A nondescript high school in West Bengal’s west Midnapore district, didn’t hold too many hopes of receiving funds to improve on its infrastructure.
However, earlier this year, it all changed when former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar donated more than Rs 70 lakh in response to a request sent by the school staff. In fact, the construction of a library, a laboratory and a common room for girls are at an advances stage.
Teachers and students of Swarnamoyee Sasmal Sikhsa Niketan have long been fans of the sportsman but were lost for words when the donation came through.
As a Rajya Sabha MP, Tendulkar donated about Rs 76 lakh to the school under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme. The school received the funds last financial year.
“The realisation hasn’t yet sunk in. We have no words to express our gratitude,” headmaster of the school, Uttamkumar Mohanty said.
Tendulkar has often drawn flak for his lack of participation in the upper house. Last December, a study by Factly, a data journalism portal, rated the sports star as the worst performing Rajya Sabha MP among 10 nominated MPs. Tendulkar had less than 6% attendance and had not participated in a single debate despite being nominated to the house in 2012.
The school headmaster now plans on requesting chief minister Mamata Banerjee for more funds so that the school may improve further.
While campaigning for the assembly elections, Banerjee had promised voters in the district “whatever they want” if they helped her defeat Suryakanta Mishra, a five-time MLA, former heavyweight minister from the Left-Congress alliance and the CPI-M state secretary.
Back in power for a second consecutive term, Banerjee is expected to address her first public meeting since taking charge again in Narayangarh, which is located in West Midnapore.
In the meantime, the school plans to invite Tendulkar for the inaugural session of the new facilities once ready.
“We will write to the MP to be present with us when we unveil the new infrastructure,” said Mohanty.
Located right beside the NH6, the 50-year-old school has around 900 students enrolled.
Two years ago, school authorities approached local MP Prabodh Panda of the CPI for financial assistance, but did receive a response.
Teachers, who began researching on funding, discovered the MPLAD scheme and that Rajya Sabha MPs had no territorial restrictions, unlike Lok Sabha MPs.
In early 2014 they wrote a letter to the cricketer explaining their plans for a library room, laboratory and a common room for girls. To their surprise, they received a response after six months with Tendulkar saying the funds were being released.
“I wish to inform you that I have recommended to the honourable district collector Bandra, Mumbai, that funds be released to you for the above project. I understand that the honourble district collector of Bandra has further processed my recommendation and has provided necessary details to the honourable collector exercising jurisdiction in your area,” the letter addressed to Mohanty read.