The dream of a digital India looks like a far-fetched dream. Kuldip Kumar, an ordinary milkman from Gummer village in Himachal Pradesh’ Jwalamukhi sold his cow, his only source of income, for Rs6,000 in order to buy a smartphone for hid kids’ online classes.
Kuldeep’s daughter Anu and son Vansh are studying in Class IV and Class II, respectively, in a government school meant to serve the economically weaker section students, who are entitled to free education.
As the schools across the state started online classes in the wake of the pandemic, his children do not have a smartphone or internet connection to keep up with online learning.
“I purchased a smartphone for the children to continue the study,” Kumar, from whom the Right to Education Act holds no relevance, told IANS.
Considering the fact that the cow is regarded as holy and often referred to as a mother in the rural setup, the sacrifice cannot be described as small by any means.
“I was feeling bad that I could not afford a device for my children so that they could attend online classes. So I decided to sell one of my cows for Rs 6,000,” an emotional Kumar said.
No Help From Banks & Lenders
Before parting with the cow, Kumar and his family knocked on banks and private lenders to get a loan to buy a smartphone.
“With the switch from classroom teaching to online education, teachers are putting pressure on us that if you want to pursue education for your children, you have to buy a device. With no means of getting a smartphone with our meagre means, we finally decided to sell a cow,” he said.
Kuldip lives in a mud house. Kuldip has neither a below poverty line (BPL) card, nor is he a beneficiary of the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). Kuldip said he had given a number of applications to the panchayat for financial assistance for the construction of the house and inclusion of his name in the IRDP, BPL and Antodaya, but all in vain.
This reporter tried to contact panchayat pradhan but he was not available.
However, Ramesh Dhawala, MLA from Jwalamukhi, said it was shocking that a man had to sell his cow to buy a phone for the sake of online studies of his children. He said he had directed the BDO and the SDM to provide him financial help immediately.
People Came Forward To Help Kuldeep
Help poured in after Kuldeep’s story went viral on the internet. His story received an overwhelming response and people from different quarter came forward to help in including the famous actor Sonu Sood.
Previously also Sonu Sood was in news for helping migrant workers to reach their homes in villages. After the contact and bank details of Kuldeep was shared by Tribune, hundreds of calls were received from Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Gurugram and Jalandhar as people wanted to extend a hand to Kuldip.
Noted journalists like Barkha Dutt and many others also pitched in to help him. The adequate amount was deposited into his bank account to help him get through his current struggle.
Kuldeep’s story went viral on the internet and so many people came forward to help him. But there are so many Kuldeep(s) out there who are facing the negative outcomes of digitalisation.