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
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.