Young Achievers

Ranveer Saini

Undeterred by a history of autism since age two, Ranveer Singh Saini (14) created history to become the first Indian junior champion in the GF Golf-level 2 alternate shot team play event at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015, staged in Los Angeles between July 25-August 2. The duo of Ranveer and Monica Jajoo (his unified partner and aunt) played four rounds at the Wilson Golf Course, Grifatte Park, Los Angeles and figured on the leader board for three consecutive days, winning with a huge nine-stroke margin on the fourth and final day.

Introduced in 1968, the Special Olympics World Summer Games is a multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities modeled on the Olympic movement. Every two years, these Games host 6,500 athletes from 177 countries.

Born into a family of golf aficionados — father Kartikay Saini, promoter-chairman of the IBO (Geneva)-affiliated Scottish High International School, Gurgaon (where Ranveer is a class IX student), is the first cousin of Jeev Milkha Singh (the first Indian to break into the Top 100 world golf rankings), and mother Bakhtawar, director (operations) of Scottish High, are keen weekend golfers — Ranveer took to the greens at age nine. “With an attention span of a mere 45 seconds, it was difficult to imagine my son would ever take to golf which requires hours of focused concentration. But since he’s adopted the family sport, he has surprised us all with his swing and strokes,” says proud father Kartikay.

But medals and encomiums haven’t come easily to young Ranveer. With solid family support and mentored by Special Olympics Bharat, an NGO which nurtures challenged sportspersons, Ranveer has trained rigorously for five years under the close supervision of national coach Anitya Chand.

Impressed by Ranveer’s application and determination to learn and absorb the finer points of golf, Chand has intensified his daily training regimen which requires him to invest four hours on the greens to develop his swing, drives and putting.

“Playing competitive golf has proved a better therapy for Ranveer than medication or traditional therapies. It has improved his concentration, academics, communication and cognitive behaviour, and above all transformed him into a world champion,” says Kartikay.

Way to go, Bro!
Autar Nehru (Delhi)


Kolkata teenager Mohit Poddar’s strong advocacy in favour of the motion ‘Love thy neighbour is not possible in today’s political atmosphere’ bagged him the Best Speaker award in the senior category (class XI-XII) of the All India Frank Anthony Memorial Debate Competition 2015 held in Carman Residential & Day School, Dehradun on September 24. One of 24 finalists — winners of the state and zonal rounds — 18-year-old Mohit took home a certificate and cash prize of Rs.5,000.

Organised by the Delhi-based Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), which has over 1,800 of the country’s top-ranked schools including The Doon School, Dehradun and Cathedral and John Connon, Mumbai affiliated with it, the Frank Anthony Memorial English Debate — named after the eponymous founder of CISCE — is a prestigious inter-school debating competition conducted annually with the objective of identifying, encouraging, and publicising outstanding debaters.

The Frank Anthony debate is open to teams from CISCE-affiliated schools countrywide.

The only child of Kolkata-based businessman Sushil Poddar, and social worker Prabha, Mohit is elated by his success considering he took to formal debating just a year ago. “Last November, I signed up for my school’s debating society. In April this year, I led the debating team to win the best school award in an inter-school competition organised by Presidency University,” says Mohit, a class XII student and captain of The Heritage School, Kolkata (estb. 2001).

Although Mohit is studying intensively for his class XII ISC board examinations scheduled for February 2016, he always finds time to debate. “I regard participation in debates as a research and learning experience which directly supplements and positively impacts the academic curriculum,” he says.

Not yet sure about his future plans, this well-informed and articulate teen has shortlisted business management or law as his higher study options. Given his argumentative intelligence, he’s sure to go places, whether it’s law or the corporate world.

Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)