At 9.30pm on Sunday, Abhinav (name changed) from SN Pet, Ballari, was busy revising for his II PU exam. The next day, he was to write the history paper and was confident of doing well.
Aminister’s simple gesture of taking a call and promptly responding to the situation saved a teenager from losing an academic year and, more importantly, hope. This is what restores faith in the system and fuels optimism for the future. While it is commendable that the minister stepped up in an hour of crisis, it is also important for grassroots level officials to be empathetic and approachable. After all, the common man doesn’t always have easy access to decision-makers at the top.
That’s when his father received a call from his scribe’s family. The scribe, a 22-year-old woman, had suffered a miscarriage and would not be able to write the exam for Abhinav on Monday, the father was told. Instead, they could recommend a friend who was ready to write the exam. But the department of PU education would need to approve the new scribe.
The panicky parents rushed to Abhinav’s PU college principal’s house. As per the process, the principal had to recommend a scribe to the deputy director of PU education, who would verify the qualification and then approve.
The principal called up the DDPU, who, however, did not relent. It’s a long-drawn process, would take time and cannot be done overnight, the DDPU was quoted as telling the principal. “I went blank. I was sure my son would go into depression. If he missed one exam, he would lose the entire year,” said the boy’s mother.
The family was close to a breakdown when the father remembered that he had the contact number of school education and literacy minister, BC Nagesh. “It was 11.30pm. But I was desperate and decided to dial the minister,” he said .
It was close to midnight. “The minister himself attended the call. I told him that I am a common man, a parent. He initially sounded angry and asked me if I realised what time it was and whether it was the right time to call someone. I told him that I am the parent of a special child, who is writing the exam the next day. The minister immediately calmed down,” the father narrated.
What unfolded next was like a dream. “The minister patiently heard me out. I told him the crisis we were in and how the local officials had not helped. He immediately called the director of exams of Karnataka School Examination and Assessment Board. He messaged me the director’s number, asking us to contact him. He also spoke to the principal directly and directed him to help us out,” the father added.
The parents called the director of KSEAB, Gopalkrishna, who further directed the local officials. The team went on conference calls till 2.30am, working on the formalities. The parents and the student were told to visit the treasury office for other formalities at 8am next morning.
In the morning, all formalities were completed and Abhinav wrote the paper with a new scribe. “…Now that we think about it, we are surprised that a minister himself stepped in after midnight to help a common man,” said the mother. The family told TOI they didn’t want to be identified but wanted to share the story of a good gesture that saved their son’s future.