| Animesh Paul receives his award from Kapil Dev. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Aug. 26: “I was once asked by a 15-year-old girl whether the world was a good place or a bad place. I did not have an answer then… If she would have been at this function today, she would have got her answer that the world is a good place,” said governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.
The function in question: The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2006, held at the Science City auditorium.
Saluting tales of courage and compassion, of hope amidst heartbreak, it marked the 10th edition of the awards instituted by The Telegraph Education Foundation.
If the chief guest termed it a “unique event” that deserved “thanksgiving”, the star guest said he was “proud” to have shared the stage with such “champions” and “true heroes”.
The star guest in question: Kapil Dev Nikhanj.
Having handed over the Surrendra Paul Memorial Trust Award for Courage to 13 youngsters who had battled the odds to excel, the champion cricketer, “choked” with emotion, gave one simple message. To thunderous applause from fans young and old, Kapil said: “Don’t lie to yourself, always be true to yourself and you will emerge a champion.”
The show hosted by Barry ’Brien belonged to the little champions, their teachers and their parents.
Champions like Animesh Paul or Md Arsalan Alam. One in class IV and the other in class V. Both severely handicapped but both serious about their studies and so full of life.
Champions like Sudhangshu Sekhar Sarkar, headmaster of Rajat Jubilee High School in a remote corner of Sunderbans. Having graduated from Presidency College — as a contemporary of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Rajat Roy — he chose to return to his roots and be a schoolteacher for Rs 250 a month. “Had I moved away I would not have achieved so much,” smiled the frail teacher in white dhoti kurta. The 60-year-old, who has brought literacy and light, roads and sanitation to his village, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
If courage was the theme of all these remarkable stories, the theme for The Telegraph School Awards function was appropriate: Calcutta police, all of 150 years old. In the presence of police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee and former top cop Satyabrata Basu, children of eight lawmen who had died on duty in the past 20 months were given scholarships.
No wonder governor Gandhi hailed this as a “day devoted to hope”.