Dame Debating Club (NDDC) Turns 50
the Art of Public Speaking
is not just about sharpening one's speaking ability or a
means of culturing one's analytical prowess or even honing
one's argumentative skill. Debate is about assimilating
the value of tolerance and having respect for other's opinion
and values which, in our society, seem to be eroding fast.
Thus, debate can be a very good tool for introducing these
higher values among the younger generation. Notre Dame Debating
Club has been relentlessly trying to imbibe in our young
men this spirit of speaking freely and questioning other's
opinion with due respect.
Dame Debating Club (NDDC) is almost as old as Notre Dame
College, -- both are fifty plus. This year NDDC is organising
a two-day long cultural programme to celebrate its fiftieth
birth anniversary on March 18-19 where former debaters of
the college will have a chance to get together and reminisces
the old days. Father RW Timm, CSC founded NDDC in the early
months of 1953, when the college was on the upper floors
of Saint Gregory School. Since the beginning of Notre Dame
College, students have always been encouraged to take part
in various extra-curricular activities. However, among some
half a dozen clubs like Nature Study Club, Science Club,
NDDC is the oldest and most active in the college.
Father Timm started was initially called 'speech class'
held on Fridays after the classes were over. In a speech
class Father Timm would ask students to come onto the stage
and speak impromptu on a given topic. In a write-up published
in the 16th edition of a college magazine, Father Timm reminisces.
"Towards the beginning when students came on the dias
knees used to shake beyond control. After a few days they
grew quite at ease," he writes. Internationally acclaimed
lawyer and veteran politician Dr Kamal Hossain was among
the first batch of debaters of Notre Dame Debating Club.
Another prominent personality news presenter Dr Serajul
Majid Mamun was the champion debater in the inter-class
debate competition in 1960. Politician and at present an
advisor to PM Khaleda Zia, Salauddin Kader Chowdhury was
also a champion in inter-college debate competition in 1968.
Another brilliant debater of the time was Mahfuz Anam, presently
the editor and publisher of The Daily Star who became the
all Pakistan Champion in English debate.
the mid-sixties the only medium of debate was English. In
1965 Garib-e-Newaz Khan, a professor of Bangla, introduced
Bangla alongside English as the medium of debate. NDDC continues
to lord over the debating scene in Independent Bangladesh,
as it did in the pre-independence era. More importantly,
by its consistent effort of holding inter-college and national
level debate competitions, conducting workshops on debate
inviting young debate enthusiasts from all over the country,
NDDC has vigorously carried on the debate movement initiated
in the early fifties. Today, in almost all the reputed schools,
colleges and universities in Dhaka and in a large number
of institutions outside Dhaka, debate is a regular fixture.
The fact that debate has grown to its present status not
only merely as an extra-curricular activity but also as
a culture, owes much to the inspiring leadership of NDDC.
its fifty-year-long career NDDC has won numerous awards
both in inter-college and national competition. "And
when we lost, more often than not it was at the hands of
the ex-Notredemians, who represented BUET, different Medical
colleges or the teams of universities," points out
Sohel Ahmed, a Lecturer in Bangla and Moderator of NDDC.
Ahmed identifies a number of factors behind the remarkable
success of NDDC. "Notre Dame being arguably the best
college in the country has always received the best pool
of students from all over the country. We, in Notre Dame
College, have always had a good mechanism in place to nurture
the young talents and the rich legacy inspires them to break
new grounds in debate. Besides, we have been extremely fortunate
to have inspiring leadership from each of the club moderators,
particularly those of Father Timm's, and also from the likes
of Gareeb-e-Newaz, Moktar Hossain.
of the debating club have such a strong bondage of friendship
among each other that they love to remain actively associated
long after they have left the college. Their assistance
and guidance have enormously helped the young corps of debaters
grow and flourish" Ahmed explains.
students conduct all the activities of the club from organising
competitions to arranging workshops. Besides, the NDDC has
been publishing a magazine called "Doiroth", which
has earned appreciation from different quarters. Besides
articles by present and former debaters on debates, write-ups
from celebrated writers, economists, educationists have
enriched the magazine.
has not only produced a large number of good debaters, but
has cultivated in its members the spirit of leadership and