S. Harpal Singh
ADILABAD, JUNE 28, 2023: By the time her story gets published in these columns, Kumra Padma would be preparing for the counselling that will allot her a seat in one of the over 30 National Institutes of Technology (NIT) in the country. This in itself may not be worth a mention in news columns.
But wait, Padma’s story is certainly worth all that as she is a Raj Gond Adivasi student coming from an utterly poor economic background and a most backward place in Telangana, Rasimetta village of Jainoor mandal in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. Against all odds, this student of Utnoor Tribal Welfare Gurukulam achieved what most of her compatriots do not even have any knowledge about.
The studious girl was part of the Star 50 intensive coaching programme of the Tribal Welfare department in Adilabad district. The programme has been running for a few years now and is successful in helping poor tribal students to access higher technical education and rub shoulders with some of the sharpest brains in India.
Padma was collecting cow dung in the cattle shed adjacent to her humble home in the village when this correspondent met her and her immediate family comprising of her mother and grandmother. Her work engagement at that moment demonstrated that even having spent most of her time in the portals of education, she has not lost touch with her environment or ethos.
The frail-looking achiever was a picture of happiness as the stream of congratulatory messages kept pouring in. Simultaneously, she was going over in her mind about the prospects that awaited her. “Initially it was very difficult for me to cope with the intensity of the coaching,” Padma recalled of her tryst with the Star 50 programme. She suddenly remembered the difficult period of the pandemic which was responsible for the Star 50 programme becoming an online event rather than physical classes.
“Many of us found it difficult to comprehend what was being taught through projectors as part of online classes are a one-way communication,” she summarised. “Thankfully, physical classes were restored in time and we did the best of it,” she added. “I will opt for a course in computer sciences at the NIT,” Padma revealed. “I will be given a laptop by the ITDA once I get admission to that course,” she observed.
The success of the tribal girl, nevertheless, has a sad angle to it. Financial difficulties in the family make her ponder over the future. She is already worried about her immediate family which depends on farming for a livelihood. The family does have the support of the villagers many of whom hail from the same clan.
A few altruistic people have contributed some amounts as aid. But, she will need much more during her studies far away from home notwithstanding the governmental support through the ITDA.
S. Harpal Singh
Former Sr. Asst. Editor, The Hindu