Strong research, good team coordination and presentation skills won Arka Bhattacharya and Swarnim Bharadwaj of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Delhi the Business Today Acumen 2006 National Debate Championship at the event National Finals in Mumbai on Saturday.
The event itself was judged and set rolling by three accomplished elocuters in Aditya Birla Group’s HR Director Dr Santrupt Mishra, Mr Sunil Alagh of Britannia fame, the young Rajya Sabha MP Jai Panda and Business Today Editor Sanjoy Narayan.
Warning the finalist teams from IIFT-Delhi and Komal Puri and Siddhesh Ranade of Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education, Mumbai that Dr Mishra’s double PhDs would make him a very keen-eyed judge, host Harsha Bhogle threw the session open for a debate on ‘Indian managers are global but Indian companies are not’.
The MBA student team from IIFT speaking in favour of the motion used Pepsi CEO Indira Nooyi’s example to establish that Indian managers had broken into the global league. However, they said that absence of significant global operations, outdated accounting systems and the family-managed nature of Indian businesses made Indian companies not fit to be called global yet.
The Sydenham team on the other hand stressed on the quality, innovation and scales of Indian IT companies Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys to speak against the motion and establish that Indian companies had in fact gone global.
Things got more interesting in the question answer session that followed, when IIFT pointed out that TCS and Infosys could not have surged ahead if it were not the extended tax holiday from the government. Sydenham lost the edge somewhere around this time with a wrongly timed and weak argument, shifting the balance and eventually the championship title in IIFT’s favour.
Closing the debate, Mr Sunil Alagh raised the question of whether Indian managers could really be called global since the middle management in Indian companies had not quite evolved to that level.
“The lady from Sydenham (Komal Puri) gave the most compelling argument in the debate when she spoke about TCS and Infosys and I relate to the data she provided,” event judge Dr Santrupt Mishra told PaGaLGuY.com after the event. “However, as a team and in terms of presentation the IIFT team was better,” he added.
Business Today Editor Sanjoy Narayan said that IIFT had from the beginning maintained an edge in terms of defining the topic, presentation and strength of arguments. “But at the end of the day, it is the quality of interpretation of the topic that is more important in a debate,” he added.