11YO chess prodigy Alana Meenakshi of Vizag selected for PM Bal Puraskar Award 2023

Alana Meenakshi will participate in the full dress rehearsal and Republic Day parade on 23 and 26 January, respectively.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  22 Jan 2023 9:16 AM GMT
11YO chess prodigy Alana Meenakshi of Vizag selected for PM Bal Puraskar Award 2023

Visakhapatnam: Eleven-year-old chess prodigy Alana Meenakshi Kolagatla of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh has been selected for the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar Award (PMRBP) 2023. She will receive the award from the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, on 23 January.

The PMRBP is a civilian honor presented to children under 18 for their outstanding achievements in innovation, scholastic achievements, social service, arts and culture, and sports.

This year, 11 exceptional children selected from all regions of the country for their exceptional achievement in the field of art and culture (4), bravery (1), innovation (2), social service (1), and sports (3) will be awarded at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi by the President.

The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh, a medal, a certificate, and a citation.

Alana Meenakshi will participate in the full dress rehearsal and Republic Day parade on 23 and 26 January, respectively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with the awardees on 24 January.

Who is Alana Meenakshi?

A resident of Vizag, she is a class VI student at Timpany ICSE school. Alana Meenakshi was recently awarded the Women FIDE Master title by the FIDE (World chess Federation). She is a titled Indian international chess player from Visakhapatnam. As per FIDE ratings, Alana is the world’s no. 1 U-12 girls’ chess player in January 2023.

In the recent Online Asian Nations Cup Under-14 Girls Team Chess Championship 2022 that was held in March, Alana won the cup and was recognised as the youngest to participate. Alana played a crucial role against Mongolia in the pre-penultimate round. In 2022, Alana’s ELO rating improved to 2120 from 1963, and she achieved the Woman FIDE Master (WFM) title.

Her next goal is to become IWM (International Women Master) and later, Woman Grandmaster.


How did the journey begin?

It all started when Alana was five years old. Like all parents who wanted to keep their child engaged in some activity, Alana’s parents Aparna and Madhu introduced her to chess. “It was not our intention to take her forward, but she was quick and sharp. She was able to play the game with good tactics. Giving her good coaching at the age of six, she won four medals in the next 10 months,” said Aparna who is a biological anthropologist.

The parents understood Alana’s potential and supported her. Aparna even quit her job and worked as a freelancer to dedicate time to her daughter.

Not a regular childhood

Speaking to NewsMeter, Aparna said, “It is so challenging for Alana to achieve this position. She did not have a regular childhood and she missed out on fun for her chess practice. But she does self-studies with a good set of people.” Alana’s parents are proud of the national award and are now aiming for the Grandmaster title.

“She is the most eligible girl for the award, but it’s not about merit. This year, only 11 kids are on the list and we are proud of our daughter,” Aparna said about Alana winning PMRBP this year.

Interestingly, Alana’s brother Dhruv Advaith Kolagatla is a national-level tennis player who started playing tennis at the age of six. But that’s not the only passion that drives this teenager. He is also an environmentalist and works to support needy school students.

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