senior at the University of Dhaka.