Children’s day celebrations in India date back to 1956. While prior to the death of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru Children’s day was celebrated on 20 November, after his death a resolution was passed to commemorate his birth anniversary as Children’s day.
The Bal Shakti Award was launched in 1996 as the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement. In 2018, the awards were recognised as Bal Shakti Puraskar. It is given to children for extraordinary accomplishments in innovation, scholastic achievements, social service, arts and culture, sports and bravery. Any child who is an Indian citizen and is between the age of 5-18 years is eligible for the award.
Here’s 15 child prodigies who are doing exceptional work and earning accolades in their field.
1. Ameya Lagudu – Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Having started learning classical dance at the tender age of four, Ameya has more than 100 performances to her credit till date. Within two years of having started learning the dance form she performed her arangetram at the age of six. During the 2 hours 45-minute performance she performed 14 different traditional dance items. She has eight international and nine national awards to her credit. She has also been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for her excellence in the field of Arts & Culture.
2. Khushi Chirag Patel – Ahmedabad, Gujarat
The 15-year-old skating champion from Ahmedabad made India proud when in 2016 she bagged three gold medals at the 17th Asian Roller Skating Championship. In doing so she became the first Indian woman to clinch three gold medals. Besides this she has also won medals at several national and district championships. She has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for her excellence in the field of sports.
3. Mantra Jitendra – Rajkot, Gujarat
Mantra is the youngest athlete from India to win two gold medals in swimming at the World Summer Games — Special Olympics held at Abu Dhabi in March 2019. He was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth but displayed an affinity to swim and his parents encouraged this. He started by participating in district level swimming competitions and made his way to bigger platforms. He has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for his excellence in the field of sports.
4. Palak Sharma – Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Palak holds the distinction of being one of India’s top-ranked divers. She won one gold and two silver medals at the 10th Asian Age Group Championship. She developed an interest in swimming at the age of eight and was encouraged by her parents to pursue this. While the lockdown was dampener in her practise routine she managed to find a way out of it and with the help of the district collector Manish Singh, who allowed her to use the local pool, was able to continue her practise schedule. She has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for her excellence in the field of sports.
5. Hemesh Chadalavada – Hyderabad, Telangana
Moved by his grandmother’s plight, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, 14-year-old Hemesh developed a wristband to monitor the elderly and disabled at all times. Any unusual movement or activity carried out by the person wearing the wristband raises an alarm with their caregiver immediately. He is listed amongst the recipients of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar 2021 for his excellence in the field of innovation.
6. Arshiya Das – Agartala, Tripura
Arshiya is the first and only girl chess player from the North East of India who has received an international gold medal and is also a national chess champion. She began playing chess when she was all of five. During the lockdown, she spent her time rather constructively and competed in more than 500 online tournaments organised by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), All Indian Chess Federation and many other online tournaments. She has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for her excellence in the field of sports.
7. Vyom Ahuja – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
This young boy from Lucknow plays nine different instruments – the flute, the mouth organ, drums, the synthesiser, conch, table, guitar, the Doumbek (Goblet drum), and the Glockenspiel. Vyom is also known as a versatile flute beatboxing performer. He has performed in more than 300 shows and has over 28 records to his credit in the field of performing arts. He has been awarded the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021 for his excellence in the field of Arts & Culture.
8. Kaamya Karthikeyan – Mumbai, Maharashtra
At 13, Kaamya is the youngest girl in the world to scale any peak above 20,000 ft. She has conquered Europe’s Mt Elbrus, Australia’s Mt Kosciuszko and South America’s Mt Aconcagua. She is on a mission called SAHAS, to become the world’s youngest person to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam. She is one of the recipients of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakthi Puraskar 2021.
9. Anand Kumar – Kota, Rajasthan
Anand is known for his excellence in Mathematics. He has also been nicknamed as ‘Jupiter’ among his classmates. Anand won the Ramanujan Fellowship Award in 2020 for his exceptional display of mathematics prowess. He has also authored several papers on various mathematical concepts. He is also the recipient of the Pradhan Mantri Rasthriya Bal Shakti Puruskar 2021.
10. Sonit Santosh Sisolekar – Pune, Maharashtra
Known as a geology prodigy, Sonit is among the youngest volcanologists and planetary geologists in India. His research on the effects of ionising radiations on the reddening of the soil on Mars even helped him win the NASA-CIS competition. He was also awarded the Best Scientist Award at the age of 11. He is also an accomplished table player who has received several awards for the same. He is amongst the 32 recipients of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar for 2021.
11. Prasiddhi Singh – Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu
This year’s youngest awardee, Prasiddhi Singh is a social volunteer from Chengalpattu district in Tamil Nadu. She has been awarded for her social work. Founder of Prasiddhi Forest, her name is also featured in the India Book of Records for being the youngest fruit forest creator in the country. She has already planted over 13,500 fruit trees and has created 8 fruit forests.
12. Shreenabh Agrawal – Nagpur, Maharashtra
This young genius from Nagpur has many achievements to his credit. He won first prize in ‘The International Youth Math Challenge’, one of the biggest Maths competitions for students worldwide. His contribution to the agricultural sector has also transformed thousands of farmers’ lives. He has already published more than 200 scientific articles, two books and seven research papers.
13. Namya Joshi – Ludhiana, Punjab
A resident of Ludhiana, Namya received many accolades from Satya Nadella for creating course material for teachers using Minecraft. She has trained over 100 teachers through her innovative game-based learning. She is also the youngest recipient of the Global E-Innovation award 2019. Click here to read more about her work.
14. Mohammad Rafey – Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
Mohammad is a gymnast from Uttar Pradesh who made India proud by winning the first-ever bronze medal in the first Junior Artistic Gymnastics Asian Cup held in Mongolia in 2019. He has also won several accolades at various National competitions and championships.
15. Ayush Ranjan – Sikkim
Hailing from East Sikkim district, Ayush is a serial innovator. His interest lies in software development, having developed many award-winning software for which he has been felicitated at the national level. His creations include DigiSmart Bin – a garbage billing platform that generates bills based on how much you throw, and MushroomArc – a Mushroom Artificial Intelligence (AI) Classifier, which classifies edible and poisonous mushrooms, thus saving lives.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)