Source: Indian Express
It was a pleasant autumn morning on Saturday, a ‘half-day’ in school. But 40-odd primary school children were attending a “skill development lecture” after the last class that got over at 11 a.m. at Orient Public School, in Seelampur, a low-income, Muslim-majority neighbourhood in northeast Delhi.
As four young men walked into their classroom to deliver the lecture, nattily dressed and with an air of confidence about them, the children looked at them in awe, noisy chirps giving way to stunned silence. The men, in their 20s and 30s, sought to put them at ease, giving them chocolates and asking them to introduce themselves, their names, what class they were studying in, their fathers’ occupations, and what they wanted to do in life.
As the children got up, one by one, to speak about themselves, it was clear where they were coming from—most of their fathers were tailors, auto-rickshaw-drivers, running small steel shops or “doing no work at all”, and most wanted to become either doctors or engineers, because “ammi (mother) wants me to”. Their school, for that matter, was in a nondescript building with no playground, making it indistinguishable from the cheek-by-jowl homes and small shops in Seelampur’s narrow, overflowing-with-sewerage-water lanes.
“Do you want to live a good life, earn more and command respect from people? Do you want to drive a good car, like an i10?” asked Syed Raghib, a 31-year-old research scholar at JNU, after the introductions. The children nodded; some even managed a loud “yes” amid the whirring noise of the low-ceiling fan in the cramped classroom. “Then, you really need to study, not just for good marks but for a bright future for yourselves. Your fathers are doing great work, but look beyond,” he said, giving his own example of how he struggled through government school at Gaya in Bihar where teachers paid no attention, to come this far.
This “skill development lecture” was one of the many things that “Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP)”, an organisation of young Muslim professionals such as doctors, engineers and managers, does in order to “help empower underprivileged Muslims”. An 18,000-strong group on Facebook, the “organisation” functions on social media and occasional offline meetings across 50 chapters in the country, where members “brainstorm” over what they can do to help the community. Read more