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Cover Story Dharampal Saini MAN OF THE YEAR
Badshah of Bastar
Text By Deepak Tiwari & Photos by Amey Mansabdar
He conquered the hearts and minds of India’s tribal hinterland by focusing on girls’ education. How Dharampal Saini made the impossible possible
Runner, teacher, reformer Saini leading a group of students training for marathon
Naxalism is a political movement, not a police problem
How has Bastar changed in the last four decades?There was a time when women in Bastar opened their sari pallu for the shopkeepers to pick currency notes for the grocery they bought. Now, women are running shops and dictating terms. Earlier, the adivasis used to give away several kilograms of precious forest produce, sometimes for just a kilogram of salt. Such practices have almost ended. Bastar...
Shining stars
Sports are a way of life in Saini’s schools. His students have picked up many state and national level awards, especially in marathons. The girls prepare for the races months in advance, under the watchful eyes of Saini, who personally monitors each one of them. They run 10km every day on different surfaces, barefooted. “We provided the girls with canvas shoes, but they threw those...
Awesome alumni
As he looks back after 36 years, tauji can be proud of his set of illustrious daughters. Many of them show their gratitude by serving the ashram, which gave them a life. Sewati Rathore, 41, belonged to the first batch of students at the Mata Kasturba Ashram school in Barsur. She 
now works as a superintendent and also teaches students in the same school. Similarly, Shakuntala Nag, Kamali...
Helping hands
Netrapal Singh, a young man with a postgraduate degree in agriculture sciences, is the modern face of the ashram. He is also the secretary of the society that runs the ashram. Brimming with ideas, he has introduced a number of initiatives in farming. Under his watershed project in Sargipal village, over 800 acres are now planted with soil and nitrogen-fixing plants.With mango and cashew...
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