Meet Tsering Tashi, the first scientist from Ladakh working for the prestigious Indian Space Research Organisation and the founder of a charitable trust named Ladakh Science Foundation.
LSF is not only promoting the sciences across the region but also helping students from low-income families secure various government scholarship schemes and attend some of the most premier institutions in this country.
Although the foundation was only registered as a charitable trust in May 2019, Tashi has been assisting promising students since 2002, when he first got a job with ISRO.
“It began with 20 students in the first year. Last year the number touched 300, and this year, 350. Although there are drop-outs, the overall success rate of students pursuing their studies is about 80%. Most students who approach us are going after professional courses. We are also working on their career growth and placements as well, besides helping them pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions,” says Tashi, speaking to The Better India.
For the 2019-20 academic session, his foundation has helped more than 350 Ladakhi students obtain admission into courses and colleges of their choice through the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS). Each student is eligible for a scholarship amount of Rs 4-9 lakh, depending on the course and all them come from economically weaker households.
“LSF has carried out career counselling sessions for the PMSSS scholarship scheme and various other competitive examinations like IIT-JEE, NEET etc. Our mentors guided more than 700 students in 2019, and our volunteers have supported the students in various phases such as online form registration, counselling, college finalization/selection, and travelling, among others,” says Tashi.
LSF has volunteers across major Indian cities ranging from Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune to Darjeeling and Cochin.
“For scholarships, we look for students from Ladakh coming from economically weaker sections. We visit schools and interact with the students and provide awareness, career counselling and connect with them through social media. We guide them through WhatsApp, Skype etc,” informs Tashi.
Why is Tashi so invested in the future of Ladakhi students?
The answer, he believes, lies in his upbringing, which stirred his appetite for learning.
Born in Matho, a picturesque village located 25 km away from Leh, Tashi’s father was a jawan in the paramilitary forces and mother a homemaker.
Studying in a local village school till Class 8, he moved to the Government High School in the Chuchot Gongma village, which was six km away.
He passed out of the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Leh town, following which he did his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the Govt College of Engineering & Technology, Jammu. Alongside, he also completed a diploma in computer science.
After that, he worked at a few places, including the Ladakh Renewable Energy Development and the Indian Astronomical Observatory, before finally landing a job with ISRO in 2002 as a scientist and engineer.
Subsequently, in 2010, he completed his Masters in Satellite Navigation from Politecnico Di Torino, Turin, Italy in 2010 under a United Nations fellowship programme.
At present, he is the Deputy Project Director (Elect.), IRNSS Satellite at UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru.
Inspired by teachers and family, and understanding the limitations of the higher education system in Ladakh, he began working towards helping others acquire better opportunities for higher education.
“I have gone through many hardships, but there is one thing I have learnt through my experiences. If you have the will-power, you can achieve whatever you want in life. If I can study in a government school and reach this level in my life, others can do the same and reach greater heights. Our children must get opportunities and exposure so that they can benefit in a big way, and go very far,” says Tashi.
“Growing up, I also endured a lack of financial support. This is why I want to support others so that they can be successful,” he adds.
At ISRO, Tashi has worked on a series of projects—Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, GAGAN-TDS, Navigation and Communication Spacecraft and application projects.
“I had heard about ISRO sometime in my final year of engineering. Fascinated by their work in harnessing space technology for national development, I wanted to do my bit in the development of space technology and its applications. Of course, I had also read quite a bit about some of the eminent scientists at ISRO like Dr Vikram Sarabhai and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and was inspired by their work. Thus, when the opportunity to work at ISRO came along, I didn’t hesitate,” he says.
For Tashi, the ultimate objective is to generate a genuine interest in science among young Ladakhis and make it interesting for them.
“Next week, the LSF is conducting a Ladakh Science Olympiad with school students from Class 9-12 participating in it. We shall also like to work with local authorities in the field of science education and related matters. Whatever we are doing today should help future generations,” he concludes.
If you want to contribute to Ladakh Science Foundation, click here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)