Lesson 53: Sumit Gunjan – An Unsung Hero (Level 2+)

Two events were to set Sumit Gunjan on a journey that would not only change his life but that of many tribal children in Banta-Hajam, a village seventy kilometres from Ranchi, Jharkhand.

In 2010 Gunjan came across a group of children of construction workers near his college in Greater Noida, UP. He held informal classes for them with the help of his fellow students and professors.

The second event that helped steer Gunjan towards his calling was when he travelled to Jharkhand to study medicinal herbs used by the tribals. The first time he visited Banta-Hajam he stayed for five days. But he kept coming back to the village, fascinated by the tribal way of life.

A couple of years ago, Gunjan, with the help of villagers, friends and well-wishers, set up Bal Nivas. Here thirty- five tribal children are taught tribal languages, and they are trained in singing, dancing, classical and folk music, computers and spoken English. They are taught instruments such as the tabla, harmonium, the do-tara, the mandolin, and even the tuila, a traditional tribal instrument on the verge of extinction. They are also taught vocational skills such as bee-keeping and knitting.

The children, all residents of Banta- Hajam, live in Bal Nivas. They cook their own food and clean their living area. Gunjan is not against technology, but he believes that group activities such as sowing crops by hand promote harmony and kinship. Most of the children living at Bal Nivas either do not have one parent or are orphans.

Alam Khan, a resident of Banta-Hajam says about Gunjan: “For us, he is one of our own. He has changed our lives for the better.”

A) Vocabulary:
Please make sentences with the following words. The sentences should show that you understand the meaning of the word.

Tribe – a group of people who have common ancestors, language, culture, and history.
Ancestor – a person related to you who lived a long time ago
Tribal – relating to a tribe.
Construction – building
Steer – guide, direct
Calling – profession, mission
Medicinal herbs – plants used in traditional medicine
Harmony – living peacefully together
Kinship – relationship, family bonds
Orphan – a child whose parents are dead

B) Discussion points

  1. What is meant by “an unsung hero?”
  2. Can you think of any other unsung hero?
  3. Write and say a few lines about this unsung hero.
  4. What are medicinal herbs?
  5. When you have a cold and cough what herb would you have?
  6. Why do group activities promote harmony and kinship?
  7. Do you do any group activity?
  8. Write a few lines about this activity.
  9. What makes Sumit Gunjan a hero? What qualities does he have?
  10. Why is it important to learn spoken English?