STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Shaurya Chandrawanshi
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by Justine Hudock
Student Community Engagement
Knovva Academy

Shaurya Chandrawanshi
Head of State, United States
2020 Model G20

If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?

A teleporter. Because I think travel is the most frustrating thing in my life. I really do that, like, um, when we think of, say, going from one place to another, we think of the amount of time it takes so you can really estimate just home for our lives is wasted on moving around. So I would really prefer it at the border. Also, I’m in a long distance relationship. I would personally prefer if we could see each other more easily.

The wisest thing anyone ever told me was ___, and it helped me to ___, if you can recall.

Well, it’s hard not to give a super lame answer. But I would say the wisest thing anyone ever told me was basically to ask in a situation where you might not expect to be able to ask. So for example, um, you know, if you’re in a situation where you think you, it’s not appropriate to ask someone for something like maybe, you know, you’re getting a job offer, and you think it’s inappropriate to ask for better pay, you should at least try.

What is one goal you would like to achieve the next five years and that can be a personal goal or a professional goal?

You know what, I’ll give you one personal, one professional. A personal goal is that I want a kitten specifically, because I absolutely love cats. I don’t know. Like, I know, it doesn’t sound like a goal. But I would love to take care of a kitten. I don’t know about a professional goal, probably working on pickleball, something that actually ends up being active. Like I’ve had sort of fragments of it, but nothing really, in a professional goal. Probably do something that actually ends in practical policy.

Do you plan to go to college?

I am taking a gap year, because I plan to go to university. But because of an odd series of events, my offer got deferred to 2021. So I am taking the gap year and reapplying to third universities. So I have a baseline uni and then some other reapplying. So I will be going to uni in 2021.

Do you know what you want to study? You just mentioned political policy; are you looking forward to anything in particular about the college experience?

In the US, and Canada, or mostly the US, there’s a huge amount of freedom with your degree. So I would say the field that I want to pursue is the social sciences, and data science, quantitative stuff. If I’m going to the UK, then I’m pretty much set on the PP degree because I think that I would really get exhausted learning one single subject forever, like, who wants to study economics forever? So that’s the disciplines I would be interested in. Because I want to work in policymaking. So those are the disciplines that helped the most.

Are you one of the people who would, you know, sort of bandy around? Do a non-essential minor? Is there any other sort of topic that you’re interested in, but that you wouldn’t do professionally?

Um, so I think that if I’m in the US, and I don’t pick a minor, I’d basically be wasting my opportunity. I like music. I like writing literature, something like that. Something completely unrelated to my field.

What might people be surprised to learn about you?

When I was, I think, eight or seven or something, um, I managed to tame a stray kitten or a stray cat. And she went to give birth, and I took one of the kittens home. And it didn’t mind that much. Which was very odd, because you expect kittens to start crying when they’re separated from their mother. But because I had spent so much time with that kitten, she’d gotten used to me and so she was just like, yeah, just chilling in my house.

Do you want a certain kind of kitten? Are you just all about any kind of kitten?

Um, well, I don’t mean I’m racist against cats. I would prefer getting one that’s more active and cuddly. Because I really like cuddly pets.

Looking ahead, how do you hope to use the skills and experiences that you’ve gained at the MG20 Summit in your career? Or maybe in your schooling, anything like that?

I think the budgeting that I learned was the most useful. So when I used to sort of, look at policymaking, I would look at what the most effective method is. I think that that has helped me a lot in how I research policy, because now it’s more realistic. It’s not just do this and do that and do everything. It’s more, what can you actually, practically do? The second thing I think I learned was just how much money some countries have. In the US, and it was 1.1. Trillion dollars in discretionary budget. And when we saw it, we did not know how to spend the money. Another very interesting insight I got was, what about just not spending money? What about cutting your money spending? So yes, skills, I would say budget and insight, I would say maybe the government is spending too much and has too much money in the first mix. But that’s just me.

How do you feel about the quality of the conversations and response from your colleagues and instructors during the summit?

Well, to be honest, my instructors. Miss Martha, Miss Amy, they were extremely helpful and really knowledgeable and genuinely trying to help everyone improve my quality of conversations. There were colleagues who were exceptionally interesting. They’re just likable people. But the staff especially, the staff was an extremely skilled group, in my opinion.

How has MG20’s take on pandemic education aligned with values that drive your own education on pandemics? 

I think that the approach was quite similar to the one that you’d see every news article. Um, but if I was to look at what specifically with it changed, I’m probably focused on like, innovative ideas. So instead of just sort of doing the basic, common sense, things like, you know, better PP, or, you know, contact tracing, there was also a focus on how do we do something that sets up for the future. And it definitely did bring in a very important consideration. Firstly, should the government be responsible for the planning for the future, right? Like, should the technological developments of 2021 be led by the government, and secondly, are we even capable of looking ahead, because when you think about it, if you make a decision at the beginning of the year, that is, you know, based on your political ideologies, and then that decision has to change dynamically, because it’s a technological initiative, you’re held back by your mandate. It’s like the government’s attempts to make innovative ideas are really held back. Actually, I’m convinced that it shouldn’t be the governments who are leading the way forward. They should be assisting us, regular people. But again, that’s just my view.

Is there a single feature of the summit that exceeded your expectations?

I didn’t expect such helpful advice from the instructors: Miss Martha and Miss Amy had a very good idea of politics and policymaking and budgeting, which was just like, better than most chairs I’ve seen. 100%, it was the instructors that exceeded my expectations.

Do you have a favorite class at school?

Environmental Management, that’s probably my favorite. Because we had to do, like, primary research for it. And it was funny going into people’s houses and asking them for electricity bills.

Do you have a favorite book? And what is the title? And who is the author?

I don’t know if you count fanfiction. But my favorite “book” is a fanfiction called Fallout Equestria. It’s a crossover between a TV show called My Little Pony, which you might have heard of, and a video game called Fallout. But if we’re going for an actual book, I would probably say Dune by Frank Herbert.

Favorite food? 

Well, I’m Indian, so I can give you like five billion favorite foods. If I had to pick one, as of now, I mean, if I love soup. Huge soup fan for some reason. I like tomato soup. Corn soup. Chicken soup.

Favorite color?

Lavender, I think. It’s such a nice color. It’s so soft. And it’s bright, but it’s not sort of stabbing your face, right? Yeah, I got you like it’s like a soft version of purple. The royal purple is just really, really flashy. Tacky.

It’s Halloween purple. It’s too seasonal.


Do you like the scent of lavender?

Yeah, I do. Um, but my favorite scent is cinnamon. For sure. If anyone has ever smelled cinnamon, you understand. 

Favorite quote?

So it’s a pretty long one. But I think it’s very famous. Um it’s John Stuart Mill on liberty, where he says, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

So in other words, it is just as morally invalid to silence one person as it is to silence every single person except that one person. Um, so I find it really, really valuable. Because I think the purpose of the court and the purpose of Mill’s entire philosophy is that the people and the effects of an opinion are less important than the idea of being allowed to express it. So like, that unbroken discussion with everyone else could be right. And I think, thing that I find really, like, valuable for myself, like when people say, coarser view, or you know, things like, I don’t know, like, maybe humans could be able to biologically, or something like that, but someone meditation, and I might find it a little absurd, but I think the idea of, you know, silencing them being just as harmful as silencing me, I think that kind of encapsulates the respect that humans can and should have for each other. Because, you know, what other way can we be free? I think there’s no other way.

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