First Sydney Scholars India winners announced 

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Breaking down taboos and reducing crop wastage are some of the challenges the inaugural recipients of the Sydney Scholars India Scholarship are looking to tackle.

Undergraduate students Madhullikaa Singh from Mumbai and Aryan Bhatia from Delhi have been awarded the scholarships, valued at up to AU$200,000 (INR 10,000,000) each, which are aimed at unearthing India’s future visionary leaders. Their scholarships are part of a broader program offered by the University of Sydney that is one of the most generous available to Indian international students from an Australian university, valued at $500,000 (INR 24,500,000) a year. In total 19 students from India received scholarships this year as part of the program.

“The University of Sydney has been producing leaders for more than 160 years and we are proud to be continuing that tradition with this prestigious new scholarship scheme. We were incredibly impressed by the quality of the applications and are delighted that we have the opportunity to help educate the next generation of leaders from India,” said Vice-Principal of External Relations at the University of Sydney, Tania Rhodes-Taylor.

Aryan Bhatia (Delhi) – Bachelor of Engineering Honours student

Drawing on his passion for technology, Aryan’s big idea is to create an app to link farmers with storage facilities to help reduce the wastage of crops in India.

Around 40 percent of crops are wasted in India every year because farmers are not able to access storage facilities in time. Aryan’s idea is to quite literally put the power back in the farmers’ hands through a mobile phone app, allowing them to immediately inform prospective buyers of any produce that has been harvested.

“There isn’t a lack of storage facilities in India, the wastage comes about because the produce doesn’t reach the storage facility in time. My app will connect farmers with nearby cold storage facilities and markets. This has the potential to improve the livelihood of farmers by actually allowing them to sell their produce instead of it going to waste,” Aryan said.

Agriculture is the most important sector in India and provides employment for more than 50 percent of the countries workforce.

“We need to the make the agriculture sector more efficient, that will really help improve the food supply and lift farmers out of poverty,” Aryan said.

His idea was sparked while witnessing the challenges he saw his father face on his own farm when he was growing up.

Madhullikaa Singh (Mumbai) – Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies student

 

Madhullikaa’s big idea is to challenge people into discussing things that are considered taboo in India, topics like menstruation, LGBTI rights, mental health, sexual assault and harassment. She has been using stories and images of young adults to discuss these topics through her Instagram blog, Talk the taboo.

“Being vulnerable is very difficult and requires a lot of courage, especially in a society where being strong and stoic is seen as important,” Madhullikaa said.

“I want to reach out to teenagers facing challenges that are not spoken about due to the prejudices that are associated with them. Through the blog I’ve built a community of young adults who listen and support each other with empathy. Only when we ‘talk the taboo’ can we start creating safe spaces for people dealing with trauma.”

She hopes to use her degree in theatre and performance studies and international relations at the University of Sydney to help start those uncomfortable conversations.

“Media and cinema have so much power to shape and reshape minds and there’s so much you can actually do with it. If you’ve seen Bollywood plotlines, they’ve been the same for a long time – the male protagonist harasses the female, she says ‘no’, but then ultimately gives her consent. You think people have the maturity to see through this nonsense,” Madhullikaa said.

“I would like to present open-minded, honest and dynamic characters on-stage and on-screen to Indian and global audiences and do my bit in breaking stereotypes and prejudices.”

About the scholarship

The scholarship scheme worth $500,000 (INR 24,500,000) a year was announced in February this year. As part of the application process students were asked to share their “one idea that will bring change to India”.

Sydney Scholars India Scholarship consists of three types of scholarships to students from India to study at the University of Sydney:

  • 2 x AU$50,000 (INR 2,500,000) per annum for any undergraduate degree of up to four years – ie. up to AU$200,000 (INR 10,000,000) for the entire degree.
  • 10 x AU$20,000 (INR 990,000) first-year scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate students;
  • 15 x AU$10,000 (INR 500,000) first-year scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The scholarships are open to applicants who are:

  • Indian citizens currently residing in India;
  • Applying for an undergraduate or postgraduate coursework degree at the University of Sydney.

Photos are available upon request.

Video footage of the major scholarship recipients discussing their big ideas are available.

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