10:54 GMT26 February 2021
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    Since 1996, Indian prime ministers have celebrated children and teenagers aged between 5 and 18 for their achievements in various fields including sport, innovation, social services, arts and science, and bravery during the country's annual Republic Day.

    From cycling 1,200 km with an ill father riding shotgun during lockdown, to wowing Silicon Valley CEOs with their tech prowess, a group of children earmarked for India’s highest accolade possess everything from true grit to inspiring bravery.

    During India's 72nd Republic Day, a total of 32 kids are being celebrated at the Prime Minister Children Awards 2021.

    The special children boast endurance, courage, and innovation, qualities that have already earned them global fame.

    No Elephant Rides But A Special Interaction With PM Modi

    The winners will get a medal, certificate, citation, and cash prize. Every year, scores of children participate in the annual Republic Day parade while riding heavily decorated elephants.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, elephant rides have been cancelled but the group of kids will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a video conference on Monday, 25 January. 

    Who Are These Brave Kids?

    Among the awardees is a 15-year-old migrant girl from India's Bihar State – Jyoti Kumari. She wowed the world by taking her sick father home on her second hand bicycle during the national lockdown in May last year.

    The lockdown, which gripped India from 25 March to 31 May, witnessed hundreds of thousands of migrants return from cities to their hometowns.

    These two were stranded in Gurugram, near India's capital New Delhi, with no money. As all bus services were shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the girl had no choice but to give her father a ride back home.

    She cycled for eight days, covering a distance of 1,200 km with her injured father riding shotgun, relying on well-wishers along the way who kindly gave them food and water. 

    Her inspiring story caught the world’s attention and she became an internet sensation, with the likes of Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald, praising her for a “beautiful feat of endurance.”

    Another outstanding teenager is 13-year-old Namya Joshi from Punjab state. Namya has represented India in the United Nations General Assembly and received the Honour of Technology Award during the UNESCO Centre for Peace's virtual summer programme. 

    She is being awarded for her innovative spirit, which saw her using Microsoft's Minecraft to train 1,000 teachers around the world. With her hands on experience in using computer games to educate, the teenager was invited to talk with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was very impressed. 

    Speaking to Sputnik, a delighted Namya said, “I can’t believe that I am going to have this video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a short while. I am so excited, so happy. I don't know how I will focus on my studies for exams around the corner.” 

    Her mother, a teacher called Monica, heads the information technology faculty at her school, told Sputnik, “This is like a dream. It is such a surreal experience to know that your child has won the country's top award. Namya has always loved gamification and goes to prove that children’s innovative spirit needs to be given unlimited encouragement in whatever they love doing for creativity to flow.”

    Indian PM Modi spoke to all the award winners through a video link and congratulated the winners. 

    Another recipient of the coveted award is 14-year-old developer from Telangana state’s capital Hyderabad, Hemesh Chadavada. He describes himself as a full stack web developer, ML engineer, and innovator.

    He invented a special armband monitor for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, which alerts carers if they wander off. 

    Hemesh was inspired to invent the gadget after his own grandmother developed the disease. He's also invented a robot wheelchair with built-in voice command to help elderly and disabled people get around. 

    Vyom Ahuja, 11, from Uttar Pradesh state is another award-winner. He started playing flute at the age of three and has since mastered multiple instruments including the harmonica and saxophone. She's also very handy at chess and adventure sports. What's more, she has a staggering 28 world records to her name.  


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