The Palan Foundation (formally, Golden Tours Foundation), is working closely with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) to provide Online Hindu Studies programme in India and the UK in a pioneering educational outreach programme.
OCHS consulted widely in both the UK and India to gauge the uptake of the programme. The Director of OCHS, Shaunaka Rishi Das commented “we have aimed our scholarships at schools, colleges, and groups who would most appreciate our courses, and whose participation would bring the most value to the programme itself. We have identified 5 institutions in India, all top ranking and whose example others will follow”.
In the UK, the same concept is being developed in association with the National Hindu Students Forum which has branches at all the major universities in the country.
In the initial pilot study, the scholarships were offered to students at Lady Shree Ram College in New Delhi. The results were astonishing.
Mr Rishi Das explained: “We had four-hundred students sign up for this course, which astonished the staff at the college. This is not a subject that has ever been taught in Indian colleges, and they did not expect a big response. Our research had told us that the younger generation does have an interest in issues of identity, heritage, culture, and spiritually, but it was great to see theory put to the test – and the positive result”.
An addition to the online experience, OCHS added an extra educational dimension by sending one of their best tutors, Anuradha Dooney who taught the students and helped bring the materials alive.
“It is so good to be part of such a pioneering programme, as is the case with the Palan Scholarships. #Education, as you know, is a powerful force and these courses we offer have the potential, in time, to transform public discourse, and shape public policy and the results speak for themselves’” concluded Mr Rishi Das.