Redmont, WA, student wins first prize in India Philanthropy Alliance competition

Rithani Saravanakumar,

Rithani Saravanakumar, winner of the 2sd Annual Essay Contest, speak to The American Bazaar.

In 2020, as the world faced an unexpected and raging pandemic and schoolchildren were learning to cope with the new standard of online courses and programs, India Philanthropy Alliance came up with the idea for an essay contest. For the young. It turned out to be a huge success and after a great reception in the inaugural year. This year, the Alliance was back with the 2021 Youth Essay Contest.

India Philanthropy Alliance, a coalition of charities, launched the initiative as a way to channel and encourage philanthropic ideas among the younger generation of American Indians.

Several studies have shown that American Indians, despite being among the wealthiest minorities in the United States, are not as generous as typical American households when it comes to charitable causes. The initiative hopes to instill a philanthropic spirit among the younger generation of American Indians. Encouragingly enough, the organization has seen an overwhelming participation of American Indian children across the country.

After a panel assessed and judged the high school and middle school students’ essays, the Alliance released its list of winners. The winners of the 2021 Youth Essay Competition will be celebrated at an online ceremony on November 10, where they will also have the chance to pitch their idea.

Announcing the winners of the India Philanthropy Alliance (IPA) Youth Essay Contest (October 1, 2020)

“These middle and high school youth presented thoughtful, passionate and well-researched ideas on how to tackle some of the biggest challenges India faces today,” said Deepak Raj, Chairman of the Alliance. “We are encouraged by their enthusiasm and look forward to seeing their continued development. “

Rithani Saravanakumar, of Redmond, Wash., Who wrote on the topic “A Tough Plain for Farmers: Revolutionizing the Agriculture Industry in India”, is the winner in the high school category. His essay, addressing the topic of crop price deregulation in India and its impact on the rural farming community, showed a deep understanding of agrarian society in India. Read Saravanakumar’s essay here.

Saravanakumar, who will receive $ 1,000, will donate the cash prize to Pratham USA.

The finalist in the high school category is Diya Patel, who will donate her $ 500 cash prize to the Sehgal Foundation. The three finalists in the category are Aniruddh Marella, Jibraan Rahman, Eshwar Venkataswamy.

In the college category, the winner is Eisha Yadav. (Read her essay here.) She will donate a $ 1,000 prize to the American Friends of HelpAge India. The finalist, Chinmayi Joshi, will donate $ 500 to UNICEF USA. The three finalists in the category are Arhaan Iyer, Eesha Jain, Riya Pharsiyawar.

Shortly after the winners were announced, The American Bazaar spoke to Saravanakumar, the winner in the high school category.

As a high school student living and studying in the United States, you have shown exceptional clarity about the current farmers’ protest in India. Can you tell us about your research?

At first I had to rely on my prior knowledge on this subject as there was not much I could retrieve from the internet. Fortunately, I knew enough to create a baseline. I was well informed about the agri-food model and the difficulties faced by farmers because I experienced it firsthand.

Whenever we traveled to India, we visited my grandparents’ farmlands where they grew organic vegetables and fruits, and they described to me the struggles of the farming class and how the influence of corporations drastically changed their fashion. of life. In fact, I was inspired to use agriculture as an essay topic because of my grandparents. To find more detailed information, I had to browse through several newspaper articles and research articles on the ongoing farmers’ protest in New Delhi. Because this is a problem that stems from the root of the nation, I had to conduct extensive research on each of the various factors involved in this issue. I read CNN articles, explored the history of the farmer’s market and everything related to the power of our generation to solve this crisis.

Has writing always been a passion for you? Do you remember how old you started to write and how it helps you as a student and as an individual?

Writing, since I was a child, has always helped me convey my emotions and feelings even when I didn’t have the chance. From what I remember, I’ve been writing since kindergarten, around the age of five. But I never immediately started writing. I was more comfortable with my voice than with my pen. As a result, talking and telling stories to others was something I loved and came naturally to me, so I focused more on verbal communication. As my words turned into sentences, lines formed paragraphs, and ideas formed essays, I discovered that I also enjoyed writing.

There were a lot of things I could do in writing that I couldn’t do with my voice, like expressing my own ideas. I wasn’t saying what others wanted to hear; I wrote for myself. I believe writing really strengthens a student’s abilities because when you write your creativity is the only limit. As a writer you have no limits, no limits and certainly no rules. This not only makes a confident student, but also a strong individual.

Tell us a bit about your background. Where were you born? How often do you visit India? What part of India are your parents from, and how and why do you feel connected to your parents’ homeland?

Although I am a US resident and citizen, I am originally from South India. I was born in Karur, a small town located in Tamil Nadu, India. I only spent the first 11 months of my life growing up in India.

Then when my dad got a job offer in the United States, my mom and I, along with my dad, moved to Redmond, Washington. And since then we have stayed in the same old apartment for 16 years! Growing up, my parents insisted a lot on maintaining our Indian culture and habits. They ensured that my brother and I learned to speak, read and write fluently in our native language, Tamil, and follow religious customs such as the weekly temple visit and the celebration of important Indian holidays. In addition, we would go to India every two or three years to visit our grandparents, parents and cousins. Our trip usually lasted all summer as we spent time making up for what we missed over the past few years. Both my parents are from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. We regularly visit my parents’ homeland in India, as that is where our loved ones live. In Chennai, there are a lot of places to visit such as beaches, government buildings, temples and shopping malls!

Frequently my parents show my brother and I photos of the place before and after they were kids, and it’s shocking to see India’s rapid transformation.

Indian students in the United States have gained this reputation for being very study-inclined. As a high school student, do you encounter these perceptions? Are words like geek or nerd often used to describe Indian college students or is it only in the movies?

Indian students have definitely gained a reputation for being study-inclined, but to be honest I can’t really answer this question in depth as I am studying at a STEM school where all classes are based on STEM subjects. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Our school is also relatively small, so our options are very limited, which means that all of us, in the same year, take almost the same courses (with a few exceptions). From the perspective of other schools, most people who attend Tesla STEM High School are referred to as a “geek” or “nerd” due to the school’s high academic standards and the outstanding performance of the students. But yes, Indian students are stereotyped as being very intelligent.

Let’s talk about the trial, why did you think about participating and think you would win? How do you think this provides an important platform for students like you?

To be honest, I never thought for a second that I would win. I just thought of this competition as another platform and another opportunity to express my opinions on a topic that I am passionate about. I wanted to address an issue that I felt was not getting enough attention to the Indian diaspora community. It is important for students like me to benefit from a great platform like this essay competition because the future of humanity is in our hands. As squeaky as it sounds, it is OUR ideas that will reshape the world, so if our proposals go unrecognized, then how are we going to move forward? How are we going to keep moving forward if we keep doing the same things and making the same mistakes?

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