Left- Chaitanya Venkateshwar nRight- Acting High Commissioner to India Jan Thompson Credit: Twitter image

18-year-old Chaitanya Venkateshwar from New Delhi became UK’s senior-most diplomat in India for a day. She won the the ‘High Commissioner for a Day’ competition organised by the British High Commission annually since 2017.

The mission aims to highlight the challenges faced by women across the world and empower the next generation of women as leaders and trail-blazers of tomorrow. The competition is a celebration of the International Day of Girl Child. The competition invites young Indian women aged 18 to 23 years to take over the role of their most senior diplomat.

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The young diplomat’s busy schedule included handing out tasks to the High Commission’s department heads, meeting the press, interacting with senior woman police officers, and launching a study tracing the impact of British Council STEM scholarships on Indian women participants.

In an interaction with a leading news daily, Venkateswaran said that she had inculcated the habit of visiting the British Council Library in New Delhi from a young age. It was where she cultivated her love for learning she said, adding that it was thanks to that knowledge which led her to be the British High Commissioner for a day.

Venkateswaran is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Economics with a full scholarship and Economics, and certificate programmes in Advanced Leadership Studies and Political Thought at American University, Washington DC. She is studying remotely.

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The young girl is also an active volunteer and has worked to aid acid attack survivors, marginalised LGBT+ groups, and visually impaired students. Trained in classical dance, she is an avid reader and an art enthusiast as well. She aims towards a career in global public policy and economics.

The High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson who was Deputy High Commissioner for the day, said that this competition was one of her favourite moments of the year. She added that this is an opportunity to provide a platform for exemplary young women, and show how India and UK are sharing their expertise to ensure women and girls reach their full potential around the world.

She had high praise for Venkateswaran as well and said that she was impressed with how confidently and competently the 18-year-old took on her role adding that she is a deserving winner out of an incredible 215 entries this year.

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Entrants to the competition this year were asked to submit a one-minute video on social media, all answering the question – “What global challenges and opportunities do you see for gender equality in the age of COVID-19?”

During her stay in the seat, she launched the British Council STEM Tracer Study which documents the stories of 166 Indian women scholars and also chaired a meeting with young leaders. This includes previous competition winners and they talked about some of the biggest challenges that the world is facing right now.

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