1. How are the girls chosen? Will these be destitute women or from displaced families? What is the typical family background of the 27 girls that are currently part of the program?

The chosen girls are amongst the best in academic performance in Class X Board Examinations in Ladakh. They are selected on specific recommendations of respective Principals and local NGOs dealing with issues of women empowerment. Presently there are 27 girls who are studying in Bangalore as part of the Trusts' Programme. Another eight are expected to join in June 2004. They come from economically backward sections of the local community.

2. How was / will family approval for the 4-year relocation / be sought?

Applications and recommendations are accepted only if parents agree to relocation of the girls to Bangalore. Moreover, as a result of the success of Operation Sadbhavna, the people of Ladakh have developed intense faith and trust in Lt Gen (Retd) Arjun Ray.

3. What is expected of the girls once they graduate?

Once the girls graduate they will return to their local community in Ladakh to pursue a chosen career either in public and social sectors, or as private entrepreneurs. This will be possible as all girls will graduate in 'vocational qualifications' like doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses and technicians, etc.

4. How will commitment of the girls to the 4-year programme and further work be obtained / ensured?

The commitment of the girls to a 4-year programme is based on their trust, commitment and promise. We have no reason to believe otherwise. The fact that simple village girls have elected to come 3000 kms away from home is indicative of their serious resolve. So far, in the past 23 months, no girl has dropped out yet.

5. Is there a specific college the girls presently attend?

The girls are presently billeted in a single hostel building having maximum security. We have selected two nearby colleges to save on additional expenditure, and ensure personal supervision. Their admissions have been arranged in two well-known colleges of Bangalore as under:

BNM Educational Institution,
12th to 17th main, 27th Cross,
Banashankari II Stage,
Bangalore – 560 070.

19 girls

SSMRV Pre-university College,
16th Main 4th E Block,
Bangalore 560 041.

8 girls

6. Does the Government have any reservation policy for people from Jammu and Kashmir? Is there a national policy in any state?

The Government of Karnataka has a reservation policy only for its residents. However, only a few colleges in the State offer limited seats based on merit for students from Jammu and Kashmir. However, admission of the girls to these institutions is arranged through personal liaison.

7. Are there plans to expand the geographic area of attention beyond Ladakh?

It is intended to extended the 'women's empowerment programme' to girls from other conflict zones. This will depend on the availability of additional funds.

8. Is it possible to get the college to provide a tuition waiver of some kind (as a humanitarian gesture)?

The colleges have already given a decent tuition waiver as a humanitarian gesture. What is of greater benefit is the waiver on their policy of admitting students only on merit and marks obtained above a given cut-off line.

9. Who is funding the 27 girls right now?

The present funding is through German MNC, BASF, Maha Bodhi International Centre, Leh, and Arghyam, Bangalore.

10. Why was Bangalore chosen? Does Ladakh have good educational facilities? Could a city closer to Ladakh have been chosen?

Bangalore was chosen only because Lt. Gen Arjun Ray (Retd) has re-located himself here after seeking voluntary retirement from the army. Looking after and managing such a large number of girls is a major responsibility and involves day to day liaison and close attention by Lt. Gen Arjun Ray (Retd) . Any set-back in this regard can renege the trust the parents have bestowed in him. Moreover, the city is the knowledge-capital of India, and the civic environment is peaceful and free from communal tension.

The educational infrastructure of Ladakh is poor. Its efficacy can well be gauged by the fact that every year only about 13-16 percent students pass (with help!) class X and class XII board examinations.

11. Why is the programme restricted to Muslims and Buddhists? What are the demographics of Ladakh in terms of religions?

The programme is presently restricted to Muslims and Buddhists because these two communities alone constitute the population of Ladakh. The region's population is 50 percent Muslims and 50 percent Buddhists. However, there is no bar on girls from other religions and other conflict zones in the country.

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Chief Executive
Indus International School,
Billapura Cross, Sarjapura,
Bangalore 562125
E: arjunray13@rediffmail.com
P: 080 - 22895900
F: 080 - 7823850

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