Prof. Barbra Naidu Prize for the Personal Essay

The Prof. Barbra Naidu Prize for the Personal Essay 2020

Theme: Making Do


About the Prize

Prof. Barbra Naidu taught English for over two decades at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore and pioneered a remarkable engagement with the student body, one marked by a commitment to conversation, and to a notion of teaching shaped by the diversity of experiences and needs that students might bring. The Prof. Barbra Naidu Memorial Prize was instituted in 2013 as a way of keeping this engagement alive, and to find and reward talent in writing.

This year’s theme: Making Do

The word ‘adjust’ contains within itself an entire manual for social relations and individual enterprise. It sums up a world-view, and there may be a bunch of stories each of us could tell the world from that vantage point. When we do without what we desire most, there are transformations that we may experience. When we must do without, the solutions we chance upon could be discoveries that we might never have made otherwise. Each is a voyage around a half-familiar room, and calls out for chroniclers.

Scarcities ought to compress our ambitions. Shortages can restrict us. Paucities may limit the shape of our experiences. And yet, in sundry moments, some sparking of inner resource may cause us to resist this shape, to remake ourselves. Are there words by which we may render these moments of inner, improvisatory sparking?

The Details

  • Participants are expected to write a personal, exploratory essay. The essay you submit must be original and offer a lively engagement with experience. The suggested range is 1500-3000 words.
  • The contest is open to school (Std. 8-12) and college students (UG or PG), and to the general public (any age)
  • Prizes will be awarded in three categories: Best School Entry, Best College Entry, and Best Open Entry. 
  • Submissions can be sent by ordinary post to The Department of English, St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous), No. 36, Lalbagh Road, Bangalore 560027;  handed over in person above; or by email (please attach a word document) to 
  • The last date for receiving submissions (in any form) is 04 Feb 2020 (by midnight). The entries will be judged by an independent jury of writers. All short-listed entries will be published on the Open Dosa website and in our literary magazine Engster.
  • Results will be announced on 19 Feb 2020. The prize-giving will be held on the same day.  Prize-winning entries from previous years can be accessed at

Please contact Prof. Vijeta Kumar (9741057203) or mail if you have any questions

Download the poster here.

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