Nov 5, 2011

Selection of Indian entries to Baltic Sea Competition

Hello there,
The Baltic Sea Competition held as a celebration of UNESCO World Philosophy Day was conducted on 4th Nov, 2011. About 11 candidates, 3 of whom were from schools in Delhi, Dubai and the rest from Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli, participated. Out of these 2-3 essays are to be sent to Finland as entries from India. The scores of all those who appeared for the BSEC from India are listed here
I have asked each examiner to post their comments so that the students will be guided into improving their performance for the Abhinav Philosopher Competition (Selection for IPO-Indian Team, roughly in Dec Week 1).  We have sent the following students' essays to the Finnish Organizers:
1. Abhinav Menon (IB-MYP-Sophomore, Dubai Int'l School, Dubai)
2. Rounak Majumdar (SSC-X, Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli)
3. Ayushi Singh (SSC-X, Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli)
Results of BSEC will be posted at on or soon after 17th Nov
On a personal note - I was amazed at the overall performance of most of the candidates. It has been much better in quality than previous years.

My observations:
Starting with Shlok, Apurva & Anand. Your performance has improved considerably from last year - you have written more and elaborated the points well. However, either you failed to grasp the full relevance of the issue or gave examples inconsistent with the topic. You should improve your reasoning and critical thinking by participating in brain storming sessions more often. Otherwise you seem to write well, especially Shlok.
Now Anunay. Being your first attempt, no regrets. However, the physics of Einstein's Relativity is that although things seem relative - their are always some invariants/absolutes that can help correlate observations. Thus it is in contrast with the metaphysics of Nagarjun. Also, an example cannot prove an idea correct, but only proves it possible. It can however, prove an idea as incorrect.
Then Ajayanand, Kinjal & Devendra. You guys have elaborated well and even structured your approach to the issue. You have tried to analyze the different clauses in the philosopher's quote. However, you either ignored a possible outcome of the quote or were slightly incoherent through the essay, i.e. your ideas did not connect well with the examples and the other ideas. Kinjal, you need to improve your language to make yourself crystal clear. Devendra needs to write simpler sentences and elaborate the idea rather than simply stating things as facts/rules. Ajay you need to discover beyond what the philosopher has already provided in the quote. (in terms of examples and mechanisms)
Rutwik. You present well. You even elaborate the ideas very critically and try to frame the arguments. This is expected from you since you have been to the IPO once. However, you need to take care of your language. Sometimes casual use of language causes misunderstandings when evaluated in a critical manner. Also, the argument of the author, which you presented (since you agreed with him) needs to be water-tight. The justifications for the observations of the author (which you provided) were not very critical. One can find a few slips and loopholes. Try to read more philosophers and brood over the meanings. But this is much better than your performance last year.
Ayushi & Rounak. You are both methodical and critical in presenting the argument. However, you also need to be watchful about your use of language/words. Using a word in a wrong context (Ayushi) or casual phrases where interpretation is left to the reader (Rounak) can cost a philosopher dearly. Avoid using bombastic words (Ayushi) or eccentric examples (Rounak). Also, you could have given the mechanisms of the effects described by the author in greater detail, analysing psychology / sociology in detail. I guess you can improve this by reading more works of philosophers. Also, you need to explore all possible interpretations of the quote (you have taken most, but left one or two very important ones out of the discussion)
Finally Abhinav. You have a good command over language and logic. Thus although you made a very strong attack on Nagarjun, "proving" him incorrect, thus causing a flutter, you pulled it off with grace. However, you should have elaborated more about the possible interpretations of the quote and their possible analyses as well as their supporting arguments. This would have either shown you that your dis-proof was acceptable only in a limited context or it would have helped you make a more convincing argument to prove the author wrong given any interpretation. At the IPO your essay would have come under a lot of flak and ultimately would have gown way below in ranking due to the above lacuna. I guess you need lots of brain storming to be able to "see" variety of angles into a quote.

Overall, I hope all of you who participated and others who may be "inspired" by this will stay focused on philosophy. We will try to remedy your shortcomings through our discussions as soon as I get some free time. Meanwhile, I intend to push some more essay-writing on you, say once-a-week throug this blog. (Those who are new to the whole idea are also welcome to try)