Spotting and nurturing young talent, helping them bloom

Identifying girl child prodigies who are ‘Born To Shine’ is the first step to giving their dreams wings

Umesh Kr Bansal | October 7, 2022

#Media   #entertainment   #culture   #society   #CSR  

Things don’t turn up in this world, as former US president James A. Garfield once said, until someone turns them up. This is all the more so, when one considers the hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. The world is full of talented young people who need just a nudge to provide that spark that will make them shine. Among all countries, India has the greatest percentage of people under 18 in the world – a startling 40%. But India is a nation of 1.3 billion people and it can be quite challenging to honor all the talent that exists in millions of households here.

While some might voluntarily opt for honouring their talent by upskilling, it may be difficult for uniquely talented children. Talent in society is limited to objective academic grades, high performance, and eminence. Art, which is subjective and defies set algorithms, needs to be inculcated and evaluated in a way that reflects the child's true passion. If we want young girls in particular to realise their dreams and know how special they are, it is important for the parents to be aware of their child’s potential first.  

Child prodigies become evident in their unique set of skills and talent from a very young age. Most prodigies manage to successfully perform some kind of skill at adult level by the age of 12. They are also intensely driven and often are focused at developing their skill for hours. Those who have watched prodigies grow up, have gone to talk about their exceptional memory and quick learning abilities from the wee young age of 4. Some of them are also introverts and have a hard time connecting with their peers in school from a very young age. While these are all tell-tale signs, adult expertise and extraordinary talent in a skill by the age of 10-12 rule the roost when it comes to these prodigies.

To nurture the right talent, it is important to be aware of what constitutes a child prodigy. While many parents still engage in the nature-vs-nurture debate, it is necessary to ensure holistic development of child prodigies through adequate awareness of their needs. Nurturing their talent consistently will ensure their journey becomes sustainable, helping them to accomplish their dreams and goals.

In India, a girl child is often taught to focus on specific skills and her freedom is often curbed from a very young age. Gender inequality has been a crucial social issue in India for centuries. This is why it is all the more important to start conversations around recognizing talent among young girls who are born with a spark of genius.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), in association with GiveIndia, has come up with a CSR initiative, ‘Born To Shine’, a programme that will hone the unique talent of female child prodigies in India. Its mission is to be “prodigy incubators” for young girls across India.

ZEEL’s CSR policy places a major emphasis on championing the cause of women and girls. Moreover, when only around 3% of child prodigies actually become adult geniuses, the need of the hour is to provide a conducive environment for the champions to sustain and thrive.

ZEEL has deployed strategized efforts to bring the novel idea to fruition. This one-of-a-kind initiative shall provide a scholarship of Rs 4,00,000 each spread over three years, to 30 deserving female child prodigies (aged between 5 to 15 years). A child’s full potential can only be realized under reliable guidance and mentorship. Born To Shine will also provide mentorship to young talents.

Excessive skills frequently go hand in hand with stress, perfectionism, and a lack of self-assurance. Therefore, it is essential that their thoughts are focused in the right direction.

The website was launched on the May 10, which also saw the commencement of online registrations. More than 5,000 eligible applications were received from all over the country, of which more than 400 applications were shortlisted for on-ground auditions. A plethora of specially curated content across various platforms has been released to create awareness. The contents are spread across various social media platforms.

In its first year, the program has received an overwhelming response from all over the country and the registration window saw a sea of entries!  Social media handles have been used to sensitize the people, and auditions have been conducted across eight cities. The contest is now in its final stages of shortlisting the participants.

In our journey for achieving excellence, we at ZEEL realized that Indian art is in dire need of support and focus. One of the best ways to revive different art forms is by attending to female child prodigies who deserve the limelight. We hope this initiative will help us spread awareness and also accomplish talented prodigies to achieve the impossible.

There is a lack of scholarship for arts and skill-based talent as compared to academics, despite India being home to an abundance of talent. The CSR program is driven by the cause of supporting girl child prodigies who can become role models for society. Prodigies must be nurtured carefully if they are to realize and sustain their talents throughout time. ‘Born To Shine’ will help us have a big impact on the world of artists and young talent.

This program is also being supported by Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Center (KGERC). KGERC has been working with gifted children and understand that their needs are different.

An initiative like this will also help parents to strike a balance between being overprotective of gifted children and understanding their special needs. To know is to grow, and a program like this can help give wings to a female child prodigy’s dream.

Bansal is Senior EVP, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.




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