A main road passes through the institute. It divides the institute into two parts, one with admin, Lecture Theaters, computer labs and other buildings (including beloved “girls’ hostel”) and the other one with boys’ hostel, KV, and huge unused land. As I was walked along the road for 5 minutes, my felicity ended with the view of roadside. Between boys’ hostel and unused land, there is a patch of un-acquired land. Actually it is “dalit basti” (“mahar wada” as it is called in Maharashtra … future “Buddha nagar”??) as told by some local people, which explains why it has not been acquired yet (and it cannot be in near future). A bunch of children from that basti were respont ding to the call of nature. Suddenly, it smelt shit but condition of those children looked even more pathetic. Most of them suffer from malnutrition, growing up in unhygienic places, no education, no facilities for economic growth and intellectual growth is far beyond their scope. Their parents could merely meet their daily needs and these kids are cheap labor for tea stalls, hotels around the campus. Wedges are max Rs. 10 per day, if the owner wishes to pay or one time meal. If they don’t work, they don’t eat for the day.
I wonder what part the Government can play in uplifting these classes. Let government make policies, take actions, when they wish to take, I am not all negative about the situation. Even though dim, there is a ray of hope in the lives of these children. “Prayaas”, a group of students in our institute work for these children. On short scale, they work very methodically and the process is really efficient. The model is- A Couple of students take classes for these children on weekends or on some specific days. Basti people are convinced to send their children for these classes as kids don’t have to give up their work. (Around) 5 bright students from these are selected and they are admitted to some better school in the city. The expenses are paid by Prayaas. Prayaas gets her funds from institute faculty members, some businessmen in the city and of course, some of the students. Year by year, funds requirement is increasing, but brighter side is more of the Basti is getting educated. The first batch is in 3rd standard. I am sure that one day whole basti will be educated and will live a better life (don’t know how!!).
All these thoughts flooded my mind within a flash and end result was, I was happy. Yes, it smelt shit, but again, the morning was beautiful.