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National recognition boon for orphans

By Alok Kumar Mishra

February 6, 2010
The writer is a Jamshedpur based freelance journalist. He can be contacted for all news and stories of Jamshedpur and its suburbs. Email:

Jamshedpur: Yet another Naxal infested hamlet of East Singhbhum, one of Jharkhand 24 districts, Dampara, situated 20 km from district headquarters, had nothing special to talk about earlier. But a ‘celebrated beggar’ has brought national recognition and crowing glory to it.

It is Kantha Singh. Though he has three biological children his extended family consists of about 50 orphan children he has adopted. It all began when the erstwhile car mechanic could not bear the sufferings of a kid abandoned by its widowed mother after she remarried a neighbor here. Now Kantha Singh has about 50 orphans in his personally financed make-shift orphanage.

“Widowed women of Dampara are helpless to abandon their children to their grandparents after they choose to remarry under societal pressures. Whit the veil of their immediate parents lifted from their heads the children are generally neglected and end up working as laborers in farms or garages. So I decided to do something for them,” an always cheerful Singh tells while blithely adding that when it became difficult for him to feed the growing number of children he decided to beg.

Along with his associates Singh starts begging each morning. As principally paddy is grown in the area they get sufficient rice for a day within few hours. They do it with astronomic regularity as it is the only source of subsistence for the children. His wife prepares rice. All have to eat only rice and the carbohydrate water extracted from (flattened) rice. They live in a state of near destitution.

Kantha Singh also begs hand-me-downs for the children. “God has not always been generous to us. Once a fire had broken out in the orphanage and once a kid had died due to the scarcity of proper medical treatment. Sometimes miniscule offerings are not enough and my children have to sleep empty-belly. I can bear everything but the sufferings of my children,” he narrates as he runs away to placate a baby that had tumbled in the lush lawn.

Neither corporate houses nor the district administration had paid any attention to the noble causes of Kantha Singh until President Pratibha Patil invited him along with his children to visit her at Rashtrapati Bhavan recently.

After the promise of the President’s office of extended support for the selfless efforts of Singh, now he is likely to enjoy the support of several political parties and NGOs. However more promises have poured in comparison to actual helps that have arrived so far.

Singh who also teaches the children in the orphanage said he was not only interested in bringing up these less lucky children but also to educate them so that they end up as laborers.

“I hope the children acquire knowledge and become government babus (officials) when they are grown up. This will help Dampara develop shed its bad social customs and beliefs that permeate the society today –– widowed women are suspected to practice witchcraft and the occult and tortured –– could end,” Singh said.

Posted on: February 06, 2010 10:30 PM IST


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