Young Achievers

Tanya Narula

On April 10, Tanya Narula (24), a final year fashion design student of the Pearl Academy of Fashion (PAF), Delhi (affiliated with the Nottingham University, UK), received the coveted Wills Lifestyle Debut Award of the Fashion Design Council of India. Tanya’s all-white collection of traditional texured phoolkari with beads and laser cuts, embellished with gold for a bold, contemporary look, bested the present-ations of 300 contestants to win the first prize in the fifth edition of the annual competition that has become the premier platform for showcasing the creativity of budding fashion designers.

“I am overjoyed. This has vindicated my career choice of fashion design,” says Tanya, who schooled at the Anglo Sanskrit Model School in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh before enroling in PAF in 2007. “I was always good at sketching and fascinated by design and the award only proves that my career choice is in sync with my aptitude,” she says.

As winner of the Wills Lifestyle Debut Award 2011, Tanya will be invited to participate in global events this September and also be awarded an internship with ITC’s Wills Lifestyle. “This is a big ticket to begin my professional career and the dream of every new fashion designer,” she enthuses. Tanya is particularly satisfied with having won this award as it vindicates her decision to have signed up with PAF. “In 2007, I was admitted into the coveted four-year fashion design programme of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Chennai and attended a few classes. But since Delhi offers a more fashion-conscious environment, I took the hard decision to quit NIFT and sign up with PAF,” she says.

A big fan of haute couture designers Prashant Verma, Amit Agarwal and Alexander Mcqueen, Tanya intends to create an Indian brand of fashion apparel which will be globally acceptable. “With an amazing diversity of women’s wear and a textiles weaving tradition several millennia old, we’ve lot more to offer to the world. It’s essentially a question of mixing ancient garment-weaving traditions with cutting-edge contem-porary technologies and design,” says Tanya, who is proficient in basic Mandarin, and is determined to travel the world to learn continuously in her quest to create a globally acceptable fashion label.

Autar Nehru (Delhi)

Nikarika Premkumar

A class XI student of Chettinad Vidyashram, Chennai, Nikarika Premkumar (15) was awarded the silver medal in the artistic pair junior category (12-16 years) event at the First Asian Yoga Championship held in Pattaya, Thailand on January 22-23 early this year. The international competition categorised into four events — yogasana, artistic yoga, artistic pair and rhythmic (pair) yoga — attracted over 60 participants from nine countries. Nikarika was chosen to represent India under the aegis of the Yoga Federation of India (recognised by the Indian Olympic Association and affiliated with the Asian Yoga Federation and International Federation of Yoga Sports) after a rigorous selection process at the state and national levels.

“It was a tough event with stiff competition from trained yoga exponents. But since yoga originated in India, there were great expectations of the Indian team. The artistic pair event required me and my partner to combine yoga with contemporary ballet. Though we didn’t win the gold, I felt we gave a good account of ourselves in the championship,” says the fit-as-a-fiddle and svelte Nikarika.

Encouraged to take up sport early by her father K.S. Premkumar, a business entrepreneur and equestrian champion, and elder sister Rashika, a national swimming champion, Nikarika started training in gymnastics and ballet at age six. Moreover she started swimming at age 11 and over the next four years excelled in aquatics, winning several state and national-level championships. But two years ago when she became disenchanted with competitive swimming, her father advised her to focus on yoga as a competitive sport.

Since then, Nikarika hasn’t looked back. Trained by her school yoga teac-her Arunagiri and experts in ashtanga vinyasa — Ravi and Srimathi — Nikarika has participated in over 28 state, national and international compe-titions. Among her major achievements: medals at the First National Invitational Yoga Championship (2009) held in Chennai, the XXV Tamil Nadu State Yoga Sports Championship, and the Tamil Nadu Ranking Yoga Cup (2010) held at Palani.

Looking ahead, Nikarika has set her sights on excelling in the state yoga competition at Chennai, and in the nationals at Mangalore — both scheduled for October this year — followed by the world championship to be held in Uruguay in November. “I want to win gold for India in the artistic yoga event in Uruguay and have already started ballet lessons to learn new routines and improve flexibility,” says Nikarika whose long-term plans include qualifying as a medical practitioner.

Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)