India Essay Contest Winners

We were thrilled to receive 28 essay entries for the first India Essay Prize Contest held at BU in Spring 2013!

We had just four weeks for submissions! The contest was announced during the busiest part of the semester when students were getting ready for final exams; thus, we weren’t sure what the response would be. It was the collective effort of reaching out to students by our distinguished faculty from the BU Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA) and other programs, the Howard Gotleib Archival Research Center, BU Student Services, BU Writing Programs, and Global Programs that BU students heard our call and responded with enthusiasm.

We are so grateful to the following four faculty and staff members who agreed to read and judge the essays within a compressed ten-day period:

  • Maria Gapotchencko, Senior Lecturer, College of Arts & Sciences Writing Program, Boston University;
  • Nazli Kibria, Professor of Sociology, Boston University;
  • Douglas Sears, Vice President and Chief of Staff for the President; and
  • Sunil Sharma, Associate Professor of Persianate & Comparative Literature, Boston University

Congratulations to our India Essay Contest winner and runner up!

First Place:

Challenging Gender and Sexuality Norms through Devotion: Sufi and Bhakti Poets
Written by: Shrishti Nayak
A PhD candidate in Brain, Behavior and Cognition, in the Psycholinguistics Lab at Boston University

Winner’s reaction:
“I’m really excited that my essay was chosen for this prize. Submitting to this competition gave me the opportunity to share something that I wrote a few years ago while exploring South Asian devotional poetry in a humanities class. It was really encouraging to have people read and like my essay, which I had almost forgotten about. Initiatives like this India Essay Prize Competition give students in various fields the opportunity to explore their intellectual interests outside of the academic work they do on a daily basis. As for the prize money, I am currently carrying out research on Indian-English in the BU Psycholinguistics Lab (Indian friends — email me to participate!, and since it is a small scale unfunded project, this money will help a lot with the various inevitable costs associated with research. Thank you again to BU Global Programs and India Initiatives!”


Breaking the Motherland: An Analysis of the Figure of Women in Post-Partition India
Written by: Jeremy Weprich
A sophomore in Kilachand Honors College at Boston University, pursuing a dual degree in Sociology and Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences

Runner up’s reaction:
“It was not until the second semester of my sophomore year at Boston University that I was introduced to India’s power as a global and historic force. Although I have experienced years of high-quality education in the United States, it seems that much of South Asia’s role in international, historical, and cultural developments has been largely overlooked by Western academic institutions. To ignore the ethnic, religious, cultural, and political diversity of India and the larger subcontinent poses a significant handicap to understanding the forces at work in the social, political, and cultural dimensions of our world. India, specifically, can be used as a powerful lens for which to understand patterns and concepts that reach far beyond the country’s borders.

I would love to use the money I won from this contest to begin saving for a future trip to India.”

The entire list of entries is as follows:

India Essay Prize Contest entries
Title First Name Last Name
1 A Comparison of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and A Tale of Four Dervishes Thea Diklich-Newell
2 A Glimpse of India Sundharamani Venkitapathi
3 An Afternoon Tea Lavanya Madabusi
4 Bittersweet Rikita Budhrani
5 Breaking a Country: India Partitioned Kelsea-Marie Pym
6 Breaking the Motherland: An Analysis of the Figure of Women in Post-Partition India Jeremy Weprich
7 Challenging Gender and Sexuality Norms through Devotion: Sufi and Bhakti Poets Srishti Nayak
8 Education for All Vidya Sachita Reddy Vemireddy
9 Epigenetics, Indian Renaissance and Vegetarian Chili Mckenna Longacre
10 Feminine Transcendence and Masculine Dependence: Religion as an Experience of Gender in Indian Literature Kelly Felsberg
11 Indestructible Trisha Thadani
12 India, My Country Nishitha Shekhar
13 India’s Emerging Middle Class Kelsea-Marie Pym
14 Learning Perspective Alexandra Kramer
15 Mahatma Akshat Patel
16 My Boulevard of Shattered Dreams Louen Pereira
17 My Mother Priyal Shah
18 Outsourcing of Animation and Visual Effects Work to India Justin Wagg
19 Palwal Rural Health Mission Katharina Schwan
20 Relinquishment Harleen Grewal
21 Shaking A Reputation: India, Orientalism, and International
Ian Motley
22 Taal, An Indian Melodrama Harleen Grewal
23 The Country of Contradictions Neel Dhanesha
24 The History of Kathak Roshni Singh
25 The Influence of Western Culture on Indian Classical Music: Shaping Nineteenth and Twentieth Century North and South India Lavanya Pradeep
26 The Taj Mahal Mitali Hariawala
27 The Tale of Indian Civilization Aarti Jawa
28 Tomorrow you Fall? Laurie Ohlstein