Debating Matters International Final 2014

Debating Matters Competition International Final 2014

Frobisher Auditorium 1,

Barbican, London

Saturday 18 October 2014

Battle of Ideas 2014

The Battle of Ideas hosted the sixth UK versus India Debating Matters International Final, a showdown between the winners of the Debating Matters Competition UK 2013/14 and the winners of the Debating Matters India Competition 2013/14. Known for its rigorous and intellectually challenging format that values substance over style, the Debating Matters international final showcased the very best debaters from both countries. The debate featured students from PSBB Senior Secondary School, KK Nagar, Chennai, India and Franklin College from Grimsby, UK.


Dolan Cummings, associate fellow, Institute of Ideas; editor, Culture Wars; editor, Debating Humanism; co-founder, Manifesto Club

Kim Knott, professor of Religious and Secular Studies; Lancaster University; author, The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis

Angela Saini, freelance science journalist; author, Geek Nation


Arushi Nayar student, PSBB KK Nagar
Josh Smith former student, Franklin College; politics student, University of Hull
Akshay Venkataraghavan former student, PSBB Senior Secondary School; law student, Symbiosis Law School (Pune)
Lillian Vessey student, Franklin CollegeChair

Jason Smith partnerships coordinator, Debating Matters Competition; freelance journalist; co-founder, Birmingham Salon

Tiemo review

In the last ever International Schools final of Debating Matters, hosted by The Battle of Ideas at London’s Barbican Centre, Franklin College, Grimsby, took on KK Nagar, Chennai and PSBB secondary school.

This year’s debate motion was: We should be willing to compromise our privacy in the interests of national and international security.

In a stirring, vigorous and intelligently fought debate Franklin’s Josh Smith and Lillian Vessey, battled against Ms Arushi Nayar and Mr Akshay Venkataraghavan of India’s KK Nagar and PSBB Secondary school, respectively. The British team were strongly in favour of maintaining and against compromising in any way on citizen’s hard fought for right to privacy; whilst the Indian team argued passionately and determinedly in favour of sacrificing privacy for, as they saw it, the more important interests of national and international security.

Arushi, boldly stated, “What would you prefer, the security guard bursting through your front door or a terrorist?” A striking statement, but my initial thought was that this argument was a bit of a fallacy as I don’t want either. I don’t see why that was the only choice and the chances of either happening are fairly extreme and remote judging by who normally bursts through my front door!

Lillian wondered what exactly are we trying to protect when it comes to people’s privacy, for instance medical records? A lady in the audience said she was not bothered about the privacy of this or other aspects of her life as she felt the authorities and corporations had plenty on us anyway, via the banks, social media, utilities companies and the like.

The Indian side argued that 40 potential terrorist attacks had been foiled since 9/11 as a direct result of surveillance. Firm evidence in their view that surveillance benefits outweigh the privacy one’s.

The Britons argued that there is no universal declaration of human rights to privacy. Josh argued that scare tactics result in people giving up their rights; rights which never get returned in times of peace.

Josh Smith & Lillian Vessey

Josh Smith & Lillian Vessey

A man from the audience introduced TOR – The Onion Ring into the equation. What is this you might ask? TOR refers to the onion layers of secrecy used by terrorists, that the police and military are looking to infiltrate to prevent terrorist outrages. Lillian argued that the 7/7 and Boston bombings proved that surveillance isn’t working. I thought that was a little weak, as no system is going to 100% prevent an attack. That is something the competition Judges picked up on, criticising the Britons for a lack of evidence to back up their claims for surveillance failures.

I came to review this debate with my mind made up that privacy was all and was strongly against the greater erosion of this, but listening to the arguments of both sides I was powerfully persuaded to change my mind, and that doesn’t happen often I tell you. The statistic quoted that 40 terrorist attacks had been foiled did it for me. That to me mattered more than rights to privacy. After all, in my view, the authorities are only interested in communications which present a threat to national and international security. If you’re not planning a crime what have you to worry about?

Rockwell (Featuring Michael Jackson) – Somebody’s Watching You – 2004

The audience agreed with this, with roughly 85% in favour of surveillance above rights to privacy. When the Judges returned to give their verdict they agreed too. I think that in no small part was down to the Indian teams passion, belief and good use of statistics to back up their arguments.

The overall score between Great Britain and India, now stands at 4-2 to India. Many congratulations to Ms Arushi Nayar and Mr Akshay Venkataraghavan of India’s KK Nagar and PSBB Secondary school, Debating Matters International Champions 2014.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town


Battle of Ideas – Debating Matters Final 2014

Battle of Ideas 2014 – Drip by Drip: Have we given up on privacy? – Tiemo review 18.10.14

Battle of Ideas – Debating Matter Final 2013 Tiemo Talk of the Town review

Battle of Ideas 2013 – Tiemo Talk of the Town reviews

Battle of Ideas 2012 – Tiemo talk of the Town reviews

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2 Responses to Debating Matters International Final 2014

  1. Pingback: Do they mean us? International views on Britain | tiemotalkofthetown

  2. Pingback: DRIP by drip: have we given up on privacy? | tiemotalkofthetown

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