Tuesday, May 13, 2008

RYLA part 5

3rd May began with morning tea and sports at 6. The PT session was taken by the camp Commandant. It involved a few exercises and then a basketball match. But I escaped before the match and took a long walk around the unexplored parts of the campus. There was an hour long refresh break from 7:30 to 8:30 (which I utilized for a bath) followed by breakfast. There was toast and butter or jam and eggs for breakfast. After submitting our diaries, we went back to Tata Hall for a debate session.

The motion was “Leadership can be cultivated”. Two people were to speak from each team for and against the motion. I spoke against it. It wasn’t hard to make my points. I started with the allegory of fruits that ripen on the trees and those that are artificially ripened – both are ripe but one can tell the difference in taste. Same goes for building leaders. Leaders are born and their qualities are only to be nurtured so that they can excel. Also in the task of cultivating leaders, if we make 20 leaders out of 20 people, they will have no one to lead and hence no job. Also, not being a born leader does not make a person worthless. E.g. Sachin Tendulkar was not a very good captain, but still he is what he is – a great player. Using up the allotted 4 minutes wasn’t much of a task. My opposition spoke well too… with points like no one is born with qualities, qualities are built with time, and it is possible to create leaders with the proper guidance etc. When all the speakers finished, I was given the opportunity to sum the thing up for another 2 minutes as leader of the opposition (talking about leadership). Another guy was chosen as leader of the group speaking for the motion. He would also sum up in 2 minutes. My summing up was again an easy affair by referring to points put forward and refuting them. As usual, they did not announce the results and kept it secret till the prize distribution ceremony. However, the Commandant took me aside and informed me he personally liked my accent and modulation. It made me happy, although the Commandant wasn’t judging the debate. The judges were PDG Swapan Mukherjee and Rtn Ajay Agarwal.

A short tea break was followed by lectures at 11:15. The first one was more of an audio visual session entitled “know Rotary” by PDG Raju Rajgaria. It was good because it was him. I am sure the content would have been extremely boring had he not presented it himself. The content had everything to do with Rotary’s history and how it evolved and what its ideals were. But he presented it with so much humour and wit thrown in between, that it was immensely enjoyable. The visual part included excerpts from the international Rotary conferences and parts of documentaries on the achievements of Rotary.

The next lecture was an amazing one by Rtn Utpal Chatterjee, noted journalist and critic. It was named “Communication and Soft Skill”. I recognized him at once as one of the judges in a WEBFUNA-STATESMAN VOICES-UNHCR debate on refugees I attended around 3 years back. His lecture was interesting as usual. Its all about modulation and presentation I guess. He talked about the necessity of good presentation in this world. A good content has to be accompanied by a good presentation, or else the content does not hold much water. This however does not lower the importance of the content, he said, in response to my question later on. Soft skills are the tactics employed by people to converse with one another. They involve a polite yet firm demeanor and the techniques to handle delicate situations. The lecture was brilliant and I must say the speaker himself is an expert in such soft skills (he allowed us to question him while being seated and relaxed). He punctuated his lecture with stories and allegories that were interesting. I remember him quoting someone describing a critic – critics are like pigeons. Pigeons fly up and rest on high towers and then dirty the towers. Critics do the same, but perhaps then don’t even go so high (I haven’t been able to remember the exact quote, but this is the gist).

The lecture ended at 1 and off we went to lunch. The next session was scheduled to begin at 2 o’clock.

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