"When women rise, we all rise."
Chennai-based Shreya Dharmarajan got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the life of a diplomat as she spent the day as the British High Commissioner.
Since 2017, the British High Commission in New Delhi has organised the ‘High Commissioner for a Day’ competition to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, which is held on October 11.
The UK is committed to engaging with girls and shifting power to them as future leaders.
The 2023 winner was chosen from a pool of more than 180 applications from talented young women around India.
Shreya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and teaches in a government school in Mumbai as a Teach for India fellow.
She is passionate about education and child psychology.
The 21-year-old’s trip to Delhi and stay was made possible through the contribution of partners Vistara airline and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
Shreya said: “Spending a day as the British High Commissioner to India was an incredibly enlightening, enriching, and fulfilling experience.
“I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from inspiring exemplars of women’s leadership in wide-ranging fields.
“I was fortunate enough to be a part of lively discussions about India’s efforts toward further achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
I witnessed first-hand the wonders of the India-UK ASPIRE Programme in helping the development of electric vehicles in India and was honoured to speak with the Principle Scientific Adviser.
“I have brought back with me life-long learning about gender equality, wholesome education, and the wider scope of the SDGs.
“This experience has instilled in me a newfound confidence and motivation, and I look forward to putting all my learnings to fruitful use as a young woman in the field of education.
Alex Ellis, Deputy High Commissioner for the Day (on other days, High Commissioner to India) said:
“It was fantastic to follow Shreya for the day, her conversations from the role of young women in tackling global challenges to the UK-India partnership on science, technology and innovation.
“The High Commissioner for a Day competition is a great reminder for us all on the potential of a world with gender equality.”
“When women rise, we all rise.”
As British High Commissioner, Shreya experienced an exciting range of activities.
Shreya led discussions at the United Nations office in New Delhi on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She also spoke to one of this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists about their initiatives to tackle global environmental challenges.
Shreya engaged with the inspiring women leaders of the Chevening SheLeads programme.
She even met Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Professor Ajay Sood, to review plans to bolster UK-India research collaboration following the G20 Summit.
As High Commissioner for the Day, Shreya also launched a new report on electric vehicle charging infrastructure with the Delhi Transport Department, as part of the Accelerating Smart Power and Renewable Energy in India (ASPIRE) bilateral technical assistance programme.