Kavita Suri

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Daughter turns slum-dweller's reverie into reality

While Lal Bahadur Shastri is a role model for Sudesh, a labourer's daughter who got into the news for her academic excellence, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has come as a sudden hope to help her realize the most cherished dream of making it to IAS.

What could be more inspiring for the labourer's daughter than to get an assurance and encouragement from the Chief Minister himself about 'all help for career development and pursuing academics'?

'We will sponsor your coaching for the civil service exams and if need be you can have it in Delhi', the Chief Minister told Sudesh Kumari, this year's topper in Math in the post graduate department of University of Jammu while presenting a token Rs 25,000 on her enviable success in the given background. He appreciated her devotion and hard work, saying the government sponsorship would not be a concession but a matter of right for a promising youth having burning desire to achieve academic excellence.

It was perhaps the brightest moment on this foggy January morning for Sudesh to be with the Chief Minister in his living room along with her proud parents- both the labourers whose world always remained confined to the tiny one-room-tenement in the industrial area in Jammu periphery. It was unimaginable for the family till the previous evening when they got a message that the Chief Minister wanted to meet the girl and her parents. Ever-since hitting the headlines, the poor parent's daughter had never thought of the movement to get a pat from the chief executive of the state that became aboard for her, like many others like her, but not as lucky as she is.

Seeing seated next to the Chief Minister, the twinkling eyes of her parents turned misty as the daughter of the CM and MLA Mehbooba Mufti, while rising to her feet, asked them to take their seats there, observing 'they deserve it, this being their day today'. Mehbooba kept staring Sudesh, who was replying to the queries by Mr Sayeed on her academics. He told her that whatever she needed for preparing for the competitive exam, would be forthcoming.  

To media persons present there, Mufti Sayeed said that it was avowed policy of his government to reward merit in any sphere of activity. Be that promotions or placements. He said the girl coming from a slum has proved her worth in Jammu and the Government would not lag behind in encouraging her. Responding to her wish to do a job, side-by-side preparing for the coveted service in view of family's financial condition, Mufti Sayeed assured that he will help in arranging it in the private sector.  

Coming from a poor family, Sudesh is ornamented with immense degree of humility. Clad in very simple salwar-kameez, Sudesh answered the questions of scribes with much more confidence. Endurance of poverty appears to have matured her ahead of the age. Speaking in Hindi than to giggling with 'wow' or 'hi', Sudesh said that she always attempted to translate her weaknesses as her strength. However, the adage to be poor is not a curse but to be known one really is seems fitting her well as she always concealed her financial settings to her class-mates, from beginning to the post graduate level. What could be more agonizing for a position-holder than that she had to pester her Pappa to confirm about results from the nearby newspaper stand each morning. They don't get newspapers.

Chanderpal with his wife, Kamla came to the city of temples to earn sustenance over two decades ago. Working in factories, the family kept growing with male and female off springs, Sudesh being the younger one. While the brother, after matriculation, chose to return back to farming in the village for supplementing family income, Sudesh's aptitude forced her parents to continue with her education. She was topper from the beginning in Dashmesh Bharti Vidya Mandir, Government Girls Higher Secondary School Shastri Nagar, Government Women College, Gandhi Nagar and then in the University. 

Presently Chanderpal fills the gas cylinders and his wife works in a plastic factory. Income-around Rs 3000/- a month. Sudesh wants to shoulder the responsibly, at least her expenses, by supplementing the income. Talk to her parents how they pulled on. 'We had much faith in Sudesh', says Chanderpal, adding 'her devotion and aspirations made us to work overtime'. If she was continuing with her mission, 'we too had a mission- a mission to fulfill her mission'. He said that in their family set-up, girls are married much early. But he vetoed the pleas of his elders and relatives for just 'to see this day'.

When the children of her age used to pass the time by reading comics or watching television, Sudesh would listen to the biographies of great men. 'Pappa would always talk about Lal Bahadur Shastri, who used to cross the river with clothes tied to his head, for pursuing academics. 'This remained always in my sub-conscience- a guiding spirit indeed'. 'For millions of Indians Shastriji might have been an inspiration for his Jai Jawan Jai Kissan slogan, but for me, he was a temple of learning'. She said her parents are a real strength for her who has undergone all the rigorous to keep the wheels of life moving ahead.

On being applauded by the media and now the Chief Minister, Sudesh says her friends too would have visited her shanty dwelling place to congrat her but they don't know the place. Mein nay kissi ko apna patta hi nahi diya hai , she said, elaborating that they have just one room which is everything - kitchen, drawing, dining etc.

Sudesh would always devote her leisure in reading what would be left from the syllabi in the government schools like hers. That certainly placed her ahead of other classmates, she felt, while expressing her gratitude to the teachers who always encouraged her talent. Mr Subash Kumar, an entrepreneur, who has offered helping them in Sudesh's education, also accompanied the family. The Chief Minister appreciated the gesture, saying that this spirit among 'haves' will certainly help 'have-nots' to grow.

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