New Delhi: Most people who are born into privileged families and can afford basic facilities, which shape their personality as a whole, never realise the hardships of the other group of people — the underprivileged. But once in a while, these so-called marginalised individuals act upon their aspirations and come out with flying colours, if provided with a little push.
A Noida-based organisation, Shiv Nadar Foundation, has been doing the needful for a long time by providing financial and academic assistance to young minds who do not have the required assistance from their families.
The institution is now reaping praise as four of its students from the founding batch of 2011 have secured a berth each in top foreign universities along with 100% scholarships.
The bright minds who walked through the tough path are all gleeful about their achievements and credit the foundation’s ‘Vidya Gyan Initiative’ wholeheartedly for evolving their insights, when it came to being informed and aware about issues ranging from social disparities to technological advancement.
“Abhi to bahut aage jana hai humien,” Sudeeksha Bhati chipped in when asked about women empowerment. Bhati, the daughter of a marginal farmer and a first generation learner has always been troubled about the plight of women in our society. At the age of 8, she led an initiative called ‘Voice of Women’ (VOW) to empower women.
Under this program, she took upon herself to fight against eve-teasing, a major concern in the locality that she belongs to. Her step was a reaction to an unfortunate incident, wherein a girl from her village in Uttar Pradesh was molested on her way back from the village school.
To raise awareness, she adopted all routes possible which included street-plays, speeches, door-to-door interactions and social media reach. Her firm determination might have faltered at that unripe age as the family members were concerned about a little girl who was trying to achieve the unimaginable.
“Tu bahut choti hai, teri kaun sunega abhi, ” her concerned family members had told her back then.
But her resolve has been so strong that she not only created awareness across villages but also undertook community services during her schooling at the Shiv Nadar Foundation. She convinced women to get educated, and also worked on various projects such as the installation of smokeless stoves in her village, which affects the eyes of rural women at large.
While Sudeeksha Bhati has led a front on her own to change the lives of women, Gulesh Kumar Shukla has a lot to say about the advancements in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Citing an incident when Facebook had to shut down it’s AI project owing to unexpected machine learning, Shulka said that it is a “necessary evil”. However, he added that it is not a must for all the fields but our country’s proposal to implement AI in the field of medication is a “masterstroke”.
He shared his realisations about personality development, which he felt after joining the Vidyagyan Initiative. “Earlier, I had no aim. After I joined the school in Noida, the importance of competitiveness struck me and I realised that everything boils down to knowledge and critical thinking. Now that I have been selected for Haverford college, my neighbours point at me and say — that boy is in the right direction.”
He also shared his thoughts about English language and said that everybody should adopt it as it can lead any individual to their goals. Elaborating on the perils of rote learning, he said that communication is a component of refined linguistics and critical thinking.
Apart from a staunch supporter of women empowerment and an AI aficionado, the successful candidates also include an avid supporter of technological development, Hemlata Sharma.
Sharma, who is set to pursue her further education in Bryn Mawr, said, “Even if the people are educated they are not well versed with the practical knowledge and technological advancements, as a result of which they lose out on opportunities on a daily basis.”
In a similar approach like her colleagues, she undertook community service at her village in Mathura which helped the women, along with her mother, to cope up with paperwork at banks and other institutions.
During her stay at the Foundation, she got an opportunity to interact with the scientists at the ISRO and she came back with the most satisfying takeaway. While recalling advice from one of the scientists at the facility, Sharma said, “If we approach our goals with practicality, everything seems easy.”
While Sharma was having a tough time with the lack of education in her village, a boy based out of Amroha, Piyush Saini, was facing caste-based discrimination owing to his financial inability.
Saini’s father was a teacher at the village school and also the source of his inspiration. While Saini had to assist his father with cattle-rearing and other works, he had to set out extra-time for the high caste land-owners who squeezed work out of him without providing anything in return.
The caste-discrimination in his village was widespread and Saini was able to overcome this social evil only through strong determination, which was instilled in him by his father. Now, that he is ready to experience a new life at the University of Rochester, he endearingly remembers his father’s stern but motivational teachings.
From his father’s wise words, he brings out his favourite line and says, “Anybody’s ideas and thoughts can produce phenomenal results.”