BATHINDA: Coming from deprived dalit family where providing education to females is like a big ‘no’ and mother got the basic education after marriage after much persuasion to reaching to prestigious ivy-league University in Germany is inspirational story of a village woman in Punjab. By being born in conservative community biased against females, Amita Bhatti never had imagined that she will be able to get such education which will get her to Germany but her grit and determination made it happen. After completing her M Phil from Central University of Punjab at Bathinda in Environmental Sciences, Amita(32) is now pursuing her doctorate in Microbial Molecular Medicine at Humboldt University of Berlin, which is prestigious ivy-league University. Humboldt University has 30 winners as its alumni including famous scientists like , Max Plank, Robert Koch, Erwin Schrodinger, Paul Ehrlich, and Otto Hahn. She is doing research on Ayurvedic Indian plants and after completing her doctorate wants to work at the grassroots level to uplift her society through public outreach programs focused on science.
Amita is one of the very few students from India which was selected for fellowship under national overseas scholarship in 2017 funded by union ministry of social justice and empowerment. “I still remember seeing so many airplanes flying high when I was a kid, but never imagined that I could ever travel in one of those luxury fleets,” says Amita, who hailed from poor Scheduled Caste family at Verka near Amritsar and was educated in government schools in Punjabi medium. “I am from Valmiki Caste, an untouchable outcaste where some persons even today does manual scavenging and where dreaming for a girl is just like impossible. “After I have achieved a lot I want to inspire children from families who were traditionally labeled as untouchables and outcasts especially my own Valmiki community”, said Amita talking to TOI over phone from Berlin.
“Having born in a family where virtually no one was well educated, let alone studying in English medium, I had great trouble in the first year of BSc after my senior secondary as transforming to all English instructions was challenging for me who had come from Punjabi medium background. However as I had decided to go the tough way I succeeded in my mission and to realise it the teachers and many good friends at Guru Nanak Dev University helped me immensely”, said Amita talking about taking and realising the tough decision.
“I was actually interested in basic sciences and and molecular biology fascinated me a lot from my BSc days and I decided to pursue career in it. I surprised myself as well as my family by graduating both BSc and MSc with first class, she says.
She did B Sc and M Sc from GNDU, Amritsar. The turning point in her life came when she joined the Department of Environmental Sciences and Technology, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda for M -Phil under the guidance of Dr. Yoga Lakshmi. She worked on microbial biofilms for research and cleared CSIR-NET, one of the benchmark tests for Assistant Professor recruitment in India. Subsequently she applied for National Overseas Scholarship and the selection for fellowship gave her wings to fly. Now she is working to elucidate pathway-based molecular medicinal activities of selected Ayurvedic plants under the supervision of Professor (Dr.) Regine Henge, a world-renowned microbiologist and the director at Institut für Biologie, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.
With Ph D from Humboldt she can emigrate and settle anywhere in the world but she would like to come back to India and pay back the country from which I got all the support, to serve the nation.
Dr. Felix Bast, a faculty from Central University Punjab, who is on sabbatical at Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung in Bremen, Germany said “Let students like Amita be the future of India. We need to raise citizen like her who work with full commitment but never forget their roots and nation”. Central University of Punjab Vice Chancellor Prof. RK Kohli said “Central University of Punjab is committed for social uplift of the nation in general and state of Punjab in particular and Amita, one of our proud alumni, is big example of it.
Amita’ father Amrik Dass Bhatti said that she is the first person in her entire maternal and paternal family lines to pursue Ph D. The best decision in my life was to send my wife, Meena Bhatti to school, before we had our two children(traditionally females from our community are seldom sent to school) and raise my children in a liberal atmosphere. We believe in Dr. BR Ambedkar who keeps on inspiring generations of our community. I hope the skills that Amita imbibed at Humboldt will be inculcated to society in India.