On Saturday morning, Swarali Gupta, 9, Class 5 student of Indian Education Society’s N Sule Guruji English School could neither stop smiling nor posing as she showed off her trophy outside the Shanmukhananda Hall in Sion while family members clicked away on the camera.
Gupta was one of the 50 recipients of the inaugural Hindustan Times Scholarship Programme. Actor Shabana Azmi gave away the scholarship certificates on Saturday to 50 students — 10 each from Classes 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Each winner will get Rs 50,000.
“I would like to congratulate each one of you because I believe each of you has it in you to become a catalyst for change,” said Azmi, chief guest at the function. “The time has come not to ask what the country can do for us but what can we give to our country.”
More than 27,000 students from 175 schools applied for the programme. Students were shortlisted on the basis of nominations from their principals and an essay on ‘Your ideas to Mumbai special’.
They were then called for an interview.
“It was exciting to get a call and know I had won, I didn’t think I would,” said Rohan Surve, 14, Class 8 student of Udayachal High School, Vikhroli. “My idea on how to make Mumbai special was to cut down corruption. We need to punish not just bribe takers, but also bribe givers,” said Kanchan Desai, 15, Class 9 winner, Jasudben School, Khar. “In the six years that we have been here we have consistently engaged with education,” said Soumya Bhattacharya, editor, Hindustan Times, Mumbai, outlining some of the paper’s other initiatives such as the top schools survey and the free career counselling sessions for students.