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Young Achievers

Tabrez Hassan Ansari

A final year fine arts student of Delhi’s well-known Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMI), Tabrez Hassan Ansari is on cloud nine following the inclusion of his oil canvas titled Women-I in the 79th All India Art Exhibition 2007. Staged in early March by the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, the exhibition was inaugurated by eminent artist Satish Gujral. Ansari is more than pleased about this honour because only 92 of the 480 canvases submitted countrywide were selected for display.

Although perhaps his most notable achievement to date, this is not his first award. In 2003, Tabrez won the Worli painting competition of JMI and was honoured in the same year by the National Institute of Disaster Management for his untitled painting on disaster mitigation. The following year (2004) he was awarded Rs.30,000 by a multinational fleet management company, Lease Plan India Pvt Ltd for a sculpture titled Vision of Motion. In 2005 Ansari staged his first solo exhibition which was well received by art lovers and critics. Now this young artist has set his sights on the Lalit Kala Academy award, the most coveted in the field of art.

Ansari’s achievements in the competitive field of fine arts are particularly impressive in the light of his underprivileged background. His father owns a small grocery shop in Jharkhand, which earns barely enough to put food on the table for his family. Therefore after admission into JMI, Ansari had to concurrently work long hours to finance his studies. For over two years he worked with a small scale embroidery firm and later with a well-known television content production company. "I had to take a break from the study programme to finance my education because tuition fees apart, I had to purchase art materials which are expensive," he explains.

Now in the final year of his undergraduate studies, Ansari wants to press on to acquire a Masters degree. "I expect finance will be a problem, but I’ve acquired considerable problem-solving skills during the past few years," says Ansari in whose work the evils of female foeticide and HIV-AIDS are frequently depicted.

This young and promising painter also depicts mundane household items like taps and washbasins on canvas, transforming them into imaginative still life. Ansari has the will to reach the top of his profession, while continuing to depict the ills plaguing Indian society on canvas.

Sanjay Pandey (Patna)

Sreelakshmi Suresh

She is the youngest ever member of the Association of American Webmasters and has bagged national and international honours including the prestigious Global Internet Directories and the Golden Web awards instituted by the US government. At age eight she is an expert web designer who has just put together her school’s official website. But that’s the least of Kozhikode-based Sreelakshmi Suresh’s achievements on the worldwide web.

The daughter of Suresh Menon, an advocate, and Viju, a school teacher, Sree’s association with computers and the new wonder science that is information technology began when she was four. She would tinker for hours with Microsoft’s paint and brush software program conjuring up ingenious art works. Noting her interest — and talent — in computer science, her father introduced her to the world of websites and blogs.

"She took to these programs like fish to water," recalls Viju, and before long, was designing websites for her peers and neighbours. When she expressed a desire to design her school — Presentation Higher Secondary’s – official website, the principal was more than willing to let her give it a shot. "Since my school didn’t have an official site, I took it up as a challenge. And I got my parents’ and school’s full support for it," says Sree who also loves reading and painting.

Following several weeks of after-school work — devoting six hours of labour each day to the assignment — Sree’s website finally took shape in nine weeks. It was inaugurated on January 15 this year by Binoy Viswam, a minister in the Kerala state government. Naturally, it was a moment of pride for her parents when she was widely feted by the local and national media.

Unsurprisingly this website prodigy has become a role model for her classmates and students of Presentation Higher Secondary School. "The girl is an inspiration even to grown-ups," says Roselit, the headmistress of this CBSE affiliated school which has an enrollment of 1,108 students.

But despite the school’s praise — and media attention — mother Viju feels her daughter needs to tone down her interest in computers. "I don’t want her to strain her eyes at this young age," she says candidly. However such maternal fears don’t seem to have deterred Sree from moving onto her next project — putting up her family’s official website on the net!

Neeta Lal (Kozhikode)

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