Aurangabad teenager Deeksha Shinde claims to be selected for NASA fellowship; netizens smell scam: All you need to know

By: |
August 21, 2021 10:43 AM

Netizens claimed that the MSI Fellowships programme, which Diksha claimed to be selected for, is for those who already hold a bachelor's degree.

Some users also tagged astrophysicist Jackie Faherty whose name was there on one of the certificates shared by Diksha Shinde.

While many prodigies in India have either been selected by NASA or other prestigious global institutions for research or fellowship, a Pune teenager’s claim of being selected by NASA left netizens stunned as they smelled something fishy. Several news outlets including Lokmat and ANI reported that Diksha Shinde, a 14-year-old girl from Aurangabad, was selected as a panellist on NASA’s prestigious MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel. Shinde said that she wrote a theory on black holes and God which was accepted by NASA in her third attempt.

In Lokmat, she claimed that she won a research competition organised by International Astronomical Search Collaboration and provisionally discovered the ‘Main Belt asteroid’. Shinde also claimed that she was selected for a paid three months course where she received a monthly stipend of Rs 50,000. Now she has claimed to have been selected as a panellist for the 2021 MSI Fellowships Virtual Panel where she would be reviewing proposals submitted by researchers and is being paid for the panellist job. News agency ANI shared some photos of her certificate claimed to have been issued by NASA.

The certificate bears the signatures of NASA CEO and President James Bridenstine and Department Chair James Frederick. However, NASA is currently being headed by Bill Nelson who holds the post of an administrator – chief of NASA. There is no post such as CE and President in NASA. Some netizens pointed out that James Frederick Bridenstine was the administrator in NASA between 2013 to 2018 and said that the name was split into two to create two separate names.

They also claimed that the NASA certificate templates are freely available on the website Canva. Netizens further dug into her LinkedIn profile where Diksha is using Dr. as prefix to her name.

Netizens also claimed that the MSI Fellowships programme is for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree and wish to pursue further studies in the United States.

Some users also tagged astrophysicist Jackie Faherty whose name was there on one of the certificates shared by Diksha Shinde. Responding to the tweets, Faherty said, “I don’t know why my name got tied into this but someone has created a scam using a 14 yr old girl in India and her dream of being a scientist. If Diksha really has a passion for Astronomy she can reach out to me and I’ll find some legitimate pathways for her passion.”

She also denied heading any such department mentioned in the certificate.

This threw focus on Diksha Being scammed in the name of NASA. Reacting to the anomalies highlighted by the netizens, ANI Editor Smita Prakash said that the agency is looking into the claims made.

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