It was a poster of Narendra Modi put up in the village for the assembly polls held in October last year that introduced the prime minister to Namesh Kumar Teta, 17, and his friends in the tribal village of Ichhapur, in Maoist-affected Bastar.
Namesh cycles 5km one way to school every day. Like others in his village, he wakes up at the crack of dawn and helps his father by taking the cattle to graze. Along with his younger brother Ishwar Kumar, 15, Namesh has a quick bite of rice, dal and vegetables before they leave for school at 11. The boys, who lost their mother seven years ago, help their father with cooking and other household chores.
Having watched the telecast of the PM’s Teacher’s Day address to students, Namesh said, “His thoughts were simple and had clarity,” adding, “the address should have something for pupils living in the conflict zone”.
The teenager said he likes reading but complained about the lack of books in his school and village. “We don’t have a library. Occasionally, I read the newspaper at the local shops”, he said.
While Namesh did not hear Modi’s speeches during his election campaign, he said he was “really inspired” by his Independence Day speech. More than Modi’s words, it is his life that Namesh finds motivating. We are poor but we need not necessarily die in poverty, said the boy, who lives in Ichhapur, a tribal village. “When a tea-seller can become the prime minister, I too can scale newer heights,” he said.