780 JK women students board special train for discovery of India

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 29-11-2023
Women students from J&K taking selfies at the Katra railway station
Women students from J&K taking selfies at the Katra railway station


Onika Maheshwari/New Delhi

Jammu and Kashmir's new college on wheels rolled out from Katra railway station on Sunday with its first batch of 780 girls - all college students from different parts of the Union Territory. For many of them, it was their first journey on the train and also out of J&K.

This special train called JK Gyanodaya Express carrying women students reached Delhi on Monday on its first stop. In the next two weeks, the train will take them to Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and other parts of the country.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jammu Umesh Rai said that the College on Wheels is an initiative of the J&K Council of Higher Education and is led by his university.

Students are assigned projects that they will work on during the journey.

The train has a library where students are encouraged to read at least one book during the journey. They have laptops to finish their projects and make presentations during the trip, Rai said.

Rai said traveling is the best option for education and discovery. It can help "dissolve the boundaries" of their subject of study, and classroom.

Flagging off the train in Katra on Sunday, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that this initiative will open a new chapter in the education sector of the Union Territory.

Dinesh Singh, vice-chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Council of Higher Education, said that train journeys had inspired Mahatma Gandhi, and he hoped this journey would do the same for these students.

He said, “This entire journey is for these young women to inspire themselves with Gandhi's philosophy and find themselves on this train like Gandhi. Education is not limited to the classroom with blackboard only. It is much more than that.

He said, "There will be two charkhas (Spinning wheels) on the board and there will be a competition, the girls who spin the charkha the fastest will be given a book as a prize."

Sophia Hafeez, a graduate student of the Government Degree College in Beerwah, Kashmir, was among the hundreds of excited students who gathered on the platform at Katra railway station to board the College on Wheels.

She said, "I am traveling for the first time outside J&K and also my first train journey." She said she was excited by the opportunity to meet and interact with people from other states.

Sumaira Zubeen also expressed her excitement at the prospect of visiting places outside the UT. The postgraduate student of Islamic studies at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri, said she was looking forward to "seeing the life, culture, food habits and dress" of people from different parts of the country.”

JU VC said that the students in the train were selected based on their project proposals. In July, students were asked to submit project proposals to their colleges. From this names were shortlisted to be a part of College of Wheels.

Rai said a group of seven students from different subjects of study are made into a team to work together on a project. Each student group is led by a guide.

Teams of doctors and paramedical staff from IRTC, UT administration, and JU, as well as Jammu and Kashmir Police and RPF personnel, are accompanying the women on the train.

When the train reached Delhi's Safdarjung railway station on Monday, 22-year-old Shivani Sharma stepped onto the platform feeling nervous and excited. She said she had never traveled outside Jammu and Kashmir.

Shivanim a postgraduate student of the University of Jammu, said, “This is only the second time I have sat inside a train in my entire life. This project gave me the chance to step out of Jammu and Kashmir"

Shivani's team is working on a project on 'food culture' in different parts of India.

Shivani said, "We have prepared a questionnaire for the people. In whichever state we go, we will talk to the people there and find out what food they like the most, where they like to eat, etc."

Pawandeep Kaur, 22, is also visiting the national capital for the first time. She said, "It is going to be a new learning experience and I am excited to see Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House."

Her project is about PCOS(Polycystic ovarian Syndrome) and breast cancer awareness. She said,” We have designed a questionnaire about PCOS and breast cancer among women; we shall contact local girls in each state where we go.”

“By the end of this journey, our goal is to educate women on how they can take care of their lifestyle and health. We are hoping to prepare a report which we would like to publish."

In Delhi, students will visit both the old and new buildings of Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

Their next stop is Ahmedabad, where the girls will visit Sabarmati Ashram. In Mumbai, they would visit the Naval Dockyard, IIT-Mumbai Gateway of India, etc. 

The students are looking forward to reaching Goa where they are scheduled to visit Hansa Naval Air Station. In Bengaluru, they will visit the Indian Institute of Science and Technology and ISRO. 

The train journey will end in Jammu on 2 December.

Jammu and Kashmir administration is spending approximately Rs 4.75 crore on this initiative.