Not everyone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Most inspirational leaders had to struggle hard to reach their destination and create a niche for themselves in society. When we started Buddy4Study in 2010, I was not aware of the strong correlation of scholarships with the success of the awardees. With research, we found, scholarships played a pivotal role in shaping life and career of many pioneers of India. They scaled new heights in life and created a space in society for themselves with their services.
Here, we have prepared a list of 10 such pioneer personalities, famous in Science, Law, Politics and many other fields; whose lives were shaped by courtesy of some scholarship at early stage. There’s much that can be learned from them about being driven in the wake of impending financial limitations.
Dr Rajendra Prasad (The First President of India):
From a school teacher to a lawyer and then to a political leader, he went on to become the first President of India and served from 1950 to 1962. After the completion of his traditional elementary education, he was sent to the Chapra District School, and from there he went on to study at TK Ghosh’s Academy in Patna for a period of two years. He secured first rank in the entrance examination to the University of Calcutta and was awarded INR 30 per month as a scholarship, which it turns out was enough for his career to take off in those times.
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (The First Vice-president, Second President of India):
One of India’s most distinguished twentieth-century scholars in the field of comparative religion and philosophy. He was an Indian philosopher and statesman, who was the second President of India from 1962 to 1967. Radhakrishnan was awarded many scholarships throughout his academic life. He joined Voorhees College in Vellore and then switched to the Madras Christian College at the age of 17. Many scholarships were instituted in his honour. Oxford University had in 1989 instituted Radhakrishnan Scholarships in his memory. The scholarships were later renamed the Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships.
Dr B R Ambedkar (The First Law Minister):
Popularly known as Babasaheb, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer. He was the first law minister of Independent India, and also the principal architect of the Constitution of India. He was a prolific student, who’d secured doctorates in economics from both Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He was awarded a Baroda State Scholarship of £11.50 (Sterling) per month for three years under a scheme established by Sayajirao Gaekwad III (Gaekwad of Baroda) which was designed to provide opportunities for postgraduate education at Columbia University in New York City. Scholarships named after Ambedkar: National Essay Competition, Medhavi Chattra Sansodhit Yojna, International Award, National Research fellowships.
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (11th President of India, Missile Man of India):
A career scientist turned statesman, Dr Kalam was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Kalam studied physics and aerospace engineering with government scholarship at Madras Institute of Technology. He spent four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He is known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. Scholarships named: National Innovation Fellowship, IGNITE Award, Fulbright Kalam Climate Fellowship
Sarojini Nayudu (The First Lady State Governor, Nightingale of India):
A freedom fighter and poet of modern India, Sarojini Naidu was educated in Chennai, London and Cambridge. She became the President of Indian National Congress and later appointed as the Governor of the United Provinces, now known as Uttar Pradesh. Known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, her poetry includes children’s poems, nature poems, patriotic poems and poems of love and death. In 1895, the Nizam Scholarship Trust gave her the chance to study in England at King’s College London and at Girton College, Cambridge.
Har Govind Khorana (Nobel Prize in Medicine):
An Indian American biochemist received Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1968. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966, and received the National Medal of Science in 1987. He attended the D.A.V. High School in Multan in West Punjab (now in Pakistan), for his elementary to secondary studies. After school, he studied in Punjab University, Lahore with the help of various scholarships.
C. V. Raman (Nobel Prize in Physics):
Groundbreaking work in the field of light scattering (Physics) earned Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Nobel Prize in 1930. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes its wavelength. This phenomenon, was later known as Raman scattering. He was honoured with highest civilian award the Bharat Ratna in 1954. He passed his matriculation examination at the age of 11 and class 12 at the age of 13 with a scholarship. Scholarship named: Raman – Charpak Fellowship
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (Nobel Prize in Chemistry):
An American and British, structural biologist of Indian origin; who received Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for his studies about the structure and function of the ribosome. Ramakrishnan did his school education in Gujarat. Following his pre-science education at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, he did his undergraduate studies at the same university backed by a National Science Talent Scholarship.
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar (Nobel Prize in Physics):
An Indian-American astrophysicist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983. His mathematical treatment of stellar evolution yielded many of the best current theoretical models regarding the later evolutionary stages of massive stars and black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him. Chandrasekhar was awarded a Government of India scholarship in July 1930 to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.
Kiran Bedi (The First Lady IPS):
A retired Indian Police Service officer, Kiran Bedi is a social activist, former tennis player, a politician, and current Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. She is the first woman to have joined the Indian Police Service and remained in service for 35 years till 2007. Inspired by her father, Bedi started playing tennis at the age of nine, and secured academic and sports scholarships while studying at Punjab University, Chandigarh. In 1964, she played her first tournament outside Amritsar, participating in the national junior lawn tennis championship. As the national champion, she was eligible for entry to the Wimbledon junior championship.
In India, over 75% students are dropping out after senior secondary for some or the other reason. One of the pressing reasons is unaffordable education. If we do not provide them scholarships and support them during their education, we may be losing a Medical researcher who could possibly find the cure to Cancer or HIV or maybe a Scientist who could discover new theories of Physics to explore space or a great politician who might solve the geo-political crisis.
Scholarship is a good tool to find and nurture such meritorious sparks and open lifetime opportunity doors to grow. Today many corporations, foundations are running their own scholarship programs. However, due to lack of technology, outreach and team, they face many challenges in process management. For ease, efficiency and transparency, we have created a platform Buddy4Study that is now providing end-to-end solutions that includes outreach, technology, talent and tracking to more than 30 organizations to manage their scholarship programs. With a mission of 1 crore scholars by 2025, we have reached to 45000 scholars, for remaining we need to create new scholarship opportunities with organizations and individuals.
Ashutosh Burnwal is on a mission to simplify scholarship world access for meritorious and deserving students. He founded Buddy4Study platform to streamline the scholarship management process for organizations to increase scholarship supply. For Ashutosh, Buddy4Study is not a startup idea, it is the summation of an experience he has lived right from his early school days, the sum of financial hardships in his family and stinging lack of awareness to opportunities. When he conceived Buddy4Study, he was not only building a product, he envisioned a comprehensive solution that has potential to solve big problems of society.