At first glance, he seems to be just another kid next door with a laptop. Sample his favourites list — actress, Mallika Sherawat; singer, Himesh Reshammiya; politician, Rahul Gandhi; hero, Dhirubhai Ambani. Status: single, looking for a girlfriend. But this kid is hatt ke, and he sounds like Obama. “If we want change, we’ll have to be that change,” so says Jai Kumar Chautala, a sweeper’s son, a digital animator and an MA (Economics) correspondence student from Himachal Pradesh University. Chautala is, well, what Obama was many years ago — a community organiser. In his two-room apartment, he teaches English, Maths, Accountancy and Economics to Dalit children for a minimal fee.
While all this noble work feeds his soul f
That will be tough unless Chautala gets very lucky. A few years ago, when he went searching for a tutor, he was refused everywhere. Why? “Because I live in Valmiki Sadan and boys there are considered to be dirty, spoilt and thieves.” The next thing he did was to open his own tutorial so that other kids in the colony wouldn’t have to suffer that humiliation. Now four years later, Chautala’s former students have become part-time teachers in his evening school and his tribe is increasing. In fact, this entire circle of friends is so motivated that it seems as if the entire fate of their people rests on their young backs.
“Our fathers are sweepers,” says Sachin, one of Chautala’s friends. “Other kids have everything but we have just our dreams.” Who can make that dream possible? Since Obama belongs to America, Chautala is trying to be content with Rahul Gandhi. “He goes to college campuses and bonds well with the youth,” Chautala notes. Where does that leave Mayawati? “I like her too, but this time I want to vote for Rahul Gandhi and tell the world that we SCs can think beyond our caste identities,” he says. “Maybe then they would also be able to think of us beyond our caste identity.”