Monday, January 08, 2007

GD - How to handle vague topics

One of you had put the following comments for which I thought I should do a posting.
"Wot happens in case of a vague topic, say 'Pen is Mightier than Sword'...Shud v cite an example and show the cases where this has occurred??
And even if that being more specific, wot if the topic is 'Red or Blue' "

I would encourage that more people add on to this topic in comment section so that we can have a good discussion. I will be happy to help out on more such topics. But I will appreciate if you put in your discussion points on the topic you post. So that i can add on rather than starting from the scratch.

By giving such topics, they are testing your ability to think out of the box, generate ideas and be creative. So the way ahead is to think of as many ideas as possible.

The guy who starts such a GD should give a broad direction. If he does it successfully, he has beaten half the candidates. But if he screws up, it may not go well with the candidates or the panel

A couple of examples of how I would have started the GD and also some titbits that I would drop in between to sweep some points.

Blue vs Red
1. START - The key thought battles in history could be summed as Blue vs Red. Be it Conservatism vs Democrats in the US, be it Slavery vs Anti-slavery, Be it Communism vs democracy or capitalism etc. If one follows English soccer closely, the battles-royale between Chelsea and Arsenal can also be termed as Red vs Blue. Traditionally red is seen as aggressive and firm while blue has stood for sober and flexible. So red vs blue goes beyond the boundary of colours to symbolise something more fundamental among us.
---- Note that you have given a broad outline and now the onus is on the other candidates to take each of these points and ponder over.

2.1 The group would note that blue and red are two extreme ends of the visual spectrum... but we have to note that there is more to things than the bare eye can see
2.2 - While i would choose to paint red outside, I would paint my room blue. I think it reflects my personality that I am firm outside and peaceful and flexible inside.
2.3 - Red and Blue always need not be the opposite ends. Just imagine the beautiful sunset on a calm blue see. It just goes to show that two opposite ends can meet and when they do, the serenity is enchanting.
---- If you are able to get this point in when everyone else is talking about blue VERSUS red, then you cracked the GD big time.

I took about 7-8 minutes to come up with these points. But, note that with the pressure in GD, you may not be able to come up with or make all these points. But even if you are able to make 2-3 notable and distinct points, you have cracked it.

So now the onus is on you to come up with good points to the other topic 'pen is mightier than the sword'. I shall add on points to it. Get cracking, let your preparation begin here. I shall post more such topics later if there is enough buy-in



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue of the pen v/s the sword could be viewed as the symbolic representation of an educated, tactical approach to acquire something v/s an approach using brute force. An intelligent, negotiating stance is often more fruitful than an aggressive one.

3:25 AM, January 09, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...

Good beginning. Also make sure you put in more points to handle the middle overs.
One note, I feel it is better that you dont take a specific stand in the beginning since it is not a clear cut case. unless you strongly feel so.

Some arguments in favour
1. Writers are paid more than bouncers (brain over brawn)
--A very simplistic, but intersting and humorous point

2. Many journalists have brought down governments while armed rebellions have been less successful
--You can counter argue saying that when journalists bring down government, it is more because of the mis-deeds of the govt rather than the might of the pen

3. You can also talk about blogs and books having a greater reach and also having a greater impact on how the society thinks and acts

1. The Iraq war was inflicted even when the whole world wrote against it. The sword actually proved mightier. So, though the sword proves mightier once in a while, the impact is much more profound

Parting shot
2. Pen is mightier only if the swords allows it to be. In simpler terms, the might of pen works only in places where there is a rule of law. And laws are enforced by sword and not pen. As an example, Pen has brought down only democratic governments and not dictators. Dictators finally have to overthrown.
-- Most people in the GD will talk in favour of pen. Afterall, we are all learned people. But make this point and you shall take away the honours.

If this idea crops up in your mind after you have supported the pen, you still can change your stance. You can say "now that I think of it...etc etc".

There are always two sides to an argument. A good GD group will look into both sides and each one who ensures that all angles are covered gets points. And note the group need not arrive at a consensus at the end of the GD.

4:21 AM, January 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are points i have written yesterday but was unable to post:-
The pen signifies the expression of views in a boundary condition, in the limitations of a set of rules which maybe have been set by somebody else. While the sword signifies a denial, a attack on existance of the opposite.

intermediate points:-
1) the freedom struggle of most of the countries is a armed one.
2)Beggers are not choosers.
3)hindi proverb:- jiski laathi uski bhens.

3:07 AM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...

I think you are going a little on the tangent. Try and stick to the pen vs sword points.

Apart from that, do not use language like 'boundary condition' etc. It is more maths than English.

Avoid regional proverbs. Because they will need explaination and people may not really appreciate you using up the GD time on that. Think of an alternative english adage or you can make a statement of your own to that effect

5:11 AM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger ur-next-door-blogger said...

But, what about swords controlling pens throughout the world. This can be discribed by instances where the military often manipulates the mainstream media, by restricting or managing what information is presented, and hence what the public are told. For them it is paramount to control the media. This can involve all types of activities ranging from organizing media sessions and daily press briefings, or through providing managed access to war zones, to even planting stories. This has happened throughout the 20th century. And happened without looking at its completeness, accuracy, & forces driving the agenda. A typical example can be of Iraq invasion by U.S. army, on the grounds that iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which later on proved well fabricated story.

9:29 AM, January 13, 2007  
Blogger Gyan-ee said...

my-next-door-blogger :),

Very good point made. A couple of tips to make it better.

1. Usage of the word 'propoganda' could have made your point crisp and wud have delivered it more effectively.

2. You cud have tried to make an overarching statement like 'pen is mightier sometimes and hence the sword wants to control' or something like 'how can pen be mightier if the sword can control what it does'...

Very good attempt, especially since the topic was already discussed and many points exhausted

4:49 AM, January 15, 2007  

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