- 04 Oct 2023
India is a goldmine of talent, don’t you agree? Be it sports, academics, or performing arts, we have talent coming from remote corners of the country and taking the world by storm. But is that it?
With its rich diversity of cultures and traditions, we, as a country, have always been known for our unique talents. But amidst the vast landscape of rural communities, enormous potential often goes unnoticed. Rural communities have time and again hailed exceptional talent, but these high-potential individuals still struggle for a place in the world. How, you ask?
Rural India is tough and resilient, housing a significant portion of the country’s population. This population possesses remarkable skills and competent talents, but why do we know so little of them?
Rural students often lack access to quality education. Schools in remote areas may be understaffed, poorly equipped, or located far from the students' homes. This creates a significant barrier to learning and personal growth, resulting in higher drop-out rates, especially among female students.
Many rural schools lack basic infrastructure like proper classrooms, libraries, computer labs, or even desks. Students are forced to study in cramped, uncomfortable conditions, making it challenging to focus on their studies. A shortage of textbooks, study materials, and access to the internet limits their ability to explore subjects beyond their curriculum and stay informed about the world.
Extracurricular activities, which are essential for holistic development, are often absent in rural schools. Students miss out on opportunities to explore their interests in sports, the arts, and other areas, forcing them to be limited to a certain potential and be deprived of the joys of quality learning.
Getting to school can be a significant challenge for rural students, especially during adverse weather conditions. Parents of young children often hesitate to send their children due to a lack of safe and reliable transportation, leading to irregular attendance.
Socioeconomic factors like poverty and gender discrimination often play a role in limiting the aspirations of rural students. Rural education fails to fulfill their dreams, and quality education is expensive. Countless young students are discouraged from pursuing higher education or unconventional careers due to their financial responsibilities.
Despite the struggles, rural India continues to yield extraordinary talent over the years in sports, business, politics, and academics. Here are four of the countless people who have brought immense pride to our country with their invincible resilience.
You cannot talk about resilience without talking about ‘Odisha’s daughter’, President Droupadi Murmu. Her journey from the Baidaposi village in the district of Mayurbhanj, Odisha, to becoming the President of India is a true testament to the potential hidden in rural India. There was rarely an obstacle that didn’t see her through, but her determination and love for learning led her to pursue higher education through scholarships.
Her journey from the education sector to battling depression, losing most of her family, and eventually entering politics is endearing. Her advocacy for the rights of marginalized communities caught the attention of the nation, and she was elected as the President of India. Droupadi's story showcases the power of rural leadership and the impact it can have on the entire nation. Read Murmu’s life story here.
Hima Das, fondly known as the "Dhing Express," hails from a small village in Assam. Growing up, Hima had a natural talent for sprinting, but her village lacked proper sports facilities and training infrastructure, so muddy tracks and borrowed shoes became her stepping stones. She was set for wins when she made her mark in the Asian Youth Championships, later in the World Youth Championship, and at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Later that year, Hima made history at the World U-20 Championships by becoming the first Indian sprinter to win a gold medal. Her dramatic victory showcased her incredible acceleration, which brought her deserved credibility and national honor. Despite her numerous awards and accomplishments, Hima joined the Assam Police as a DSP, where she still serves, making her groundbreaking journey nothing short of inspiring.
In a game confined to 64 squares, where intellect, strategy, and creativity are stronger stakeholders than physical prowess, the 18-year-old chess master became a global sensation. Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa's story begins in the rural town of Erode, Tamil Nadu. From a young age, Praggnanandhaa displayed an extraordinary aptitude for chess, often practicing on a worn-out board. The resources were short, but his talent was colossal.
His family's unwavering support and the guidance of local chess enthusiasts helped Praggnanandhaa progress rapidly in the world of chess. He became the youngest International Master in the history of the game at 10 years old, the grandmaster at 12, and won over then-world champion Magnus Carlsen. The young boy was hailed by the entire country when he recently brought home a silver at the 2023 FIDE World Cup and shines as a chess prodigy we take pride in today.
Navalben Dalsangbhai Chaudhary, a 62-year-old from Gujarat's Nagana village in Banaskantha district, has set new benchmarks for entrepreneurship in her district. Navalben started her own milk company at home and now manages a herd of over 80 buffaloes and 45 cows, serving numerous villages. In 2019, she sold milk worth Rs 87.95 lakh, a remarkable achievement in itself. However, she outdid herself in 2020, setting a record by selling milk worth Rs 1.10 crore. Recognizing her exceptional contribution, Navalben was featured in the '10 Millionaire Rural Women Entrepreneurs' list by Amul Dairy, topping the chart with earnings of Rs 87,95,900.67, more than anyone else on the list. Her outstanding achievements in dairy farming have been honored with Lakshmi Awards and three Best Pashupalak Awards. At an age when many consider retirement, Navalben is a shining example of determination and success, not only supporting herself but also providing employment to others.
These individuals, and countless others like them, overcame adversity to achieve greatness, yet they struggle due to limited opportunities. To effectively harness rural talent, a multifaceted approach involving the government, communities, and non-profit organizations is necessary.
Rural India harbors hidden talent waiting to be discovered and polished. By providing opportunities and nurturing talent at the grassroots level, India can unlock its full potential, enriching the nation in unimaginable ways.
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Bhairavi Hiremath.
With words as her medium and a diary full of scribbled ideas, she is usually found looking for ways to use her writing to impact for Good. If she’s out of sight, she’s probably either reading, petting cats, jamming to retro Bollywood, or of course, writing!