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PU alumna established the village’s first-ever library.

Chandigarh January 17, 2022: Panjab University (PU) Chandigarh student, Shikha Thakur, from the Department of English and Cultural Studies, 2019-21 batch, helped a small village of Rajasthan to have its first-ever library on January 7, 2022. The village is Nalu, which is located in the Ajmer zone of Rajasthan.

Shikha is working with “SBI Youth for India Fellowship”, a 13-Month program that nominates 70 applicants out of more than 2 lakh India’s brightest young minds who are qualified to go live and work amongst rural communities to help solve pressing rural development challenges. Fellows are further supported in their projects by leading NGOs and experts across disciplines.

Shikha was called in July 2021 to be appointed to work with SWRC: The Barefoot College, Tilonia,  District Ajmer, Rajasthan, which is one of the major NGOs of the country. It’s apparent how the youth of India is just mugging up the facts and figures they’ve been provided, instead of interrogating the source of the information. And this pandemic era just worsened the already fragile state of India’s education institutions. After comparing her privileged learning atmosphere with the village’s, she was determined to be the change by bearing a little yet significant effort of taking the initiative to inaugurate Nalu’s first-ever library, with a hope to inculcate good learning and reading habits in them by introducing them to the world beyond their school or university curriculums.

“I wish to do a PhD in literature, but first I need to unlearn the knowledge I’ve been fed till now, and learn more about the people and their cultures, values and stories, while working in the field because that is ‘literature ‘. ” she quoted while sharing her future plans. ” And social service will always be a major part of my life. It always has been,”

When asked about her challenges, she responded, ” There were hell lot of challenges obviously; convincing your parents to let you live alone, from a huge city into a village that they’d never heard of, adjusting to a new place, then persuading the people in charge of the village (sarpanch, collector, etc) to grant you a portion of land for setting up a co-ed library in a highly patriarchal society that still practices parda-system even in the 21st century. “

The inauguration ceremony was held in Nalu, on 7 January 2022, which was attended by the village’s previous and present sarpanch, sarpanches of the adjacent villages, and many notable men and women of the village along with the villagers.

By: Madhur Vyas

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S.K. Vyas

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