Gone are the days when we would flee from schools and head straight towards district library auditorium to cheer for our heroes, who fought against best brains in North East and beyond, and gifted Silchar the name, “The Quiz Capital of Northeast India”. Yes, Silchar held that name for a long time, until the light faded into a bizarre darkness of Dance Mania and Reality Shows.
NERICIQ & NERICID were the next big thing to Durga Puja. Silcharites, who stayed away from Silchar, would plan their vacations in line with the festival that celebrated intellect. North Eastern Regional Inter College Invitational Quiz and Debate, was a brain child of Jyoti, a socio cultural and literary club that was formed in late eighties by a group of students from G.C. College and REC, Silchar. It was one of the most prestigious events in quizzing /debating circuits in India. Teams from almost all graduate colleges in Northeast participated in the event along with a few invited teams from Calcutta. Famous names like Joy Bhattacharjee (The current CEO of Kolkata Kight Riders) and Rathindra Basu (the eminent quiz master) from Jadavpur University have participated, won and were quiz masters of NERICIQ in later years. The NERICIQ & NERICID even found their name in the mainstream nationwide newspapers and magazines.
The NERICID finals were always eloquent and involving. Often they had guest debaters appearing as leaders for Treasury and Opposition benches, debating on burning issues. They were senior teachers, famous debaters of Silchar who would set the house ablaze, before the young guns took over. Silchar has been blessed with some fantastic debaters and orators over the years, most of who were born out of NERICID.
The NERICIQ finals were more nail biting than a 20-20 cricket match. A fantastic crowd from respective institutes supporting their teams would occupy the auditorium- singing, shouting and even playing dolaks and drums, every time their team earned a point - A crowd that ranged from school students to Professors, from Musicians, Doctors to Sponsors. Special importance was given to the decoration of stage for the grand finale. Even the Jokers used for the bonus rounds were all hand-made by a senior member of Jyoti who is a brilliant artist. The white sheets on the tables, the lights under them, the artistic stage background, the standing ovation for Quiz masters, the tension and the rivalry-Everything made NERICIQ finals more than just a competition of quiz. Needless to say Premtala use to be deserted during the event.
But with the passage of time, that entire generation of youth left Silchar. As years passed by, a new generation was young. A serious dearth of proficient people was felt - People who could carry the responsibilities forward with grace weren’t around. Students of REC, now rechristened the National Institute of Technology also tried a similar endeavor, but it could not spur up the dying interest of quiz and debate among the new youth. Lack of interest among students and sponsors added to the troubles. Even the NERICIQ was resurrected in 2002 with a lot of effort amidst the ceasing energy. We had a Quiz Master flying in from USA and a reasonably good participation of teams. And then it died. Quiz, Quizzers and Quiz Masters faded with time. The heroes gradually became trivial to the ‘generation of Indifference’.
The Jaw dropping acts and the blunders, the wild guesses and guff ups, the sexy scorers and timekeepers, the sweet secrets of NERICIQ dinners, the never ending antagonism between SMC and Cotton College and the unforgettable youngest Jyotian who mastered the senior Citizen Quiz
- Everything, Everything lost in time.
We grew up in a Silchar that had intra and inter-school quizzes almost every other month. And then, there were those weekly quizzes at friend’s place. Clubs like Jyoti, Prerana, Greens, Rotaract and many others had regular merit tests. There were debates at Gandhi Bhavan during the Silchar book fair .There were elocution and extempore competitions every now and then. People were more agile and responsive to events and information. Events like “The Big Fight”, organized by the students of G.C.College, involving the best of the debaters and politicians, are still etched upon our minds.
The positive externalities exerted by these events and the experiences earned by organizing them are immense. Most of us imbibed our talents and propensities through participating, organizing and experiencing such events. There was a wholesome intellectual growth .We acquired positive intangibles that had long term effect in shaping our ideologies and thoughts.
But sadly, things have changed. The only quality quiz event that exists today is organized by NIT as a part of their yearly festival Incandescence. Apart from a one or two intra institute quizzes which are rather G.K tests and a few other debate competitions, most of the youth have turned their attention to filthy reality shows and marks prone academics.
With the ever increasing percentage of marks earned by students in Silchar in HSLC, the definition of a “good student” has suffered acute identity crises over the years. It has been proved empirically and linguistically, that definitions do change with time. And this certainly is one of its best examples.
(If the current generation is involved in organising similar events in Silchar and other parts of Barak Valley. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. CFS would love to highlight those efforts. We have mentioned the names of organisations such as Jyoti, Prerana, Greens and Rotaract from our collective memory. If the readers can provide us with more names of more such organisations, we would be happy to update the list. Happy Reading!)