TODAY -

REAL HEROES OF EAST INDIA - 'JAI HO'
- Ordinary people Extraordinary Stories -

Robert Lanky *

'Jai Ho' & 'Slumdog' are the two top words of 2008, according to a survey. For young India, they are the two coolest phrases. Eight Oscar awards winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire", which tells the story of six kids who belong to a very humble part of our commercial city -Mumbai. These kids did not even have a birth certificate but got their passports and visas with in three days. Now that's a real miracle- hats off to the Regional Passport office. Before and after the Oscar's red carpet ceremony many critics of the country have contended that the "Slumdog Millionaire" is a projection of poor India by an English director Danny Boyle. There was a debate as to why should India celebrate? I too, agree to some extent, but at the same time, I find reason to celebrate also, for our musician maestro AR Rehman and Gulzar's "JAI HO". Notwithstanding critics, I would like to convey to Mr Danny Boyle, that we have many unsung heroes in Eastern Part of India who have emerged out of the same humble back ground and stand tall as a role model in the Indian society.

If we were to make a list of our unsung heroes it would be an endless list. But I would definitely like to make a mention about a few of them, whom I consider as Real Heroes and can proudly say the word "JAI HO".

In the first of the series of incredible stories about the people of East India there is a story about a 15 yr, old class XI student, school boy named Babar Ali, who belongs to small village called Gangapur in Murshidabad district, West Bengal. He is from an area and a society where education is considered as luxury. This class XI student goes to school in the morning and immediately after reaching back his home in the after noon he becomes Principle of another school in Gangapur. He started this humanitarian noble cause with a aim "Education for All" in Oct 2002. Initially he started this noble mission in a small hutment with only eight children. He was both teacher & principle himself. It has been a long journey and now his school has 600 students. It was not an easy task, he belongs to an area where poverty is rampant & education is a far distant dream, which only a few lucky ones can afford. But in Babar Ali's school called ANAND SIKSHA NIKETAN, the education is free. Senior students of his school are working as teachers and the school has classes up to 8th. It was not easy to arrange finances Babar had to depend on donations which were never enough. He still does not have a school building but he is not scared to take up the challenges ahead like "Real Heroes"- Slumdog.

The second story is about a young girl named Jalpana Paul from Naxal infested area of Malkangiri in Orissa. She is a small village girl with passion to play football and cricket. Only boys are permitted to play in her village but she forcefully used to join them. She had lost her mother at a very young age and had to manage her home alongside her school but she would still steal some time to practice both football and cricket. A determined Jalpana, with her enthusiasm, started motivating other girls too to play. Slowly she formed a team with only one ball to practice with a winning habit in her mind. Jalpana's hard work took the team to district level and won the competition which gave her recognition and honour.

In her family girls were not permitted to move out of the house. They were supposed to help their mothers bind bidis. Despite all odds, Jalpana Paul became the first girl to form a football and cricket team in the district as a player and as a coach as well. In the last five years she has groomed about hundred girls and most of them have got jobs under the sports quota. Jalpana herself has been teaching at the village school a job offered by district education board for her dedication to the sports. At times Jalpana had to spend her meager salary of Rs 3,000/- for children's meals but she still says that it's just a beginning and she would only feel satisfied when these village girls make it to the national and then to international level.

Another story of 'Service to Mankind' is that of a woman from Kohima- my own capital city of Nagaland a 'Mother to Many' orphan children of Nagaland and founder of Kohima Orphanage. For the last 25 years a "Zaputuo Angami" has been a mother of abandoned children of Nagaland. In this historical place people have been leaving orphans at the door step and she has brought up each and every child as her own. Toady, Zaputuo is facing a crisis. She does not have enough funds to take care for these kids, but one thing does not change her 'Love for these Children'. She was a nurse in a Govt hospital. It started when she brought home a child left by his parents in the hospital. And now the number has increased to 72. She wonders, how so many children don't have parents? Initially there was no money to take care of children and 37 years later the problem still remains as difficult. Yet this 85 years old lady, Zaputuo Angami, has never thought twice about her mission. In insurgency torn Nagaland, the Kohima Orphnage founded by Zaputuo still stands as symbol of love and strength for the children without a home & without a parent.

ZAPUTUO ANGAMI: MOTHER TO ALL

On the day the author reached the orphanage, two children aged 11 & 13 days old only were left at the gate of this mother's abode. Her own daughter Nebanue silently supporting her mother through thick and thin says - we don't have land, house, a paddy field, or even land for burial, but if all these children get educated and start working we will still be proud.

'Mother to all', Zaputuo is running this temple with maximum help coming from Assam Rifle Headquarter at Kohima and also in bits and parts from Govt and Churches. Her daughter Nebanuo Angami tells that 50 children from this home have been adopted by various people since it's establishment. Many children have got enrolled in Assam Rifle & Assam Regiment in the Indian Army. Some of them have also got jobs in Police organisation and Home Guards. A hug, a kiss, a hand reaching out that's all Zaputuo and her daughter need to carry on with their lives.

These real stories just brought to you Mr Danny Boyle, who faced the extreme hardship but their passion for what they do is never diminished! India has many such real heroes from all walks of life, who could not go on the red carpet of Oscar or Noble Prize on their own. They could very well project the Image of Real India and It's People in front of the world. The world will be forced to cheer and say loudly "JAI HO"


* Robert Lanky is freelancer based in North East India and contributes to e-pao.net. Robert writes on generic topics, which pertains to social issues of various states of the region. He can be contacted at www[DOT]robertlanky[AT]gmail[DOT]com. This article was webcasted on March 19th, 2009.






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