Read the winning essay entry from our essay writing competition on adolescent health

Australian High Commissioner to India, Ms Harinder Kaur Sidhu gave away the prizes to winners of an essay writing competition on adolescent health organized by The George Institute for Global Health India during the 10th year anniversary event on December 15, 2017, at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

The topic of the essay was ‘What would you like your policymakers to know about your health? The competition was open for class 9th to 12th standard students from Delhi and Chandigarh. We received 334 essay submissions out of which we initially short-listed top 12.

The short-listed essays were reviewed by a 3 member jury - Dr Pallab Maulik, Deputy Director and Ms Neeti Sharma, Human Resource Manager at The George Institute for Global Health India and Mr Amit Dasgupta, Former Indian Ambassador to Australia and India Head of UNSW Sydney. The jury said,

"All the 12 essay entries were really direct and written straight from the heart. Students covered a wide range of issues relating to their health. It was really difficult to choose 2 finalists"

Pahul Singh, a class 11th student from Learning Paths School, Mohali won the first prize, and

Anuj Sharma, a class 12th student from Air Force School Subroto Park, New Delhi got the second prize.

Read the complete essay by Pahul Singh from LPS, Mohali, first prize winner:

It was the 20th of September 2013 when I was woken up by a sudden and abrupt noise. As soon as I came to my senses, rubbing my eyes, I realized that the dusty glass window of my room had shattered. I did not panic. I was as still as a mountain. it was not a new incident to me. In these beautiful valleys of Kashmir, such things happen almost every day. Kashmir is the mother that carries immense pain in her womb. she is a beautiful lie. The closer you look, the farther you will want to go.


I went outside to get a glimpse of what had led to the happening. To my surprise, there was a broken pane, some loud voices and above all an overpowering yet familiar groan. I tried to lift him, I tried to hold his hand. He added,” I cant die. Call the ambulance.” His glimmering eyes had a message deeper than ocean.. How could I let him go?


I ran inside to make a call to the ambulance. I had to make an effort, after all, we make efforts for the ones we love. I called them up. A humble voice spoke. The receptionist assured that they would reach in 30 minutes. I was extremely anxious but I waited. I did.


Guess what? This only and the ultimate regret I have experienced in my life. had I focused on finding a cure other than just first aid and waiting for the stupid vehicle, I would have saved my father. I saw him after so long.


So here I am, a child who just buried her family member, still in grief, writing a letter to the amazing health policy makers of this country requesting them to return the life of my father because all we asked was a genuine help.



Policy makers,
106, Kashmir valley.
25th September 2013.


Subject: Request to return my father.


Respected sir/ madam,


I am an ordinary citizen of this country who lost her soldier, her hero because of the carelessness of your department as an ambulance could not arrive at my residence on time. Nevertheless, I applaud the health policies you make. The health policies assuring free medical care to cancer patients, the distribution of clean water services, the help to the poor and needy, the enlightenment of teaching them about sanitation, awareness about open defecate and so on.


Looking at these currently prevailing health policies, could you please give me a valid reason for why was my father an exception that he could not be helped?


Let me be less selfish here. Let me look at this as a broad subject. Let me highlight what you need to know about our health. When a policy is drafted its only aim is to benefit the citizens in every possible way. But the implementations fail. they fail so bad that people have to lose their lives. This isn’t worth it. Is it?


The things you genuinely need to know are that your doctors do not fulfill their responsibilities. They with the profit earning motive, forget the needs of a patient. They irrespective of a healthy income, run away to private hospitals in order to earn more. I wonder why a government doctor cannot be given regular visits by officers to make sure he is working honestly. I also question you that can you not make sure that every doctor gets the desired salary without corruption so that his greed can be controlled?


You might be glad to know that every other teen in this country is suffering from one or the other mental disorder. It ranges from a minor case of sadness or social negligence to severe cases of depression, anxiety, and suicide. I would love to know that why can the parents were not made aware via workshops about what exactly their child feels? Why can a teen not have an access to a psychologist whenever he/ she needs? Why is there a lack of awareness among teens about how to tackle their hormones? Why can these not be worked on?


In this country sex is a taboo. People would never talk about this. They run away. It is ignorance that leads to wrong ideologies .the lack of awareness leads to ugly expectations. Sex education is a must. Making children of age groups 12-14 aware of what sex is and why is it important and when is it necessary will make a wiser generation. All it needs is a few good workshops. Only when they are taught to respect such a fact will they start valuing life. one very important benefit is that the rape culture would reduce and if possible, it might just be eradicated completely. What are you waiting for?


With a grimace on my face and a rage in my heart, I would want to know why can every public washroom not have access to sanitary napkins? The ability to bleed in order to create a new life is something to be celebrated and not be ashamed of. Women must know that it is their right to have access to sanitary napkins. They deserve it for free and irrespective of that many women of this country use cotton, leaves, leftover clothes and what not to protect themselves? What makes it so hard to make these napkins reach the needy?


You also might like the fact that many lives are lost every day just because there are issues related to cleanliness. There are cases of dengue, zika virus and malaria every now and then. Could you please inform me that why can you not prevent these? Why can public places not be kept clean? Why are the puddles of water never repaired? Why are the policy makers so lazy in implementation?


There are innumerable issues I can bring up in order to criticize you. I am trying to reflect the fact that there are cures possible to almost everything on this planet.


The information which I have, the person next to me does not. It is not a matter of pride that the policies fail to work. As an ordinary citizen, I have a humble request to make. Please stop taking away all our basic necessities. Countries like the USA provide health insurance to all their citizens. They are safe no matter where they are. They have policies similar to ours but the only fact is that they are implemented no matter what. The rules are harsh. The care and concern are expressed. Can we at least try to reach that standard? Not only you, all of us would cooperate whenever it is needed. But can we try for once?


It isn’t easy to lose your loved ones because of mere carelessness and causalities. We look up to your department for help. We seek your attention to almost all our problems. We need you at every step of the way. Kindly stop running away. Kindly help us when we need you.


I know you cannot return me my father but kindly let not others lose them.

Below are the names of 10 students who also won commendation certificates for their essays:

  • Shaumali Bhagwat, Airforce School, Subroto Park, New Delhi
  • Laavni Kumar, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, New Delhi
  • Jasgun Kaur, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, New Delhi
  • Chiranjeev Banerjee, Learning Paths School, Mohali, 
  • Nishita, St. Theresa Convent, Chandigarh
  • Pranav Bhardwaj, Maxford School, Dwarka, New Delhi
  • Antriksh Shiva, Maxford School, Dwarka, New Delhi
  • Anukriti Verma, KBDAV senior secondary public school, Chandigarh
  • Saumya Sharma, KBDAV senior secondary public school, Chandigarh
  • Aryan Gautam, KBDAV senior secondary public school, Chandigarh