16 Feb 2020 14:45 IST

IIM-C institutes the IIM Calcutta Annual Debate

Annual event, a gift from the Class of 1981, to be held in memory of ace debater Bobby Saldanha

An MoU was signed recently between Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and the PGP 16th batch (Class of 1981) of IIM Calcutta, represented by Sandip Bhatia, to institute the ‘IIM Calcutta Annual Debate (in memory of Bobby Saldanha)’. For this the donor, (PGP 16th batch - Class of 1981 - of IIM Calcutta) has gifted an endowment. As per the agreement, IIM Calcutta will hold an annual ‘IIM Calcutta Annual Debate (In memory of Bobby Saldanha)’ every year, starting from 2020. The event will be hosted in association with the student-run, IIM Calcutta Debating Society.

‘A good speech is what we use to unwind after a long day’ — this has been the core mantra of the IIM Calcutta Debating Society, the youngest club on campus. It was set up to indulge the ‘Argumentative Indian’ in us and the aim is to build a noteworthy contingent of debaters while also hosting exhibition debates and tournaments to encourage a culture of healthy debate among students. The Debating Society conducts The Freshers’ Debate, Mock Debates, Vidyasagar Memorial Debate and Open Debate every year.

Marked by humour and flawless arguments

Bobby Saldanha, an alumnus of the PGP 16th batch of IIM Calcutta, was a regular in the college quiz and debate circles in Calcutta in the late 1970s. His debating skills were known far and wide and represented the best in the art of persuasive brinkmanship at the podium.

While reminiscing, his batchmate Sandip Bhatia recalls, “Listening to and absorbing the logic, humour and language of Bobby Saldanha’s debates was a treat. If you were his opponent, you would have to resign to excruciatingly painful defeats. His arguments were flawless and, combined with his sense of wit and spontaneity, he was virtually unbeatable.”

‘Theory of nerves’

In 1979, Bobby joined IIM Calcutta, and what was to become its Sweet 16 batch. The Yearbook wrote the following ode to Bobby after he was recruited by Citibank on campus: “Bobby’s major contribution to academics was his ‘theory of nerves’, which merely stated that all you needed for a group project was strong nerves; the chaps with weak nerves would do it for you!”

Prof Anju Seth, Director, IIM Calcutta, thanked the PGP-16 batch for their gift and hoped that other batches too would come forward to contribute meaningfully in keeping IIM Calcutta’s tradition of excellence alive.