Two years ago Ramakant Sethi, 18, was a dropout who spent all day with his father Arabinda (44) tending cows. Last week, when the results of Orissa’s junior college (Plus Two) examination in Humanities was declared, he found he was ranked 16th, scoring nearly 80 per cent.
Arabinda is an abjectly poor, landless Dalit in Banipal village of Balasore district who earns a living as a cowherd, looking after the village cows while they graze and bringing them back to their owners in the evening. Not surprisingly, after Ramakant completed Class VII at his village school, his father urged him to quit school and lend him a helping hand.
Ramakant resisted. Luckily he had the support of his uncle — Arabinda’s younger brother Ajay — who persuaded his father to let the boy at least finish school. After attending school and working with his father, Ramakant was able to study only late in the evening. He still managed to obtain a respectable 59 per cent in his Class X examination.
“Though we have electricity in our village, our house does not have a connection,” Ramakant told reporters, soon after he was recently felicitated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at a special function. “I studied by lantern light.”
He gave up studying and took to grazing cows full time once he had completed Class X.
But once again after two years, uncle Ajay, a small-time fish trader in Balasore town, intervened. “I could see he had potential,” said Ajay. “I brought him away from his village and with the help of some friends, got him admitted into a junior college in town. Now Ramakant has done us all proud.”
Ramakant’s ambition now is to clear the UPSC and become an IAS officer.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Ajay Sethi, uncle of Ramakant’s, mobile no is 0-9437981662.