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Giving back to the motherland

Non-resident Indians may consider this just a small way to share their prosperity with the motherland, but the golden hearts scholarships have come as lifeline for students from the poverty-struck farmlands of Punjab who want to study engineering, reports Preetinder Singh.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 00:03 IST

Non-resident Indians may consider this just a small way to share their prosperity with the motherland, but the golden hearts scholarships have come as lifeline for students from the poverty-struck farmlands of Punjab who want to study engineering.

What began as a small initiative by Punjabi University in Yadavindra College of Engineering in Talwandi Sabo is all set to shape many bright careers. Today, the college has 137 students in its B.Tech course under the sponsorship programme. These students have agreed to pay back their fees after they get jobs. That amount will go into educating others like them. The university has, so far, collected more than Rs 3 crore, most of it from Punjabis living abroad.

When the university first came up with the idea of giving rural youth a shot at engineering careers by raising money from donations, no one had thought it would succeed. But the idea went on to prove all assumptions wrong. Unfortunately, most of the money is coming in from outside while there is not much support in India.

Recently, Los Angeles-based Nachhatter Singh not only agreed to sponsor five students but also persuaded 15 of his friends to donate. “Punjabis abroad share a deep bonding with the motherland and are always looking for an opportunity to join good causes here. The vice-chancellor of Punjabi University approached me in the US and got me convinced that if Punjab had to grow, the youth would have to be saved from drugs and poverty. And for this, they require education to give them direction,” said Nachhatter.

He considers the task his religious duty and recently raised $32,000 for the cause. “We know that this money will change the lives of many underprivileged but bright students,” he said.