Intel Award Winners in India31 Mar 2010
Like their counterparts in the United States, students in India are learning to dream and innovate and solve problems creatively, using the language and techniques of science. At MurthyDotCom and the Murthy Law Firm, we are particularly proud of the students from the Agastya International Foundation who have won prestigious awards in the highly-competitive IRIS-Intel National Science Fair Competition.
Agastya is a Bangalore-based educational trust that brings scientific education to the far-flung reaches of rural India, with mobile science labs transporting the excitement of science to disadvantaged rural students through hands-on learning and peer-to-peer teaching methods. The MurthyNayak Foundation – the philanthropic arm of the Murthy Law Firm, begun by founder and owner Sheela Murthy and her husband, Vasant Nayak – is a dedicated supporter of Agastya, and we take great pride in the fact that, for the past two years, Agastya students have won IRIS-Intel prizes for their outstanding science projects, besting science and technology students from some of the most prestigious private schools in India.
Most recently, two young women from Agastya were among 24 students from across India, out of a field of 1,000 competitors, to win a medal at the IRIS-Intel science fair. This is gratifying on many levels, demonstrating the effectiveness of Agastya’s innovative teaching model, and showing that our support for Agastya is money well spent. It is deeply satisfying to see students from rural India get the opportunity to compete on an even footing with students from privileged backgrounds – and to see them hold their own! Moreover, the fact that Agastya’s two prize winners are young women speaks volumes about the potential for education to contribute to the empowerment of people whose social status and life opportunities traditionally were sealed at birth. It sends a powerful signal to children all over rural India – especially young girls – that science is for everyone with imagination and the willingness to work hard, not just privileged sons of wealthy urbanites.
Agastya’s success places it in the company of other brilliant innovators from South Asia who have turned their creative intelligence to solving real-world problems of economics and social equity – such as Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank, whose microfinance programs attack problems not from the top down, but at the grass roots, one person at a time. Like Dr. Yunus and his Grameen Bank, Agastya looks at people not as a problem, but as a deep well of talent and potential. The Agastya mission statement makes this clear: “Tapping the valuable resource of bright but underprivileged children and teachers in rural India, we provide an environment in which they can create, tinker, seek solutions and find them. We encourage inquiry from children, who are inquisitive by nature!” The MurthyNayak Foundation is very proud of Agastya’s work, and delighted to be able to support it. For further information and some very inspiring stories, check out Agastya’s website at www.agastya.org.