By Angad Singh Madan
Disclaimer: I do not write perfect English and every society sows the seeds of its own destruction.
Model United Nations Conferences are one of the most brilliant ways to engage oneself trying to fit a shoe size that usually doesn’t fit yours and an extra edge in the knowledge of footwear doesn’t normally help.
An M.U.N conference is an extracurricular activity that gives you a sense of negotiation, critical analysis, a varied perception while impersonating a person of highest representation in a committee or a council; a feeling of being an intellectual. It teaches oneself about whining and winning: less whining and more winning.
The fire that used to drive this activity in most metro cities were the achievers wanting to be in the same committee not to “Chair” but to compete and the committee filling up fast just because others wanted to see the best M.U.Ners debate. These days, the activity is about choosing an “easier” agenda, a “care-free” chair, less competitive environment and in that chronology, winning a cash prize.
The numbers in this segment of participants in an M.U.N weren’t less, however, since 2014 the numbers have soared exponentially. Logically, this has resulted in a fall in “level of debate” as a plethora of newcomers have taken their seats as diplomats in this extracurricular. Many people blame commercialization of M.U.N’s. However, a commercial aspect to education, training and conducting of M.U.N’s has been in place, least since 2010.
The real problem has been the expansion of the concept to every nook and corner of the country without properly educating the newly associated about the virtues and the essence of this extracurricular activity. These companies/firms delivering half-baked knowledge have worsened the situation so much so, that every person feels like an avid M.U.Ner having an opinion on people who have more quality than quantity.
More expansion meant more Model UN conferences wherein, only the numbers on an M.U.N “resume/CV” increased and the brains of these newly acquainted memorized only rules of procedure with little or no knowledge of substance. Courtesy? Them companies/firms that gave the newcomers an idea of how easy MUNs are.
The “level of debate” had fallen a little when I took an entry “ticket” into M.U.N’s and it does so, every time a new person tries the activity for the first time. In my first MUN, I was awestruck by the brilliant command on the language, the knowledge and the confidence with some people spoke in my committee. Did they feel that the “level of debate” had gone down? Maybe.
There was one peculiar difference: an active competition in committee. However, as I progressed through MUN’s, I felt that the competition was diminishing and today it has vanished. The reason? The increasing number of M.U.N. conferences with an attractive range of cash offerings. Since 2014, the “ticket” amount has gone up and “level of debate” or competition, so to say, has merely decreased.
More than my chairs, I am grateful to my then co-delegates who taught me how to debate when I gained a little from each one of them during my experience.
I have learnt from my chairs too, so much so that I took a challenge on myself to sit with them in a committee as delegates and win the Best Delegate. The Chair in my second M.U.N had the “courage” to participate as a delegate with me after 3 years and today, I can only look up to him and say, “Thank you, sir”. Somehow, I managed to miss the closing ceremony and of all people, HE was the one who communicated how I turned out to be the Best Delegate.
Even though a runner-up, he never gave up on his humility. He taught me something that hit deep somewhere, that day. He may not have won the Best Delegate, but definitely, my respect for him went a few notches higher. For me, he is still the Best Delegate.
It’s hard to come by people who are chairing these days and seeing them sit as delegates and actually compete with their fellow chairs.
I have been a victim of “connections” in the “circuit” and been at the mercy of “incompetent” chairs at times, and must say, the blame largely falls on these companies/firms. I have read opinions on M.U.N’s where participants experienced that a verbose and fluent speaker who yells the most bags the Best Delegate and screened through articles titled “8 Reasons why M.U.Ns are a disgrace these days”.
I have shared rooms with people on the chairing team who call their delegates to their rooms for a light or a drink and later, make them win an award in return of their “favour” for which, I had to exit the room for a while.
I haven’t been in the International Press, but personal experiences from friends speak volumes about the deteriorating condition in the press structures.
If you have read/written such an article and/or victimized in any of the scenarios, this is not a picture that M.U.N’s really intend to paint.
I took an exit from the so-called “circuit” but I find myself disturbed by the problems that come with M.U.Ns. The reason why I still remain concerned is because it is cringe worthy to find someone in the seat that I left for someone better and I feel challenged by my conscience to maintain the integrity of an extracurricular activity that has given more than what I can put in words and is more than a simple money-minting machine.
I still hope people/schools/colleges realize how they are supposed to be the change in the current setting and be responsible organisers, delegates, chairs and international press members.
I am not giving up on an organizer who genuinely wishes to organize a conference with the best intentions, not giving up on that delegate who feels that even if he’s/she’s not winning, they are still learning and those MUNers who are still passionate about this activity.
Image Credits: Google
Angad Singh Madan is a famous name that has participated and presided/chaired in over 110 MUNs and has served as the President/Chairperson and advisor to international conferences in Europe and Central Asia.
He is also a skill set trainer and advises many conferences held in schools and colleges. He has delivered many training sessions and talks about MUNs across India, as well.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.