HSBC on Wednesday offered £30,000 each to two winners of its two-year old global scholarship programme.
"It happens only in India," said a senior bank official at the scholarship function last evening. Even though the bank decided to offer 20 scholarships to students across the globe, the exercise has taken off only in India.
Adrian Groom, senior manager, human resources, HSBC, said: "We hope this scholarship scheme will help the bright and young students in this country make a positive contribution to the society." He expects similar kind of scholarships from the bank in other countries "with no strings attached".
Of the 165 students who had applied online, only eight made it to the finals. It was not easy going, said one of the eight finalists, who did not get selected.
A professional panel of five adjudicators were asked to scrutinise the eight finalists on the basis of: leadership quality, determination, commitment, and potential.
Academic qualifications were secondary, as all the applicants had already been accepted by the Cambridge, Oxford and London universities. Selection by these universities was a key pre-requisite for applying for the scholarship programme.
Rit Chandra and Priya Maria Jacob were the two winners. Chandra intends to study architecture and get into town planning, while Jacob, already a social activist, intends to study human rights and social studies.
Others among the finalists wanted to further their studies in art history, genetics, health care and town planning. "It was not an easy task to select just two candidates from 165, considering that they are so talented and bright," said the senior HSBC official.
The selection panel comprised: Phiroza Godrej (educationalist and environmentalist), Ram Guha (historian and social commentator), John Nance (director, education, British Council), T N Ninan (editor, Business Standard) and Niall Booker (chairman, HSBC).