Dharam Dutt has spent over eight decades of his life on Mother Earth and is well set to enter the nonagenarian space. Despite the years having taken their toll, his spirit to work for society has remained undiminished.
It is this indomitable spirit which has encouraged and pushed him to work relentlessly for the uplift and welfare of destitute children presently numbering around hundred.
These children, mostly from rural areas, are housed in the Motinagar-situated ‘Shrimad Dayanand Bal Sadan’ which was founded in 1915. Food, lodging and education are provided free of cost to the residents of the child care centre.
Says Mr Dharam Dutt: “These children are from the economically weaker section of the society. Either they are orphans, or their parents are too poor to provide for their basic needs. They come from places as far as Nepal, Mizoram as also from Uttar Pradesh”.
The children are in the age group of 5 to 7 years. They stay in the sadan till they attain the age of 18, Mr Dutt said.
Once in the sadan, the children have to abide by its rules and regulations which are on the lines of a ‘gurukul’. At 6 a.m., their day begins with the recitation of mantras and performance of ‘hawan’. From 7 a.m. they have yoga sessions. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. their studies begin.
The school education system up to class eight is affiliated to the Uttar Pradesh Board of Secondary Education. For higher studies, the girls of the sadan are enrolled in a girls’ college and the boys are admitted to a college for boys, both situated in Lucknow.
While presently the emphasis in the sadan is to make the children economically independent by pursuing Arya Samaj practices, voices are being raised that the kids’ energies should be channelised for earning a livelihood in pace with the changing times and the new job avenues coming up. Mr Dutt, however, says these children earn a reasonable amount for their sustenance through “purohitgiri”.
Mr Dutt’s association with the child care centre dates back to the early 1990s. Having retired from the post of joint secretary in the State Electricity Board, he started visiting the sadan with food for the children. It was during one such visit that the children requested him to teach them, which he accepted. There was no looking back.
From holding classes, his involvement in the affairs of the centre began to take deeper roots. He diverted a major part of his savings to the construction of classrooms, hostels, library and multi-purpose halls. Queried if he sought aid from the government for the functioning of the sadan, Mr. Dutt said “no” quite firmly. The sadan is being run purely through donations, he added.
Mr Dutt sits in the office daily to oversee the functioning of the organization and is assisted by his wife Omeshwari.