Scholars 2018: Sagnik Das, Saikumar Reddy Yeddula, Sarat Chandra Akella, Sathwik NN and Shiv Datt Sharma
And for the final post introducing this year's we present to you a lawyer, a mechanical engineer, an economist, a theatre writer and an activist working towards gender equality.
Kudos to all the scholars of 2018! We are delighted to welcome you all and look forward to all the incredible things you know you will achieve.
Sagnik Das completed his B.Sc. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from National Law University, Jodhpur in the year 2016. While at law school, he was fond of participating in debates and moot court competitions. He has represented India at the international rounds of the Jessup and the Stetson moot court competitions, in the U.S.A. He has also been an editor at the Trade, Law and Development journal, as well as the convenor of the university Moot Court Committee. After graduation, he worked at Luthra & Luthra Law Offices in Mumbai as an associate and thereafter, as a law clerk to Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, at the Delhi High Court.
He will be pursuing his masters in law from Harvard Law School. Specifically, he wishes to read courses on international legal studies and critical legal theory, with an emphasis on studying third world and postcolonial approaches to international law. His long term goal is to pursue a career in academics and teach international law in Indian law schools. In his free time, Sagnik loves watching (and re-watching) Bollywood movies and listening to Hindustani classical music. He also loves watching all kinds of sports and plays football once in a while.
Saikumar Reddy Yeddula
Saikumar Reddy is a Post-Graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has a keen interest to work towards Clean Combustion in Automotive and Gas-Turbine engines, that leads to sustainability.
Sai will be working with an eminent research group, under the supervision of Dr. Aimee S. Morgans for towards a PhD, at Imperial College London, whose work was identified as “Frontier Research” and awarded with two European Research Council grants, a prestigious award in Europe. Sai's research will be focused on reducing oxides of nitrogen emissions from jet-engines by eliminating/suppressing thermos-acoustic instabilities using both analytical and computational methods.
For the duration of his Phd Sai is being supported by the European Research Council and the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. This will help him to make steps towards solving prominent thermos-acoustic instability problem, and there-by reduce engine development costs and time significantly.
He strongly believes that his doctoral thesis could lead to new lines of inquiries in this field, and he is willing to further address them during his research career as a faculty in academics after joining any renowned institution. His long-term goal is to identify a Jet Engine solution organization in India, an engine-overhaul and maintenance center. He believes this can be achived after developing the necessary technical and managerial skills from Imperial College, which is also regarded as the best college for passive business learning.
In his free time, Sai loves to play basketball, watch cricket and hang out with friends.
Sarat Chandra Akella
One of the speakers at Techfest IIT-Bombay, Pranav Mistry, claimed: there is one word that is central to each of our lives- one word that forges our dreams, drives our careers and gives us joy. Pranav's word happened to be "magic", clearly evident in his work, SixthSense. As a student at IIT Bombay, I was far from realising what my word was. However, I think I may have just found it- "development".
I've always been passionate about creating an impact in the lives of those affected by poverty. Between 2014 and 2017, I actively volunteered with Abhyasika IIT Bombay, in trying to unleash the potential of kids living in the Phulenagar slum beside the IIT campus. Abhyasika's volunteers are all students from IIT who commit to regularly take one class a week.
I joined as a teacher and saw that there were major flaws in how kids are taught by even the most knowledgeable and brilliant of teachers. I began helping Abhyasika by designing better teaching modules, more uniform teaching methods, a logically sequenced curriculum, etc. Gradually, my passion for impact drove me to accept the challenging responsibility of being the Overall Coordinator of one of Abhyasika's two centres in 2016. During my tenure as the OC, I interacted with several parents (of the kids we taught). Some of them openly shared the problems they faced in daily lives. In the end, I was forced to conclude that education alone is not adequate to tackle poverty. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the causes of poverty and the factors affecting health, education, income and employment in under-developed countries. This motivated me to pursue the Master's in International Trade, Finance and Development at Barcelona GSE. Upon completion, I plan to conduct research on poverty and possible ways to eradicate it.
I'm also interested in the applications of Probability Theory, Statistics and Operations Research. I'm a sports enthusiast and follow Tennis and Football religiously. I'm always up for a game of Tennis or attempting a Maths puzzle! I also love to travel and visit museums that showcase art and history.
Today, I am a full-time theatre practitioner. I am employed as an actor with the Rangashankara Repertory, Bengaluru. I write and direct as well. Five years ago I would never have considered a career in theatre.
I have always wanted to be a filmmaker. During high school, I watched a Kannada movie. I was so fascinated by the director of the movie that I wanted to be like him. I would study journalism and literature, do a bit of theatre, and that would, I told myself, put me into the film world. I imagined myself becoming an overnight success. But my father was skeptical. He did the responsible thing and enrolled me into an engineering course.
I hated the course. To keep my passion alive, I started making short films. They were bad. I realised that I lacked an understanding of the craft of filmmaking but did not know how to acquire the necessary skills. So I did the next best thing, grabbing an opportunity I got to study drama with a local theatre group. That, I believed, would be my stepping-stone into the world of cinema.
For two years I did nothing but act. Street plays, comedies and classics. I enjoyed it so much that I quit my engineering course. But the film bug didn’t leave me. I was dissatisfied. I still wasn't doing what I aspired to do—to narrate stories on the screen! I had to learn how to narrate them well. But where? From whom?
Then I met the playwright and director, Abhishek Majumdar. One night, feeling very frustrated, I sent him a mail expressing my desire to learn how to write stories. "Of course I will teach you,” he replied, "not screenwriting, but playwriting.” I told myself to go for it, thinking shrewdly that I would be able to apply the learning to films. I didn’t know then that Abhishek's playwriting programme would captivate me so completely that I would turn my back on filmmaking forever.
I wrote two plays during the course of the programme. Iruvanthige was my final project, a full-length play dealing with caste politics in contemporary India, which was staged recently under my direction.
My fascination with direction, however, grew after I watched Mohit Takalkar, a Pune-based theatre-maker, directing a play for the Rangashankara Repertory, in which I played a role. That experience inspired me to direct Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek's Out At Sea in Kannada. But again, like all my initial forays into a new field, it was bad. And yet again, Abhishek Majumdar came to my rescue. He was offering his yearlong directors’ training programme, and I signed up at once.
After two years of training in playwriting and direction, I am heading to Goldsmiths College, London, to study MA in Writing for Performance and Dramaturgy.
Shiv Datt Sharma
Shiv Datt Sharma 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 the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University, where he has been working since the last three years. Following a rather circuitous path, Shiv obtained his undergraduate degree in engineering and worked in a corporate firm for a year before he decided to quit. He then studied Liberal Arts at the one-year Young India Fellowship program at Ashoka.
His research and writing is informed by an approach that combines rigorous thinking with 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 organized 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.
Exploring new places, their history and culture is what fuels Shiv’s intellectual and professional travels. He loves long walks and tries to discover cities on foot through its streets and buildings. Equally a nature-lover, he loves traveling solo to mountains for recreational adventures. When indoors, Shiv loves to sing and dance; his favourite artists include Delta Goodrem and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. He also loves watching films and is an ardent Bhansali fan.
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.