It was war at The Tollygunge Club on Friday but one in which words were the weapons of choice.
The fourth edition of Bitarke Ananda, ABP Ananda's inter-club debate partnered by The Telegraph, saw six two-member teams thrust and parry, rebut and contend and, of course, argue with each other over the motion "This house believes right to not work is a fundamental one in Bengal".
Apart from the host club, in the fray were Calcutta Club, CCandFC, Hindusthan Club, Ordnance Club and Saturday Club.
The motion was in sync with the "Cholbe Na" campaign being carried out by ABP Ananda. The debate was in the "turncoat" format ' each team had a member speaking for and against the motion.
"We will rather talk than work," said moderator Dipak Rudra. "As a matter of satire or debate, the topic might be just, but then Bengalis have always been quite self-critical," added the retired bureaucrat.
The members of Calcutta Club spoke first. Bitarke veteran Deborshi Barat went straight for the kill. "Just because someone is thinking doesn't mean he isn't working," he said. Club mate Krishnendu Mukherjee said: "When there's no fundamental right to work, the fundamental right to not work just doesn't arise."
Hindusthan Club and Ordnance Club were first-timers at the word war, but they took the challenge head-on. Shiv Kumar Lohia of the former club said: "The first thing we do in a year is check the 'red-letter days' in the calendar. And yet we are cribbing about our fundamental right to not work!" His team-mate Narendra Tulsian, countered: "We should rather say 'I want to work and I will work' rather than debate and talk about not working."
Yash Gupta of Ordnance Club felt the association of Bengal and "not working" was "at best a joke, at worst an insult". Team-mate Karan Kakkar said: "The atmosphere and work culture here is not supportive to new talent."
S.M. Devadason of Saturday Club, an old hand at debating, spoke for the motion. "Burrabazar would be a desert tomorrow if Bengal came to depend entirely on Bengalis," he said. His club mate, Sourav Singh, made his point by sharing the story of the grasshopper and the ant. "To quote Steve Jobs, 'Stay hungry, stay foolish'," he said.
Masud Haq of The Tollygunge Club scored a winner with his opener: "This motion stinks because it is loose motion!" His team-mate, Partha Ghose, also had witticisms up his sleeve. "The problem with the rat race is, even if you win, you will still be a rat," he observed.
CCandFC's Anirudh Chari was sarcastic. "Workers of Bengal, relax. You have nothing to lose but your adda," he said. His club mate, Debanjan Chakrabarti, had a question to illustrate his point. "A right has to be equally applicable and acceptable, but is that what's happening with this right 'not to work'?"
Economist Abhirup Sarkar, dancer Alokananda Roy and the COO of Deloitte and Touche Consulting India, Joydeep Datta Gupta, were the judges. "The debate was fun. Everything depends on your mindset. If you want to do something, you will do it," said Roy.
The home team had a hat-trick of awards ' Best Club, Best Speaker (Partha Ghose) and Best Speaker Runner-Up (Masud Haq). CCandFC was adjudged the Best Club Runner-Up.
Do you believe that the right to not work is a fundamental one in Bengal? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org