The last few days have been filled with phone calls and interviews for 13-year-old Nethra, who was recently appointed the ‘Goodwill Ambassador for the Poor’ by the United Nations Association for Development and Peace (UNADAP). On Saturday, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami promised that the state government will bear Nethra’s higher education expenses - a token of appreciation for her act of generosity.
On May 2, the Madurai police received a phone call from Nethra’s father C Mohan, who said he wanted to donate money to buy supplies for migrant workers. Mohan runs a barber shop in Melamadai near their house, and had saved over Rs 5 lakh for his only daughter’s education over the years. Nethra, who was reading about the plight of migrant workers across the country, had urged her parents Mohan and Pandiselvi to give away their years-worth of earnings. And so, Mohan approached the Anna Nagar police in Madurai.
“A few years ago, our family went through a very rough patch and we didn’t even have enough money to buy basic food and water. I was reminded of it when I read about the migrant workers’ struggle. So I asked my father if he could give the money he had saved for my higher studies,” Nethra told TNM. This news somehow reached the Prime Minister’s office and PM Modi conveyed his appreciation to Mohan and Nethra through his radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
Since then Nethra has been flooded with phone calls and messages of appreciation from far and wide. Tamil Nadu Minister Sellur K Raju, who is from Madurai, called her the ‘Pride of Madurai’ and said that he would recommend to the Chief Minister to confer Nethra with an award in the name of the former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Not used to this kind of attention, Nethra, a class nine student, said that her goal is to become a civil servant. “I want to study B.Com for my undergraduate college and want to become an IAS officer later,” she said.