When Prez-elect Ram Nath Kovind faced caste discrimination in school
Ram Nath Kovind’s teachers made him do petty jobs—like laying mattresses and them rolling them back when the school gave over, all because he was a dalit, said Manharan Singh Gaur, a class junior to Kovind in the school.lucknow Updated: Jul 21, 2017 15:15 IST
President elect Ram Nath Kovind had to face caste based discrimination in the primary school where he studied in his childhood.
His teachers made him do petty jobs—like laying mattresses and them rolling them back when the school gave over, all because he was a dalit, said Manharan Singh Gaur, a class junior to Kovind in the school.
“Two teachers (both belonging to upper caste) will only ask dalit students to reach school early and lay the worn-out mattresses (tat-patti). Kovindji also did the same for sometime,” he said.
The school was in the middle of the village on a raised mud platform. Classes were held under a Peepul tree and students sat on the mud floor. The school today has a Shiv temple under the tree and locals used the rest of the space to tie their buffalos.
“He was good in studies and hardworking; headmaster Ayodhya Prasad made him the school monitor,” said Gaur as a few other villagers sitting close by nodded.
The headmaster also asked the two teachers not to single out the boys of one community to do this work. Since Ayodhya Prasad ran that school, the orders were complied with and Kovind was spared. But he was still asked to reach school early and supervise the mattress drill.
Kovind studied in this school till class 5 and then he moved to government school in Khanpur, nearly 8 km away. He along with his friends Vijaypal Singh, Jaswant Singh remained there for next three years.
His brother Shiv Balak, who had become a teacher himself and his guardian, sent him to Kanpur’s BSND Shiksha Niketan. He took his law degree from DC College of Law before moving to New Delhi where he practised in Supreme Court. During the Janata Party government, he became personal secretary to former Prime minister Morarji Desai.
“He was our monitor in school, now he has become monitor of the entire country,” said Jaswant Singh.
In 2001, when he came to village the people presented him 11 silver crowns and tried to weigh him in coins. He politely refused both asking if their love was limited to mere symbolism. He got the the silver crowns sold and used the money to marry off 20 village girls.