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Championing Plural Scholarship and Inspiring Change

Sonakshi Grover (YIF’23), the recipient of the YIF Scholar Award speaks about the Fellowship, its transformative power and the importance of pluralities

The Young India Fellowship (YIF) is known for its rigorous academic programme and commitment to nurturing future leaders. Each year, the YIF Scholar Award is presented to the Fellow who achieves the highest academic standing in their class while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to learning. In a groundbreaking achievement, Sonakshi Grover, a remarkable individual with a CGPA of 3.93 out of 4, the highest CGPA across all YIF batches, has been bestowed with this prestigious honour. This outstanding achievement not only recognizes Sonakshi’s exceptional academic prowess but also highlights her passion for knowledge and commitment to making a difference.

Sonakshi Grover is an Economics graduate from St. Stephen’s College, which is known for its academic excellence. With a strong foundation in the field of economics, she embarked on a one-year consulting experience at Bain and Company, gaining valuable insights into the world of business and strategy. However, Sonakshi’s hunger for knowledge and desire to effect meaningful change led her to pursue the Young India Fellowship.

During her time at YIF, Sonakshi’s commitment to learning and her belief in the power of stories became apparent. In her graduation speech, she emphasized that stories matter the most to her in the world, challenging the notion of a single story and the dangers it poses. Sonakshi passionately argued for an intersectional lens through which to view academic scholarship and morality. She highlighted the limitations of singular narratives and advocated for a deeper understanding of complex issues, recognising the importance of considering multiple perspectives. Excerpted below is her speech, which is both inspiring and admirable.

“My answer to the YIF Application question “What matters to you most” a year ago started with the sentence “Stories are what matters most to me in the world” and my first class here with Professor Satyendra introduced me to Adichie’s warning of the danger of a single story. Over the last 10 months, I have recognised that the academic world often defines morality in single stories. Beauvoir’s theory on housework yields little recognition for a woman who considers cooking with love as resistance, the Indian judiciary’s definition of cruel behaviour barely allows space for a married woman’s want of space from her in-laws. How do we respond to the seemingly harmless singularities? How do we breathe with an intersectional lens? I posit that it is among other things, by actively practising the ethic of love.

I had naively reached a stage earlier this year when I felt that everything in the domain of my research interest had been said. I felt like I was at a dead end. But the stagnant needle moved. It moved me when I had goosebumps over my peer’s passionate appeal for caste-inclusive education when I was unable to authentically defend my own favourite ‘feminist’ novel. The thinking needle moved due to stories that pulled down the guards of my heart. Plural scholarship is rooted in the heart, in feeling intensely as much as thinking rationally.

I hope to become a scholar who one day says something unsaid that is worth saying. If this does happen, it would be because of—in a remarkable way—the community of YIFs and mentors who opened their hearts, entrusted their stories to me and heard mine. It is the community that makes the scholar. Our love for each other has the power to outgrow singular stories and personhoods. We make each other sensitive researchers, entrepreneurs and emotionally rounded individuals. Our stories have a role to play but the future of our world hinges on the love with which they are written and shared. The love we practise for each other, and that’s probably what matters the most.”

Sonakshi is all set to pursue her MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford and make a meaningful impact in the world.

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