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Dream money can’t buy

Calcutta, Sept. 28: Being the freak show at the para circus is Jagannath Bera’s part-time job. His father is a day labourer who often can’t find work.

To make ends meet, he takes his son, a Class XI student of Sofiabad Sitala Prasad High School, to melas and festivals to draw pictures for revellers to spare the change.

Jagannath has no arms. He uses his toes to write, paint, entertain ' and score 55 per cent in Madhyamik 2005. And he dares to dream of studying on.

Jagannath ' and many like him ' took centre stage at the Science City auditorium today at the ninth edition of The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence. Dare to Dream was its theme.

But the spotlight was first on tsunami victims, forgotten nine months after the tragedy. Little Naru, whose entire family got wiped out, couldn’t make it, said host Barry ’Brien.

But several other little heroes did. Enough to move chief guest N.R. Narayana Murthy to comment: “I have never seen such heroism, such confidence, such compassion, such daring, such determination.”

Infosys’s mentor could have been referring to Manika Bhowmik whose father is a loom worker. She rarely receives two square meals a day and has no electricity at home.

Yet, she passed Madhyamik with 82.1 per cent and HS with 81.2 per cent. She’s now an English honours student and refuses to get married.

Or to 90-year-old Enid Isaac Warsi, founder of Modern School and president of Modern English Academy ' both at Barrackpore ' for over half a century spent as an educationist.

Or to Jamila Khatun, who lives on a north Calcutta pavement but ensures that her son and daughter go to school.

There were many such stories as students, teachers and parents were honoured by the awards presented by Adamas International School of the Rice Group in association with Bengal Peerless.

As the chief guest put it, the day belonged “not to rhetoric, but to deeds”.

Deeds that ranged from Gopi Ballabh Singh Deo’s rural Bengal to Anjali Razdan’s swank Alipore.

Gopibabu was inducted into The Telegraph Education Foundation Hall of Fame for a life dedicated to the education and empowerment of Purulia’s Sabar community.

Razdan, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy’s principal, led her students to lift The Telegraph School of the Year trophy.

If there were remarkable people receiving the awards, some of those giving them away were no less so.

Like Nirjharani Chakraborty, who started with sweeping and cleaning classrooms, and is now principal of Rishi Bankim Chandra College for Women in Naihati, with a doctorate to boot.

“A plausible impossibility is more important than a convincing possibility” was how Narayana Murthy summed it up.

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