When the tough get going

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By JHINUK MAZUMDAR
  • Published 25.08.13
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Nurul Islam of Jadavpur University received The Mayukh Mitter Memorial Scholarship

Nurul Islam has no electricity in his home in the Nowsera village of Murshidabad. He studied by the light of the lantern and scored 84.6 per cent in Higher Secondary. Not just that, the son of a fish seller ranked 1499 in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination and is now studying power engineering at Jadavpur University. His aim? “To bring power to my home some day.”

Rakhi Podder is the daughter of a mini-bus driver. She cleared Madhyamik with 86 per cent marks from Nimta Jibantosh Ghosh Memorial Girls High School. But what sets apart this Belghoria girl is that other than fighting the odds to continue her education, she is also pursuing gymnastics and winning state and national-level championships.

“To be a strong woman you have to excel not in academics alone but in other fields as well,” says the young champ.

Vanshika Bagri of Sushila Birla Girls’ School received The Surrendra Paul Memorial award for Courage

Nurul received The Mayukh Mitter Memorial Scholarship and Rakhi the Banani Sen Sanyal Memorial Scholarship at the Peerless Developers presents The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2013, held in association with Parle and powered by Adamas International School, at Uttam Mancha on Saturday.

“It is always a pleasure, a privilege and an education to attend any of the functions of The Telegraph Education Foundation,” said professor Sukanta Chaudhuri, chairman of The Telegraph Education Foundation, in his opening address.

August 24 was the “lead-up ceremony to the grandeur event” next Saturday at Science City auditorium.

“We would like to feel that the very, very humble and marginal efforts that we make are not... a single show — one day in the year — but a continuous exercise that we hope will finally grow into some kind of a movement,” Chaudhuri added.

Akash Datta received The Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage and parents Amiya Kumar Datta and Mamata Datta received The Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba-Ma” Award

The stage saluted the achievements of students like Partha Biswas, who would accompany his father to the field and take tuition classes to earn Rs 400 a month to buy his “boi-khata ar kolom.” His score? A neat 89.7 per cent in Madhyamik from Sutia Barasat Palliunnayan Vidyapith. The boy, whose mother rolls bidis, aspires to become an IPS officer.

But when does he get time to study? “In the evenings. And I only go to the field on my holidays. It’s not difficult,” smiled the determined boy, who received The Prabodh Kumar Roy Memorial Scholarship.

Awards convener Barry O’ Brien captured the essence of the awards. “Those of you who have got certificates, or scholarships, this is only the beginning. You won’t be asked to walk up to the stage over and over again but you have to keep performing, you have to keep trying and keep doing well.”

Among those striving hard is Vanshika Bagri of Sushila Birla Girls’ School, who was diagnosed with hereditary motor sensory neuropathy at age five.

“The difficulties faced by her on a daily basis include slurring of speech, inability to walk without a crutch and recurrent respiratory disorder,” said father Vikas Bagri.

But the Class V student refuses “to compromise on her studies, completes her homework and tops most of her exam”.

Vanshika received the Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage with another student Akash Datta, who is suffering from spastic diplegia since birth.

Akash has difficulty negotiating steps but would still walk up to his classroom on the first or the second floor without crutches. “I don’t want others to feel that I am different,” said the student of Barasat PCS Government High School, whose parents Amiya Kumar and Mamata Datta received The Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba-Ma” Award, for not giving in ever.

They push him to chase his dream, which is playing cricket. Ask Akash about his challenges and his response is, “I can play like others, it’s just that I have to stand with the support of the bat. I met Sourav Ganguly and told him that he might know how many fours and sixes he has scored but I know how many of those were stopped!”

Rakhi Podder of Udaypur Haradyal Nag Adarsha Vidyalaya received the Banani Sen Sanyal Memorial Scholarship. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

“The award gives us the occasion to recognise students who have fought against odds to emerge triumphant, parents who have made enormous sacrifices for their children, teachers who are committed to bring out the best in students and schools that have nurtured them,” said Jayanta Roy, managing director and chief executive officer, Peerless Developers Ltd.

The stories of the youngsters’ courage and grit were as moving as they were inspiring. Like that of Yogesh Kumar Chander of Grace Ling Liang School, who wrote two of his ISC papers from the hospital bed after a surgery and went on to score 80 per cent, or Dwaipayan Nag of Hartley Higher Secondary School, whose father succumbed to cancer while Dwaipayan was writing his English paper in Madhyamik.

“I came back home, performed the last rites and went back the next day to write another examination,” said the boy who scored 87.6 per cent.

The ceremony also saluted Parthapratim Mondal, the son of a security guard who received The Telegraph Education Foundation scholarship after clearing Madhyamik with 90.8 per cent marks from Tantipara Nabakishore Vidyaniketan. “My father works in Jharkhand and the little he earns he sends back home so that I can continue my studies,” said Parthapratim.

Sukanta Chaudhuri encouraged the youngsters as well as the Foundation’s initiative, recognising the “small army which we hope will grow into a still bigger army of individual benefactors who fund most of the scholarships for the disadvantaged and the admirably struggling students.”

The road ahead is a long one, he stressed. “Maybe one day a very big systemic change will happen and there will be such great improvement in the education system and educational support for disadvantaged students and foundations like The Telegraph Education Foundation and others will become unnecessary but that day is a long way away… whatever any of us can do to stand by them and to learn from them will be, I think, a step in the right direction and that is where the Foundation is trying to move.”


I hope The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence is a continuous exercise that will finally
grow into some kind of a movement - Sukanta Chaudhuri

You won’t be asked to walk up to the stage over and over again but you have to keep performing, you have to keep trying and keep doing well - Barry O’ Brien