As a tribal woman, I feel empowered on achieving my Ph.D. goals: Aayushi Lyngwa

Success often comes to those who dare to act. It seldom goes to the timid who are ever afraid of the consequences – a proverb that clearly seems to be written for someone like Aayushi Lyngwa, a successful Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) scheduled tribe scholar from Aizawl, Mizoram.

A member of a tribal community-based in North East India, Aayushi comes from an economically disadvantaged family background. She, however, developed a passion for pursuing a Ph.D. while completing her Master's degree. It was a tough decision as much as it was financially demanding, too. During her field studies, she envisaged herself working for the upliftment of tribal communities, especially in the context of informal employment and women empowerment. She also got selected in the Central University of Gujarat, where she studied MPhil in Economics. She used to receive
Rs. 5,000 stipend, which she recalls was not enough at that time.

Aayushi was introduced to National Fellowship Scheme (NFS) by one of her professors during her MPhil. Seeing how passionate her student was about pursuing her PhD, Professor Indira Dutta motivated her and explained the benefits of the fellowship. NFS is the Central Sector Scheme of MoTA, where 1000 fresh Scheduled Tribe (ST) students are given fellowship for pursuing MPhil and Ph.D. courses, every year.

Recalling her journey, Aayushi shares, “Under this fellowship, I applied in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur for a Ph.D. in 2017. I was stress-free as all the fees – be it hostel, institute, semester, and contingencies - were all taken care of and covered under the fellowship. My studies are based on fieldwork, with the benefits from the scheme, I faced no financial crunch. “I got financial independence because of this fellowship. This, in turn, helped me gain self-confidence, where I don’t have to depend on anybody,” she added.

She also informed that the communication channels between the officials from MoTA, and the institute were always open for her and other students like her. They were able to develop personal networks and connections through various workshops and conferences organised by the officials. It opened floodgates of opportunity and self-development for her and others. Apart from that, there is a grievances portal on the official ministry site, which helps resolve grievances within 24-48 hours.

Aayushi aspires to work in the tribal informal sector. She is also willing to mentor other tribal scholars in their academic or research abilities and help them overcome the minor challenges in their Ph.D. journey and beyond. She is grateful for this fellowship as it has empowered a tribal woman like her and helped her fulfil her dream of attaining a Ph.D.

The National Scholarship Scheme from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is for the higher education of ST Students pan India in any of the 246 Premier Institutes of the country like IITs, AIIMS, IIMs, NIITs, etc. It is a Central Sector Scheme fully funded and implemented by the Central Government. Through this fellowship, till now 2148 students are benefited and each year 1000 fresh scholarships are given.

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