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"I was excited, felt like a teenager again": 82 years old Ahmed Ali after getting a special mention in Narendra Modi's speech

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People of Karimganj district and its adjacent areas are often teased as Refugees and Bangladeshis. Google maps and at times international publications too mark the bordering region outside the country while publishing India’s map. The entire region must be in a joyous mood as a resident of Patharkandi (Karimganj District) got a special mention in Prime Minister’s radio show ‘Mann Ki Baat’, at least for some time the teasing will stop…

March 25, 2018 is a day that Barak Valley and entire Assam will never forget, rickshaw puller, Ahmed Ali who established nine schools in the region was appreciated by Narendra Modi for his stellar efforts to spread education. “I got to know from letters that a rickshaw puller from Karimganj in Assam, has opened nine schools for the poor children. This shows the great will power of our countrymen,” said Modi in his speech. He said these letters with such amazing stories rejuvenates him and motivates him to do something for the country and the society.

How did Ali feel after getting a special mention from the Prime Minister himself, how did he manage to open nine schools one after another, what is the secret of his energy, spoke to the man himself and here is what he had to say…

Edited excerpts:

How did you feel when the Prime Minister of the country mentioned you and your stellar contribution?

 I am 82 years old, but after hearing my name in his speech I felt like a teenager again. I felt ecstatic; it’s a feeling deep inside which I cannot express in words. I had an appointment with doctor Surajit Sinha, I was so excited after hearing the speech that I completely forgot about it. I was born in the year 1936, I have seen a lot of politicians but none like Krishnandu Babu (Paul), no one helped me as much as him and today as I get credited for my contribution I must mention about his efforts too. He donated Rs 11 Lakhs to me to setup schools…

You have been doing this since a long time, did you ever think that the Prime Minister himself would recognise your efforts in a public speech?

 Not even in my vivid imagination, a recognition from the Prime Minister is not something I can even imagine in my dreams. Again I have no words to express my gratitude towards Prime Minister Modi, I will always be grateful to him.

Today, you have made Karimganj, Barak Valley and entire Assam appear in national and international headlines, how have people of the region reacted to the accolade?

People from all the corners are reaching out to me, congratulating me for getting a mention in Modi’s speech. People from Silchar, Tripura and all around have congratulated me, I am so happy today. What else do I need in life this feelings are much more precious than having a crore rupees land.

What motivated you to start one school after another, what defines your undisputed love for education?

Human beings without education are like bones without flesh, I could not afford education, I can barely read Bengali, my schools have my name written in English on the signboards but I cannot read them and that is my biggest regret. I wanted to ensure that no one regrets like I do, today my children have all passed their 10th, if the schools weren’t there they would not have managed to do that, they too would have stayed uneducated. Money cannot develop the country education can, God insisted us to devote ourselves in garnering education I am just following the path…

Ahmed Ali standing in front of his school

What is the next thing you would like to do?

Today the students need to walk 10 kilometres to reach the higher secondary school in Patharkandi, I am planning to start a higher secondary school in the village itself so that they don’t need to walk such a long distance.

What you are doing is a great philanthropy, but you are a rickshaw puller by profession, how are you getting money… starting nine schools need a lot of money…

People of this region have helped me a lot, something which would cost others Rs 10, I managed to get it done by spending half. The teachers in the school helped me a lot; I have even used gold ornaments of my family to get money whenever needed. At the end I will again thank Krishnendu Paul he helped me a lot.

Ahmed Ali to as an average human being like all of us it is his willingness to do something for the society that kept him going. It’s great to see that such will force still exist in the world where personal goals have long overtaken social responsibilities. It’s also encouraging that Prime Minister himself is recognising the efforts, it will certainly motivate others to move in similar direction.

The 82 year old never thought of any recognition and kept doing what he wanted to, tomorrow he might get a national level award too, this actually reminds of a famous Kishore Kumar song ‘Zindagi ek safar hai suhana Yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana…’ who knows tomorrow you might get a mention too.

Modi mentions about Ahmed Ali on 7th minute in the video

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