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Scholar-Journalist of the Week: Who are Indians?

This week’s winner, Sonal Butley, hopes to time travel and explore the reign of King Vikramaditya



A Humanities student of Apeejay School, Faridabad Sector-15, Sonal Butley, has a strong sense of nationhood. A talented achiever, she is also the ex-President of the Interact Club of her school. In her free-time, Butley likes to read, write and blog. She is keen about making videos on popular fandom characters, and loves to give people makeovers! In a thought-provoking interview, she explicates more about her winning piece. Read On:

What was the inspiration behind your story – Who are Indians?

The story is set in Firozabad, a place known to be populated by glass bangle makers. The setting is inspired by one of our chapters in the English course called, ‘The Lost Spring’. I wanted to pair this setting with a larger theme of India’s 76th Independence Day this year.

So in the story, I have added a twist, emphasised upon the meaning of ‘patriotism’ and how children understand the term. To explain the different aspects, people and cultures of India to a child, is rather a difficult task. In the story, I tried to showcase this gap between a girl and her grandfather, who are trying to piece together ‘India’.

For the old man, explaining the horrors of India’s Partition, riots, etc., is daunting. He is relieved to have come out of it safely, but he can’t tell it all to a child. And, she identifies with the country through the tri-colour bangles she is wearing. For her, the three colours summaries its essence.

What are the undercurrents in the narrative?

For a little child, whose family survives by making and selling glass bangles, a day in which the family earns good money would be a happy one. That can be interpreted as ‘independence’ in the financial domain. But, she is just another child who is trying to understand the world around her. The unsaid question is, ‘How are we independent?’ It looks like that they are quite dependent on their circumstances due to limited resources and poverty. And being at the receiving end already, she tries to understand how it would have been, to be oppressed by foreign rule and survive in poverty at the same time.

Please tell us about your career aspirations.

I wish to pursue Archaeology.

At present, there are many historical sites undergoing restoration. Is that why you want to learn Archeology?  

I am inclined to learn about the past. This includes knowing about our ancient civilizations and learning from them. In 1826, it took some mysterious brick mounds to uncover the Indus Valley Civilization. I feel that by learning Archeology I can discover new things.

If you could time travel, which era would you want to explore?

I would like to visit the reign of King Vikramaditya, the period between the 4th and 6th centuries CE, known as the ‘Golden Age of India.’ The said era is considered ‘successful’ due to our achievements in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, science, religion and philosophy. I am sure that each era has its learnings and setbacks. But I wish to explore them in greater detail through my study.

Tips for those aspiring to write?

One can choose any topic but it must be comprehensive and well-researched. The article should be balanced and must add value to a reader. Refrain from using difficult words for simpler understanding. Also, ensure to follow what you preach.  

Mrini Devnani is a Principal Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, conducts interviews, and contributes content to the website. Previously, she served as a Correspondent specialising in Edu-tech for the India Today Group. Her skill areas extend to Social Media and Digital Marketing. For any inquiries or correspondence, you can reach out to her at [email protected].

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