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Encyclopaedia Britannica honours Indian youth as ‘shapers of the future’

Encyclopaedia Britannica recently announced the ‘shapers of future’. A total of 200 young people have been selected for contributing immensely to their respective fields. India is well represented among the 200 selected youngsters. Youngsters who have worked in several fields like health and medicine, science and technology, and business and entrepreneurship have been acknowledged.

Antiki Bose (28), who was born in Mumbai and earned an economics degree from Saint Xavier’s College. In 2015, she became the chief executive officer of Zilingo, a business-to-business market platform that is India’s first $1 billion startup to be cofounded by a woman. Breaking barriers and undoing old assumptions, Antiki Bose is paving the way for more women to become entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Vikash Das (31) from Baleshwar, Odisha. With a master’s degree in software engineering, he held a high-paying job working for IBM in Bangalore. A visit home in 2014 made him aware of the plight of rural people endangered by guerrilla warfare.

He left his job and founded Vat Vrikshya, which he describes as “a self-sustaining social enterprise that aims to impart positive change in tribal people’s lives by providing them assets of sustainable livelihood.” This is done in large part by funding artisanal enterprises and providing a platform for sales, market connectivity, and business opportunities. He has been especially concerned with raising the economic status of tribal women and with funding schools.

In the political realm, Britannica honours Mohammed Manan Ansari (25), who was born in a small village in Jharkhand, a leading producer of minerals. Pressed into labour at seven, he has worked 12 hours a day in a mica mine, and that after walking 8 km from his home to the mine site. He was rescued by an anti-child labour organization at nine and educated at a distant ashram. In 2018, he earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Delhi University. He continues to serve as a spokesperson against illegal child labour.

As a teenager living in Jammu and Kashmir, Ashfaq Mehmood Choudhary (17) was well accustomed to using applications developed in China on his mobile. In 2020, following a border dispute between the two nations, most of those apps were removed from the Indian market over objections that they allowed their manufacturers to access too much private information. At the same time, the government launched an initiative to promote software made in India. Choudhary developed an app called Dodo Drop that allows users to transfer data—texts, audio recordings, photographs, and more—between phones without Internet access.

Indian American teenager Gitanjali Rao (15) gained renown at 11 as the winner of the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, earning the title ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ for developing a device called Tethys to test water for the presence of lead. Rao, whose extended family lives in India, has also developed an anti-bullying algorithm and an app to help treat opioid addiction. She has also written a book, to be published in 2021, that encourages girls to study science and mathematics. For all her accomplishments, Time named her 'Kid of the Year' in 2020.

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