"I don't want small town girls to struggle like I did"

Sep 01, 2013, 22:34 IST | Swapnal Tilekar

Lila Poonawalla Entrepreneur, Founder of Lila Poonawalla Foundation

1. The Lila Poonawalla Foundation (LPF) is offering a lot of scholarships recently. Can you tell us more about it?
The level of education is growing in the city. Students, especially girls from the rural areas of the city, are willing to opt for higher education and want to go abroad to learn more. The idea of LPF came to my mind because as a young kid, I struggled for my education expenses. I don’t want other small town girls to go through the same. We have been sending hundreds of girls to various universities abroad to take up courses of their interest like engineering and medicine as well as pure sciences. As these scholarships are only for girl students who hail from economically frail classes, the number of students who approach us shows how much importance they give to education these days. We have been increasing the number of scholarships over time and this year, for our science scholarships, we have received more than 1,000 applications already. LPF has also come up with orientation and training programmes in soft skills development, spoken English and others, for girls who cannot easily afford it.

Lila Poonawalla
Lila Poonawalla

2. You have worked for several years in the city. According to you, how has Pune changed over the decades.
I have grown up in the area of Shukrawar Peth and when I go back there to see the house where I grew up, even though the lanes have been converted into small ‘gullies’; I find the traditional aspect to the area still intact. Even though people are living in nuclear families, they are celebrating festivals with equal or even more fervour. Pune has undoubtedly retained its old charm in my opinion.

3. What are the factors that make Pune a preferred city?
Pune is becoming a booming metropolis with a tremendous scale of development in all sectors, right from information technology to education. The mall culture and the IT sector have introduced several business opportunities for city-based youngsters. The infrastructure is good and foreigners are also choosing to stay here for various reasons. A well-established IT sector, business opportunities and educational facilities are three things that have contributed to the city’s growth. Over time, the population and crime rate have also increased yet at the same time I feel happy for the positive growth within the city which is turning it into a metro city full of opportunities.

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