The preliminary round of War of Words, SaiU’s very first international interschool competition, was held on April 5, 2021. Over 35 participants from classes 11 and 12 from schools across India and UAE participated in the event. The theme of the competition is ‘Environment’ and students battled it out on various topics covering all aspects of the Environment.

10 participants have been chosen to present their arguments in the Finals which will be held on April 10, 2021 from 4 pm IST. Every participant will be awarded a certificate of participation. In addition to attractive prizes, the top 10 contestants will get a chance to interact with some of the best minds and leaders.

The topic for the Finals is

“While parts of India are facing acute water shortages and there are rivers in India with excess unutilized waters, we must link all rivers in India so as to enable water transfer between these rivers.”


Here are the 10 finalists and their order of speech on the day of the Grand Finale:

S.No. Name School For/Against 
1. Shaon Malik Garden High School, Kolkata For
2. Rashmika Vinakota Johnson IB World School, Hyderabad Against
3. Irtiqa Zafar Gems New Millennium School, Dubai For
4. Aryaveer Das Garden High School, Kolkata Against
5. Shudiksha Basu Shri Shikshayatan School, Kolkata For
6. Advik Unni Gems New Millennium School, Dubai Against
7. Aashrith Narayn P.S Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, Chennai For
8. Titash Majumdar The Heritage School, Kolkata Against
9. Ayush Gupta The Heritage School, Kolkata For
10. Vishnumaya Deepakchandran GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai Against


The above order in which the contestants will speak for or against the topic was made by random choice. We will not accept any request for change.


All the finalists will be judged by eminent personalities from SaiU from diverse backgrounds and interests. Here are judges for the event:

Dr. Dawn Dekle

Dr. Dawn Dekle is currently the fourth president of the American University of Nigeria (AUN). Before joining AUN, Dr. Dekle was president of Orkhon University in Mongolia, the first university to open after the transition from a Communist regime. Prior to that, Dr. Dekle was president of the American University of Iraq, provost at the American University of Afghanistan, and dean at the S. P. Jain School of Management in Singapore.

Before becoming a senior administrator, Dr. Dekle was a faculty member at Singapore Management University, the National University of Singapore, James Madison University, and Dartmouth College. Dr. Dekle has held leadership positions outside of academia, such as council member for the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, and leadership specialist and global knowledge manager at the McKinsey & Co, where she helped launch the McKinsey Center for Asian Leadership.

As a scholar of psychology, leadership, law and management, Dr. Dekle has published in academic journals, presented at international conferences, given keynote addresses for the Young Presidents Organization, and served as an analyst for television and radio for the then US President Obama and his strategies in Asia and the Middle East.

A lawyer by training, Dr. Dekle worked in both Afghanistan and Iraq to help bring Western-style law programs into university curricula. In July 2015 when she became president of Orkhon University, she led efforts to increase enrolment from across the nation, increase ties between the university and the international business community, and move the university toward implementing an all-English curriculum.

Dr. Shailender Swaminathan

Dr. Shailender Swaminathan is the dean (designee), division of social sciences at Sai University. His broad research interests are in the formulation and application of credible research designs to examine questions of relevance to public policy. In recent work, he has worked on understanding the impact of health insurance expansions on utilization and health in both the United States and India.

Dr. Swaminathan returned to India recently after spending about two decades in the United States holding diverse academic and research positions at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and Brown University.

Dr. Swaminathan has a PhD in Economics from University of Southern California and is an adjunct faculty member in Brown University’s Department of Health Policy and an Investigator at the Providence Veterans Administration.

Mr. Nalin Bakhle

Mr. Nalin Bakhle, director, department of international affairs and outreach, began his career in Mumbai in advertising account management at JWT/Contract, O&M and Edge/Saatchi & Saatchi on several blue-chip accounts like Cadbury’s, Raymond Woollen Mills, IMRB, and Richardson Hindustan (P&G). In 2002 he moved into broadcast journalism and communications including 12 years of experience as a news magazine producer at Rogers Media/Omni TV in Toronto playing a key role in establishing diversity programming with a focus on university arts and science initiatives. He earned an MFA from USC school of Cinema-TV in Los Angeles followed by projects in educational instruction and scriptwriting with production houses in Los Angeles, Mumbai and Toronto.



• For all topics, there will be two sides – for and against, each consisting of two or three speakers.

• The competition will be held in English

• The first speaker will be from the affirmative (the ‘for’ side) which will be followed by the ‘against’ side speaker. This will be the order throughout the session for each topic.

• The order of speakers will be intimated to you at least 24 hours before the event and will not be changed.

• Each speaker will have three minutes to present their argument. The chairperson will record the time carefully. A warning bell will go off at two minutes and 30 seconds. After this, the speaker will have 30 seconds to conclude his/her point. Any extra time taken will result in negative marking.

• Interrupting a speaker is forbidden and might result in removing the said speaker. All participants must treat each other with respect.

• The organizers reserve the right to remove any candidate who engages in disruptive behavior at their discretion.

• Candidates must compose their own content. Any quotes used in the speeches must be clearly cited.

• Candidates must present the point of view of their assigned role on their assigned topic only.

• Decision criteria will be broadly based, provided the student speaks on their assigned topic, on: 1. Expression, 2. Articulation, 3. Delivery, diction and style, 4. Argument and ability to represent their point of view.

• Judges’ decisions are final and binding. Only the final results will be revealed, and no further details will be divulged. Any requests to this regard, will be treated as denied.

• The entire event is recorded. By participating in this competition, you consent that the organizers/university can use and publish the data and/or the recording or any part thereof, at their discretion.


• There will be time allocated for rebuttal. After all speakers for the said topic have presented their speeches, participants will be invited to rebut their opponents’ points. The speaker can only argue or question the opponent from the other side of the topic.

• All speakers, seeking to rebuttal, must send a message to the moderator within 30 seconds of the last speech made.

• The questioner can ask any fair, clear question to a specific opponent, that has a direct bearing on the debate. The questioner may use the period to build up any part of his own case, to tear down any part of his opposition’s case, or to ascertain facts, such as the opposition’s position on a certain issue, that can be used later in the debate.

• The questioner must confine himself to questions and not make statements, comments, or ask rhetorical questions.

• Each participant can make only one rebuttal.

• The time allocated for each argument – the rebuttal and response, is a maximum of 90 seconds. The chairperson will determine the time.


1. Please ensure you have a high-speed stable internet/wifi connection ahead of the competition.

2. Use a laptop or a desktop.

3. Please be seated in a place devoid of external noise and with the light facing you, and not behind you.

4. Keep your device microphone off when it’s not your turn to speak.

5. We encourage students to try to avoid using virtual backgrounds during the online competition.

6. If you face any issue during the time of the competition, please reach out to us on +91 9150010080.

Good luck to all participants!

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