29 September, 2020

A school may be a harbinger of change in rural Rajasthan

A school may be a harbinger of change in rural Rajasthan
Veena Choudhury’s khaki, green and white school uniform stands out among the bright saris, arm bangles and nose and ear jewellery of the older female relatives around her. So do her views on what she wants to do in life, even though she’s the daughter of an illiterate farmer from a poor rural district. Looking you straight in the eye, 15-year-old Veena states plainly, "I intend to become an engineer." Never mind that her mother and grandmother were married with children by the time they were her age. Only five per cent of the girls in this, the central regions of Rajasthan, complete secondary school, and to take up engineering as a profession would be beyond their wildest dreams. Yet, Veena expects to be one some day. So what is it that makes her aspirations ring true, even as most other girls in her remote village look merely to follow in their mothers’ footsteps? What distinguishes her from her peers and even her mother, who still works 10-hour days in the fields and covers her face in the presence of strangers?

The picture becomes clear as you follow Veena early in...



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