Markandeya Karthik: world champion at 14 years of age

Written by Daniel Cheung


Year 10 RCHK student, Markandeya Karthik was recently crowned world champion after delivering a stunning After-Dinner Speech at the 31st World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Champion (WIDPSC) event in Toronto this April. Karthik is possibly the youngest to achieve such a high honour in the global competition, where competitor ages range up to 18-years-old.

The World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship is an annual international English language debating and public speaking tournament for individual high school-level students representing different countries. In WIDPSC, there are four categories in which participants earn points to move them up the ranking. The four categories are debating, impromptu, interpretive reading, and persuasive speaking or after-dinner speaking.

Karthik earned his rightful title in the after-dinner speaking round. According to the official website, an after-dinner speech is ‘a speech that must entertain and inform’, and should be designed ‘to be delivered from the top table after a dinner’. To attain world champion in this category is to be extremely proficient in being humorous, witty, and using clever one-liners and puns while having an underlying moral or criticism. In spite of the difficulty of incorporating all these elements in a single speech, Karthik proved himself regardless.

Karthik says, ‘public speaking and debate has allowed me to become more of a global citizen, a individual able to work with anyone'. It also helped him '[improve] his organizational skills and [his] time management skills, while providing [him] with opportunities to step out of his comfort bubble’. He’s given some helpful tips to students who are interested in public speaking and already in the public speaking field, saying that ‘there will be a lot of ups and downs’ and that it is extremely ‘important to persevere in tough times’.

Besides after-dinner speaking,  Karthik is also extremely skilled in debate and Model United Nations, competing in several competitions and winning multiple awards.