In Conversation with Ayati Mishra, Runner Up of National Youth Parliament Festival

  1. One look at your speeches and it is evident that they have been honed and sharpened over the years. As a child, were you involved in many debate and oration competitions and what motivated you to get into this particular field?

Answer– Since I was in grade 6, I have been actively participating in oration competitions. I have always had a penchant for being able to articulately put forth my opinions and points of view. This is what really motivated me to participate in elocutions, extempores, debates, MUNs, etc. Once I started participating in oration competitions, my stage fright gradually diminished and it was replaced by a firm sense of confidence and alacrity. I also believe that activities like speaking and writing are a form of art and they have to be whetted over time through sustained endeavors and constant practice. 

  1. You were the first runner up of the National Youth Parliament Festival. How was the experience of speaking at such a platform, in front of so many dignitaries which included the likes of the Prime Minister himself?

Answer- The final event of the National Youth Parliament Festival was held in the Central Hall of the Parliament of India. The Central Hall holds tremendous historical significance- it is the place where the Indian Constitution was framed. I feel fortunate enough to have gotten the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver a speech there. Moreover, the fact that I could put forth my opinions on “Vocal for Local” in front of dignitaries like the former Education Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Honourable Speaker of Lok Sabha, Mr. Om Birla and the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi was a fulfilling experience in itself. Speaking on a platform that exudes a sense of gravity and in front of people of such stature was both intimidating as well as exciting.

  1. What advantages do such competitions have to offer and why should more students participate in them? 

Answer– In general, oration competitions help students build essential skills which might be useful throughout their personal and professional lives. Participating in oration competitions since I was in school has helped me overcome the fear of speaking in front of an audience, gain tremendous self-confidence and polish my communication skills. 

More specifically, competitions like Youth Parliament or Model United Nations Conferences provide an ideal platform to the youth to voice out their opinions on various issues of national and international importance. To successfully present a topic in front of others, prior research is imperative. Through such competitions, students learn to seek quality information from credible and pertinent sources. Once their research is done, students should aim at communicating their ideas eloquently through proper intonation and flawless diction. Especially in competitions such as MUNs’, it becomes necessary to form a bloc of nations and collectively pass a resolution, akin to what happens in an actual United Nations conference. This requires students to have impeccable persuasion and leadership skills to be able to take the lead and convince fellow delegates and form a bloc. 

Nowadays, the professional world is becoming increasingly competitive by the day, hence making it necessary for students to keep pace with the developments. Any professional setup commands confidence, clarity of thought,  good communication skills, persuasion skills, research skills, and leadership skills. Oration competitions help students hone these skills from an early age, which is why I feel that more and more students should participate in them.

  1. Please tell us about your preparation for this contest and what was the most difficult part in the process? What was your biggest takeaway from this experience and the journey in this competition? 

Answer- The Youth Parliament Competition was held in three phases – the District Level, the State Level, and the National Level. Each level had its own set of challenges.

I represented the district of Pune; there were about 200 participants from Pune itself. Since there were so many participants, I was intimidated at first but I tried to give my best shot. I spoke about the “Unnat Bharat Abhiyan” and its role in unleashing the power of communities. After some days, I was informed that I had bagged the first position in the district and had to represent Pune in the State level competition.

In the State Youth Parliament, I spoke at length about the role of the youth in catapulting India towards glory and development. The topic was quite exciting and I tried to incorporate all relevant points regarding the power of youth and the way it can be harnessed in my speech. I secured first place in the state of Maharashtra and was selected to represent the state at the national level.

The topic that I had chosen to speak at the National Youth Parliament was- “Vocal for Local- Pathway to transform India into an economic superpower.”  The challenge that I faced was that I had to present arguments related to economics in simple words such that they could be easily understood by the audience. Just the thought of delivering the speech at Central Hall gave me goosebumps. However, I mustered courage and delivered my speech to the best of my abilities in front of fellow delegates, eminent judges, and other dignitaries. 

One of my biggest learnings from this experience was that I learned to wait patiently throughout the journey of the competition right from the district level to the national level. I feel that the competition put to test all the skills I have garnered over the years and gave me a wonderful platform to put forth my views on various issues in front of such a large audience. Listening to other fellow delegates and interacting with them gave me valuable insights and widened my horizon of knowledge.

  1. Did any interesting incident occur during this event that you would like our readers to know? Finally, any last words that you would like to share with budding debaters and orators who want to pursue this line of work?

Answer– The National Youth Parliament Competition saw a delegation from all the states of our diverse country. When delegates from various states were sitting in the Central Hall, waiting for their chance to speak, it almost felt like a mini-India. One of the most interesting and memorable parts of this entire journey was that I got an opportunity to interact with students from different states and cultural backgrounds and learned a lot of interesting things from them. The Competition also helped me build a strong network with my fellow delegates.

The other memorable thing was that the Honourable Prime Minister of India appreciated my performance through his tweet. This has really encouraged me to continue pursuing such activities. Another interesting thing was that all of us got the opportunity to visit the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. 

For budding orators and debaters, I would like to say that you should have a lot of confidence in yourselves. You should be patient and put in constant efforts into practicing oratory and I am sure that they will surely reap fruit one day.

¬ B. Aishwarya Lalitha

S.Y Bsc. Economics

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