Winning Stories

Gursimran Singh

Class – 11th

School - Amity International School, Gurugram

2017 Gold Medalist

Using technology to spread the joy of reading

Gursimran Singh, a class XI student of Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurugram has built 'EyeScribe', an assistive device that enables visually impaired people to experience the joy
of reading by providing them a 3D aural environment using the concept of binaural

beats. The device facilitates reading and comprehension by dictating the text and allowing the user to create a mental picture of the subject.

Gursimran took two months to build the device, post which he approached many blind schools for testing its design and performance. Many refused, fearing it to be hazardous. He then went on to work closely with psychiatrists and eye specialists, who tested EyeScribe on their patients and validated it fit for usage.

Till date, Gursimran has helped almost 150 visually impaired people with his device. He continues to improvise it based on user feedback and is committed to expanding its market to help more and more people. He has managed to get a grant-in-aid of Rs. 20 lacs and a makerspace from the NITI Aayog to develop EyeScribe for a commercial level for distribution across the country.

Gursimran's message to his fellow youngsters is “our life is like a webpage. The brain sends us pop-ups every day and we should never block them. It is our curiosity which navigates and opens a new tab in our life. Be curious, be humble and always try to make your life memorable for others as well as yourself”.

Mihir Menda

Class – 12th

School - Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore

2017 Gold Medalist

Giving affordable housing a new meaning

Mihir Menda, a class XII student of Mallya Aditi International School, Bengaluru has initiated
a novel and grass root initiative – 'UrbanUp' ( to provide the economically weaker members of society the dignity of owning a home. In the first phase, UrbanUp will provide low cost homes in a clean and green community to 126 underprivileged families in Bengaluru.

Mihir conceptualized the project in 2014 and presented it to social impact investors and grant makers to support the requirements for land, funds and resources. He was granted a large piece of land on the outskirts of Bengaluru where the first 126 homes are getting ready for handover. The selection process for allotment considers educational qualifications, employment history, family income & composition, current housing status etc. along with personal interviews and background checks to verify the disclosures made by the potential residents.

So far, Mihir has been able to raise Rs. 1.5 Crore (USD 0.22 Million) for this project through contributions from HNIs, philanthropists and private foundations. A team of industry experts are trustees of UrbanUp and the trust is run by volunteers on pro bono gratis.

Mihir's aim is to empower the 700 residents at the Bengaluru project with benefits such as education, healthcare, skill development, vocational training and career counselling. He also aims to make this a model community within Bengaluru, with exemplary water, energy and waste management practices.

For Mihir, UrbanUp is not just brick and mortar, but an opportunity to give back to the community through an initiative that possesses the potential to transform India's urban landscape. His larger vision is to replicate this model across the country and in developing nations to benefit the underprivileged community.

Nikhiya Shamsher

Class – 8th

School - Greenwood High School, Bangalore

2016 Gold Medalist

Nikhiya Shamsher, a class VIII student of Greenwood High School, Bangalore has launched two initiatives - ‘Bags, Books and Blessings’ and ‘Yearn to Learn’ - with an aim to educate the underprivileged. By means of Bags, Books and Blessings, she donates bags, books and study material to poor children. Yearn to Learn helps set up science and math laboratories in schools that are constrained by funds.

Nikhiya started Bags, Books and Blessings after she found out that her own housekeeper’s daughter who studied in class IV used polythene bags to carry books to school. She realized that there were many children like her who did not have the basic resources to go to school.

She started her donation campaign in school, distributed brochures, put up posters, sent emails to all parents in the school database and took turns with her friends to visit every classroom to motivate students to donate their bags, books, stationary etc. She also designed a website and e- mailed her story and plans to journalists of leading newspapers, urging them to spread the word so that many more schools would donate towards the cause. Her efforts yielded results and textbooks, notebooks, school bags, shoes, jackets, lunch boxes, water bottles and various stationary items started pouring in.

The success of Nikhiya's first initiative became the stepping stone for her second initiative Yearn to Learn. She learnt that many schools which provide free education do not have laboratory facilities owing to limited resources. Children from these schools have no access to experimental learning and miss out on a very important aspect of understanding science and math. Nikhiya therefore decided to fill up this void by funding the setting up of labs in as many schools as possible.

To raise funds, Nikhiya organized a 15 day online crowd funding campaign on Ketto. She collected over Rs. 1.27 lakhs from the campaign and approximately Rs. 4.18 lakhs in all, including donations. So far, Yearn To Learn has set up 11 laboratories in 3 schools in Bangalore, benefitting 2,250 students. One of these schools has decided to share its labs with other government schools, so many more students will benefit in the long run. Nikhiya’s message for today’s youngsters is to come forward and volunteer. As she says, “We may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but we can make the little part of the world where we live, a better place.” 

Deeya Shroff

Class – 11th

School - DhirubhaiAmbani International School, Mumbai

2016 Gold Medalist

Deeya Shroff, a class XI student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai has initiated ‘JalJeevan’, a project that aims to provide people in rural India with clean, purified drinking water through water ATMs. The first water ATM is already operational in Sholapur, Maharashtra and caters to approximately 300 families residing in the area.

In July 2015, during a family trip to Sholapur, Deeya interacted with a few local residents and discovered that they had to walk for miles to source clean drinking water. She was moved by their plight and decided to find some means of providing the locals easy access to safe water.

Deeya started her research on topics related to scarcity of clean drinking water and related consequences. As a next step, she reached out to Eureka Forbes with her project objective and with their help, came up with a plan to set up water ATMs in rural parts of India.

Recognizing the need for funds to build these ATMs, Deeya reached out to individuals, organizations and government officials with a well thought out project plan. Through sheer determination and persistent follow ups, she managed to raise Rs. 15 lakhs for construction of water ATMs in rural locations. She chose Sholapur as her pilot location.

The main obstacle Deeya faced was getting permissions from the municipal commission and other authority heads in the local area of the proposed ATM site. There were bureaucratic hurdles and process delays, but she patiently followed up with the administration till she got a go-ahead. With a strong backing from Eureka Forbes and her own tireless efforts each step of the way, the first water ATM was formally inaugurated in January this year.

Deeya’s service to the community by setting up the water ATM has tremendously benefited the residents of Sholapur. More than a 1,000 individuals now have easy access to purified drinking water and are safe from water borne diseases that could be life threatening. Deeya plans to continue her efforts in this direction and set up as many water ATMs as she can. 

Nitish Sahni

Class – 8th

School - The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon

2015 Gold Medalist

A Class VIII student of The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon, Nitish Sahni has been raising funds and comforting the sick, especially underprivileged children being treated for cancer and people with disabilities. He has also raised awareness about child labour, which he considers as one of the key causes of lung cancer among children.

Partnering with the CanKids treatment Centre, Nitish and his friends organized an evening filled with music, dance and drama to raise funds for treatment of young cancer patients. All India Radio and NDTV helped to promote the initiative. Rs. 120,000/- was collected which was donated to the Centre.

To make people aware about how unhygienic and hazardous work conditions could cause lung cancer among children, Nitish designed and distributed 300 book marks printed with facts about child labour, child rights and diseases, including Government laws around the same. He will also be participating in the Rise Against Cancer campaign by the Indian Cancer Society to spread awareness among young children about the ill-effects of smoking.

In the future, Nitish would like to record some books for the visually impaired so that they too could enjoy reading in their own way. He has already obtained an audio recording software and identified some age appropriate books that he plans to record.

Nitish credits his parents and teachers as his guiding force and acknowledges that such contributions are important to him as they help him think beyond himself. He would like other children to follow his path, and says, "Engaging as many children as possible in voluntary community service activities is one of my goals. I am in the process of launching a web portal that will encourage children to contribute their time towards social causes."

Alleviation of suffering and their causes satisfy and inspire Nitish, and he would like to grow in the same manner, irrespective of the career he opts for. 

Rishabh Arora

Class – 12th

School - Modern School, Barakhamba Road

2015 Gold Medalist

A Class XII student of Modern School, Barakhambha Road, Delhi, Rishabh Arora has started 'Trash to Treasure', an innovative and constructive project that utilizes urban household trash to bring about a positive change in somebody's life, by providing simple livelihood options to the poor and needy.

The project started small. Rishabh collected trash from his own house and from his relatives and sold it. With the money he earned, he set up a small tailoring unit for a lady who had the skill and desire to run a business, but no resources.

After tasting his first success, there was no stopping Rishabh. He started campaigning at different public forums, shows and gatherings, approached Resident Welfare Associations, distributed pamphlets in newspapers and started door-to-door campaigns asking people to donate their household trash. He managed to generate some donations from his own neighbourhood fruitfully and went about replicating the same model for other localities.

Rishabh has also generated funds by organizing an exhibition-cum-sale of waste artifacts at the colony's Diwali Mela. He used the proceeds to donate Braille books to the Bharat Blind School. He also donated his prize money of Rs 10,000 from a waste to craft competition to his NGO partner SewaBharti.

Rishabh's urge to do something for the environment has evolved into a different level of understanding. Besides resource generation, he has also undertaken initiatives to create awareness about environment conservation. He has organized a drive to promote personal hygiene among the rag pickers in his locality. He distributed sanitized gloves and masks and educated the rag pickers on proper waste segregation.

When Rishabh had conceived the idea of using trash to help the needy, he had not envisioned that he would need to convince people to donate what they did not even need. But the exercise turned out to be harder than he had expected. Thanks to his mother's constant support and guidance, he has been able to continue with his noble work.

Rishabh is confident that his initiative will only grow from strength to strength in the years ahead. In his own words, “The true value of trash is more than its monetary worth. I believe in continuously pushing the bar higher.” 

Aakash Pawar

Class – 11th

School - Sahoday Senior Secondary School, Delhi

2014 Gold Medalist

Aakash Pawar, a Class XI student of Sahoday Senior Secondary School, HauzKhas, New Delhi has been teaching underprivileged children and conducting holistic development programs for them for almost 7 years now. He has set up his own NGO, NaiTamannawhich he runs in ShahpurJat and nearby areas.

Aakash teaches children in open areas in his neighborhood and concentrates on their all round development by creating awareness about social, environmental and sanitation issues. He uses various means and ways to encourage innovative thinking, imagination and creativity in these children and make learning enjoyable for them. From making them understand the importance of education, to equipping them with life skills, and from sensitizing them about the environment, to making them aware about social issues such as child labour and child marriage, Aakash has done it all to the best of his abilities.

Getting the children to learn has not been easy for Aakash. He faced severe opposition from the slum dwellers who refused to understand his progressive views and resisted sending their children to attend his classes. There was a complete lack of interest on their part which was a difficult challenge to overcome. In addition, he also had to procure permissions from various government and non-government organizations to hold awareness programmes in parks and to obtain financial help.

Despite the odds, Aakash continued to pursue his dreams. His efforts have paid off and over the years, the number of children attending his classes has kept growing. At least 2250 students have attended his classes so far.

Running an NGO has helped Aakash gain a rich experience, endure challenges, and become tolerant and sensitive to his surroundings. But the greatest gift he says he has received is the unconditional love from his students. 

Maneka Sharma

Class – 12th

School - The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon

2014 Gold Medalist

Maneka Sharma, a Class XII student of The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon is a strong advocate for water conservation.

Deeply impacted by an encounter with a girl from a slum area (where she realized how water was a scarce commodity for most poor people), Maneka decided to create a massive awareness drive to encourage children to conserve water.

Maneka has attempted to make learning about water conservation relevant, empowering and fun by authoring a book on water conservation called 'Rohan on a water saving spree'. The book written in a narrative style and hand illustrated, targets children aged 5 to 11 and shares important and practical tips to save water within the house. To make learning more engaging and impactful, Maneka has adapted her book into an easy to play Snakes and Ladders board game that children can understand easily and learn faster from. To reach difference audiences, the book and the game are available both in English and Hindi and have been distributed to various schools in India and abroad.

Apart from being involved with her book, Maneka has also planned and moderated several water conservation sessions in various schools and household societies, spreading her message on the importance of saving water. Some of her sessions are based solely on the book and the game, while others are more detailed and are based on lesson plans that she has crafted using the active learning methodology. Her perseverance has led to huge acceptance and several schools have used her water conservation set as part of their curriculum, in school libraries, as prizes or to conduct activity sessions in classes.

Maneka has also used social media and the Out of Home platform extensively to spread awareness about water conservation. Most importantly, the children who have read her book, played her game or have been a part of her sessions, have now become important ambassadors of the water saving message. 

Shubhi Arora

Class – 11th

School - St. Mark’s Sr. Sec. School

2013 Gold Medalist

A student of St. Mark's Sr. Sec School, Janakpuri, New Delhi, Shubhi Arora has been working as a youth health advocate with an NGO, Hridayshan. For the last two and a half years, Shubhi has been actively working on an anti-tobacco campaign for the youth.

Shubhi first learnt about the ill-effects of smoking and tobacco in school, when a visiting NGO played a video on the effects of tobacco consumption. The video deeply impacted her and soon Shubhi was advocating the cause to her friends and acquaintances. She wanted to do something more impactful and a few years later joined an NGO, where she now leads thousands of students as an active advocate of the 'No-Tobacco' campaign. So strong is her involvement in the cause that she was invited by PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India) to discuss the importance of school-based health programmes before the US Secretary of Health Services.

Shubhi has relentlessly worked for the cause by spreading awareness and knowledge about the health hazards caused by the consumption of tobacco. She created many posters, set up a web page, led many initiatives and participated in various conferences as part of her community service initiatives. Recently she put forth a proposal for 'plain packaging' of tobacco products in India and gave a detailed analysis of its importance and outcome to a panel of dignitaries from the Indian government and the World Health Organisation. Impressed by her presentation, the concerned authorities have already forwarded the proposal to the Government signatories.

Shubhi hopes that the Indian Government will pass the 'plain packaging' law, like other countries. She is confident that her efforts and hard work to initiate change will not go up in smoke. 

Udai Singh

Class – 11th

School - The Shri Ram School, Gurgaon

2013 Gold Medalist

Udai Singh, a student of Shri Ram School, Gurgaon, founded a Science workshop, 'Discover Science', which aims to teach science in an interactive manner with the help of simple experiments and fun activities.

Udai's workshop, 'Discover Science' was a pilot trial for 17,000 ft Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that works to improve the quality of life and education in the remote villages of Ladakh. A little research revealed to him that Ladakh, because of its harsh terrain and remoteness, is one of the most backward and neglected regions of the country, with the highest school drop-out rates and the lowest pass percentage.

Given his personal love for science, and with a little help in designing from his classmate, Udai prepared the 'Discover Science' workshop module and an experiments booklet. The final booklet contained 22 experiments, and had a science kit with the materials for each experiment. The objective was simple - teach science in a way that it could be understood, and encourage students to carry experiments that were sustainable and could lead to self-employment. The beauty of his workshop is that it can easily be replicated and taught to school children across Ladakh.

With support from the 17,000 ft Foundation, Udai trekked to Photoksar, a remote village in interior Ladakh last summer and braved the language and bare living conditions to successfully conduct his workshop. He spent five weeks to complete his workshop and came away with the joy of exposing young children to the magic of science.

As Udai says, “The children of Ladakh are totally neglected. I thought it was very unfair and that strengthened my resolve to go to Ladakh, do something for its children and become the first ever volunteer for 17, 000 ft Foundation”.