Opportunities for Dalit and Adivasi Students for Higher Education in World's Premier Educational Institutions: A Report
Insight Study Circle Meeting held on 22 August 2010 (Sunday) at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, New Delhi
1. David Vumlallian Zou (from Manipur) teaches at History Department, Delhi University and did his doctorate from Queen's University, Belfast with full scholarship from Academic Planning Grant (Northern Ireland).
2. Abhay Xaxa (from Chhattisgarh) is currently working with Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi and did his Masters in Social Anthropology from University of Sussex, UK (2008) as one of the recipient of International Ford Fellowship Programme.
3. Bhawani Buswala (from Rajasthan) is currently in the country for his field research. He is pursuing his PhD in Anthropology from Brown University, Rhodes Island, USA on full university scholarship.
4. Rama Devi Hansraj (from Andhra Pradesh) completed her Post Graduation in Human Rights from University of London (2004) as one of the International Ford Fellow. She is currently based in Kolkata and is working with Catholic Relief Service.
Given below are the excerpts from the speeches from our panel of speakers followed by a brief interaction session with our audiences.
Rama Devi Hansraj
I did my MA from University of Hyderabad, Department of Mass Communication. I am the first generation educated person in my family. After completing my studies in Hyderabad, I worked with some small Human Rights groups in Andhra Pradesh.
Through that network I came to know about International Ford Foundation Fellowship programme that was meant exclusively for students from marginalised background. I applied and was selected after going through its rigorous selection process. With that fellowship, I did my Masters in University of London in Human Rights.
As I was part of Dalit students' movement in Hyderabad University, I was very conscious of caste discrimination that we all go through both subtle and direct. Perhaps that made me to opt for my study in the area of Human Rights.
Also I felt that articulation on the issues is a major problem. I have heard many Dalit women who were able to articulate and share their personal experiences in their vernacular language so well but doing so in English was a big challenge. They are being represented by people who are only good at articulating in English and so people coming from the grass root realities could never talk for themselves at a bigger platform like UN. These reasons led me to opt for a course in human rights.
What I liked about Ford Foundation was their entire interview process. The whole process was very comforting and gave us enough breathing space and to remain confident as applicants. They appointed one panel member to each applicant to interact at personal level. The one who was interviewing me, later, in the interview actually spoke on behalf of me which was very encouraging. This gave me lot of confidence and helped me face whatever question they asked.
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