Kargil native Taslima Naaz is currently undergoing rigorous academic training in Kashmir as part of the army’s prestigious Super 50 programme, and the 18-year-old says she is determined to get admission in a good university in medicine for an MBBS course before returning to his hometown.
She is among the four girls from the Union Territory of Ladakh, three from Kargil and one from Leh, who have been chosen this year after a tough selection process under the Army’s education program that trains 50 youths for the NEET competitive examination.
“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, and chasing that dream took me from Kargil to Srinagar. After qualifying the written exam, I was called for an interview and finally selected. I came to know about the Super 50 through an advertisement,” Naaz told PTI.
He says his father has a shop in Kargil and mother is a housewife. He has an older sister and a younger brother who is in primary school.
“This year I finished class 12 in a private school. My sister is an engineer and she is my first and closest inspiration to do well in life. I will make her and my family proud,” said Naaz.
PTI recently visited the army facility located at Haft Chinar in Srinagar, where the program is being run, and interacted with some of the students and a representative of the Kanpur-based NGO, which is a partner of ‘this program, together with a PSU. through its activity related to corporate social responsibility.
The current program evolved from the Super 30 initiative that started in 2018 and initially only 30 boys from Jammu and Kashmir were selected and trained for the National Entrance Eligibility Test (NEET) for the undergraduate level, said the NGO representative.
“Since 2021, 20 girls have also been added, and that is why it is called Super 50. Out of these 20 girls, four are from Ladakh region, three from Jammu and the rest, 13 from Kashmir region . The maximum number (seven) of students who have joined are from Ganderbal, five are from Kupwara and one from Shopian,” he told PTI.
The program aims to make candidates “super focused” on their goals, and before signing up, they must leave their cellphones behind with family members.
Social media turns out to be a huge distraction for them, so phones aren’t allowed, she said.
However, there is a landline on the campus, which can be accessed at a certain time or for any emergency situation, the representative added.
“We focus on our studies, that’s why we’re here. Our parents have high hopes for us. Sacrificing mobile phone use for a certain amount of time, if it helps us build our career, that’s fine,” said 19-year-old Ruksana Batool, who also hails from Kargil.
Kashmir Valley girls who are part of the ‘HPCL Kashmir Super 50 Army’ say they interact with their Ladakhi counterparts in English or Hindi.
“Language is not a barrier at all, we don’t understand each other’s mother tongue, but as girls we have bonded well as we share the same classroom, routine and hostel,” said Shamina Akhtar, aged 19, from Kupwara. .
A normal day for these students starts early. They meet for an assembly, after which the first class starts at 8.30am, followed by a lunch break at 1.30pm and then classes resume at 2.30pm and will continue until 5 in the afternoon.
“There is a tea break and then there is a doubt clearing session at 6 p.m. Our teachers are good and they help us in all subjects. At 7:30 p.m., we go for dinner and then to the our hostel,” said Syed Mobarak Ali, 19, a native of Baramulla.
Regular tests are conducted on Sundays from 10 am to 1 pm, and monthly tests are also conducted that fully assess their preparation, the NGO representative said.
Among the 30 boys, eight are from Ganderbal district, four each from Kargil, Kupwara and Baramulla, two from Pulwama and seven from Budgam, he said.
Ladakh, with the districts of Kargil and Leh, was formerly part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
On 5 August 2019, the Center abrogated the provisions of Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, after which so the valley of Kashmir was closed for a long time.