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The following candidates are the recipients of the Tiara Special Grant. 

We congratulate and wish them all the best for the future.



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Monica Pesswani

Pursuing a post-graduation in Leadership and Liberal Arts, Young India Fellowship at Ashoka University gave Monica a first-hand experience of the power of holistic education. She knew then that such quality education should be made available to every last student, with a focus on at-risk kids hailing from disadvantaged backgrounds since they needed this learning and exposure the most. Building on her corporate and entrepreneurial experiences, she co-founded The Apprentice Project (TAP) - a Not for Profit start-up with the twin objectives of making learning fun to reduce drop-out and of equipping students with 21st-century skills so that they can find profitable employment. Monica's goal is to impact 100,000 children in the next 5 years and work with the government to enable systemic change.

Monica is an engineer turned liberal-arts major. Beginning her career at Infosys, she went on to work with the CEO of NRB Bearings, leading group strategy at India's biggest ball-bearings manufacturer. She also set up First Engineering Technologies, a one-of-it's kind 3D Printing venture. Founding TAP and driving impact in the space of education was the culmination of all her experiences. She will be pursuing a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has been awarded the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship and the Lady Meherbai Scholarship.


Monica loves travelling to understand development needs across the country. Baking is a passion and she has been the official pastry chef at every organisation in her journey from Infosys to TAP. She enjoys depicting people's personalities through her cakes.

Zahida War

Zahida is from Kashmir and her keen interest in psychology has roots in her regional identity. As a child, she was deeply influenced by the state of mental health in Kashmir due to decades of protracted conflict. This led her to pursue a B.A. Hons. (Psychology) at Ashoka University. During her undergraduate years, she worked with Kashmir lifeline and Health Centre, an organisation that ran a preventive mental health programme in the valley. This experience gave her an opportunity to apply what she learned in the classroom. Further, it increased her interest in counselling psychology and strengthened her resolve towards “healing minds.” Back at her University she also worked as a Resident Assistant (RA). This experience involved being a peer support and confidant. After graduation she finished a Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Studies and Research at Ashoka University, where she worked on an Honours thesis on psychological resilience in Kashmir.


Zahida is currently pursuing an M.Sc. in War and Psychiatry at King’s College, London.

Through the knowledge and skills she gains here, she aspires to construct effective resilience-enhancing programmes in Kashmir and similar places of conflict. Ultimately she envisions herself running a research-based Centre for Resilience to develop more sophisticated interventions for traumatised individuals in conflict zones throughout the world.

Rajorshi Paul

During his undergraduate at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Rajorshi was involved in community service as part of the National Service Scheme (NSS). As part of NSS, he witnessed the deep-rooted malnourishment, lack of basic privileges such as access to healthcare, clean drinking water and education prevalent in rural India. Rajorshi’s community service experience made him realise the immense transformative power of technology in changing lives especially in a low resource setting like the rural India. This was his inspiration behind opting for a research career. Rajorshi wants to help the less privileged through technology, research and science.


After graduating from IIT Kharagpur with the prestigious Dr. B.C. Roy gold medal, Rajorshi pursued his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta focusing on research aimed at combating anti-biotic resistant ‘superbugs’. Rajorshi will be pursuing his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. He aspires to solve some of the pressing global problems in medicine and healthcare. He will be performing curiosity driven research focusing on science and technology at the intersection of biology and fluid mechanics.

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Inayat Anaita Sabhikhi

Inayat has extensive experience working on social accountability. From Delhi, she worked in Jharkhand on social welfare entitlements through citizen run information and facilitation centers. She is a Working Committee member of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information, was an Honorary Fellow of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and an ex fellow of the Indian Community Activists Network. She is associated with the citizens’ campaigns for the Employment Guarantee, Right to Food, and Social Security. She has previously worked with the Government of Bihar and the Government of India on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). She received a Master’s in Development Economics from the University of London and a Bachelors in Economics from University of Delhi.


She will be pursuing a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. She has been awarded the Dubin Graduate Fellowship for Emerging Leaders by the Centre for Public Leadership and the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship.

Shiv Datt Sharma

Shiv Datt is interested in a wide spectrum of issues related to gender and sexuality that includes questions of identity, desire, history, culture, and politics. He is a member of the founding team of Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University, where he has been working since the last three years. Prior to this, Shiv studied Liberal Arts at Ashoka as part of its Young India Fellowship program. Driven by an activist impetus, Shiv has been facilitating workshops on gender and sexuality, and issues like sexual harassment for grassroots organizations like Katha, as well as corporates like Mahindra. In March 2016, he was invited to speak on a panel organised by the Wellesley Centers for Women as part of the United Nations CSW60 convention in New York. Later in November that year, he travelled to South Africa to participate in a convention on gender inequality in Pretoria. 


Having been awarded the Fulbright-Nehru and Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarships this year to pursue a MA in Historical Studies at The New School in New York, Shiv hopes to continue travelling forward on a journey of personal and professional growth, and contributing to a rising wave of social change towards a more gender-equitable future.

Simoni Jain

As a student of Delhi University, Simoni took it upon herself to complement her classroom learning in Economics and Political Economy of Development with field -based research. She worked in Bihar to study the impact of police reforms. She then took up a Field Research Associate position offered by J-PAL South Asia in the Payments and Governance Research Program. Her learning at J-PAL, experience in the field, as well as interactions with senior public officials and leading academicians immensely improved her understanding of various challenges different stakeholders face in policy making- be it political, technical, ground level dissemination, or challenges in accessing one’s benefits.

Simoni is currently enrolled in the Masters in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM) at the University of Chicago. After graduation she wants to work as a public policy practitioner in India to provide data driven inputs for better design and implementation quality of social and public policies.

Sailee Bhambere

A bachelor of Dental Surgery from Nair Hospital Dental College, Mumbai, Sailee observed how her teachers' innovative approach helped manage thousands of patients each day. It shaped her as a doctor/health entrepreneur looking for new and effective solutions in Public Health. Belonging to a conservative rural community there was always pressure to settle down into a conventional female role, but she persisted and became the first woman entrepreneur from her village.

At the Harvard Health Policy Management Department she wants to learn application of business tools to healthcare, and development of impactful entrepreneurship. She wishes to combine her prior experience with the skills learnt at Harvard to change the face of healthcare, especially in developing countries. She wants to target three major areas- palliative care, women’s health and oral care.

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Anushka Siddiqui

Anushka Siddiqui is a graduate of Economics from Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) Delhi University, as well as an alumna of the Young India Fellowship. She has keen interest in issues of policy and governance, borne of work experience at the central, state and district levels of the Indian Government through consulting projects with McKinsey & Company and Samagra Development Associates.


For the past year, Anushka has been working with the Himachal Pradesh Directorate of Elementary Education on a systemic transformation program to improve education quality of 0.5 mn students. In the fall, Anushka will be studying for the Masters in Public Policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School where she will focus on education policy and management. Anushka has been designated a “John F. Kennedy Fellow” at Harvard University for outstanding academic achievement and professional promise with significant distinction. Post her graduation, Anushka hopes to work in the sphere of education technology and/or data-driven (education) governance in order to drive improvement in the state of elementary education in India. 

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Raunak Mittal

Raunak grew up in close proximity to the adversities of poverty, illiteracy and violence of the Naxal insurgency. Being the first member in four generations of his family to receive higher education, he witnessed the consequent upward mobility in the economic conditions of our family. Privileged to receive such an education, he soon realised his calling to address the development challenges in India and took to actively engage with them. He has worked with the office of Minister of State for Finance and through qualitative research methodologies, studied the sociological and institutional issues responsible for the lack of development in one of the most backward districts, Hazaribagh, in India. 

After graduate study, he wants to gain experience of working on development issues and then work on policy advocacy to Indian government institutions. With the MALD program at The Fletcher School with International Political Economy and Business Relations as his fields of study, it will be ideal for him in this pursuit. He intends to contribute in shaping institutions and forge international ties among nations for sustainable development and growth and is certain that the MALD program at The Fletcher School will help him in preparing himself in that direction

Astha Ummat

Inspired by her mother who devoted 20 years of her life to social service, she grew up with an inclination towards public service. Apart from holding a Mathematics Honours and a Masters in Economics degree, a Master’s degree in Public Administration at the School of International and Public Affairs, with a concentration in Energy and Environment, would enable her to bridge this gap and strengthen her knowledge specific to the energy sector. She was nominated for the Prime Ministers’ Award for Excellence in Public Administration 2013-14 and the Web Ratna Award 2014 for IESS, 2047 and has been a finalist in the CSI-Nihilent e-Governance Awards 2014-15. Having already worked with the government on various schemes like the NITI Ayog, Astha on completion of this degree, wants to return and work closely with the Indian Government, on projects that aim to develop demand side, market based, self- sustaining strategies to successfully resolve challenges in the energy sector.

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Debonil Maity

Debonil is currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of Chemical and Bio-molecular  Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his Dual Degree (B.Tech and M.Tech) in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT Kgp) in 2015. His research at IIT Kgp was mainly focused on Hydrodynamic Fluctuations, where he analyzed the effect of random molecular collisions on the very fundamental equations of fluid dynamics and their effect on any macroscopic quantities of the fluid. Later, he undertook a project involving improving the efficiency of micro/ nano fluidic batteries using ‘soft-channels’ and ‘non-Newtonian’ fluids. 

Earlier in the summer of 2013, he did his research internship at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, where he was introduced to the interesting field of Electro-kinetics. It was during this internship, he came to know about the various challenges involved in manipulating and aggregating particles at the micro/nano scale. In December 2012, he had delivered a lecture on ‘Finite Volume Method’ at the 11th Indo-European Winter Academy (formerly, Indo- German Winter Academy). During his stay at Kharagpur, he was involved in a number of community service activities with the National Service Scheme, IIT Kgp. Due to his contributions; he was adjudged one of the best outgoing volunteers of 2010-2012. After that, he was a volunteer at the Student Welfare Group, IIT Kgp. At Hopkins, he hopes to pursue research which lies at the interface of Biomedical Sciences, Physics and Engineering. He believes that it is possible to exploit the rich flow physics at the micro/ nano scale to build cheap devices for biomedical applications such as cell encapsulation and targeted drug delivery.

Sandeep Maurice D'souza

Sandeep, a recipient of the Tiara Special Grant 2015, graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 2015, with a Bachelor of Technology (Honours) degree in Electronics  and Electrical Communication Engineering. He has also been a recipient of the prestigious Aditya Birla Scholarship (2011-2015). During his undergraduate days, he has interned at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Qualcomm Incorporated. With 3 invention disclosures and 4 research papers submitted under his name, Sandeep has a holistic research experience in both academia and industry. An aspiring entrepreneur, Sandeep has also been a part of Entrepreneurship Cell IIT Kharagpur, and played a vital role in organizing a number of entrepreneurship related events. He has also won laurels at a number of national level contests including the Microsoft India Academia Accelerator Programme 2013, the Intel Ideation Contest 2013 and Qualcomm IdeaQuest 2014. Music is his hobby, and he has successfully completed 5 of 7 examinations in Hindustani Classical Vocals from Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalay. 

He is currently pursuing a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He aims to make a difference in the world of Computer Engineering by contributing to the development of performance and energy efficient computing systems.

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Siddartha Khastgir

Siddartha graduated from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 2011, with a dual degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was the founder and the team leader of the Formula Student team at IIT KGP,  and through his efforts managed to make it the largest institute funded student led project. Under his leadership, the 30 member team made 2 vehicles and participated in the Formula Student 2011 competition in Silverstone circuit, UK. They were the only Indian team to be nominated for the Airbus Teamwork Award. Recently, he has been appointed by the Director of IIT KGP as the mentor for the current Formula Student team at IIT. Since graduation he has worked in an automotive R and D firm in Germany, developing automotive software for dual-clutch and automatic manual transmissions. Siddartha is currently pursuing his PhD in autonomous vehicle technologies at WMG, University of Warwick, UK. He hopes to be a pioneer in setting and developing the required standards to realize the mass production of autonomous technologies. Recently awarded the Young Member Visionary of the Year 2014 Award by Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK, he has been recognized internationally as an engineering leader and role model. Siddartha is a KC Mahindra Scholar and a recipient of the Tiara Special Grant, 2014.

Tarun Varma

Tarun is a Pershing Square Scholar at the University of Oxford where he is studying towards an MSc in Child Development and Education at the Department of Education followed by an MBA.  A former Teach for India Fellow (New Delhi, 2011 – 2013), he also co-founded and led Gaboli, a web technologies firm that focuses on software for educational institutions. A graduate from Delhi University, Tarun started his career in a fast track management cadre at Tech Mahindra. Tarun grew up in over ten cities across India. He is most at home in the mountains – trekking and climbing. He holds an advanced certificate in mountaineering and climbed his first major mountain in 2009. He believes we can build better citizens if the focus in Primary School is on creative thinking instead of grades. He plans to find and scale an educational model that utilises co-curricular learning to foster curiosity, creativity and problem-solving skills from a young age. Tarun received the Tiara Special Grant in 2014.

Aashna Jamal

Aashna grew up in Kashmir and went on to complete her undergraduate degree in Economics, at St. Xavier’s, Mumbai. She was involved in various extracurricular activities and was a founding team member of the first Economics Summit hosted by St. Xavier’s. Aashna worked for a year with different organisations to broaden her experience in the development sector in India. She is co-author of a report on Regional Social Enterprise Ecosystems in small cities in India for which she travelled extensively to conduct stakeholder interviews. She is currently at Yale University in the MA in International and Development Economics programme. She is a recipient of the prestigious Aga Khan Scholarship; one of 27 selected worldwide this year, a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship, as well as a Travel Grant from the Tiara Foundation. She hopes to work in different areas of development in the coming few years. In the long term, she would like to work on the development of conflict regions, as she hails from one herself.

Piyush Ahuja

Piyush did his schooling from St. John’s High School, Chandigarh and graduated with a Five Year Integrated Masters in Maths and Computing from IIT Delhi, where he was awarded the Mrs. Chander Kanta Nanda Excellence Award for all-round excellence in academic and cultural activities in 2013.  A recipient of Harris Manchester College Scholarship, K.C. Mahindra Scholarship and Tiara Special Grant - 2014, he is now reading for a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. Secretary and Panel Member of the Quizzing Club, a panel member of the Film Series Committee and a keen participant of literary activities, Piyush has won many awards for his outstanding contribution to various college activities. He appeared on the quiz show Sports Ke Superstar aired during Commonwealth Games, and the first two seasons of N.D.T.V Tech Grandmasters, where he led IIT Delhi to the national semi-finals. An avid traveller, Piyush has hiked up the active volcano of Krakatau in Indonesia, and been part of a team building a Solar Energy-powered bath for Komic Monastery in the Spiti Valley with the N.G.O. Ecosphere. 

Anirban Karak

A recipient of the Tiara Special Grant 2014, Anirban completed a B.A and M.A in economics at Jadavpur University, where he was a recipient of the Alumni Association Merit Medal in 2011 and the University Gold Medal in 2014. He founded the Jadavpur University Heterodox Economics Students’ Association (JUHESA) which seeks to provide an organised platform to students to engage with alternative and heterodox theories as opposed to mainstream Neoclassical theory. Currently a PhD student and teaching assistant at the University of Utah, he would like to write a dissertation on the political economy of development in modern India.  He enjoys teaching and eventually would like to return to India as a teacher and foster critical thinking among his students by exposing them to different theoretical paradigms. Passionate about music, Anirban has been learning the violin since childhood and has played in ensembles such as the Oxford Mission Chamber Orchestra and the Kolkata Music Academy Chamber Orchestra. Presently he is the Associate Concertmaster at the University of Utah Campus Symphony Orchestra.        

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Anshuman Didwania

Anshuman completed his schooling from Kolkata and his undergraduate studies in industrial engineering, economics and mathematics from Purdue University in 2011. At Purdue he received the Purdue Valedictorian Award and the Eli Lilly scholarship.  He is currently an MBA student at the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he is focusing on core issues pertaining to natural resource management. Previously he led an open governance initiative in India called Swaniti Initiative. As a Swaniti fellow he reported directly to Mr. Sultan Ahmed, a Member of Parliament, and successfully navigated the complex Indian administration to bridge public-private partnerships and establish cooperative credit societies for nearly 2.3 million women in rural Bengal. He has also worked as an analyst with a boutique consulting firm in New York and specialised in strategic development for the financial services industry. Anshuman’s dream is to lead initiatives to make the governance of natural resources collaborative, transparent and efficient. In his words: “Only then can basic necessities, particularly water, be addressed to advance human development and world peace.”

Vidya Bhat

Vidya graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2009, with a dual degree (bachelors + masters) in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology. During her time there, she focused on immunology and biochemical engineering: investigating cancer-cell differentiation at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer in Montreal; developing an assay to be used for pre-clinical trials of a new chemotherapy drug at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and publishing a paper and book chapter on the subject of bacterial motility. Alongside, she also led the Board for Student Publications at IIT-Delhi as Chief Editor, and was an active participant in music and dramatics. She was awarded the Shri and Smt. BS Nayyar Award for Excellence for best all round performance at IIT Delhi. Post IIT, Vidya worked with McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst, serving organisations in the for-profit, not-for-profit and social investing space in India and the US in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, energy and telecom. With the intent of understanding the Government's role as a major stakeholder in creating social impact, she then joined the Office of Advisor to the Prime Minister on Skill Development, where she worked with Central Ministries, State Governments and private sector leaders to catalyze large scale skill development in the country. Vidya is now pursuing an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Interested in the fields of medical devices and healthcare, she hopes to use the tech- and entrepreneurially-charged environment and resources at Stanford to create scalable models of healthcare delivery that can be deployed in India. She is also an Aga Khan Fellow, being a recipient of the prestigious Aga Khan International Scholarship in 2013.

Sonal Singh

Sonal graduated with a B.A. Hons. degree in Philosophy from St Stephen's College, New Delhi. A bright student, she was the recipient of Recipient of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Scholarship, 2012 as well as the Rai Sahib Banarasi Das memorial prize, 2011. Sonal is now going to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for an MSc in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, with a Commonwealth Scholarship. Realising the need for broader dialogue between undergraduate and graduate students in India, Sonal co-founded the Forum for Promotion of Research in the Social Sciences which  resulted in the publication of an inter disciplinary journal of the social sciences: Charpoy. This serves as a unique platform where participating contributors can engage in academic discussions across disciplinary boundaries, and guides students towards developing their ideas into full fledged papers and articles via a mentorship program. Growing up in Bihar, Sonal witnessed first- hand the difference in the quality of education received by the marginalised. She worked extensively in Bihar and Jharkhand developing study materials in the local dialect and special pedagogical methods to enable learning in children from socially and economically marginalised communities. Sonal’s dearest wish is to enable other students to achieve their potential by contributing to the spread of literacy and education. She hopes someday to pursue a career in academia after attaining a PhD. in Philosophy.

Sumedha Rai

Sumedha completed grade 12 from St. Anthony's Junior College, Agra. With a score of 98.75% she was declared the All India I.S.C topper, 2010. She went on to secure a first class in Economics Hons. from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.  Awarded one of the two Masters “Vice Chancellors’ Scholarships”, Sumedha is currently pursuing an MSc in Finance from Warwick Business School, UK. During her school and college life, she actively participated in many volunteer programs and numerous college events as well as helped to organise competitions at both national and international levels. She organised the annual competition DreaMerger at St. Stephen's College and successfully took it to an international level, with participation from over 500 students. An avid debater she has also won prizes for choreography, music, dramatics and finance. Formally trained in vocal music and classical dance, Sumedha enjoys reading books and playing the synthesizer. A keen interest in the under-development of the Indian financial markets led her to choose Finance as her post graduate study. In her words: “I want to be able to contribute to bridging the gap between Indian financial markets and markets of developed nations so that India can stand on a stronger pedestal in the future and support its citizens with better standards of living.”

Ankit Agarwal

Hailing from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Ankit graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur with a dual degree (BTech and MTech) in Chemical Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics and Computing.  He was a recipient of the Institute Silver Medal. Taking innovation forward in the field of Solar Energy and Biofuels while at IIT Kharagpur, Ankit co-founded two Startups based on Renewable Energy: Cleanovention and ARID Energy.  among the top 42 finalists from across the globe in the Rice Business Plan Competition 2012, Cleanovention and its product, SolarEX was adjudged the “Most Promising Technology” at India Future of Change 2011—an international competition conducted by Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. ARID Energy won the world-renowned GE Ecomagination award in 2010 for its ‘very promising technology’. Ankit is now pursuing a doctorate in Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He aspires to eventually build a company which will, in his words, be to the field of renewable energy what “Microsoft was to the world of computing and Ford was to the world of transportation.”  Having already made innovative breakthroughs in renewable energy and thinking up more, Ankit believes: “One needs to think big to achieve big.”

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Anmol Chopra

Anmol is currently pursuing a Master's in Bioengineering Innovation and Design, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. He is confident that this will be “a life changing experience” for him as he will be developing two high impact medical devices this year. His primary interest is in bringing about a positive change for the low resource segment of society. Thus, the major focus of his work is in developing low cost medical devices for such markets. Anmol did his Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering from IIT Kharagpur where he had a diversified experience in microfluidics research by working in various laboratories. As an undergraduate student, Anmol interned in academic research at MIT, did corporate research with Siemens, and a stint in a Manufacturing plant in Japan. It was during his internship at Siemens, when in 2 months he got one patent and one publication done, that he realised that creating medical devices excited him. Anmol has always been engaged in community service to help people in need. He has interned at SOS Children's Village: an orphanage where he taught students and also visited rural areas to create awareness on education. During his stay at IIT Kharagpur, he was instrumental in creating the Student Welfare Group, a body that worked in tandem with the Counselling Centre. As the leader of this group, he took a lot of initiatives to help the student community of KGP.

Avinash Nayak

Avinash graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur with a Master of Science in Exploration Geophysics in 2012, with a 9.32 GPA, one of the highest that any student has scored in the Department in a decade. As the Literary Secretary and general Secretary of the student society of the ‘Earth Science Study Circle’, he helped organise the Fresher’s Welcome, Field photography competitions and the publication of the Departmental Journal, GEOS.  Presently pursuing graduate studies (PhD) at Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California at Berkeley as a member of Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, Avinash hopes to become a good seismologist in the areas of seismic source mechanics and wave propagation so that we can know more about the Earth’s structure and various processes associated with it. Always keenly interested in seismic hazard analysis, Avinash hopes someday to be able to implement his learning in India, so that, with an enhanced understanding of Earth’s processes it is possible to exploit our natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Bhargava Kumar

Bhargava is currently pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, USA.  He grew up in Chennai and Hyderabad, and is fluent in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. He is passionate about photography and travel. He did his under-graduate studies from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur , majoring in Aerospace Engineering, where his research was on low Reynolds flow over Micro air vehicles. He was also a part of teams involved in developing a micro air vehicle and a partial solar powered aircraft with funding from the Boeing Company, U.S.A. He interned at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and did research on high speed cameras. He has been able to successfully integrate his interest in photography with his undergraduate research which shaped his view of research and belief in an artistic approach to it. In his words, Bhargava is “awed by the endless streak of intellectual challenges aerospace has to offer to satiate one’s curiosity which makes me passionate about it.” Bhargava hopes to bridge the gap between academia and aerospace industries in India where there exists a clear communication gap, in order to transform India from a purchaser of aircrafts into a competitive aircraft manufacturer.

Deepashre Sengupta

Deepashree was born in West Bengal and spent her childhood and youth in Kolkata and Vadodara. She studied Instrumentation Engineering within the department of Electrical Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur where she has always ranked within the top 2 in her department. While in college, she took an active part in Dramatics, Elocution, Table Tennis and at Kshitij, the techno-management festival of IIT Kharagpur, winning numerous laurels in extra-curricular activities. She has also been associated with an NGO called Gopali Youth Welfare Society which provides free education to underprivileged children in a village near IIT campus. She took part in various technical design events and her design of a Hopfield network on an ATmega16L platform has been incorporated as a part of the experiments in the Virtual Laboratory Project, sponsored by MHRD, Govt. of India. She has presented a paper titled “Estimation of instantaneous states of an SI gasoline engine using EKF and UKF” at the 2011 Annual IEEE India Conference (INDICON), December, 2011, and has been published in IEEE Xplore. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Electrical Engineering in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the field of VLSI. After completion of her graduate studies, she aspires to make a career in academia as a professor and researcher, and translate her work into something tangible that takes science and society forward.

Harshad Kunte

Harshad completed his B.Tech. degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay and is now pursuing an MS degree in ME at the Pennsylvania State University, where he intends to focus on future transportation systems, particularly intelligent electric mobility as a means of sustainable transportation. While at IIT Bombay, Harshad co-led IIT Bombay Racing - a small 12 man student project and transformed it into a 60 strong automotive product development organisation over 2 years. As part of this initiative, he led the development of an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) for a competition organised by SAE India. The team was awarded the Peer Review - Best ATV of 2012 by Mahindra & Mahindra. He also played a key role in the development of India's first electric race car-the EVo1 at IIT Bombay. The vehicle was presented at the Silverstone Formula 1 race track in July 2012 at an international automotive design competition. Harshad has a keen interest in studying policy, strategy and awareness related issues faced by the electric vehicle (EV) industry. He believes that large scale adoption of EVs requires a holistic approach with participation from government, industry and academia. He believes the global auto industry is undergoing a revolution in the way cars are powered, one that promises to alter auto industry. Harshad’s ambition is to emerge as one of the leaders in this new landscape of sustainable mobility. In his free time, he enjoys swimming and has more recently caught on to scuba diving which has become a new found passion.

Rajat Sethi

Rajat grew up in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh and graduated with a Dual Degree (BTech & MTech) in Computer Science & Engineering along with a Minor in Economics from IIT Kharagpur in 2009. He did his sophomore year internship at Intel (ARM R&D) where he was adjudged the Best Student Intern and his work resulted in a patent. The following summer he did his research in University of Waterloo on an ultra-cheap rural internet paradigm called KRANTI (Kiosks in Rural Areas for Network & Telecom Infrastructure). After graduation he, along with his friends, started a Solar Photovoltaics Engineering company called Exergy to design and install Megawatt sized Solar PV power plants. After working there for 3 years, Rajat was appointed as a Strategy Consultant at the World Bank Group. Rajat is currently pursuing a 3 year Joint Master’s program - MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management and Master in Public Administration (MPA) at Harvard University. Rajat is interested in working as a social entrepreneur at the intersection of Technology, Policy and Tech-aided Development in sectors spanning across Rural Infrastructure, Clean Energy - Solar Power and its derivative products for Agribusiness. Rajat is also an Aga Khan Fellow, KC Mahindra Scholar and McKinsey Fellow.

Varun Mishra

Varun grew up in Rourkela, Orissa, and has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering, from IIT Kharagpur. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Having attended the National Olympiad camps in science held at TIFR, he developed a deep interest in Physics which led him to pursue the newly emerged and fast evolving field of nanoscience. He also completed a minor in Physics, while at IIT Kharagpur. He now works on new devices based on single layered materials like Graphene in order to solve the critical problems of low power devices and phonon scattering which have become crucial in state of the art nanoscale devices.  Apart from having excelled in studies throughout his student life, Varun avidly participates in many extracurricular activities such as choreography, is a keen water polo player and loves sweating it out on the tennis courts, all of which culminated in him being awarded the best outgoing all-rounder from his hall of residence at IIT.

Vivek Mishra

Vivek completed his schooling in Rourkela and has a Bachelor of Technology degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. While consistently performing well in his four years at IIT Kharapgur, Vivek also completed a number of research projects in varied areas which include Cryogenic Engineering, combustion, airflow simulation in human lungs and nano-scale heat transfer.  He was awarded the Institute Silver medal for graduating at the top of his class of Mechanical Engineering in the year 2012. Apart from academics, Vivek has been a member of the Inter IIT Aquatics and Water Polo team of IIT Kharagpur, and was awarded an Honourable Mention in sports from IIT Kharagpur, which recognised his contributions towards the institute’s silver and bronze winning campaigns in the years 2010 and 2011 respectively at the intensely contested Inter IIT Water Polo meets. Vivek is now at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, where he will be continuing his research in nano-scale heat transfer with a focus on anisotropic materials.

N. Arvind

Arvind is a recipient of a Travel Grant from Tiara Charitable Foundation. Having completed his schooling from From Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Arvind earned a dual degree (B.Tech.(Hons.) / M.Tech.) in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Apart from academics, during his years at IIT, Arvind was keenly involved in numerous extra-curricular activities in which he won numerous awards, and was ‘Springfest’ coordinator, Governor of the Western music society, and a member of the Eastern music society. He will now be pursuing a PhD at the Ocean Structures laboratory, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he will work on the structural stability of Flexible pipelines, employed in the sector of oil & gas in ultra-deep waters.  Always fascinated by the field of ocean and marine structures, Arvind hopes that he will eventually be able to pursue a research career and “work with young students, thereby encouraging them to make a contribution to science.”

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Ilma Afroz

From Kundarki, Moradabad, Ilma has a first class in Philosophy (Hons) from St. Stephens College, Delhi. She earned her Master’s in Contemporary India from Wolfson College, University of Oxford.  She also attended the Institut d’études politiques de Paris as an exchange student. Ilma has experience interning at the United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia and in the communications office of 42nd President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Clinton Foundation in New York City. Ilma is multi-faceted, with varied talents and interests. An avid debater, she has won numerous debates on both national and international platforms. Articulate and bold in voicing her beliefs, Ilma’s pieces have been published in The Hindu, World Policy Journal, DailyO among others.  She is socially conscientious, and spent a lot of her time during her under-graduate years volunteering for numerous causes like working with cancer patients, the dying and destitute in Homes run by the Missionaries of Charity, and helping visually challenged students in college by writing university papers, reading texts and organising out station trips. She has a knack for learning new languages and knows Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bhojpuri, Bahasa Indonesia, French and Arabic. Her interests include reading, debating, law and climate smart agriculture. Idealistic and passionate, Ilma is deeply committed to “Ensuring visible change in the everyday lives of people, transcending all barriers, contributing towards a unified world of peace.”

Anubha Garg

Anubha grew up in Faridabad, Haryana and then graduated in Agriculture and Food Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, having ranked first in her Department. She was awarded the ‘Institute Silver medal’ by IIT Kharagpur for graduating with the highest CGPA in a degree course. With consistently creditable academic records all through school and college, Anubha discovered a talent in swimming as well and led the Aquatics team to victory while at IIT.  Currently she is doing a Master’s degree in Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, USA. Born and brought up in a developing country, where many go without even the bare minimum in terms of nutrition, and “having seen a large amount of food being wasted during production due to lack of proper technology and poor post harvest handling”, Anubha found herself reflecting on her role as a researcher in agriculture and food. She sees herself in future as being in a position to contribute to the establishment of food safety and food security in developing countries by increasing the shelf life of food and promoting the use of under-exploited crops.

Nurali Virani

Nurali is from Maharashtra and has a dual degree, B. Tech. in Manufacturing Science & Engineering, and M. Tech. in Industrial Engineering and Management, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He is currently at Pennsylvania State University, USA, pursuing a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. Nurali is passionate about Robotics. As a part of his undergraduate studies, he was involved in many academic and extra-curricular projects in Robotics, making prototypes or models like an autonomous fire fighter and tele-controlled surveillance robots, amongst others, several of which won him prizes and accolades.  He already has patents published and filed. Patent Published: An Autonomous Vehicular Robotic Device/Appliance for Area Coverage by Self-Exploration with Limited Information.(2010).  Patent Filed: A Novel 6D0F platform for micromanipulation with piezoelectric actuators and compliant mechanisms (2011). However, he feels that although he has studied Robotics deeply, he has only been “able to see the tip of this field, but the bulk is still unexplored.”

Tanmay Mandal

Tanmay has a dual degree (BTech and MTech) from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He ranked 2nd at state level in the Class 12 examination of the CBSE, and continued to maintain an excellent academic record all through college. Having grown up in Port Blair and on coastal Tamil Nadu, he is interested in turtle conservation projects and football. He will be leaving in the spring semester for West Virginia University to pursue a Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering. Always fascinated by flying objects, Tanmay was awarded “Boeing Student Fellowship” for his thesis and academic performance in 2010-11. He presented a conference paper titled “Development and Testing of Atmega 128 Autopilot” at a conference organized by Institute of Engineers (India) describing how hardware and software can be used in tandem to control an UAV. He is currently working on developing a hybrid controller using Neural-Networks for the autopilot.  He would like to work in research and development in the aerospace field and in future explore the possibility of opening his own company.

Ganga Shreedhar

Ganga has a B.A. in Economics from Stella Maris College (Madras University), an M.A. in Development Studies from the Tata Institute of Development Studies (Mumbai) and has worked for over three years at the International Food Policy Research Institute as a research analyst. She is now enrolled at The London School of Economics and Political Science for postgraduate study in the MPA programme in Public and Economic Policy. A committed student and researcher, Ganga secured the top rank in her higher secondary school examination, with gold medals in five subjects. Since then she has consistently maintained an excellent academic record, interned with Centre for Science and Environment, volunteered in various social initiatives and organizations like Exnora, Crime Prevention and Victim Care, participated in social movements like the Right to Information campaign and co-authored newspaper articles in ‘The Economic Times’.  Multi-dimensional in her talents, Ganga is also an artist and designer with a published book cover for a book on the Yamuna River under her belt. Fluent in Tamil and English, she has also studied Hindi and French. She has travelled widely in India, Nepal and China on work and eventually plans to pursue a career in public and economic policy research in the South Asian region, especially India. Eloquent, goal oriented, hardworking and passionate about social and developmental issues, Ganga is also a recipient of the prestigious Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship, 2011.

Sharvil Patil

Sharvil stood first in Maharashtra state in the Higher Secondary Examinations. He earned his B.E. in Electrical and Electronics from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, with a creditable GPA. A multi-faceted person with many talents, Sharvil has not only shown excellence in Academics but in other areas as well. He was a recipient of the Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship, the Maharashtra state Government Scholarship and the BITS Pilani scholarship; won prizes and accolades in an Analog design contest and an Engineering Graphics contest; was a part of the BITS hockey team; is fluent in English, Marathi and Hindi, and is proficient in both Hindustani Classical music (vocals) and the violin.  Articulate and clear about his goals in life, Sharvil’s objective is “to create innovative solutions for existing challenges in terms of speed, power and technology migration.”  While a student at BITS Pilani, he taught his juniors in the capacity of Teaching Assistant. Hugely inspired by his own professors, Sharvil would one day like to return to India and serve as a teacher as well. He has just started work on a PhD in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University, USA.

Mujaheed Altaf Shaikh

Mujaheed grew up in Pune. Having completed both his Secondary and Higher Secondary Examinations with Distinction, Mujaheed was given a scholarship to study at the M.A. Rangoonwala College of Physiotherapy and Research, Pune. While completing his graduation he also worked for almost five years as a Voice and Accent, Soft skills and Process trainer and Quality Supervisor at WNS Pvt. Ltd. He graduated in Physiotherapy with the first rank in his college, after which he worked at the Innocent Heroes Foundation, an NGO, providing physiotherapy treatment and counselling to underprivileged children. While volunteering as the Chief Therapist for the Inter NGO Cricket Tournament and providing medical assistance and training for pre-event sport specific exercises, Mujaheed got the opportunity to hone his skills in sports therapy in both prevention and cure of sports related injuries. Always interested in health care, especially prevention of diseases, Mujaheed wishes to work in developing countries to improve the status of health care. He intends eventually “to start a hospital in India that caters to the needs of everyone.”  As a first step to realising his dreams, Mujaheed will now pursue an MSc in International Health Management from the Imperial College, London with a full scholarship from the Aga Khan Foundation. Fluent in English, Marathi, and Hindi, Mujaheed also reads and writes Arabic.

Shaunak Ghosh

Shaunak grew up in Kolkata and has a Master of Science in Exploration Geophysics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. With consistently high academic records all through school and college, Shaunak has also taken an interest in quizzing, dramatics and athletics.  He is at present pursuing a PhD in Applied Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin, USA. Shaunak’s ultimate dream is to “join the Indian academia in the capacity of a professor with the intent of becoming an inspirational teacher.”

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