Kartik Sawhney, 21, and Neha Swain, 28 from India are among 60 others who won the Queen's Young Leaders award 2016 which will be presented by the British monarch at a gala ceremony in Buckingham Palace in June, 2016.
Kartik, who was born blind, has been acknowledged for his exceptional work highlighting universal access to education for all.
"I am so honoured to be part of the Queen's Young Leaders programme. I am passionate about universal access to education…After discovering that blind students were unable to pursue science after Grade 10, I appealed and enrolled as India's first Grade 11 blind science student. I faced similar challenges when trying to enter engineering colleges", said Kartik.
Neha, a youth facilitator and co-founder of NGO Rubaroo provides an inclusive space for young people, irrespective of their socio-economic background, developing their leadership skills through interactive workshops. Her Hyderabad-based team provides ‘free of charge’ workshops to schools in India and has so far worked with nearly 2,000 young people.
The award, which will be presented in London, is part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, celebrating the achievements of young people who are taking the lead to transform the lives of others and make a lasting difference in their communities. The awarders are aged between 18 and 29 and come from all over the 53 countries of the Commonwealth nations. This include people, who are earnestly working to support others, raising awareness and inspiring change on a variety of different issues including; education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality. The Queen's Young Leaders Programme was established in 2014 by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society in recognition of the Queen's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
While the award does not come with any cash incentive, it offers each of the winners bespoke mentoring and on-line learning provided by the University of Cambridge.