Suresh Chandra Sarangi

Anita Pratap and Mahesh Bhatt’s book Unsung is a treasure island. This book is a tribute to uncommon men, who have rewritten history differently, by their hard work, commitment, perseverance and sincerity of purpose and the real torch bearers of society triggering a social revolution of immense magnitude. Each story is different from other, more gripping and how they have made a tryst with destiny and opened the floodgates of success.

The internal resources, commitment, involvement is laudable  and inspiring, to be emulated by one and all. They have created history, spread positivity, and stand alone as symbols of compassion and courage. They operate in the shadows and bring light into lives of lakhs of people and each one’s saga is arduous, but fulfilling. Thus, they are gifts to  humanity, spreading the message of love, amidst all vulnerabilities. The  nine unsung heroes who talk through the pages of the book. The book makes a compelling read.

Chewang Norphel, born of Tibetan parents, created rivers of ice in ladakh region, ensuring continuous supply of water. The people of his area were living on below subsistence farming. Ladhakh was a sweeping expanse of land between Pakistan and Himalayas, rich in history, stark in beauty, colorful in culture and awe inspiring in Buddhist heritage” claims the authors. It is Chewang’s committed efforts in association with local engineers that the glacier water could be channelised and the farmers received water in April and cultivation started, changing the areas into greenery with crops. Norphel thus created rivers out of ice and solved the water crisis problem and became God of small things that brought big change.

It is said our constitution is a peoples’ constitution. But the tragic part of the story is that poor are defenseless and there is hardly any one who stood to bring them out from the mire of  poverty, destitution and exploitation. George Punikuthyil was a man with a difference. A couple kept their son’s dead body in a tub of form George for 10 years in anger, as they believed that son has been tortured and he died due to police brutality. George fought for the defenceless parents and won the case that magnified his image in bringing in a movement of justice administration in the country. George fought for them and people had conviction in our constitution and the healing power of justice.

Anita Pratap

Hasnath Mansoor was lady with difference and unwavering in her principles who broke myth by seeding and planting the idea of women education in people’s heart. Educated as she was, she fought against tin Talaque, which she believed was based on male chauvinism and undersood the importance of spreading education for Muslim girl that provided them anchor to remain away from the exploitative society. The under privileged Muslim girls participated in educational and by virtue of vocational training became self dependent and self. Against all odds and the grim reality, she fought out and spreaded education and emancipated the ladies from centuries old myth and dogma. A warrior to herself, she was indeed an emancipator of the girl, their honour and dignity.

K. Chinappa, the warrior of the jungle, was hell-bent to preserve the forest and its wildlife. Haunting in the verdant forest was a pastime with the thugs and jungle mafia which he protested tooth and nail and helped book the destroyer of peace of the .He was threatened by the “vested interest”, profiteering poachers unscrupulous smugglers criminals while fighting to restore the pristine beauty of the forests. He relentlessly fought against them in the High Court and supreme court and initiated wildlife conservation movement, was falsely implicated by the vested interest and faced jail, but did not leave his. Based on his fight and recommendations government passed law and our forest and wild life breathed a new lease of life. His dedication and courage is simply unfathomable.

Indian farmers are vagaries of nature and the failed monsoon was a root clause of drought  which disrupted life. Lakshman singh, another unsung hero, believed that if you want to do something or anything in life,the best way is to do it yourself. In his mission he believed that the only way to preserve water was to repair the bund and bring flow of water into it. Lakshan devised a simple water harvesting system that helped the poor people stop going miles to fetch water.So with check dams water level increased, leading to vegetation and greenery. He coined the word Shramdaan and brought a movement to save the land known as “gochar” as pasture land and engaged people in social forestry, thereby controlling land degradation and restoring water level.

Mahesh Bhatt

Rangswamy Elango, an engineer by profession believed in the concept that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. His strong conviction like Gandhiji that India lives in her village and India would prosper if her villages could prosper. Started tution classes for the children for their education. He organized gram sabhas, built the roads and school with and infectious optimism and created drainage system for discharge of filthy water and advocated and practiced proper hygiene. problems surfaced, but his conviction that the only way to make a problem vanish is to face it bravely. The village’s hope was strongly built with a total transformation, because of Ramswamy’s undying spirit of human service.

Subhasini Mistry from the villages of West Bengal, built a sanctuary of hope with her dogged determination. Her husband, a vegetable vendor, was terminally ill and was taken to Kolkata for his treatment, but to her dismay the hospital declined as she had no money for his treatment. The poor husband died and Subhasini saw her hope dashed and dreams melting. She moved to Kolkata and started vegetable selling business. After being harassed by goons, left again for the village to fulfill her dream of building a hospital for the poor. Her resolve was strong like steel, and she was successful in building a Janata Hospital and helped fund her son’s medical education. The same dream came true, the hospital  became a multi speciality hospital, and she was awarded the coveted national award  of Padma Shri For her splendid work  or the suffering humanity. She was the florence nightingale who gave shape to her dreams though shattered by the death of her husband and stands for affordable healthcare for the poor.

Tulasi Munda, the Padmashree Awardee, brought her people from darkness to light. Her selfless resolve brought education, social welfare, as she was convinced that goal of education was to improve life

Vijayanath Shenoy was person with a different vision. Rebuilding the cultural heritage of India was his committed dream. He was of opinion that only pain can drive to  succeed in life. An ex collector with a mission, he could not be a silent speactor to demolition of our heritage. Collected the articrafts, refurbished the architecture, rebuilt the dilapidated structures of elegance and made his village at heritage village. His passion drove him into the  land of success.

All the stories depicted in this book reveal life stories of resolve, faith, conviction, determination so assiduously built, and stories of human excellence, nurtured by humanity. The book is a treasure island. Today’s westernized and modernized India believed in hype, celebrities who dazzled in their  their makeshift makeup without any tangible contribution to society. But the nine jewels who adore the pages of this book are the unsung heroes who really writes the story of Indian rennaisance. It is said, life of all great men, that reminds us, and we can make our life sublime and departing leave footprints on sands of time.

(Suresh Chandra Sarangi is former General Manager, Bank of India, and lives in Bhubaneswar. Views are personal)

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