Girl achievers belonging to SC, ST and minority community adorn UNICEF calendar
Guess, who are the new poster-girls of the Bihar Government. No, it is neither the tennis sensation Shilpi Jaiswal, nor Bollywood actress from Patna Nitu Chandra. For a change, a dozen girls belonging to the minority community, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, are Bihar ki nai betiyian (new daughters of Bihar).
The lucky 12 were picked up from among 2,500 girls who took part in the Kishori Mahotsava held recently. Their photographs now appear on the wall calendar prepared jointly by the Bihar Education Project (BEP) and the UNICEF.
"They are the new role- models and agents of change in the state," said Anjani Kumar Singh, Director, BEP. "Two of these girls – Gudiya Khatoon and Lalita — even figure in a calendar on girls' theme prepared by the Government of India," he added.
All the 12 girls are achievers in their own way, given the constraint and opposition they have had to face. Take the case of Abhilasha Kumari, a 10-year-old girl from Lalbagh village in Nalanda. At her age, she is a Meena Mantri and a deputy education minister of her school. "Besides excelling in painting, slogan writing, Abhilasha has been single-handedly convincing parents to send their daughters to school. To her credit, she has been able to persuade 50 children to attend schools, none of whom has dropped out as yet," said Singh.
Lalita of Khopraha village in Sitamarhi district comes from the Mushar community, the most depressed among Dalits. But, today, she is a source of inspiration not only to her own community but other caste groups as well.
A class Xth examinee this year, Lalita has become a master trainer in judo, thanks to the efforts of the BEP. Gudiya Khatoon of Gaya and Angoori Khatoon of Muzaffarpur have had to overcome religious dogmas and their community's opposition to acquire education. Gudiya, was picked up by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for the 'State of the World's Children' report in London. She was invited to be a "shining example" to the world of how education empowers individuals to overcome social and economic constraints and make a difference to their personal and social lives.
The tales of other girls are no less exciting. While Payal, Savitri and Baby from Begusarai overcame opposition to make a mark in swimming, Sheela Kumari (Chapra) and Chandani (Vaishali), both afflicted with polio and physically disabled, have set an example of how disability cannot be a handicap for those with a positive outlook towards life.
"The calendars with the photographs of these girls will be distributed to all the schools free of cost by the BEP. They can become the motivating factors for others and show the way forward to empowerment," said the BEP director. These young 'agents of change', from the rural areas of Bihar earned a pat from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when they went to meet him.