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Young laureates of Rolex

Two Indians win the Rolex Young Laureates award this year.

Published: 15th April 2013 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2013 12:20 PM   |  A+A-

Every day we walk away from these situations — a child begging on the road, an animal writhing in pain, etc. Launched in 1976, Rolex Awards for Enterprise are for those who don’t believe in taking the easy way out. This year, two of the five laureates are Indians.

Growing up in Chennai, Arun Krishnamurthy, experienced the paradox of life when his beloved animals and their natural habitat was threatened by his own species. After taking baby steps in the form of volunteering at Arignar Anna Zoological Park in the city, Krishnamurthy founded Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), a nonprofit, in 2011. “With the money I earned from my concern, Krish Info Media, I floated EFI. Our focus is animals and their environment. Wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, etc, are some of the works we undertake. I also run a small animal home for injured pets. There is also a mobile ambulance to treat them,” says the 26-year-old.

Fence It, a lake restoration programme of EFI, has been appreciated by many. As part of Fence It, Krishnamurthy and his volunteers clean lakes and strive to create biodiversity. Krishnamurthy also has initiated various programmes to rope in volunteers. “I run a Science Badge School Program and also offer fellowships and scholarships to lure students into our conservation projects.” The award has renewed Krishnamurthy’s confidence. His future plans include converting his animal home into a fully-functional clinic and expanding to other cities.

As an engineering student and later as a designer, creating solutions for minority user groups was uppermost in Rolex Laureate Sumit Dagar’s mind. The 29-year-old’s Braille smartphone is rich on features and as advanced as other mainstream competitive devices, claims Dagar. “My offering will be a technological companion — one that is comfortable to use and also provides comprehensive features as well,” he says. While browsing the net, Dagar stumbled across this award. “It has already helped us reach beyond our expectations in the last few months. The freedom and confidence that has come in since Rolex Awards has enabled us to experiment. The results have hence followed. Their immense pool of network has helped us project our work at a much bigger stage,” says Dagar. “We are building our products stage by stage. Currently developing our first product, we plan to complete the development by year-end. Parallel to this, we are also working on our next generation product. Our immediate future looks deeply involved in development and outreach.”

The awards carry a handsome prize of CHF1,00,000 (approx `58 lakh), which Dagar plans to use it to buy hardware, electronics and logistics to develop his prototypes. Details at www.extranet.rolexawards.com.

— shilpa.vasudevan@newindianexpress.com



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