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Avant Nagral

Second year dual degree undergrad student of Harvard University and the Berklee School of Music, Boston, Avanti Nagral (19) is creating waves in the international pop music circuit. An alumna of Mumbai’s top-ranked Cathedral and John Connon School, this singer and songwriter released her debut soul single I Like — dedicated to the independent Indian woman — in June by shooting an innovative virtual reality music video clip which has attracted 24,000 views on Facebook and 7,000 likes on YouTube. 

This 19-year-old wears many hats. Her foray into the independent English pop music genre — where artists produce original music independently of recording companies and studios — follows stage performances for over a decade in India and the US since age four. Avanti’s professional theatre debut in 2015 as lead singer-actress in the Broadway musical Agnes of God (written by American playwright John Pielmeier) bagged her a best actress nomination at the META National Theatre Awards 2016. 

The elder of two siblings born in Boston, USA, to Ajit, founder of a technology company, and Vibhu Nagral, a yoga therapist, Avanti picked up the nuances of Hindustani classical music from her father who plays the tabla. The family relocated to Mumbai when she was eight years old. “My formal training in Hindustani classical music began at age nine under the tutelage of the legendary Dr. Prabha Atre. In my capacity as music captain and head of the school choir I led several cultural/musical initiatives and participated and won quite a few inter-school music competitions. Learning the piano inspired me to compose melody and write lyrics,” says Avanti.

Her experience of introducing music therapy to cancer patients in the paediatric wards of Mumbai’s state-of-the-art Hinduja Hospital dates back to her time in high school. Currently, she is a board member of Mihnuet — a music in hospitals and nursing homes group which provides entertainment therapy, an initiative supported by the Harvard School of Public Health. 

Looking ahead, Avanti is confident of juggling academics and professional music simultaneously. “With passion and purpose driving me, I believe intelligent time management will help me achieve all my goals,” she says. 
 Wind beneath your wings!

Dipta Joshi (Mumbai)
 

Team Debate India

Team Debate India comprising Elakiya Ananthakrishnan and Supriya Suresh (P.S. Senior Secondary, Mylapore, Chennai), Sampada Venkatesh, (National Public School, Indiranagar, Bangalore) and Shubhankar Kashyap, (Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad) were recently crowned Novice champions of the Asia World Schools Debating Championship (AWSDC) 2017 staged at the Anglo Singapore International School, Bangkok (Thailand) during July 24-28. Additionally, Sampada was adjudged among the Top 10 speakers in the novice category. 

Founded by the Debate Society of Anglo Singapore International School in 2013, AWSDC is an annual theme-based international debate competition open to school students, hitherto limited to Asia, but now open worldwide. This year’s themes included international relations, feminism, ethics, governance and policy, economics and crime and justice. 

AWSDC 2017 attracted teams from 52 countries including South Africa, Canada, China, Philippines, Japan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The tournament hosted six preliminary rounds with topics given to participants with an hour’s preparation time.

“We attribute our success to the substantial time and hard work invested in us by our mentor-coaches — Jaya Jain and Souradip Sen of Debate India — and cooperation among the members of the team,” says Sampada, of the elated Team Debate India, which bested 300 student teams in an online selection process conducted by Debate India (DI) between October-December 2016. DI partnered with the Bangalore-based Soundarya Institute of Management and Sciences which sponsored their travel and accommodation overseas.

Team Debate India is naturally in high spirits after its stellar performance in AWSDC 2017. “We have expanded our horizons substantially and managed to remain cool, composed and confident throughout the competition. Our recent achievement has strengthened our resolve to win the forthcoming and more challenging global World Schools Debating Championship,” says Sampada. 

Gift of the gab to you!

Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)

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