CHENNAI: PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Dutee Chand, Hima Das... are India’s glorious women, whose journeys as ordinary girls with extraordinary grit tell us that gender is just a six-letter word. These are women, who along with many other young achievers are celebrated for being beacons of hope for aspiring female sportspersons, writers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs.
October 11 is celebrated as the International Day of the Girl Child. This year, the theme is ‘Girl Force: Unscripted and Unstoppable’. CE celebrates three super girls from Tamil Nadu who teach us to transcend our barriers and make the impossible, possible.
Karur’s Climate Change Crusader: Rakshana
Much before Greta Thunberg, a 12-year-old girl from Karur has been fighting to save the environment. KR Rakshana thinks that seed balls are a good option to plant trees. She embarked on an 8,000 km journey in June 2019 and dropped four lakh seed balls from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
“I dropped seed balls across the country to prevent destruction of the world. This will increase rainfall and control global warming,” says Rakshana.
She got seeds of 25 varieties of plants from Bengaluru and Coimbatore with the help of her father. It took 100 people and 35 days to make the seed balls. She received an award from the state government and `1 lakh cash prize for her initiatives, in February 2019. She has also helped revive the education of three girls who had dropped out of school due to financial constraints.
Rakshana has been an activist since she was a child. At the age of four, when she performed silambam continuously for four hours and received accolades, she wasn’t too happy because the cheers and applause were “just for her”. Her mother suggested that she do something for society. So at the age of five, she planted her first sapling. As she read more about it, she realised the importance of it and has dedicated her life to it.
Rakshana has distributed 80,000 saplings mostly in Karur, given 50,000 people from four districts first aid training and made them register for eye donation. She has also given a lecture on ozone layer damage in 2017. She has meditated for 24 hours to create awareness about climate change in 2018 in Karur. She wants all young girls to plant seed balls or saplings to end global warming. The class 7 student from Velammal Vidyalaya in Karur hopes to make a small change in the world.
Riding to glory: j aiswarya
When she was in school, J Aiswarya consecutively won six gold medals — from class 7 to class 12 — in state-level road cycling events. Now, she is in first year of college, pursuing BA Arts from Holy Cross College, Tiruchy.
What makes her success remarkable is her humble background. She started cycling at the age of 11 on her father’s cycle. Her father used to be a milkman, so his cycle was very heavy with metallic grills to hold milk canisters. Aiswarya used to train on that bicycle every day at the Anna Stadium. It was only after she won her first gold medal in 2014 that she got a professional bicycle through sponsorship.
“I started cycling in 2012 when I was in class 6. My father asked me to participate in the Anna Stadium race that takes place every year on September 15. I won that race and have been cycling ever since. I love cycling,” says Aiswarya.
But the 17-year-old has today outgrown the bicycle. She needs a more professional bicycle to participate in national tournaments. “I need a racing bicycle that costs `5 lakh, to win the national-level competitions. We have been looking for sponsors,” she says.
But no problem fazes the young girl and her father, who has been her loudest cheerleader. Her father S Jayaraman broke his thigh in 2014 and had to give up selling milk and training his daughter. He now runs a pani puri stall.
Aiswarya’s uncle Rajesh, who was a professional cyclist, has been training her. She wakes up at 5 am daily and cycles for at least 40 km.
She aspires to represent India internationally one day. “I want to tell all the girls that we should not be scared. You should come up in life by your talent and hard work. Girls should be brave,” says Aiswarya.
A Novel Way To Link Rivers: R Sabeetha
As ISRO touches new heights in space, many children now aspire to work there. Fourteen-year-old R Sabeetha from Panchayat Union Middle School, Arangapalayam, Karur, is one among those children who dreams of working in ISRO, and she’s already one step closer to the dream. She is one of the selected few students who has had the chance to visit the ISRO after winning a competition.
A Karur resident, Sabeetha won the Inspire Manak award for the year 2018-19. She visited the ISRO on October 9. She won against students from 88 other schools who participated in Karur district.
Sabeetha’s project was on interlinking of rivers. “As per the government’s plan to interlink rivers, it would cost `30 lakh crore. As per my plan, we can build underground pipelines to link rivers. This will cost just `3 lakh crore,” explains Sabeetha. Her Science teacher helped her with the project that took one month to complete. The project will be tested if the government chooses to implement it.
The school’s headmistress is proud. “For this competition, only two projects were selected. The students were then given `10,000 to build working models of their projects. Sabeetha came first in the district,” says A Kannahi, headmistress of the school. Sabeetha’s idea is that with her plan, India will not have any problem for water. She is confident that her project can help the country flourish. This class 9 student has won several awards previously too for her innovative projects like Dengue Villipunarvu.
She hopes that young girls study well, as according to her “Girls are the future of this country.”