Amidst arrangements made by the host Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), the color, the stage and the mood all set the tone for what stands as the year’s biggest B-School event in India – The Business Today – Aditya Birla Group Acumen 2007. The applause that followed after the entry of a certain IIM Ahmedabad alumnus reaffirmed the admiration that Harsha Bhogle commands among B-Schoolers all over India.

If you’re wondering what is being talked about here, let’s give you a crash course on the Acumen event. Each year, b-school students and alumni from all over India engage in a battle of trivia and reason in an event held by Business Today and Aditya Birla Group in four regional rounds of Quizzes and Debates, the winners of which fight for the year’s title in the national finals

Star cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle (click here to read his PaGaLGuY interview) and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus plays host, adding the right bit of spice and wit becoming of a quiz event.

The north-zone regional round of Acumen 2007, held on October 5 and 6, 2007 at the IIFT campus yielded Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad as the Quiz winners and IIFT, Delhi as the debate winners. The duo of Sujit Varkey, an alumnus of Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, Ranchi and Arun Kumar Pradhan, a passout of IIM Kozhikode won the alumni quiz round.

The events ran to a packed auditorium, but no team received as many cheers from the crowd as the host team IIFT. This led Harsha Bhogle to quip, “IIFT, I suppose it’s good to have home support, but let’s hope you don’t meet the same fate as India did with the Aussies in Cochin and Hyderabad.”

And when FMS lost the debate finals to IIFT, he couldnt help but gibe, “FMS, you poor Aussies. I mean POOR Aussies!”

Nearly 47 b-schools from North India participated in the preliminaries, though only IIFT, IMT, MDI Gurgaon, FMS Delhi, Amity Noida and IIPM Delhi made it across the debate and quiz regional finals.

“Guys, enjoy yourselves. These are not presidential elections but just debates. Recent clips of Hillary Clinton will tell you what I mean,” Harsha said as he opened the stage to the debate rounds of the regional finals.

The day started off with the semi-finals. IIFT, IIPM, FMS and IMT teams, the semi-finalists, had to speak on ‘It is not innovation that matters but execution’, and do it better than other teams! Three minutes to one person in each team, alternately. One team stood for the motion and one against. And then they were butchered by the opponent team and the judges in the questions round.

The final was an extremely well fought debate. The topic – ‘Manufacturing is the real measure of the economy’s health and not services’ – was intriguing enough to probe the acumen of both the teams. The articulation – exceptional! The questioning – impeccable. So was the answering. At the end of the debate there was an air of silence in the auditorium. The judges were undoubtedly posed with the biggest challenge of the day.

The result, however, was followed by a roar of applause from the home crowd – IIFT had won. The team members: Arka Bhattacharya and Anchal Gupta. Remarkably, Arka has already won the national debate title in Acumen 2006!

North-zone debate winning team from IIFT Delhi

The North Zone BT Acumen Quiz finals followed immediately. Here are a few moments that caught the imagination of the crowds:

One of the participants reached late to the stage and stood on the dais adjusting his coat, looking very tense. Harsha’s Quip: Dear boy, there’s absolutely no need to worry. I’m sure that a wardrobe malfunction in your case would hardly raise any eyebrows!

A quiz question: Expand S.U.M.O, a concept introduced by Paul McGee, an international speaker and a best-selling author. Answer: Shut-up and Move-on. Harsha’s Quip followed: “One apt avenue for the application of this concept would be S Sreesanth!”

One of the questions asked was about a personality caught in the cocaine scam. The answer was fairly easy: Kate Moss. “How do you know?” asked Harsha to the team that answered the question. “I read it in the news papers,” said the participant. Harsha replied, “I meant, how did you know? There’s so LITTLE of her in the newspapers!”

One question went, “Play is the nutrition for the soul” is the punchline of which company? A team answered ‘Durex’. The correct answer was Lego, Europe’s leading toy-maker. It’s just an example of how wild the thought processes of the participating teams ran!

The IMT team won hands-down with a margin of 35 points. The team comprised Siddarth Mukund and Harkirat Singh.

MDI came second with 50 points and IIFT followed with 45 points. Amity could just manage 35 points.

Another quiz followed the debate finals, this time for the veterans, alumni of b-schools. The level of the questions was much higher, making the competition much more intense than the b-school quiz. This year featured an alumnus of a top international b-school in Aziz Seyid of INSEAD France.

The west-zone regional rounds of Acumen 2007 take place on October 26 and 27 at Welingkar auditorium. So if you are an MBA student or alumni and love quizzing and debating, you need to click here to participate.

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