Six months ago, a group of boys and girls began a journey into the realm of the newspaper, a journey which took them through a wide range of reports, drove them through practice tests and presentations, made them give a none-too-easy final exam, and eventually put the best of them through an interview that tested them beyond the confines of the academic sphere.
Over 3 lakh participants began the journey; of these, 632 of the most persistent, dedicated and ambitious made the cut to the interviews. Today, it gives The Times of India immense pleasure to announce the best, brightest and most aware 200 — 100 each in two categories, Class XII and Classes X & XI— as the winners of the 2019 Times Scholars programme. That’s 0.0006% of the total participants — a tribute to the quality of the winners and the programme’s difficulty level .
The interviews constituted the first face-to-face interaction with the participants, the evaluation process till then having been entirely online. Jury members across the country were startled to find that not only had the students read the newspaper articles that made up the syllabus of the programme, they had gone beyond and immersed themselves in sections across the paper.
On being quizzed about how they could gain if they were to emerge winners, several said they had already benefited from reading the newspaper over a sustained period and that it had impacted both their worldview and their vocabulary.

From AI to Dickens, winners knew all
While one 17-year old gave a precise explanation of how artificial intelligence could play a vital role in improving the education standards of a country, another described a step-wise plan to rejuvenate the country’s urban spaces. From current affairs to environment, from a Rowling to a Dickens, from space exploration to medieval history, the youthful participants were not only aware of the world around them, but also had a clear viewpoint on what they expected of it. Well-read was indeed well-prepared.
To know if you are among the winners, visit www.timesscholars.com. The winning participants are evenly divided between two categories – those in Class XII and those in Classes X and XI. Over the next few weeks, TOI will be reaching out to the winners, giving out certificates, and prizes from Dell. We would also like to inform your school of your achievement, for part of the credit for your success can be attributed to your teachers. Also, for candidates in Class XII, selected students will be eligible for admission to undergraduate courses at Bennett University on a year’s scholarship if they fulfil the university’s eligibility criteria. And finally, the best-performing candidates in the interview will be invited to a felicitation ceremony.
A note of encouragement to those who did not make the cut. Remember Lincoln’s words – “You cannot fail unless you quit.’’ Hang in there and success will soon find you.
Dell Aarambh is the Digital Learning Partner of the Times Scholars programme.


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