Yet, go a little distance away from the cities, and you find a situation so stark and startling you start to wonder if it’s the same country you are in. As it happens, I’ve frequently traveled by train, across length and breadth of the country. In such travels, I’ve seen an India so different from the one in the cities. And it is the main India, mind you, with almost 70% rural population dwelling in it. The scenes I’ve seen are still so vivid in my mind. I’ve seen mango and banyan trees under which a black-board is hung, and some rural children kneeling on the ground, eagerly trying to grasp what the head-master is teaching. They hardly have any books or pencils, but the hunger for knowledge is so apparent ( so is the hunger in their stomachs ); and I've seen such make-shift schools, in almost every villages I've crossed by. It’d be so nice if they actually get the little facilities they so urgently need.
I feel really happy and hopeful when top brands like Tata Capital come forward to fulfill many such stories across the country. These are stories of common people, yearning to be fulfilled; dreaming to come true as is the case of this particular 'School on Boat'. I had seen 'roof-less and wall-less' schools, under the mango and banyan trees so far, but this was an eye-opener of sorts. I’ve never seen anything like this before. It portrays the gruesome reality, that some of our unfortunate fellow citizens in many parts of the country faces. Illiteracy is one of the biggest challenges facing our nation today, 37% population of the global total, comprises of illiterate adults ( which is an astounding figure of a whopping 287+ million ). And the most basic requirement of economic development is literacy. We cannot go forward as a country, if our masses are illiterate. Literacy is the ultimate weapon against poverty, backwardness. And it is literacy alone that can reduce the economic imbalances of such humongous proportions that we see, in our country.
However, thanks to NGOs like 'Guria', under the leadership of Ajeet Singh, we still have some hope. In such a religious, cultural and traditional place like Varanasi ( oldest city in the world ), their contemporary and forward thinking is certainly refreshing, positive and admirable to say the least and one that needs encouragement. They've drawn our focus, by working for children who'd otherwise simply loiter around the streets of Varanasi aimlessly, with no hope for their future and perhaps some of them getting into odd, low-menial labour, just to fill their hungry stomachs. To give them a proper direction in life, with education and learning, the NGO started a novel and very innovative ‘Boat School’. The children spend here two hours after their regular school day, and study, play or revise without any pressures or tensions. This can be easily regarded as a stepping stone into the world of learning. But one that has much more potential, which, with help of general public ( like you and me ) can achieve. I'd love it if this 'boat school' can be upgraded with more enhancements, that will make the experience more fruitful and worthier for the many students that come here regularly. With it's success, similar schools can be set up in various other small towns in Vanarasi/Banaras and can even be replicated elsewhere. The funds generated can be utilized not just for restoration and re-decorating the interiors, but it can also provide essential facilities like study material, books/CDs, a library, educational toys, stationery, a computer and a painting kit. This magical transformation that is urgently required can be brought about only by your contribution. Yes, you the audience, the esteemed readers have the power to change things for the better, Join hands with Do Right, and lets do something really right!