Rahul Gandhi put the spotlight, now Sulabh warms up Shashikala’s life

August 29th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonkhas (Maharashtra), Aug 29 (IANS) Congress MP Rahul Gandhi put the spotlight on their lives. And Maharashtra’s struggling farm women Kalawati and Shashikala have been basking in the glow ever since — with Sulabh International chief Bindeshwar Pathak first helping Kalawati and now Vidarbha’s other valiant farm hand Shashikala by giving her Rs.200,000. Nearly a month after helping Kalawati, whose husband was one of the many farmers in Vidarbha region who committed suicide, with a monthly financial assistance of Rs.25,000 for the next 20 years, Pathak Thursday lit the lives of Shashikala and her family. Besides the cheque of Rs.200,000, he also promised to put 10 times as much money in a fixed deposit in her name so the family gets a monthly interest of Rs.15,000 for 20 years.

The grateful farm labourer, whose tale of grit Gandhi related in his impassioned July 22 parliamentary speech along with that of Kalawati, said after receiving the dole that it has ended her worries about her children’s education and other needs of her family of five. Shashikala’s grateful farm labourer husband Prahlad nodded as Mahindra, Yogesh and Jayendra - the couple’s three children - basked in the media glare.

Pathak also donated a cheque worth Rs.200,000 to Shewantabai, a mother of four in the same village, whose husband Kailash Bhagat died in a road accident hours after taking a visiting journalist to Shashikala’s house a day after Rahul Gandhi’s speech.

Shashikala and Kalawati came in the limelight following Rahul Gandhi’s visit to their dilapidated huts in India’s most suicide prone Yavatmal district a few days before the trust vote for the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government and his reference to them in his speech.

Speaking in favour of the India-US civil nuclear energy deal, the young Congress leader had said the nuclear energy available after the deal would help the country tide over its debilitating power crunch and change the fortune of millions of poor like Kalawati and Shashikala.

The speech moved Pathak, who has pioneered the country’s sanitation movement, to announce that he would shore up the two women’s financial fortunes in such a way that Kalawati would not die in debt and Shashikala would not have to compromise on the education of her aspiring children.

Pathak appealed to the wealthy people in the country to follow suit. He also said the government should revamp its policies in such a way that the benefits of globalisation reach the poor.

The Sulabh International founder reiterated his resolve to set up a Sulabh Rich-Un-rich Sansthan involving billionaires and corporate houses of the country, NRIs and other people in the world to form a corpus to help the needy and support programmes aimed at empowering the poor.

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