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Pravaha Foundation announces Rs.2 crore sponsorship for women in Indian chess

by Sagar Shah - 07/03/2023

Recently we published an article where we spoke about how MGD1, a chess first e-sports company, had secured Rs.12.4 crore sponsorship for GM Arjun Erigaisi with Quantbox over a period of 5 years. Now MGD1 once again has contributed massively towards Indian chess, this time with the Pravaha Foundation, to power women's chess in the country. The sponsorship program has a budget of Rs.2 crore for 2 years and a major chunk of it goes to two of India's finest talents - Savitha Shri and Vantika Agrawal. A portion of this amount also goes towards four young talents - three of them are talented girls - Charvi, Shubhi Gupta, Saparya Ghosh and one of them is a talented boy - Ilamparthi AR. Read on to know more about this brilliant initiative.

Pravaha Foundation and MGD1's mammoth initiative to support Indian women's chess

Pravaha Foundation joined hands with MGD1 to announce a sponsorship program for women in Indian chess. Pravaha has committed an amount of Rs. 2 crores (US $244,550) over two years for this program, to be used for training, travel, and other expenses of players. The joint initiative, called 64 Squares, covers two under-21 players, WIM Savitha Shri (16 years, Elo 2411) and WGM Vantika Agrawal (20 years, 2367 Elo). It also covers four under-14 players, Under-8 world chess champion Charvi (8 years old, 1426 Elo), Commonwealth Youth Champion Shubhi Gupta (13 years, 1665 Elo), Asian Youth Champion Saparya Ghosh (13 years, 1615 Elo) and recently turned IM Ilamparthi AR (13 years, 2423 Elo).

One of the most power-packed performances in recent times for Indian chess was given by Savitha Shri as she won the bronze medal at World Rapid Women's championships 2022 | Photo: Sagar Shah

Vantika Agrawal is already a WGM and is knocking on the doors of IM title since quite some time. Currently she is one of the best in Indian chess and very soon she is likely to become one of the strongest players in the world. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Being two strong players of the country, it doesn't come as a surprise that Vantika and Savitha were pitted against each other at the Tata Steel Chess India Rapid 2022 just a few months ago.

"We started Pravaha 5 years ago with a focus on education, more specifically in the STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) fields,” says Vinoda Kailas, Managing Trustee of Pravaha. “We saw very quickly that the kids who were good at math also showed similar talent in another field - chess. For us, supporting chess was a natural progression.”

Vinoda Kailas, the managing trustee of Pravaha, is the one behind is initiative

“While our plan was to exclusively support women’s chess in India for this program, we also included Illamparthi, whose recent performances have been very promising. We are very happy with our first cohort of exceptional chess prodigies! “says Vinoda. A bigger chunk of the Rs.1 crore per year amount goes to Savitha Shri and Vantika Agrawal, which is quite logical as they both are on the verge of breaking through into the elite in women's chess.

Clockwise from top left: Charvi.A, Shubhi Gupta, Ilamparthi AR and Saparya Ghosh - these are the 4 beneficiaries of the Pravaha sponsorship program

India’s 81 GMs in chess include only two women - GM Koneru Humpy and GM Harika Dronavalli. “This is just the beginning”, Vinoda adds, “the sport will grow very rapidly in India over the next few years. We hope to help in the creation of a more formal ecosystem for chess sponsorship in India, especially for women players.”


Speaking to ChessBase India, Vantika Agrawal said, "This is my first sponsorship and I am very excited for this. I have been waiting for this since a long time. When I was 14 I had crossed 2300 and had become WIM. I won many medals for India in Asian and World. Each time I hoped that I would get it now . In 2020 I was part of Olympiad gold medal winning team and in 2021 won National Women and became WGM. Finally after waiting for 12 years I have got my first sponsorship. This will help me to achieve my dreams soon. I want to thank Pravaha foundation in believing in me and giving me this opportunity." Savitha Shri was also contacted. She mentions, "I would like to thank Pravaha and MGD1 for sponsoring me. Financially, it will be very helpful for me to play in good tournaments and to get some extra coaching and trainings. I am grateful for this opportunity ."

Manu Gurtu and Sreekar Chanapragada are the co-founders of MGD1 and are responsible for making this program happen. They were also responsible for the sponsorship deal between Arjun Erigaisi and Quantbox. The above is their interview after Arjun's sponsorship deal was announced.

About Pravaha 

Pravaha is a Hyderabad based NGO that focussed on supporting gifted school going children in India. Since 2018 it has worked with premier Indian institutions like I.I.T’s, I.I.S.T and I.I.I.T’s among others, to run programs for gifted children. Pravaha is the prime beneficiary of the founder’s stake in the renewable energy company, Mytrah.

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