A chorus of cheers repeatedly echoed across Bandra’s Rangsharda Auditorium on Wednesday morning, as the city’s brightest young minds walked on stage to receive their trophies and certificates at the awards ceremony of the seventh edition of the Hindustan Times Scholarship Programme, 2016-17.
Celebrations reached a fever pitch with the crowd breaking into Mexican waves as 25 students from class 5 to 9 were honoured for winning scholarships of Rs50,000 each. They were selected from 75,717 applicants — up from 70,680 last year — in a gruelling two-tier selection process. The awards seek to recognise the brightest talent in the city’s schools.
Actors Kriti Sanon and Sushant Singh Rajput presented the awards after a candid panel discussion that drew chuckles from the crowd, followed by a riveting interactive session with students, moderated by Pravinchandran Nair, deputy resident editor, Hindustan Times, Mumbai. “Most of the candidates had terrific poise and were very good but we look to see who is most connected to the world around them and can think things through logically,” said Nair.
The scholarship programme, one of the several initiatives by HT in the field of education, witnessed students participating from 234 schools in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. Winners relished every cheer that greeted the announcement of their names. “This was an unforgettable experience and a great confidence booster,” said Aniket Shandilya, 10, a class 5 student from Oberoi International School, Goregaon.
“My classmates and teachers couldn’t attend the ceremony because of ongoing exams, but my parents and grandparents were there to cheer me,” said Abhirup Tapadar, 10, a class 5 student from Marble Arch School, Andheri, who wrote that his grandpa’s science journal was his most prized possession in the scholarship essay.
For teachers and parents, it was a proud moment to see their children receive the scholarship. “It’s a great thing to appreciate children who can write well. There is a paucity of such platforms today. The panel discussion presented children with young role models whom they could relate to,” said Archana Kumar, teacher at Bai Avabai Fremji Petit Girls’ High School.
Some parents pointed out that the scholarship programme helped throw light on their offspring’s hidden talents and abilities. “I wasn’t aware my daughter could write so well until she was selected for the programme. The confident manner in which she spoke to the HT editors surprised me,” said Gouri Sathe, whose daughter Antara was among the winners.
Many of the awardees planned to spend their winnings for altruistic purposes, whereas others chose to invest in their future. “I will donate some of the money to cancer patients and the needy, and will use the remaining amount to purchase books and stationary,” said Abhinav Dangwal, 10, a class 5 student from Bombay Scottish School, Mahim.
Kartik Raja, whose daughter Sahana, 13, won the scholarshipsaid the scholarship is a life lesson for children. “Initially, Sahana wanted to give away her winnings to an NGO, but now she has her heart set on buying a phone,” said an amused Raja.