A picture of this Himachal girl first appeared in Amar Ujala on December 23 with her heart-melting story. The poverty-stricken school girl won a gold medal in a race at a district level tournament in Una. And she soon became a topic of discussion and proud for Himachal Pradesh.
Baksho Devi, a class IX student in a Government school in Ispur, district Una, Himachal Pradesh, won a gold medal in 5000-meter race at a district level sports tournament. It may be another tournament for most of us, but there is something special about Baksho’s win that everyone should know.
While all other participants had sportswear including shoes, Baksho arrived on the track barefoot in her Government school dress – a salwaar-kamiz. The ground was freezing cold at zero degrees Celsius. Still, she ran 5,000 m barefoot and beat all other competitors in the race by a fair margin. Other participants were no match for her swiftness and speed. She also won Rs. 6000 as reward.
Baksho’s father, Data Ram, died nine years ago and her mother, Vimala Devi, is a laborer, who earns Rs. 1300 per month. Baksho lives in an old, damaged hut with her mother and three sisters. She is youngest of all four sisters. In bone chilling winters, her family doesn’t even have enough quilts and blankets.
Somehow, Baksho received an opportunity to reach a racetrack and she not just won the race but also impressed many officials who witnessed the power of her will with which she overcame all odds.
Baksho represents an image of how India’s talent dies in Government schools. The Government could not provide her even a pair of shoes and sports uniform to compete in a district level tournament. It’s a matter of shame for the State and its Government.
Baksho’s daily life is full of hardships. She attends school and helps her mother in all domestic chores including taking care of the cattle. No physical training, no specific diet, no encouragement, but still she shined at the tournament. She gave the award money to her mother as her family is in a desperate need of money.
As she trended on social media after the news was published, some people came ahead and offered her little financial help. For instance, Lokender Banshtu, Manger Finance at HPGIC, announced Rs. 5000 for track suite and shoes, representatives from Bhangarh Battalion offered a track suit and Rs. 1000, Rs. 1100 by journalist Mohit Pathak, and Yogesh Sharma, senior manager at UTI, Shimla offered Rs. 2,000 help to Baksho.
Considering the poverty and hardships that her family is going through, every rupee means little respite and encouragement for Baksho. Her mother, uncle and relatives said they are feeling proud of Baksho after her picture appeared in the newspaper. According to her mother, she has proved that girls are no less to boys in any field.
Baksho and many others like her can be India’s next star athletes if encouraged and assisted to find their way. Himachal Pradesh Government must pay attention to the deteriorating standards at Government schools. Such talents must be preserved and nurtured so that they can grow and make the state and the nation proud.