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Sunday, June 20, 2010

the man with strong will power who moved mountain - Dashrath Manjhi... the hero

கருமமே கண்ணான ஒரு உயர்ந்த இந்தியனின் உண்மை கதை.  - தசரத் மன்ஜ்ஹி - மலையை தகர்த்த மன உறுதி.

This is many ways is not a recent one – but worthy to recall (I felt) – paean to a man who is no more but would be remembered for very many years - Dashrath Manjhi (perhaps some of you have earlier read of his extraordinary contribution) . A straight lift from a popular movie – Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked this septuagenarian from Gaya to occupy his chair for a little over five minutes. Nitish said that was one way of acknowledging the greatness of the great deed.

Before that can you connect Sir David Paradine Frost ? Cine buffs would easily recall the hit movie of Shankar – Mudhalvan (1999) a tamil film starring Arjun, Manisha Koirala and Vadivelu. This was later remade in Hindi as – Nayak, the Real Hero. The story is about the CM being interviewed live by Pughazhendhi, an ambitious cameraman, who tries to expose the CM’s unwillingness to take strong action to quell violence. The CM challenges stating that his a tough job and whether he can even sit for a single day. The spark for this theme reportedly was the honorary Mayorship for a day given by Niagara City by to Shivaji Ganesan in 1962; the other recipient being Jawaharlal Nehru.

Actually, the cine story was inspited by Frost / Nixon interviews that were broadcast in US in 1977. Sir David Paradine Frost) is a British, journalist, comedian, writer and media personality, best known as a pioneer of political satire on television and for his serious interviews with various political figures. He hosts Frost over the world on Al Jazeera.

Now coming to our real hero who died in 2007, at AIIMS New Delhi after fighting cancer of gall bladder. He was accorded state funeral. The reason ……………

Dashrath Manjhi was born in 1934 into a poor labourer's family in Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar. He fought a lengthy battle against the mountain – not out of any grudge but for a social cause. Not many social reformers have changed the way of life of a particular region or locality. This man dared. He was ridiculed in 1959 when he started hewing a way through the Gahlaur Ghati hills of Bihar’s Gaya district, some 150 km from Patna. People ridiculed his efforts and thoughts stating after ages also they may never come true. He relentlessly pursued his dream single handed. He worked alone with tools of chisel, hammer and shovel trying to make a road in the mountain. Age, health, bereavement nothing deterred him – as he carried on with grit for 22 years and made a reality 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road across the mountain. What was once a precarious passage just a foot wide became wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorcyclists – helping locals hailing from nearby villages with ease. This road also reduced the distance between Gaya’s Atri and Vazirganj subdivisions from 50km to just 10km. Children from Manjhi’s own Gahlaur and other nearby villages could attend school without the turmoil of walking eight km one way for attending school. From 1960 to 1982 it certainly was a long journey but the accomplishment of herculean task made him happy.

Naturally, people of the region had approached all politicians and bureaucrats for a proper road through the hill, no body heeded. When all others would have returned home for watching television serials, this man thought of making it happen by his efforts. The village which was in isolation, turned different. Manjhi himself had had a personal tragedy when his wife Faguni Devi was seriously injured while crossing the hill. Manjhi who was a farm labourer thought to take on the hills and change the destiny. He quit his wage earning work, his family suffered and he also went without food. When he accomplished his wife had passed away. Today, the villagers have nothing but gratitude for Gaya’s mountain man, known now as Sadhuji.

He had no comforts of life, no lands, nothing was bestowed easily but fought in a region where the literary rate is low and people struggle for their livelihood.

His family continued in chill penury; he was never awarded any grant or award – was given a State burial on 18/8/2007 when he passed away at 80. How much of this helped him or his family is too well known !!

We salute this great son of Bharat. Lives of such great man is the inspiration for the next generation.

Regards – Sampathkumar.

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