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Ability scores

Physically impaired Jana will receive his second national award for creative art

Against all odds... Jana

WHEN MOUTH painter Janarthanan was told that he figured in the finals of the National Bal Bhavan competition, his father Kesavan said to himself, "This time, Jana might not make it". He did not doubt his 13-year-old son's ability, but he was convinced that Jana receiving the `The Best Creative Child Award' at the hands of the President Abdul Kalam in December last would influence the judges and tilt the scales against him.

"I thought the judges might ask themselves why should the boy get the Bal Shree Award as well. Hasn't he already received an award from the President?" Moreover, for the earlier award Jana had to compete with the differently-abled, but this time he was pitted against able-bodied children.

On February 16, Jana will once again walk the red carpet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to receive the Bal Shree Award from the President. As Kesavan expected, the competition was tough. "Of the 170 children in the fray, only three were physically impaired," says Kesavan.

Imaginative work

There were four categories - creative performance, creative science, creative art and creative writing. Jana naturally took the third one. On each of the four days (December 7 to 10, 2004), those competing in the creative art category had to produce two art works, one in the morning and another in the evening.

The very first day and in the first round, Jana proved his mettle. The theme came to the children in a sealed cover. They were asked to draw a logo using the first letter in their name.

Jana drew a banyan tree to portray a face. He used the drooping roots to depict the hair, and the alphabet `J' to draw the nose. The latter was done so artfully that one would notice the letter only with much effort. When the judges asked him why he chose to draw a banyan tree, the boy said he wanted to live like a banyan tree, sheltering others. The answer touched a chord.

That is how Jana made it to the list of 22 selected for the Bal Shree Awards. Two other children from Chennai - S. Sathvikaa and Vishala Mishra, both able-bodied, will also receive the awards.

Kesavan says the President will be happy to meet Jana again. On the earlier occasion, he spoke to Jana in Tamil as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Subbulakshmi Jagdisan told him, when Jana's name was called out, that the boy was from Tamil Nadu. "When Jana was walking towards the podium, the President affectionately said, `Vaa kanna vaa' and later chatted with him for five minutes," Kesavan remembers fondly.


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