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Ford Foundation unveils new programme

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, FEB.11. The Ford Foundation's International Fellowship Programme is offering 42 fellowships this year to Indian students from nine select States. Those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, religious minorities, women and physically challenged and those with other forms of social deprivation are eligible.

According to Kuckoo Rao, Director of the International Fellowship Programme, India, the fellowships are being offered to study for a Master's or a Ph.D. degree in social sciences, arts and humanities in any university in the world including India. "IFP is now concentrating on specific States which are socio-economically or educationally backward. An elaborate and well thought out selection process ensures that only the truly deserving get this opportunity,'' Ms. Rao noted.

The States selected for the IFP are Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttranchal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. "Our problem is that we are not getting enough candidates with the specified qualifications from the categories prescribed,'' Ms. Rao said.

"We cannot bring down the academic eligibility criteria any further as this is a programme promoting excellence in higher education along with building a new generation of social justice leaders,'' Ms. Rao pointed out.

The programme, launched in 2000 with a target of supporting 3,150 fellows in 22 countries the world over in a period of 10 years, has so far chosen 120 fellows from India. Of them, 90 are currently pursuing their studies in various universities. From the next year there is a proposal to extend the fellowships to North East States as well. For the current year the last day for submission of pre application forms is February 28.

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