Janardhan – He sells delicate roses, but wishes to be a tough policeman!
A police inspector ensures law and order is observed, maintains security, ascertains the welfare of society and deters criminal activities. Meet Janardhan C, a 10-year-old boy studying in Std V at Government Higher Primary School, Tarabanahalli, who aspires to safeguard the security and welfare of the citizens as well as nab criminals who are a threat to the society. It is with extreme passion and determination that he told us that he wanted to become a police officer. He said, “I will protect my nation against antisocial elements and nab criminals who are a threat to the common man.” To the question – who inspired him? – Janardhan told us that he does not have a TV at home and he is not inspired by anything he has seen on TV.
Speaking about his family, he said that there are five members in the family. He lives with his parents and two brothers. His father’s name is Chandrappa and his mother’s name is Bhagyamma. His brother Karthik is 11 years old and studies in Std VI at another government school. He told us with a grin that even Karthik eats Akshaya Patra’s food. His parents work as labourers at a building construction site. They toil day and night on all the seven days of the week to make both ends meet. They hail from Ballari and are migrating workers moving from one place to another in search of work and better means of livelihood. As there is not much opportunity in their hometown, they moved to Tarabanahalli in search of better prospects. They do not have a home of their own and have built a temporary hut to live in.
When we saw Janardhan’s home, we were shocked, as the house looked like a shanty. We wondered as to how five members of the family would live in a small house with no basic facilities of drinking water, food or proper hygiene. The house is very small, dark, without proper ventilation and covered with plastic sheets. It is erected on a small piece of land owned by the government. Janardhan told us that they dread the rainy season as the roof leaks and dirty water would enter the house. The irony of their life is that they build homes for others but do not own a home of their own.
One nutritious meal a day
The mid-day meal that Akshaya Patra offers protects Janardhan and his brother, Karthik, from classroom hunger. From the meagre income his parents earn, it is not sufficient to provide nutritious food that would satisfy five stomachs. At an age when the children are supposed to eat nutritious food which would help in growth and development, prevention of chronic diseases and achieve academic success, they are devoid of regular meals, except for the ones provided by Akshaya Patra.
Their parents are happy to send their children to school since they can learn as well as eat a scrumptious meal. Akshaya Patra serves the nutritious mid-day meals in Government and Government-aided schools to address class-room hunger for students like Janardhan, so that they can focus on studies
Janardhan told us that his favourite Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is ‘pulao’, which is served on Wednesdays. He said, “I like the variety in the food provided by Akshaya Patra. I like all the meals but my favourite is pulao. There are a lot of vegetables, which give me the needed nutrients and vitamins to learn and grow.” We were awestruck by the way he spoke, just like a sensible adult. His brother Karthik’s favourite meal is Bisibele Baath. Both of them savour the taste of the sweets served on Wednesdays and Saturdays. As these meals are unlimited, children have nutritious food that enables them to think and aspire high for their future.
Spends free time cutting roses
When we asked him how he spends his free time, he told us innocently that he does not have much free time to spend. The little spare time he gets, he cuts roses from a neighbour’s garden and sells them to sustain his family. The neighbours are supportive of his family. He said, “When I have time I go to the garden to cut roses and help my parents in whatever little way I can.” He told us that his favourite hobby is reading. Recently he read a book on National Symbols. He is very inquisitive and wants to understand about India and its uniqueness. He said, “I like to read about everything that is Indian. I am proud of my nation.”
A very intelligent student
Janardhan’s teachers are fond of him as he is intelligent, obedient and inquisitive. He is punctual in attendance and never misses a day of school. He is hard working and has a firm determination that he will excel in studies. His favourite subject is Science and his favourite teacher is Latha Miss. He makes it a point to study regularly. Before dark, he does his homework and afterwards, he reads under the kerosene lamp. His Science teacher, Latha Miss, said, “Janardhan is very intelligent and he learns everything in the class and clarifies his doubts, then and there.” Janardhan aims to study well, become a cop, and support his parents. All the teachers are fond of him. Though he comes from a very poor background, he is always neat and tidy when he comes to school.
It is when marginalised children like Janardhan obtain the courage to dream, that the aim of The Akshaya Patra Foundation starts getting realised. This is the reason why the kitchens of Akshaya Patra, pan-India, ignite hope at the break of dawn, preparing wholesome and nutritious mid-day meals for children of government schools every day! The Foundation aims to reach out to more and more children who have to forgo education for hunger and give them the power to dream big.
Mr. SS Rajamouli and Mr. Shobu Yarlagadda on a tour of our kitchen in Narsingi, Hyderabad on December 11