The Charpak Programme is named after Georges Charpak (1924 – 2010). He was a French physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992. During World War II, Georges Charpak served in the French Resistance. He was deported to the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau when he was 20 years old. Georges Charpak survived and received his PhD in Nuclear Physics at the age of 30 from the Collège de France. His later findings were of considerable significance for the advancement of civil nuclear engineering and biomedicine. After receiving his Nobel Prize, Georges Charpak became a tireless advocate of the “hands on” approach in science in elementary schools. His work lives on in tens of thousands of classrooms in France today.
For more information visit the website: http://www.inde.campusfrance.org/en/node/11234. Here we are having chat with Peeyush Khare who attended the Charpak exchange programme.
Can you give me a brief introduction about you ?
Name: Peeyush Khare.
Currently: PhD student in Yale University in the department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.
Research area: atmosphere. Here we do a lot research in atmosphere, and talk air pollution, global health due to that etc.
Interest: martial arts club
Previously: MS from Virginia Tech where in environmental engineering. Young India fellowship, B.Tech from VIT, Vellore.
Give me a brief introduction about Charpak scholarship ?
There are two kinds of Charpak Scholarship. One is given for the entire duration of Masters studies and the other one is a semester exchange programme. What I got was the Charpak semester exchange programme. It is instituted by the embassy of France in India. You have to have a University in France to host you. Charpak scholarship is not specific in its domain students from any field can apply. Campus France is the agency in France which handles the scholars. One you reach France, Campus France will take care of everything. The embassy doesn’t directly involve with you.
Who all can apply for the fellowship?
There are mainly only two criteria:
What is the selection process?
Any do’s or don’ts you suggest?
What does this scholarship entail?
You will be in the list of the embassy. If any opportunity comes up in France or India they will automatically notify you.
Tell me about your experience in France ?
My experience was quiet brilliant. You will be in a place where there are people from many cultures and nationalities and from all that you will learn a lot about world and how people from different part of the world think.
People came in from a variety of background with their own different experiences. I was studying environmental policy. When we were talking about climate change, sustainable issue, I understood how Germans think and people US think of the same issue. Or for that matter how people from different culture thought about the same things. It opened my mind and it is critically important, because if I ever get into a position in future where I could tell people that this works and this won’t work, my voice would be more effective because I know how people think, and I know what they would approve and what they would not. Faculty was extra-ordinary, that is something I must say. One of our professors was a person from South Korea. He is one person who constantly works with United Nations, UNFCCC. So the amount of exposure you get is so huge.
What are the skills that you acquired?
I am basically an environmental engineer. I understand the technicalities of environmental problems. But now the world is becoming more intertwined. So as an environmental scientist I cannot go to the governments and say do this, and it will be done! That does not happen because there is always this political interface between science and any action that could possibly happen. In my days in Paris I developed an understanding of how politics plays a role in implementing any solutions. I understood that top-down approach that, how environmental policies are framed not just based on what the science says , they are depended on economy, demography etc. Now I if I come up with something, I have the skill as to how to pitch it to the government or policy makers who take it out to people. That is a skill that acquired.
Tell me one particular incident that really struck a chord in you?
One day I was attending a class room discussion on rising sea level. There was discussion and debates going on. Our professor was saying a particular thing that he found out when he goes to UN sessions. He was telling how diplomats come from countries which lie below sea level come to these international conferences and literally break down because their country is going under water. At the same time there are bigger powerful countries, who are largest contributors to global warming debating on who should stop emissions first. This really struck a chord in me. I was really struck when people are so helpless that they have to come there and break into tears but still not listened to.
What do you have to say to the aspiring students who want to pursue this scholarship ?
I assume that anybody who applies for this scholarship is someone with a broader mind because that is why they would want to go out and see what is in the world. And that is something everyone one should do. The world is very vast one must see what is out there, see the world. Anybody who wins this scholarship is certain to go on and live in an environment that constitute majority of people from the world. Just imagine how good that would be. I was with people from more than 44 countries just imagine the things I would learn from them. That is such real learning that you will get. And they will come back as highly-informed individual and you will have a good idea of how our world is, and how you have to steer in this big wide world. When you know how people from different countries think, you will have confidence to propose something that might work her and will have the confidence to say that it is not going to work in some other area. This is what you get from this scholarship and is most amazing feature of this fellowship.