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Quizzing them young

AT A national conference of academicians held at Nagpur recently, a few principals sounded out the chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education on the idea of hosting quiz programmes and youth festivals. After mulling over it, the former was cleared.

So, on October 30, 2001, a circular was issued inviting affiliated schools to participate in the ``CBSE Heritage India Quiz''. Phase I, the cluster level contest, was held on November 24, 2001, at 19 centres across the country. Seven hundred and fifty schools (Standards IX to XII) sat the 75-minute written examination, a multiple choice of 100 questions, with negative marking. Each school was represented by three students, with a team finally chosen based on their aggregate performance.

This year, on January 5, the board issued another circular calling for phase two — the second or zonal session. This time round, it saw 12 teams from two clusters. (The finalists now head to Delhi for the nation-level semi-finals and finals on February 4 and 5.

* * *

On January 17, the P.S. Senior Secondary School, Mylapore, was where all the action was. Quiz master Simanta Mohanty tossed his questions around across four hours to decide which the four teams were to be. And the competitive spirit got better only towards the end.

Six schools (in two batches of three each) contested against each other in the morning. Batch one comprised Akilandeshwari Vidyalaya, Tiruchi, and Chennai's Bhaktavatsalam Vidyashram and D.A.V. Public School, Teynampet.

After P.S.'s principal Vijayalakshmi Srivatsan asked the first question (``How many spokes does the wheel on the Indian Flag have?''), which a spectator answered, the show began with five rounds — ``True or false'', ``Point blank'', ``Options'', ``Bull's eye'' and ``Rapid Fire''.

At the end of Round four, BV was ahead with 70 points but crashed to third place after the final round with 90 points. DAV jumped to the lead, quick to grab 60 points.

Batch two comprised Jawahar HSS, Neyveli, and Jawahar Vidyalaya, Ashok Nagar, and the host team P.S. The latter was on course till the last round tackling questions like ``Which city gets its name from a sacred lake?'' (Amritsar) to ``Which place was the penal colony of Britain before it was shifted to the Andaman Islands?'' (Singapore)

``Rapid Fire'' saw the two Chennai schools tied at 100 points, which Mohanty called as ``being in the deepest possible trouble here''. Then, dramatically kneeling down on the stage, he asked the decider. Nervous giggles from the audience and tense school teachers ... Would P.S. make it? Both teams passed the first two questions before Jawahar's all-girl team blurted ``Red Fort'' for the clincher — ``Which monument in Delhi served as a residence for Mughal emperors?''

Post-lunch had Army Public School, Pune, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Nagpur, and Maharishi Vidya Mandir, Hosur, in the first batch. In the last round, APS and MVM were tied at 100. BVB was at 95 points. APS was back in the reckoning answering ``Who built the largest mosque in India that was completed in 1650?'' (Shajahan and the Jama Masjid)

After an audience round, it was the turn of the last batch, which had Modern School, Nagpur, and Bangalore's National Public School, Indiranagar, and Rajajinagar. Rounds three and four saw all the teams get the maximum marks before NPS, Rajajinagar, made it answering ``Which monument in Kolkata is dedicated to a British queen?'' (Victoria).

The final scores read MS -110, an aggressive Indiranagar at 115 and an all-girl Rajajinagar at 135.

In the inaugural address, Ms. Srivatsan dwelt on the point that ``Coca-Cola and pizza must not submerge our national identity''. And the way the teams and the enthusiastic audience responded should set our fears at rest.

MURALI. N. KRISHNASWAMY

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