Sanctuary Debate for Young India 2021

First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. 41 No. 3, March 2021

For two decades, Sanctuary has been organising Oxford Union-style annual debates on issues surrounding biodiversity, climate change and economics. This year, we brought the discussion to our leaders of the future, our youth in educational institutes across India.

The first two rounds were held virtually on February 23 and February 28, 2021. The two winning teams, IIT Bombay and  Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) participated in the final round of the debate on March 17, 2021, which was also held virtually.

The Sanctuary Debate for Young India 2021 was sponsored by Morningstar, in partnership with CarbonCopy.  The event was chaired by Vance Martin, an acknowledged expert in international nature conservation and wilderness protection and the President of WILD Foundation. The Jury panel consisted of Dr. Anish Andheria, President and CEO of Wildlife Conservation Trust; Belinda Wright, Founder of WPSI; Payal Mehta, naturalist and tour leader; Dr. Raghu Chundawat, conservation biologist; Neha Sinha, conservation biologist and writer/author; and Cara Tejpal, Conservation Initiatives, Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

The Proposition:

"This House believes that Wildlife Tourism has a net-negative impact on Wildlife Conservation."

Quotable Quotes:

Speakers FOR the Motion (IIT Bombay)

Speakers AGAINST the Motion (NMIMS)

What the Jury had to say

We’re all lovers of nature. To me, it is what binds us together. By debating well, you're showing respect and love for each other.

- Chair Vance Martin


Many people were very eloquent. I would have liked it if you guys had looked into the Indian examples a bit more. India has shown in the last 10-15 years that we are inching closer to a model that can help the world understand ecotourism. It is very clear that all speakers understand that in this topic, there is no black and white.

-  Dr. Anish Andheria


IIT Bombay argued extremely well on a difficult stand, and gave very convincing rebuttals. Africa is way ahead than us. Wildlife tourism in Africa generates 50 billion dollars a year, most of which goes to support local people. We haven't got there yet, but i'm quite pro what ‘for the motion’ team were arguing. But we can still do it, I'm convinced of that.

- Belinda Wright


I came in ready to be convinced, but have been left with no clarity on this proposition -- a testament to the fact that both teams were well matched. There was the potential to talk about rewilding, that was a missed opportunity.

- Cara Tejpal


The concluding remarks have convinced me to vote for the team against my own personal beliefs. A very educational experience for me to learn about perspectives I didn't know. I was looking forward to quantitative assessments of the situation but felt a lack of that.

- Raghu Chundawat


I must give a shoutout to Aditi and Ajinkya. Very compelling arguments. I do want to say though that any system we create is prone to corruption or degradation, so we need to look at how to be adaptive in our approach.

- Neha Sinha


The Jury voted in favour of FOR THE MOTION, with four out of six jury members voting for the team.

However, AGAINST THE MOTION won the audience’s allegiance, with the audience poll counting 60 per cent in favour of the team.


Watch the full debate here!



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