Nineteen young students from India have started at the University of Sydney this semester as recipients of a prestigious new scholarship program specially designed for Indian students. These include Madhullikaa Singh from Bombay and Aryan Bhatia from Delhi, who have received $200,000 each for their Bachelors’ degree programs.
The Sydney Scholars India Scholarship scheme, worth $500,000 per annum in total, was announced this year, and includes ten $20,000 per annum grants and fifteen $10,000 grants besides the two major grants of $50,000 per annum. The first cohort of the scholars program was welcomed to the University in an induction ceremony recently.
“I was overwhelmed at how bright and clever, articulate and visionary these students are,” Vice-Principal of External Relations at the University of Sydney, Tania Rhodes-Taylor told Indian Link. “We are really proud to have them here at the University of Sydney.”
The students, undergraduate as well as postgraduate, went through a rigorous selection process before winning the scholarships.
Not only did they have to demonstrate a strong academic record to meet the university’s entry requirements, they also had to write a paper on their ‘big idea’ that will improve Indian society.
Aryan Bhatia, a Bachelor of Engineering Honours student, wrote his paper on reducing crop wastage, one of the more pressing agriculture problems in India. His ‘big idea’ is to create an app that farmers can use to notify buyers as soon as harvest takes place. 40% of India’s crop is currently wasted as it does not get to the storage facilities in time. Having grown up on a farm, Aryan is passionate about making the agriculture sector more efficient.
For Madhullikaa Singh, the passion lies in changing social attitudes. Her well-established Instagram blog Talk the Taboo played a starring role in her submission, showing the teenager’s efforts in sparking conversations about topics such as mental health, LGBTQI rights, sexual assault and menstruation.
“The idea of social media is to connect,” Madhullikaa told Indian Link, “but that’s not possible if you’re putting out carefully chosen pics of yourself. I focus on people in my life who lead far from perfect lives – and may even be vulnerable because of the experiences they’ve had thanks to toxic masculinity, eating disorder, slut shaming, depression – but are still so inspiring. They’re dealing with their issues even though they may be challenging, and talking about it is healing. It’s neither victimising nor romanticising their issues, instead it is empowering. From the audience’s perspective, this process helps create adults who are well-informed, aware and have empathy. In fact, it’s been a process of growth for me as well.”
Madhullikaa, a Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies student, is hoping her blog grows to reach an intercultural and international audience here in Australia.
“The University of Sydney has been producing leaders for more than 160 years and we are proud to be continuing that tradition with this new scholarship scheme,” Rhodes-Taylor said. “We are delighted that we have the opportunity to help educate the next generation of leaders from India. This scholarship scheme gives really bright students, who are passionate about giving back to India, the opportunity to develop their global horizons.”
“We were astounded by the quality of responses we got,” she revealed. “Some 200 applications came in, and 144 of these qualified. From these, 19 were finally selected. If we had the sums, we would have taken on more, but we wanted to make the value of the scholarships meaningful and truly transformational.”
Of the 70,000 students currently enrolled at the university, 41% are overseas students, Rhodes-Taylor revealed, adding that there are 140 countries represented at the campus. India makes up the second largest source of students.