UK-India science, tech, innovation ties in focus for International Day of the Girl Child

UK-India science, tech, innovation ties in focus for International Day of the Girl Child

A 21-year-old education professional from Chennai became the British High Commissioner to India for one full day recently, getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the life of a diplomat and seeing the UK-India partnership in action.

The British High Commission in New Delhi has organised the “High Commissioner for a Day” competition every year since 2017, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11). It resonates with the UK government’s commitment to engage with girls and shift power to them as changemakers and future leaders. The UK mission says protecting and promoting freedoms for women and girls in the UK and around the world is the right and smart thing to do; it is integral to creating resilient economies and strong, free societies.

Alex Ellis, Deputy High Commissioner for the Day (on other days, High Commissioner to India), said: “It was fantastic to follow Shreya for the day, her conversations from the role of young women in tackling global challenges to the UK-India partnership on science, technology and innovation.

“The High Commissioner for a Day competition is a great reminder for us all on the potential of a world with gender equality. When women rise, we all rise.”

This year’s winning entry was chosen from a pool of more than 180 applications from talented young women around India. Shreya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and currently teaches in a government school in Mumbai as a Teach for India fellow. She is passionate about education and child psychology.


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Shreya Dharmarajan, High Commissioner for the Day, said: “Spending a day as the British High Commissioner to India was an incredibly enlightening, enriching, and fulfilling experience. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from inspiring exemplars of women's leadership in wide-ranging fields. I was fortunate enough to be a part of lively discussions about India’s efforts toward further achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“I witnessed first-hand the wonders of the India-UK ASPIRE Programme in helping the development of electric vehicles in India and was honoured to speak with the Principle Scientific Adviser. I have brought back with me life-long learning about gender equality, wholesome education, and the wider scope of the SDGs. This experience has instilled in me a newfound confidence and motivation, and I look forward to putting all my learnings to fruitful use as a young woman in the field of education.”

As the UK’s top diplomat in India, Shreya got to experience an exciting range of activities over the course of a fully-packed day. She led discussions at the United Nations office in New Delhi on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); spoke to one of this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists about their innovative initiatives to tackle global environmental challenges; engaged with the inspiring women leaders of the Chevening SheLeads programme; and met Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Professor Ajay Sood, to review plans to bolster UK-India research collaboration following the G20 Summit.


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As High Commissioner for the Day, Shreya also launched a new report on electric vehicle charging infrastructure with the Delhi Transport Department, as part of the Accelerating Smart Power and Renewable Energy in India (ASPIRE) bilateral technical assistance programme.

The on-ground partners in the annual event, which took place on September 26, included Vistara airline and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

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