Gopa, Moumita, Mousumi and Nilima are girls from the underprivileged section of the society. With meagre income and uncertainties about futures, these girls were directed to a path of education, empowerment and enlightenment by Udayan Care (UC) Kolkata. Here’s a report by Baishali.
What the father used to offer, the daughter is all set to receive – salutations from passersby at the corridors of court rooms. Daughter of a law clerk, Gopa Mandal successfully completed her B.A LL.B (H) from South Calcutta Law College. She got admitted in Hazra Law College to pursue her LL.M.
Moumita is a girl with immense strength of mind, she has emerged a victor amidst crisis and conflicts. On completion of her B.Sc and M.Sc in Chemistry from Jadavpur University, she was successful in making her place to IIT, Kharagpur, one of the most prestigious institutions of India to pursue her Ph.D. She was also awarded with a scholarship of Rs. 16,000 per month.
Mousumi Alam is story in women empowerment. A lady cop in the West Bengal Armed Police 9th Battalion, Mousumi enforces law and order at Nadia district of West Bengal with rigor.
From a nondescript village in Medinipur district to the classrooms of Indian’s Ivy League institutions, Nilima has transformed her life with her inherent brilliance, hard-work and determination. After successfully completing her B.Sc Hons in Mathematics and being placed first class with distinction, securing 83 per cent marks from Jadavpur University, she secured a seat in M.Sc course, in IIT Kanpur. Excellence is her forte and she proved it yet again by completing her M Sc in (Mathematics) with 92% marks. She is pursuing her doctorate (Maths) at IIT, Kharagpur.
Gopa, Moumita, Mousumi and Nilima have a common link. Coming from underprivileged backgrounds with meager income and uncertainties about futures, there girls were directed to a path of education, empowerment and enlightenment.
The positive change in the lives of these girls is brought in by Udayan Care (UC) Kolkata, under Udayan Shalini Fellowships’ (USF) programme, a social movement fostering learning since 2007. USF derives its name by conjoining two Sanskrit words, “Udayan” and “Shalini”, meaning ‘eternal sunrise’ and ‘a dignified woman’ respectively. It thus symbolises an eternal sunrise and a dignified life for a girl, who otherwise would have lost track. Udayan Shalini Fellowships started in 2002 and is presently running 10 branches at Delhi, Kolkata, Kurukshetra, Aurangabad, Dehradun, Haridwar, Gurgaon, Phagwara, Hyderabad and Jaipur. The programme has been a tremendous success and has impacted the lives of more than 5000 girls.
At Udayan, learning emphatically differs from the clichéd concept of learning for acquiring degrees and achieving wealth. At UC learning is a constant effort to grow. It is to grow in body, mind and soul in a collective way so that one develops into a complete human being. The Kolkata chapter of UC is a part of Udayan Care India, founded in Delhi, which now has its presence in 12 states of India.
Started in 2007, the UC Kolkata was formed under the able leadership of Kusum Bhandari, a noted educationist, who in her 40 years career has evolved from being a creative educator to a forward-thinking educational administrator-entrepreneur, educational visionary and educational philanthropist. The initial team consisted of Parimal Chandra Das, a successful banker whose altruism inspired him to leave his lucrative job and take up the philanthropic venture at Udayan. Suresh Neotia and BD Sureka, both philanthropists, were involved with UC Kolkata from the very beginning as important member and guides.
“We work with academically brilliant girls coming from the underprivileged sections of the society. Harnessing their potential and replenishing it with other finer attributes of life is our raison d’être. The cloistered world of the girls gently gets ruptured through an array of explorations into the world of art, cinema, dance, music, computer, English speaking, accounting software like Tally, et al. Eventually they emerge as Shalaini, which means dignified woman. A dedicated team of mentors and trainers, who are working professionals of MNCs like PWC, GENPACT, Allahabad bank, Century Ply, visiting international students, and academicians of Kolkata, are our pillar of support,” informs Kusum.
Today UC Kolkata has a strong band of 1000 Shalinis, who are complete women, ready to face the world with confidence and vigor. Many of them have studied from Ivy League education institutions like IIMs and IITs and are now engaged with MNCs, and research institutes like BARC and Allahabad Research Institute. Some have become fashion designer, while others are in diverse professions including- banking, care giving, teaching and many other. Sizeable section has taken up entrepreneurship as their vocation and has opened boutiques in their villages and is working for the urban apparel industry.
“Succeeding in life has made our girls intuitively altruistic. They believe in giving back to the society and supporting the fellow beings in scripting their way to development. It has been an invigorating journey full of challenges, fun, emotion and enthusiasm. Hope the road ahead leads us to newer and better opportunities and destinations,” Kusum enthuses.
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A writer and journalist for last six years, Baishali works with Education World, as its correspondent (Kolkata). She freelances with other media houses, individuals and organisations. In the last five years, she has worked in several verticals. These include web content development, translating research papers, book writing and speech writing. Baishali has worked as a content head for three books. Her articles and features have been published in leading publications.