Graduates awarded 2023 Global India Senior Thesis Prize

July 14, 2023

Princeton University graduates Aaron Eng ‘23 and Kanishkh Kanodia ‘23 were awarded the 2023 Global India Senior Thesis Prize by the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India (CGI). Eng’s thesis, “District-Level Modeling of Life-Cycle Greenhouse Gas Footprints for the Agricultural Sector in India,” received recognition in the natural and applied sciences category; Kanodia’s project, “Beyond Norm-takers or Norm-breakers: India and China’s Rhetorical Engagement with the Norm of Sovereignty at the United Nations Security Council Between 1971-1992,” in the humanities and social sciences category.

Eng, a civil and environmental engineering concentrator, compiled existing datasets of district characteristics into a model that calculated the emissions from various districts throughout India. His thesis established a methodology to pinpoint hotspot districts that may be using excessive resources and producing unnecessary and avoidable emissions to allow authorities to impose local policy changes and regulatory measures to reduce the environmental impact. “With the appropriate implementation, this work will help India contribute to global efforts to achieve net zero by 2050,” he said.

“His results showed quite interesting patterns for rice and wheat [production] — the embodied energy in electricity for pumping water and to manufacture fertilizer were larger contributors than on-farm emissions,” said Anu Ramaswami, who nominated Eng for the award. Ramaswami is the Sanjay Swani '87 Professor of India Studies; professor of civil and environmental engineering, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute; and director of CGI. “These results have major policy implications.”

Kanodia concentrated in the School of Public and International Affairs and earned certificates in history and practice of diplomacy, journalism and South Asian studies. His thesis examined India’s interaction with the norm of sovereignty at the United Nations in the 1970s and 1980s. “I show that owing to its unique self-image, India displayed agency in relaying its own notions of sovereignty at international forums,” he said. “While thinking of India’s contemporary interactions with questions of sovereignty, in conflicts such as that of Ukraine, policymakers must consider the impact of India’s self-image in shaping its stance.”

Kanodia produced an “enormous amount of new research” and “meaningful findings,” said his evaluator Atul Kohli, David K.E. Bruce Professor of International Affairs. “The [thesis’] key argument is that China’s core understanding of sovereignty emphasized territoriality, while that of India was more respectful of international law and conceptions of social justice. That the thesis provoked so many thoughts is a testament to its high quality.”

CGI’s $1,500 cash prize is given annually to the best undergraduate senior thesis related to global India themes, with a focus on either natural or applied sciences, engineering, or humanities and social sciences. “Global India” includes the study of India, or of interactions between India and the world, that shape human and planetary wellbeing and imaginaries of the world.