Parked outside Ramesh Yadav’s two-room tenement in Bhopal’s Kumar Mohallah slum colony is a blue thela (handcart). Standing next to it, symbols of his newfound prosperity, are two motorcycles.
Engineering books are strewn all over the 54-year-old cart puller’s home. There is a computer-cum-TV, a fridge and a cooler, apart from a fancy looking mobile kept in a corner.
“ I don’t know how to use the mobile,” says Yadav. “My wife, however, is adept at it.” Yadav is living out the new Indian dream.
Four decades of pushing his cart to grocery stores in Bhopal have helped him beat poverty and educate his sons.
Satbir (26), the eldest, is a senior engineer with Chinese telecom company Huawei in Bangalore. The second, Manoj, 24, is pursuing his M.Com as well as working part-time in the State Bank of India. Pradeep, the youngest at 20, studies electronic engineering at Bhopal’s KNP Institute of Science and Technology.
“He is an all-India rank holder,” said Yadav with a smile.
Carrying supplies to remote parts of Bhopal, sometimes travelling 20-25 km on foot, has paid off, said his clients.
“ Ramesh is the kind of person who form the nation’s backbone,” said retired civil servant M N Buch, to whose home Ramesh has delivered supplies for more than three decades.
“His story shows that if a child gets an opportunity and takes it, the sky is the limit. He is a role model.”
When he began working as a 15-year-old, Yadav earned just 50 paise a day. With time, his daily earnings rose to Rs. 5, 7 and finally Rs. 100.
In today’s congested traffic, making a living as a cart-puller is tough, he said. How hard was it to stop his sons from entering the same profession?
“I could not hand over the same life to them. So, every month, I used to deposit my savings in a piggy bank,” he told Hindustan Times.
Yadav didn’t hesitate to sell off his ancestral land to pay Satbir’s engineering fees.
“After clearing the pre-engineering test, my son did not tell me about it for a month. He wasn’t sure if I could afford the fees. So I sold my land,” said Yadav.
Now, Satbir has persuaded him to give up the grind. The Yadavs would soon move into a new home. “He doesn’t want his father to go from door to door pushing a cart any longer.”
Yadav’s sons have inspired other children in the slum. “If they can, why can’t others? All it takes is determination,” said Taradevi, 45, his neighbour.