|My reasons for starting the scholarship
I hail from a family of modest means in a small town in Andhra Pradesh. Education made all the difference to me, opening up a new world of opportunities, both to enhance my own personal and professional development and also to serve people who need help. This is why I value education and I want others also to get the opportunity to study. Education is the great emancipator, both for the individual and for society.
I studied at a government school in my small town. But I realized the value of education and excelled in my studies and was able to get a medical degree from Gandhi Medical College in Hyderabad, India.
I was always interested in studying and achieving with the sole purpose of serving others. Personal prestige and money were not important: serving the family and society were my motivations. My father encouraged my achievements and my mother nurtured my compassion. I wanted to be a doctor since, as a Muslim woman, I could serve in culturally accepted ways.
After migrating to the U.S. I helped to educate most of my family and have continued to do so since education is important part of Indian and Islamic culture. I have also been involved in projects in India to further the education of women, especially Muslim women. My compassion for the poor and uneducated transcends religion and gender, the resources are the only limitation.
Education in India, although improving, continues to be a challenge, especially among the Muslim/Dalit girls of North India. After 30 years of my movement to educate women, I was pleased to discover that President Obama agrees: educating mothers is the best way to break the bonds of generational poverty and the shackles of ignorance. I believe an investment in education will permanently transform our society and is the only short cut to progress, especially in the educationally backward and poor states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The girls and their parents want education but lack the necessary resources. I continue to applaud the non-resident Indian community's contributions to this effort through various forums and agree with all like-minded NRIs that we must do much more.
When an opportunity arose to offer my humble donation for a scholarship to a Muslim woman through the International Media Institute of India, I grabbed it with both hands. It’s an opportunity for me to give back to Mother India, a debt I never can fully repay. India gave me a foundation and the U.S. gave me the pillars in every regard. I am indeed very fortunate. Your institute will also bring the best of U.S. media and education to India giving the scholarship winner a great opportunity for professional development.
My hope is that this spirit of “each one teach one” continues to spread.
Journalism is becoming a field of major importance for Muslim women, some of whom have become eloquent examples in today’s global village. Who else can better serve the Muslim woman's cause than another Muslim woman?
Napoleon said, “Give me great mothers and I will give you a great nation.” He is also supposed to have said, “If there was no press, I would have made sure no one would have ever heard of Waterloo.” Taken together, these quotes emphasize the importance of women in journalism.
Indian Muslim women already make major contributions, although they have not yet reached their full potential. And then there are Pakistani, Afghani, Iraqi, and African sisters. Women journalists will bring a unique perspective to conflict resolutions, peace building and peace-keeping efforts around the world.
I wish the International Media Institute of India and the scholarship winner all the best. I hope and pray that she too can serve the world community like Christiane Amanpour!
Najma Sultana, M.D.