Six out of the 45 selected to the Ford Fellowship Program in 2009 are from J & K, with 4 from Kashmir and 1 each from Kargil and Leh. This is the highest number from the state to qualify in one year. Ibrahim Wani reports
The Ford foundation fellowship program extends support to brilliant people through out the country who show hope of contributing in important social fields. The fellowship supports studies for the selected fellows in top foreign universities in USA, UK and Australia. All the expenses like travel, tuition and hostel fees are completely covered for.
The fellows from the state who were selected in the year 2009 represent diverse fields of study and experience ranging from architecture, science, mass communications and social sciences.
Among the fellows Sajid Nazir Wani is a reputed architect, Chewang Dolma from Leh is a an environmentalist, Thukjay Tashi is a Social Worker, Shafat Ahmad works for a Human Rights NGO, and Faisul Yaseen and Shazia Khan are journalists.
All the fellows had to face a stringent selection process. They went through a number of stages in which their competencies were scrutinized and finally selected from over a thousand applications from all over the country.
The selection process follows a number of stages. After the initial application there is a short listing, followed by regional interviews of the selected candidates. Those who clear this level face another round of interviews and tests at the national level.
“The experts in the interview panel at all levels are eminent personalities from all over the country and even abroad”, say Shazia Khan who is one of the selected fellows. Shazia is a Mass Communication post-graduate from the University of Kashmir. She has previously worked in an NGO called Coalition of Civil societies and a number of print publications. She will now be pursuing a Masters programme in International Relations with specialization in Terrorism and Human rights.
She feels that the selection to the fellowship can only be achieved through hard work and focused approach. “The only secret is work hard and honesty”. In her message to the future aspirants she says that the candidates should follow path which they have imagined for themselves. “People who achieve success are opportunists. Don’t let go of opportunities”.
Her views are echoed by Sajid Nazir Wani who is at present teaching at the Craft Development Institute (CDI). He has been integral to the working of the design development projects with artisans and in marketing campaigns of the institute. He has been an important design member in big national projects like designing the Barista coffee chain and Ginger group of hotels when he was working with leading design companies in India prior to his appointment in CDI.
He says, “Ford Foundation gives an opportunity of a lifetime to an aspirant.” He further says that an important ingredient of being successful in any filed is your vision and determination. Sajid is to pursue a course in Marketing and social entrepreneurship now.
Chewang Dolma from Leh feels that a person should be sure of what he or she is doing and should be completely focused. “The interviewers ask puzzling questions to confuse you and a number of candidates end up contradicting their own statements or views they have mentioned in the application in process”. Dolma is an agriculture graduate and has worked in a number of NGOs committed to sustainable development.
There was a consensus on the fact that the candidates who hope to appear for fellowship should follow a strategy based model. “Make a strategy and follow it from the very beginning”, says Tashi who is the fist from Zanskar to qualify for the fellowship. Thukjay Tashi is an MSW Post Graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and has worked in a number of NGOs engaged in community development.
“You must be able to clearly answer what you want to do with your lives and questions like where you see yourself in 10 years time?, adds Tashi who is to pursue a Masters programme in Planet Change and Environmental and Developmental studies.
Similar views are echoed by Shafat who is a law graduate from the Kashmir University. He has worked with a number of NGOs like Human Rights Watch (HRW). He says, “People who are aspiring for the Fellowship in coming year just need to know their work very well and be able to articulate their vision”.