For five months since January, Nishith Khandwala and Abhinav Menon spent their mornings reading heavy philosophy textbooks and understanding complex theory. In the evenings, Khandwala, who lives in Malad, would log on to the web to discuss Aristotle and Plato with Kerala-resident Menon, via video chat.
Separated by a distance of more than a 1000 km, the two students studied together through online chats, before heading to Norway to represent India in the International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO) last month. While Khandwala, 17, won a silver medal, Menon, 16, a Class 10 student, stood third in the 20th edition of the international competition.
"We had met only once during the initial training programme in Mumbai last year. We exchanged notes and ideas online. Our coach had created an online lecture room, where we had conference chats every week," said Khandwala, a Class 12 student. "For five months, I had to juggle studying engineering concepts and philosophical ideologies. The two subjects were disconnected, but my love for them helped me manage."
Founded in 1993, the IPO is a philosophy competition for high school students, which is organised by the Federation Internationale des Societes de Philosophie and supported by UNESCO. With more than 40 participating countries, students competing in the Olympiad are given four hours to write a philosophical essay.
"India has been participating in the competition since 2007. While previously, our students received honourable mentions, for the first time, both our participants returned to the country with a medal this year," said Kedar Soni, coordinator, Indian Philosophy Olympiad.