Remember Dashrath Manjhi? The old man from Gaya who cut a road through a hill with only his hammer and chisel?
Years after he made possible the impossible, the Bihar government has recommended his name for the Padma award in the social service category.
Personal tragedy had moved Manjhi to attempt the unimaginable. His wife had died for want of medical attention as it took six hours to reach the nearest hospital, on the other side of the hill. But thanks to Manjhi, now medical help is only an hour away.
If the Union home ministry does confer Manjhi with a Padma award, it will not be the first honour to come his way. In July, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had offered him the CM’s chair in a token gesture of appreciation of his altruism when he appeared at Kumar’s ‘junta durbar’.
The Gaya farmer had visited the durbar to ask for the plot of land the earlier government had promised him. Manjhi pledged even that plot for a government hospital, prompting the chief minister to declare him a “model citizen”.
Kumar also announced that the path cut by Manjhi would be part of the state government’s road construction programme.