Last Sunday, instead of waking up late and pottering about the house the whole day doing that and this, I did something different. I co-judged the city-level Classmate Ideas for India 2010 competition held in Mumbai.
An initiative of the ITC as part of its centenary celebrations, the Classmate Ideas for India 2010 competition has youth in the 14–21 years category present their ideas for the “betterment of India”. These ideas are in the fields of Science and Technology; Environment Protection; Education for All; Encouraging Social and Religious Tolerance; Infrastructure for a Better Tomorrow; and Emerging India.
The first round of the competition saw the competition receiving over 60,000 ideas from all over India. These ideas were then evaluated on the basis of originality, feasibility, practicality, and impact factor and then whittled down to 500 ideas equally divided over 10 cities and their surrounding regions. For example, the Mumbai Idea Presentation had entries from Maharashtra and Goa. Each city’s Idea Presentation would pick out a winner for the National Finals to be held later this year in December. The entire event is being managed by KrayOn, an event management company for kids and youth events. They were the ones who contacted me to judge the Mumbai event.
I was one of the two judges for the Mumbai Idea presentation and Suma Narayan, faculty member from Mithibai College, Mumbai, was the other. Have you ever felt a positive connection with another person instantly? I felt like that with Suma, who I had not met till the morning of the competition. Within minutes, we were chatting and laughing and joking away, wondering what the day had in store for us judges.
Well, we sat through the idea presentations of 41 idealistic youth. Majority of the “ideas” were on “Education for All”, followed by some on “Infrastructure for a Better Tomorrow”. There were just a few ideas on the other topics, giving a clear indication of what the youth felt strongly about. Though most of the ideas were good, only some were practical and/or feasible. There were those which called for change in legislation or assumed that a change in existing legislation would occur automatically! Other ideas assumed that a lot of infrastructure would automatically be in place for their ideas to be implemented. Ahh… the idealism of youth. I just wonder how long it will last, though.
Judging with Suma was a blast (you can read her version here). Though we were serious about our judging, it didn’t stop us from giggling, writing comments to one another, keeping a straight face at some of the more outrageous ideas, and of course taking cues from each other in asking questions to the contestants. When we checked each other’s scores during the half-way mark, we found that we had marked similarly. So it wasn’t a surprise when both us picked the same winner—an idea on water conservation by Piyush Singh, a student of BITS Pilani Goa.
When I set out for the competition venue on Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure of what to expect that day. I had apprehensions about who/what my fellow judge would be like, and had rather vivid visions of a reality show-like environment to judge in with weeping children and aggressive parents.
I needn’t have been apprehensive at all. Life has a way of springing surprises of the pleasant variety when you least expect it. Last Sunday was one of those days. I found that judging a competition was fun and not at all stressful, particularly if you have a co-judge like Suma. And second, one can meet wonderful people anytime, anywhere and in any circumstances. Meeting a fantastic person like Suma just proved that. 🙂
P.S. You can see how much we took judging seriously here.