Published: 11th September 2020
Here's how B.PAC alum Sushma Mahabala landed the prestigious Chevening Scholarship
Three female students from Karnataka awarded with Chevening Scholarship for higher studies. This scholarship is made available for people who want to pursue a Masters programme in the UK
When Sushma Mahabala heard that she was among the three women to get Chevening Scholarship from the United Kingdom to study in the London School of Economics, she was on cloud nine. She says, "The name of the course is Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the programme is for one year. The scholarship provided by the United Kingdom will include my tuition fee and other academic expenses. After that, I will come back to India and start a social venture."
Before Sushma got a scholarship, she worked with Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC) for more than two years. B.PAC is a non-partisan citizen's group that aims to improve governance in Bengaluru and to enhance the quality of life. She says, "There are two different programmes at B.PAC called Be Safe and Be Green that are dear to me. While Be Safe is about sensitising the community and the larger public on various issues related to women and children, Be Green is about creating a green space on the Earth and co-existing with other creatures without causing any harm. Though I pursued Civil Engineering, I focused more on Environmental Engineering and using techniques to save the environment and adopt sustainable practices. Since Be Green was all about environment, I worked with the local people and leaders to introduce various initiatives at the ward level. Similarly, for Be Safe, I worked with the local people in particular wards and communities to make places safer for women and stand for their rights."
Three women who were selected from Karnataka during an online interview call
Apart from this, Sushma was also part of the B.CLIP programme under which various young people aspiring to become political leaders are trained. She explains, "There will be various classes and field visits to make them aware of the policies and how they can be applied to solve the problems of people. These candidates will go and join certain parties once the programme is completed. Till date, B.PAC has produced 263 young leaders. We observed that female candidates showed progress in terms of development in the wards as compared to male candidates. That's when I thought it is time to form policies to empower women politically beyond the 30 per cent reservation. Hence, I applied last year for the Chevening Scholarship."
What is next for Sushma? "In the final few days of this programme, we will be asked to submit a dissertation about the social venture or the start-up we plan to begin. Hence, my dissertation will be of a social venture that will not only work in the interest of women in India but draw policies for governance that can be applied as the local as well as national level. Once I complete my programme at LSE, I will come back and work for the incubation of my social venture and take it forward for the development of India," explains Sushma.
Unlike last year, where many more candidates were selected for this scholarship, only 39 candidates were given this scholarship for this academic year. Apart from Sushma, the two other candidates included Rutuja Chhajed, a Biomedical Engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) who is pursuing an MSc in International Health and Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford. For the last three years, she has been working as a research analyst at St John's Research Institute Bengaluru. Roshni Menon, a law graduate from Christ University, who will be studying for an LLM in International Financial Laws at King’s College London.