Sunday, July 24, 2016

REALISING DREAMS:Ajeet Saxena (centre) with some of the young people from Maharashtra he has helped pursue higher education. —Photo: Special Arrangement

He helps fulfil the educational aspirations of youth from Maharashtra

In the midst of his hectic schedule, a senior bureaucrat of the Southern Railway gets a long-distance call from Wardha, Maharashtra. The caller, young Prashanth Bhurjan, briefs him that the filled-in applications from eight girls from marginalised sections are being taken to Mumbai, where the girls will be entering college.

As Chief Commercial Manager of Southern Railway, Ajeet Saxena is extremely busy attending regular work, taking part in official meetings and sorting files. But he makes sure that young women and men from families that have been severely hit by the drought in Maharashtra are not deprived of their higher education.

A visit to Sewagram Ashram in Wardha a decade ago exposed him to the cruelty inflicted on the families of farm hands owing to adverse weather conditions and more importantly, bad debts, which forced male heads of families to commit suicide. “I decided that nothing should come in the way of completing their basic education and pursuing college,” Mr. Saxena told The Hindu .

So far, he has helped over 200 young people from poor families pursue education, the latest among them being a top grade earning boy in Class X, but from a very poor family in Karnataka.

Mr. Saxena continues to get calls from people helping students from poor families to enter college, including professional courses like medicine. An IIT (Roorkee) engineer, the officer first promises a seat for the children from poor families in colleges by assuring the management that the fee will be paid. He then reaches out to his network of friends, philanthropists and donors spread all across the country to pay the tuition as well as hostel fee. Though most of the beneficiaries have been from the Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra that witnessed prolonged drought, women from other urban pockets of that State have also been helped to enter the portals of colleges.

While at Wardha, when he was witness to the plight of the families, he had two choices before him — feel sorry and return to his work or do something positive.

Mr. Saxena chose both.


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