New YLDP Graduates Dissect Each Topic From All the Angles

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YLDP graduating class of 2015 with Congressman Al Green, and Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish and his wife Nandita

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The year had literally flown by and the once-a-month meetings where they had been mentored and had a chance to rub shoulders with leaders of commerce, politics, charity and law had made an impression on their growing young minds. Now came the time for these young high school seniors to use what they had assimilated in their responses to challenging questions thrown at them.

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One team responds to the topic it was presented

The graduation ceremonies for the Youth Leadership Development Program have usually leaned toward showing the mental agility and presence of mind, speaking in front of an audience and the 2015 event held this past Sunday, May 31 at India House was no different. The 31 college-bound students had to break out into six teams and tackle one topic apiece that had previously been assigned to them and present their viewpoints and conclusions in front of their peers, mentors, parents and friends and a few invited guests, about 150 people in total.

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US Congressman Al Green addresses the 2015 graduating class of YLDP

The range of topics was from contemporary life and current affairs – biotechnology, ISIS, energy, elections, income and privacy and each member of the team had to express a point of view or respond to a list of related questions provided them by the YLDP teachers. Though this reporter was allowed one rebuttal question to the first team which dealt with biotechnology, the rest of the hour-long team presentations went without further questions at the organizers’ request.

The teams showed a that they had done their research well, and each member presented their findings; some did so collaboratively, supplementing each other’s positions; but most had an individualistic approach, each presenting his or her own mini-essay. While most teens showed an open-minded and liberal approach, a few leaned to the conservative side; especially when it came to elections, civil rights and income disparity.

One young man, Sudeep Swanapuri, chose to be his team’s last presenter and amused the audience with his outspokenness about income, claiming he was a Social Darwinist and “the income gap exists for a reason”. Anirudh Suresh tried to explain the rise of ISIS by the Nash Equilibrium theory which is fresh in the public’s mind after the tragic death of its inventor, the genius mathematician John Nash.

On the subject of privacy, nearly most team members focused on the growing lack of personal space in the internet age dominated by Google, Facebook, Twitter and GPS, while a couple related it back to the recriminations of the McCarthy era, wiretapping of the Nixon years and data collection due to the Patriot Act and Edward Snowden’s role in exposing its abuse.

The event began with YLDP Board Director Nat Krishnamurthy speaking about his admiration at the way the young minds had absorbed the concepts thrown at them and matured before his eyes. Honored guest Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish rejoiced in the diversity that these kids presented and reminded them that they came from a land of the parents which is naturally very diverse. Featured speaker was US Congressman Al Green (D-9th Dist.) who related how he overcame his own personal difficulties in early life to rise to an important position in the community. He recited a beautiful poem that tugged at the heartstrings and then fielded questions from the students; closing by adding that he looked forward to seeing the first Indian-American President of the US. Harish and Green assisted in handing over the awards and certificates to the students before breaking for snacks as the event closed.

The Graduation Teams

BIOTECH: Amrutha Immadi, Sashank Krothapally, Shravya Prabhu, Sanjana  Balachandran, Nidhi Wunnava, Krishnaveni Sigireddi, Rajeev Pishori

ENERGY: Sayali Shelke , Pavan Pinnamaneni, Kirthan Reddy, Kiran Bhat, Rohan Chaudhry, Sidhant Ahuja, Tanmaya Shrivasta, Samhit Punukula

ISIS: Anirudh Suresh, Ragini Konde, Vibhav Joopeli, Mira Sankhavaram, Pranay Tamminayana, Rohan Kripalli, Smriti Ahuja

ELECTIONS: Yalliniyal Sivaprakash, Shruti Arantsa, Viren Joopeli, Keetyhana Chakka, Ria Rao, Rohan  Balaji, Sneha Peri

INCOME: Saiesh Kalva, Kaushiki Tewary, Sudeep Swanapuri, Amrit Kathuria, Pratika Selvan, Richa Patel, Roshini Saravanakuma, Sahiti Rudravajhala

PRIVACY: Siddharth Goratla, Smriti Ashok, Varsha Ranganath, Amrutha Immadi, Kartik Talwar, Kundan Rapolu, Shravya Arra, Sahiti Rudravajhala