Once a ragpicker, 12-year-old Munni wants to don the hat of deputy commissioner of Ludhiana. Braving all odds, this slum dweller now is an inspiration for people around her, courtesy Hariom Jindal.
The 53-year-old lawyer from Kitchlu Nagar has managed to bring a radical change in the lives of at least 500 slum children he has taught for free since 2013.
As one meets Munni, the unpleasant surroundings may once give a picture of her sorry state of living but only until she greets the person in fluent English. Such has been the impact of Jindal’s relentless efforts to impart free education to slum children.
Passing by a garbage dump, Jindal had first seen a group of children collecting plastic from trash on Hambran Road eight years ago.
Moved by their miseries, Jindal, who had an international shipping business, pledged to work for the poverty stricken kids and give them a bright future.
“I shut my business down after meeting those poor kids and pursued a degree in law. I was resolved that I would dedicate my life to impart education to underprivileged children who remain deprived of basic life amenities. Today, these kids are as smart as any other student of their age,” Jindal said.
He added that the group of ragpickers he had met then were now well-trained computer experts, well versed with their fundamental rights, functioning of the government and even the Constitution of India.
Jindal is currently running three slum schools in Ludhiana’s Hambran Road, Sai Baba Mandir Road and Nau Gaja Peer Road areas, where he teaches over 150 students with the help of five more teachers. He is also running a computer centre to make his students tech-savvy. He teaches students up to Class 8 through the National Open School and is willing to help those who want to pursue further education.
“Young kids are begging on the streets, but no one bothers. The administration makes tall claims of working with various children organisations, but things move only on papers and these kids continue to remain deprived of their basic rights. I wish to see India free of poverty before I die,” Jindal said.
Sunny, who passed Class 5 this year, said, “I want to change the fate of my family by becoming a police officer. I am grateful to Jindal sir for saving our lives and pulling us out of the darkness.”
On the occasion of the Teachers’ Day, Munni, who studies in Class 5, said she would clear the civil services examination and that would be the best gift to her teacher.
“Now, my neighbours ask me to teach their kids and I am a star among them,” Munni said.