Meet The Incredible, Inspiring Odisha Chaiwala Who Just Won Padma Shri….

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

“For 54 years, I was a roadside tea-seller. But today, I am a Padma Shri tea-seller,” beams Odisha-based 61-year-old D Prakash Rao, who was conferred the prestigious award on Republic Day by the Government of India.

How did a tea-seller win the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, you ask.

His beautiful story will move you.                     D Prakash Rao

Rao was only six-years-old when he started working at his father’s tea-stall. His father served during the second world war. When the war ended, he returned to his hometown, Cuttack. He hoped that his service during the war would help him find an alternate job. But to his disappointment, nobody wanted to employ him.

Pushed by unemployment and poverty, with a meagre capital of Rs 5, he started the tea-stall. One that Rao continued to run for the next five decades.

He tells The Better India, “Living and working in a slum, I witnessed the resistance of parents towards education first-hand. Living in their makeshift jhuggi jhopdis, they thought of their children as means of earning income. Instead of enrolling them in schools, these children were enrolled in menial labour. Working odd jobs and becoming domestic helpers, whatever money they earned was often snatched by the men in the home, who would buy alcohol and turn to domestic violence. It deeply affected me, every single day.”

He continues, “I was a good student. Bright in academics, adept at football. I wanted to become a doctor but landed up becoming a chaiwala. I knew what it was like to not have any opportunities. And I did not want these kids to have the same fate.”

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

He first operated from his two-room thatched house, with four children, where he provided them with food and education, completely free of cost.

He faced opposition from the parents who complained, “Yeh bacche kya kar lenge padh ke? Meri ladki ghar kaam karke Rs 700 leke aati hai mahine ka. Aap padhake kyun humaare pet par lat maarna chahte ho? (What will our kids do if they study? My daughter works as a maid and earns Rs 700 monthly. Why are you kicking our stomachs by educating her?)”

But he did not give up.

Slowly, the number of kids rose, and today his school, ‘Asha o Ashwasana’, has transformed the lives of more than a hundred kids.

The same parents who complained about education, gratefully look on as they watch their sons and daughters cycle to their colleges today.

“Every day I cook dalma for them (a preparation of dal, rice and sabji). It gives me immense joy to see them relish the home-cooked meal that is high in nutrition. When the Prime Minister visited Cuttack five months ago, we had a brief meeting where he told me this meal was one of the best, being served in schools.”

The humble tea seller found a mention in the PM’s radio show, Mann Ki Baat where he said that Rao embodied the spirit of ‘Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’ which means, ‘From darkness, lead me to light.’

The Prime Minister referred to him as a diya (lamp) which guides underprivileged kids to the path of enlightenment.

When asked about his reaction on being bestowed the award, he sayExclusive: Meet The Incredible, Inspiring Odisha Chaiwala Who Just Won Padma Shri

 

He tells The Better India, “Living and working in a slum, I witnessed the resistance of parents towards education first-hand. Living in their makeshift jhuggi jhopdis, they thought of their children as means of earning income. Instead of enrolling them in schools, these children were enrolled in menial labour. Working odd jobs and becoming domestic helpers, whatever money they earned was often snatched by the men in the home, who would buy alcohol and turn to domestic violence. It deeply affected me, every single day.”

He continues, “I was a good student. Bright in academics, adept at football. I wanted to become a doctor but landed up becoming a chaiwala. I knew what it was like to not have any opportunities. And I did not want these kids to have the same fate.”

For every cup of tea sold at his stall, he used half the amount towards the education and health of the slum kids.

He first operated from his two-room thatched house, with four children, where he provided them with food and education, completely free of cost.

He faced opposition from the parents who complained, “Yeh bacche kya kar lenge padh ke? Meri ladki ghar kaam karke Rs 700 leke aati hai mahine ka. Aap padhake kyun humaare pet par lat maarna chahte ho? (What will our kids do if they study? My daughter works as a maid and earns Rs 700 monthly. Why are you kicking our stomachs by educating her?)”

But he did not give up.

Slowly, the number of kids rose, and today his school, ‘Asha o Ashwasana’, has transformed the lives of more than a hundred kids.

The same parents who complained about education, gratefully look on as they watch their sons and daughters cycle to their colleges today.

“Every day I cook dalma for them (a preparation of dal, rice and sabji). It gives me immense joy to see them relish the home-cooked meal that is high in nutrition. When the Prime Minister visited Cuttack five months ago, we had a brief meeting where he told me this meal was one of the best, being served in schools.”


 


The humble tea seller found a mention in the PM’s radio show, Mann Ki Baat where he said that Rao embodied the spirit of ‘Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’ which means, ‘From darkness, lead me to light.’

The Prime Minister referred to him as a diya (lamp) which guides underprivileged kids to the path of enlightenment.

When asked about his reaction on being bestowed the award, he says,

“The adulation and support that people have extended is overwhelming. I am honoured and humbled all at once by their warmth and the place they gave me in their hearts. When people say that I have transformed the lives of these kids, I say that it is these 100 children who have helped me reach this point and improved the quality of my life. Today, my small school has become a temple of education, where I serve these living gods (children). Even at 61, I am as fit as a fiddle and consider myself the richest man in the world, because serving them gives me the joy that no bundles of cash or jewels in the world can buy.”

Apart from the people of Cuttack and Odisha, who have supported his initiative, Rao also attributes his success to the media, which he says has been highly instrumental in taking his story to the masses.

He signs off with a message to the youth and aspiring social workers:

“In today’s fast-paced world, where many youths are driven by the passion for becoming rich overnight, remember that money is not everything. There is no shortcut to success. You will encounter several obstacles, but only when you serve selflessly will you attain success. Live your own lives but don’t shy away from extending a helping hand to those less privileged than you. It is only when we join hands to uplift the downtrodden, will India really become the sone ki chidiya (golden bird) that we sing odes to.”

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Source………  in http://www.the betterindia.com 

Natarajan

 

Meet the Daredevil biker on Republic Day….2019

Captain Shikha Surabhi is the first woman to lead a formation of 36 men and 9 Royal Enfields of the Indian Army’s motorcycle display team on Republic Day.
She tells Rediff.com‘s Archana Masih how she made space for herself in a team that has never had a woman before. 

                                                                                                        IMAGE: Captain Shikha Surabhi is an officer in the Corps of Signals. She has also participated in three National Games. All Photographs kind courtesy Captain Shikha Surabhi                                                                                                                                 

It is after a long time that Captain Shikha Surabhi is getting two consecutive free days, and she is on her way to the railway station in New Delhi to pick up her father, an LIC agent in Bihar.

Her family is arriving to see her on Rajpath on the nation’s grand day when she will lead a formation of 36 men and 9 Royal Enfields of the Indian Army’s motorcycle display team on Republic Day.

She will stand on top of the bike for a distance of 2.4 kilometers to salute the President of India, the supreme comander of India’s armed forces. The bike will only be maouevered by her legs and will move at 22 to 23 km per hour.

The team called ‘Daredevils’ consists of 136 jawans, two male officers and 34 motorcycles.

She is the first lady officer to be part of the team.

Born in Arrah, Bihar and raised in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, Captain Shikha learnt to ride a bike around her home as a girl and picked up serious biking after her first posting in Arunachal Pradesh.

She did a bike trip from Shimla to Ladakh over 8 days last year. “It brought strength to my arms and taught me how to handle rain, mud and difficult situations,” says the officer from the Corps of Signals who was encouraged by her commanding officer to be part of the Daredevils team.

Posted in Bathinda, Punjab, she volunteered to be part of the Daredevils team three months ago.

Selected after a month’s training in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, the team has been undergoing rigorous practice for three months.

IMAGE: Leading a human pyramid formation that will be at the parade on Republic Day. Two male officers are leading other formations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My team members were initially worried about how they would teach me. They weren’t sure if I would be strong enough, but they now tell me I have learnt fast, perhaps faster than them,” says the officer who will soon complete four years of service in the army.

“It is tough to prove yourself. You have to put your mind and body to it, but they have accepted me as a Daredevil officer.”

“I have had some injuries, but thankfully nothing major,” she says over the phone from New Delhi.

The team arrived in Delhi on December 18 and has been practicing every day, rising at 3.30 am.

Not really nervous about the big day, her only concern is the chance of rain. Heavy rain can make the bike unsteady.

“Rain or no rain, we have to perform 100%.”

Captain Shikha’s main motivation to pursue sport and a career in the army was her mother, who is a sports teacher at a school in Ranchi.

“I am from a Hindi medium school and because of sports, I participated in three National Games,” she says.

Hand wrestling and kick boxing were her events. She was even part of the army’s mountaineering team that trekked to the Gangotri glacier in Uttarakhand.

“I wanted a job with some physical activity,” says Captain Shikha who earlier wanted to be an IPS officer but seriously considered the army as a profession while studying computer science in college.

“The armed forces are a very good profession for girls. You have respect within the army as well as outside.”

“It also gives you many opportunities like a life of adventure. I wanted to do something for the nation and nothing is better than the army.”

Her younger sister, who is in Class 12, wants to follow her in the armed forces while her brother is in Mumbai trying to pursue an acting career.

Such was the officer’s commitment to the Daredevils display on Republic Day that she and her fiancé, also a captain in the army, postponed their wedding from December to May.

Fiancé Captain Ankit Kumar will be there to watch the parade with his parents and has been her biggest pillar of support as far as biking is concerned.

He is immensely proud that she has worked hard and made space for herself in a team that up till now only comprised men.

As Captain Shikha Surabhi’s big day dawns, she is overwhelmed with the opportunity and the privilege given to her.

“I am too happy, nothing could beat this feeling but in life you should crave for the next thing — and there are more things to do ahead — for the country and myself.”

Source….. Archana Masih in http://www.rediff.com

NatarajanK

 

 

Sikkim’s Pakyong Airport Starts Operations: 5 Reasons Why It’s an Engineering Feat!

The Pakyong airport, finally puts Sikkim on India’s aviation map and is an example of stellar engineering.

If you’re flying to Sikkim, the nearest airport is at Bagdogra, in West Bengal, nearly 124 kms from the state capital, Gangtok.

The Pakyong airport now puts Sikkim on India’s aviation map. It is one of the five highest airports in the country and was built over several years, costing an estimated Rs 350 crore.

“The Pakyong (Gangtok) Airport at Sikkim got a license today for scheduled operations. It’s an engineering marvel at a height of more than 4,500 ft in a tough terrain. Will pave way for direct air connectivity to our lovely state of Sikkim, giving a boost to tourism & economic growth,” tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Tourists, migrant workers and locals will soon fly on the low-cost airline SpiceJet, after it was granted permission to fly to Pakyong from Kolkata under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picturesque runway of the Pakyong Airport in Sikkim. Image Credit: Soumen Mukherjee

1. The Pakyong airport in Sikkim is spread over 990 acres and is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the north-east region of the country.
2. Over the years, several landslides near the runway resulted in work being suspended twice, but it was finally constructed and earlier this year, a fixed-wing 19-seater Dornier 228 IAF aircraft landed on the runway.
3. The airport is considered an engineering marvel because of its terrain. It is stationed at more than 4,500 feet and lies snugly between the Himalayas.
4. It is around 30 km from Sikkim’s state capital, Gangtok, and is located around 60 km away from the Indo-China border, giving it strategic importance. It is believed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be able to land various types of aircraft on the airport’s runway.
5. Until now, Sikkim was the only state in the country which did not have an airport. The Pakyong airport is the 100th functional airport in India.

According to MoneyControl, as per a previous proposal by the Ministry of Home Affairs, due to its “strategically important” location, the security of the Pakyong airport should be handled by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The CISF is a professional aviation security force that handles 59 airports across the country.

The new airport will be an excellent opportunity for those of you who haven’t yet experienced this beautiful mountainous abode.

Source………Rayomand Engineer  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

Meet the Ex-IAS Officer Who Left America to Head the Swachh Bharat Mission…

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) promised to bring open defecation in India down to zero, and the government had also guaranteed that it would build enough toilets in every village and city to completely eradicate the problem of open defecation.

Many of us will agree that open defecation leads to the proliferation of diseases, and it is thus, advisable, to make India completely open-defecation free.

However, one man working for the Swachh Bharat Mission knows that the subject of open-defecation is not as black and white as it seems. For many, it is a part of their lifestyle, that they cannot change overnight. The problem of maintaining toilets that were built by the authorities also keeps people outside the washroom walls.

Meet Parameswaran Iyer, a former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer who currently leads the Swachh Bharat Mission  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Iyer had worked with World Bank from April 1998 to September 2007 in Hanoi, Vietnam. From 2012 onwards he was the lead water and sanitation specialist for the World Bank and was instrumental in bringing two leading programmes on the ground there.

Before taking up a specialisation in Vietnam, Mr Iyer had also worked in Washington on Egypt and Lebanon and in the Bank’s Water Anchor.

When he realised that he had to accept that many people prefer to defecate in the open rather than in toilets, Mr Iyer brought his experience in Vietnam to practical use. In 2014, he had written about the need for behaviour change before a lifestyle change, on the World Bank’s site.

“The biggest lesson learned so far in Vietnam, and other countries is that eliminating open defecation is not driven by the construction of toilets.

It is driven by changing the behaviour at the community level based on quality, evidence-based interventions. What is also clear is that approaches must be tailored to be the specific context with careful consideration of local factors such as ethnicity,” he wrote.

Mr Iyer’s experience with the World Bank, across several countries, will certainly help India, to go a step further in the cleanliness mission.

This is a rare case of the Indian government appointing an IAS officer working with the World Bank for their initiative, and Mr Iyer has certainly upped the hopes of Indian citizens. He was appointed as Union Secretary for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 on a two-year contract basis.

A senior government official told Livemint, “It is clear from the two-year fixed contract, that the government has decided to give him a free hand to steer the programme. It also gives a clear signal that if the government does not get the desired results from the internal talent pool, it will not hesitate in getting them from outside.”

With a combined experience of about two decades in this sector, Parameswaran is sure to be a beaming light of hope for the dream of a clean India!

Featured image source: Twitter.

Source….Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the betterindia.com

Natarajan

 

Phenomenal domestic growth fuels India’s aircraft demand…

India’s exponential rise in both passenger and freight traffic means the country will need 1,750 new aircraft over the next 20 years, according to estimates from Airbus.

With air traffic growth driven by a fast expanding economy, rising wealth and urbanisation, and government-backed regional connectivity programmes, India will require 1,320 new single-aisle aircraft and 430 widebody aircraft over the next two decades.

That’s according to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus in its latest India Market Forecast. It said the total value of the aircraft would be $255bn.

The report predicted that by 2036, Indians will each make four times as many flights as today. As a result, traffic serving the Indian market is forecast to grow 8.1 percent per year over the next 20 years, almost twice as fast as the world average of 4.4 percent.

Domestic Indian traffic is expected to grow five-and-half times over by 2036, reaching the same level as US domestic traffic today.

According to figures from OAG Schedules, domestic air capacity in India rose from 74.2 million available seats in 2008 to 143.2 million in 2017. In the last calendar year alone, domestic capacity increased by 13.8 percent after adding more than 17 million available seats.

The domestic growth comes as India’s government pushes its regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as UDAN, which aims to make air travel affordable and widespread.

The programme seeks to develop new and enhance the existing regional airports, as well as connecting more than 100 underserved and unserved airports in smaller towns.

Source…..David Casey in https://www.routesonline.com

Natarajan