Born in America, Tina Wadhwa, 25, has come to Mumbai to research the effect that Bollywood music has on underprivileged children. “A lot of the impact is empowering and uplifting. But sometimes the films themselves can increase criminal tendencies,” said Wadhwa. “On weeks when the theatres are closed I even noticed crime rates go up in a slum,” she added.
Wadhwa is one of several Fulbright Scholars in India on a research project or course of study. The United States and Indian governments fund the Fulbright programme, which is in its 60th year this year. Indian students receive the scholarship to pursue higher education in the US and vice-versa.
A total of 17,000 scholars from both countries have received the scholarship since its inception. Several of the scholars were present at the American Centre on Friday to commemorate the landmark.
Aaron Welch, 32, affiliated to the University of Yale just completed his study on biodiversity conservation in the Western ghats after spending a year researching in the Konkan region. “This is one part of the country where through partnerships between organization involved in conservation and private landowners a lot can be achieved,” said Welch.
Kainaz Amaria (31), a photojournalist, is here to study the Parsi community through the figure of the Parsi priest. “Other themes such as inter-marriage or the dwindling Parsi population don’t lend themselves to a variety of visuals, like priests do,” said Amaria, who is two months into her nine-month long project. Co-scholar Abigail Rabinowitz (31) is profiling surrogate mothers and Priya Bapat (25) is looking at women in micro-finance.
“The Fulbright programme is not subject-specific. That is how we always have scholars pursuing many diverse research projects and degrees,” said Dr K Shankar, Fulbright Programme Coordinator.