This doctor used 75% of his PF to offer girls free bus rides to college
Avijit Ghosh | TNN | Updated: Oct 29, 2018, 08:27 IST
Doctor Rameshwar Prasad Yadav and his wife Tarawati lost their daughter, Hemlata, when she was just six months old in 1976. Forty years later, while driving to Churi, his village in Rajasthan, they saw four girls standing in pouring rain and offered them a lift.
The couple learnt that the college students had to trudge for many kilometres before reaching the bus stop. The doctor took Rs 17 lakh from his provident fund — 75% of the total — added Rs 2 lakh from his savings and bought a bus, which provides free rides to the girls of Churi and nearby villages.
Two years ago, paediatrician Rameshwar Prasad Yadav was driving to Churi, his village in Rajasthan, when he saw four girls standing by the road in the pouring rain. His wife Tarawati offered them a lift. In the conversation that followed the couple learnt that the girls went to a college in Kotputli, the closest town about 18km away, but their attendance was awfully low. Though it doesn’t rain too often in this part of the country, the girls usually had to trudge 3 to 6km on a hot and dusty road — stones are mined in the area — before reaching the public bus stop.
“The boys misbehave with us on the bus,”
one student told them. The story touched their hearts.
“After we reached home, my wife asked me, ‘Apan kuchh kar sakte hain kya (can we do something for them)?”
The doctor replied with another question:
“If our own daughter was alive today, how much would we have spent on her education and wedding?” “Around Rs 20 lakh,” she estimated. “I decided to buy a bus for them,”says Yadav.
The government doctor took Rs 17 lakh from his general provident fund — 75% of the total — added Rs 2 lakh from his savings and bought a white Tata Starbus for Rs 19 lakh. The bus provides free rides to and from college for the girls of Churi and the villages of Pawala, Kayampura Baas and Banethi in central Rajasthan’s Jaipur district. Yadav invited the four girls of that lifechanging monsoon afternoon in 2016 to inaugurate it.
“After our daughter’s death, there was a sense of loss. But now there’s is a feeling of fulfilment,” says Tarawati.
The couple married young and had a daughter, Hemlata, when Tarawati was 18. In 1976, Yadav was preparing for the medical entrance test when his six-month-old daughter caught a fever.
“My wife took her to a doctor who gave her an injection. Her body turned blue and she died soon after,” he remembers.
It was a loss he struggled to overcome.
“We wanted a daughter but had three sons thereafter. Now, I feel I have 50 Hemlatas,” he says.
The 40-seater is a boon for the girls who hated the overloaded public buses and the harassment they faced every day. The daily discomfort affected their attendance records.
“Parents would ask why they needed to go to college every day,” says Yamini Chaturvedi,
who teaches home science. She recounts the case of a poor parent who was wary of sending his daughter to college unaccompanied.
“He would call to check if the lecturer had arrived and only then send her,” she says.
With the ‘nishulka beti vahini’ ferrying them, the girls are showing up for class in larger numbers. Aman Verma, a BA second-year student in Kotputli’s Shrimati Pana Devi Girls College, says she saves Rs 40 and one hour every day.
“My attendance has almost doubled,” says Aman,
whose father lost a leg in an accident and whose mother works as a farmhand. Retired teacher Vishnu Dutt says he is no longer worried about how his three daughters will get home from college. Surendra Singh Tanwar of Baneti says,
“But for the bus, many girls might have dropped out.”
In an area where parents worry about the safety of girls, even selecting the bus driver required careful thought. Yadav hit upon an ingenious idea. Four drivers from neighbouring villages had applied for the job. He asked the parents of all 37 girls who had registered for the bus service — the number has swelled to 62 since — to name the driver they preferred. “Thirty-four of them named Laxman Singh,” he says. Aging yet spindly, Singh is under instructions not to let any male step inside the bus.
“Not even me. Once when driving the girls home, he ignored me on the road. I rewarded him Rs 100,” says Yadav.
The doctor, who runs a private practice about 50km away in Neem Ka Thana after retiring from government service last July, is aggrieved that he has to pay road tax.
“I spend Rs 36,000 every month on diesel, salary of the driver and conductor. The authorities have waived the toll, but I still pay Rs 5,000 as road tax every month. I have written to the authorities to waive it but it’s futile,” he says.
The bus, now a year old, has given wings to the dreams of girls like Pooja of Baneti who wants to join Delhi Police. Aman wants to be a nurse. Kajal wants to join the Army. It is also a message.
“I want the bus to motivate others to do positive things and discover the joys of giving,” says Yadav.
He drives a finely-aged 12-yearold Maruti 800.
Courtesy: Times of India