May 25: When Nagarathna, a beggar girl from Mysore, was preparing for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (Class X) examinations, she had to beg to buy books and study under street lights. She passed the exams with flying colours and the Indian Express newspaper published her success story.

After the story appeared in the paper, Nagarathna has been receiving innumerable offers from people who are keen to fund her education. A non-resident Indian, a retired statesman, actress-turned politicians, the list is endless.

The most famous of the lot is Jayalalitha, who became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu recently. Nagarathna was escorted to Poes Garden, the chief minister’s residence, where she received a sum of Rs. 1 lakh ($2,174).

No Begging for Merit
No Begging for Merit [Illustration by Anup Singh]
When Nagarathna was in Poes Garden, Chennai, her blind mother Raageshwari was begging at a bus stand in Mysore. She told the Indian Express newspaper: “I want my daughter to become a police officer.”

Apart from Jayalalitha, Nagarathna has received an offer from a non-resident Indian, who wants to make an arrangement with a bank that will look after her education. His only condition is that he does not want his identity to be revealed to either the girl or her family.

A retired statesman from Delhi is keen on adopting her, and so on…

But, Nagarathna is a little amused by all this attention. “When I was sleeping on the streets and attended school with the money I earned from begging, no one had helped me,” she says.

Nagarathna’s amusement is not unjustified. For, it points to the fact that people find it easier to “reward” someone for their effort, but they do not think of creating opportunities for individuals like Nagarathna to get a better start in life.

Let people reward Nagarathna, for she deserves it. But if only someone would think of giving children in a similar situation a better life without the terrible hardships they have to go through, for a little light in their life.