Girl who bagged 11 gold medals wants to return to her village to help farmers

The top-most meritorious student of the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore — who mesmerised everybody with her sterling academic performance that helped her bag 11 gold medals — wants to strive for improving the condition of poor farmers rather than going after lucrative jobs.

Mamata Kumari, who was a cynosure of all eyes at the UAS-B convocation held here on Friday, hails from a middle class farming family in Mokana village of Bihar.

“It is the poor living conditions and the backwardness of farmers in my village that bothers me. I want to go back to my village and bring about a change there,” she told The Hindu after the convocation.

Ms. Kumari, who is presently pursuing her masters in genetics and plant breeding in Allahabad, wants to complete her higher education to become a plant breeder.

She is also thinking of joining a job for the time being to take care of her financial needs. “But this is only a temporary arrangement and my aim is to go back to my native village,” she says.

She thinks that there is a need to improve the agricultural extension system in the country if farmers have to improve. “Presently farmers are not trying out new technologies as well as crop practices as they do not trust the extension officials,” she points out.

She opposes the trend of students from agricultural stream joining totally a different sector that has nothing to do with agriculture or farmers. “Once you do agricultural course, it becomes your duty to give back to the agriculture sector,” she remarks.

Sarat Kumar, who bagged seven gold medals, too echoes similar views. Mr. Kumar, who hails from Sindega district of Jharkand, is presently pursuing a course in rural management in XIMB-Bhuvaneshwar.

“My ultimate aim is to float my own NGO or a group that provides a helping hand to farmers in distress. But presently I have to join a job to get proper exposure as well as money. However, this arrangement will last only for five to ten years till I launch the NGO,” he says.

He is disturbed by the increase in the trend of farmers’ suicide and says farmers are not getting what they deserve.

Champion in athletics

One more student who stood out at the convocation was Gouthami R. Bhaskar who excelled not only in sports, but also in academics.

She bagged two gold medals precisely for emerging as the best sportsperson of the university besides topping her batch of students in academics.

Ms. Gouthami, who has stood first in a series of sprint events at the national level sports meet of the agricultural universities, sought to dispel the myth that sports interest will come in the way of academic performance.

“Athletics performance inspired me to do well in academics also. But you need to put in extra effort,” she said.

Couple receive degrees

Another interesting feature of this year’s convocation was that a man and wife received their degrees.

While B. Manjunath, who is working as an agricultural research scientist at the ICAR, received doctoral degree, his wife Neetha Jayaram bagged four gold medals in her M.Sc.

Ms. Neetha, who is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in molecular biology, wants to take up teaching like her parents who are professors.

Hailing from a parched district of Kolar, she wants to develop drought-resistant plant varieties to help dry-land farmers.