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Sharmili Mallick

It's a story of all about a light purse is a heavy curse. One has the 'golden muscle' to raise a toast for the State; the other has the soft skill that can work wonder for the mass. But the wall of poverty has brought the curtains down on the gifted talents they have.

Bhaktaram Desti, the 'golden' weightlifter from Malkangiri and Chandan Dutta, lad from Cuttack with a brain, are separated by a yawning distance. Both have a different passion. But the commonality has been, alas, their poor destiny. Rich in talent, zeal to touch the sky, but it is the grinding poverty that pulls them down to the hard ground.

What seems dismaying for the social watchers is, in the times of 'Khelo India' and plethora of incentives for meritorious students, the dream road seems to have reached the dead end for Desti and Dutta. 

Malkangiri's Pride 

19-year-old Bhaktaram Desti, an international weightlifter from remote Doraguda village under Chitrakonda block of Malkangiri district, had the recognition of the 'golden boy' of Odisha in the region.

Indeed, his achievements are quite glittering. 

  • Desti won gold medal in weightlifting at the School National Games held in Andhra Pradesh in the year 2016
  • Gold medal in 1st Khelo India School Games held in Delhi in 2018
  • Gold at the Youth National Championship at Maharashtra’s Nagpur in 2018 
  • And won the yellow metal again in the 2nd Khelo India Youth Games at Pune in 2019
  • Lifted gold in under-17 49 kg category in the Commonwealth Championship held in Australia in 2019

Now, cut to year 2021. Instead of getting trained at a state-of-art athlete school, the glittering boy is now working along with his father and mother in the fields to make his both ends meet. 

However, the fear of son's dream getting shattered by the cruel life truths, Desti's father has appealed the State Government to grant financial aid so that he can resume his training and eventually bring laurels for the State and the country.

“I won gold at Australia’s Somoa. Despite being the only person from Malkangiri to achieve such feat, I have not received any help from the district administration. Due to the pandemic, there is no competition now and therefore, I am forced to stay at home and help my parents in the field to eke a livelihood,” rued Desti.

Anguished over the nonchalant attitude of the district administration, Desti’s uncle Sururam Muduli said, “Despite winning gold, he did not get any financial assistance from the government. Therefore, he had to work in the fields with his parents. If he gets some aid, it will help him accomplish his dreams and render his service for the State.”

Brainy Kid

For Chandan Dutta from Nuapatna village under Tigiria block in Cuttack district, the life seems a bumpy road. His dream of becoming a soft engineer seems about to crash for the want of money.

Dutta has cracked Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced by securing 98.42 percent this year, but don't have the financial resources to take admission. 

His father, Pradeep Kumar Dutta, is only a humble weaver by profession and earns on a daily basis. Still surmounting the odds of life, he arranged IIT coaching fees for his son. But his burdened shoulders lack the strength to carry the son's dreams further. 

“Chandan has qualified for IIT and we are happy for it. But he needs Rs 7 to 8 lakh for admission which is next to impossible for me. However, if gets financial help from anyone, I will remain obliged to them forever,” said his father.

He appealed to the State Government and the district administration to provide the much-needed financial help for his son's admission to IIT.

"I have qualified for IIT but as my family had a hand to mouth existence, they cannot afford to the bear the coast of admission fees. Though I want to study in IIT, it seems crumbling before my eyes. Only a helping hand from government can save my dreams from the brink. I want to do better and good for my village and the State,” said the dream lad Chandan.

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