Published: 02nd July 2020
Two years and a legal battle later, these Dalit sisters in Kerala will finally get laptops to study with
Anakha Babu and her sister Ardra had applied for a laptop in 2018. The Kerala High Court ruled in their favour a few days back
The year was 2018 when Anakha Babu joined the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit for her master's degree. A laptop was indispensable for this Dalit student to study and submit her assignments. Without wasting any time, the same year, she had applied for a laptop at the village panchayat, through the Scheduled Caste Laptop scheme.
Two years have passed since. She doesn't remember the number of times she had called the concerned authorities about this. Now a couple of weeks after she had submitted her final year's project. the High Court of Kerala has ordered the panchayat to deliver a laptop each to Anakha and her sister Ardra, who is a student of Physiotherapy, within five weeks.
"I am happy about the ruling. This is my right. I should have gotten this much before though," Anagha tells us, sitting inside a small house with a makeshift tarpaulin roof. "I had struggled a lot without a proper gadget," she says. She recalls how she would always borrow laptops from her friends to submit assignments.
Anakha's house in Idukki
However, when the lockdown began, she had gone home in Idukki. "All that I had an old laptop of a friend's. It wasn't in good condition. It would hang constantly and the A key wouldn't work. I completed my assignment, switching the device on and off constantly," she says. Anakha says that she could have submitted her project sooner if she had a perfectly functional computer. "My family cannot afford one. My father is a daily wage labourer and my mother is ill. Our house too isn't in good condition," she says.
Anakha tells us that the panchayat members had told her in 2018 that the laptops will only be provided to students who are pursuing professional courses. "So, we applied in my sister's name, since she pursues a professional course. Then we were told that the Kerala floods had delayed the process. A lot of other delays came along the line. COVID was the latest excuse," she says. Anakha also says that during the legal proceedings of the case, she learned that she was also eligible for financial support from the under Padanamuri, a project of the Kerala State Development Corporation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The judgment directs the panchayat to deliver the laptop in five weeks. These sisters are counting days now, excited to hold a gadget of their own for the first time.