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Shaunya Kumar, Aarshi Chaudhary win IPA's Youth Essay Competition 2023

Shaunya Kumar (left) and Aarshi Chaudhary (left) / (Image: IPA website)

Shaunya Kumar from Shakopee, Minnesota and Aarshi Chaudhary from Newbury Park, California have emerged winners of the India Philanthropy Alliance’s (IPA) annual Youth Essay Competition 2023, in the high school and middle school category, respectively. They will present their ideas at a national gathering of philanthropists, business leaders and consultants, on September 29, 2023, in Palo Alto, California.

The competition by the US-based coalition of 16 non-profit, philanthropic, and charitable organizations was designed to engage youth in philanthropy and inspire creative thought and action to benefit India. The event was sponsored by the Sarva Mangal Family Trust, Sehgal Foundation, and Give.

Shaunya Kumar of Grade 9 produced an analysis of the Indian caste system and Americans’ roles in resolving India’s most pressing developmental issue. She said that the caste system barriers could be eliminated by raising awareness, supporting Dalits, and promoting international pressure.

"By raising awareness and supporting initiatives, the global community can heavily influence India’s government in addressing the caste system and social norms. This pressure can lead to better monitoring of discriminatory hiring practices, ensuring universal schooling, and establishing trade schools and scholarship programs in rural areas," Kumar added.

She will be gifting her $1000 award to Dalit Solidarity, a release stated. “I wanted to vocalize the hardships and prejudice in India, especially for its majority population. Winning the contest means I can actually ‘be the change’ that we teens always talk about,” the high-schooler maintained.

Aarshi Chaudhary, of Grade 8 from Newbury Park, California, proposed a solution to poverty in her essay. She proposed that individuals can create awareness, sponsor a child through charitable organizations, and share skills by conducting workshops.

The middle school category winner said, “I was inspired to write my essay on "A Solution to Poverty - India’s Most Pressing Developmental Issue" by the realization that poverty is not just a lack of money, but an impediment to realizing one's full potential." Chaudhary will be gifting her $1000 award to Surya-Chandra Foundation.

Speaking about the response from students, Minoo Gupta, vice chair of the IPA said, “The students explored complex and often overlooked issues such as waste management, mental health, nuclear fusion energy, equity and inclusion. It was gratifying to see the research and consideration of the students as well as the compassion shown by so many.”

 

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