North Indian village boy shared J8 summit experience. By Alka Pande

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- Education till class twelfth should be compulsory for each child in India.
- Each village in the country should have not only primary schools but also higher secondary schools.
- Teachers should teach with affection and support so that students do not feel scared of them in putting up their queries.
These are the suggestion which fourteen year old Narendra Kumar put forward in the J8 Summit in recently concluded in Rome. As the acronym suggests, J8 is the junior version of G8, in which children prepare a proposal of what they expect from their respective governments. Narendra was one of the three young boys who had been chosen to represent India at the J8 summit in Rome. The other two boys were from Tamil Nadu (south) and Orissa (north east). After coming back from the summit, Narendra shared his once in a life-time experience with the media persons and elaborated upon some of his suggestions at the summit.
A student of class eleventh, Narendra belongs to a remote village in the most populous north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The village Grampure Gosai, located in Rae Bareli – the parliamentary constituency of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) Chairperson and All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi – has no electricity. Narendra and boys and girls like him have always studied in the dim light of kerosene lamps.
The selection of Narendra for this prestigious event dates back to November 2008 when UNICEF held a Children’s Assembly in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The village children held a mock assembly in the real hall of Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly, in which Narendra was unanimously chosen to act like Speaker. His talent was spotted by a state-based voluntary organisation Lokmitra – working for right of all children to free education with quality and equality.
Both, UNICEF and Lokmitra polished the inherent talent of Narendra to take it to a level enabling him to represent this most backward northern state of India. Since Narendra could neither understand nor speak fluent English, a Lokmitra representative accompanied him to Rome and assisted him as an interpreter.
What makes Narendra’s achievement worth mentioning is his humble background. His father is a labourer in the village earning measly daily wages. The village has no electricity and no other facility like clean drinking water or medical and health services.
Coming from a family of 12 members, Narendra has four brothers and five sisters, of which six siblings are older to him. Incidentally, Narendra is the first one in his family to have reached and cleared class eleventh and most probably he is the first one in the village to have visited another country. A follower of Sonia Gandhi, Narendra wants to become a teacher because he feels that education is an essential tool for empowerment.

(The author is a senior Journalist, and a member of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers’ Bureau)

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