Kumar Ajit Prasad Singh Deo was a prince, the younger son of Raja Jyoti Prasad Singh Deo of Panchkote Raj state, located at Kashipur, near Adra (now in Purulia district in West Bengal).
Ajit Prasad Singh Deo moved with his family to Purulia town and ran businesses that thrived with time. He supported students from deprived backgrounds and treated them as his own. This story is about that.
One young boy, Basudam, used to walk every day from his village, Ghoragara, 7 miles away, to Victoria School in Purulia. After school, back all the way to Ghoragara. Ajit Prasad Singh Deo spotted him, talked to his father and offered to provide accommodation and boarding to Basudam. This will save him the 14 mile walk every day.
Thus changed the script of Basudam’s life.
Once Basudam completed high school, Basudam’s father requested Ajit Prasad Singh Deo to get him a job. “Matriculation” was a big qualification in India of the 1940s, and a job would have been the perfectly logical path to pursue, specially for a boy coming from a family that could not afford two square meals a day.
But Basudam wanted to study further. Ajit Prasad Singh Deo indulged, sent him to BHU for further studies. Basudam completed his I.Sc. and then his B.Sc. from BHU. Again, with Ajit Prasad Singh Deo’s support, he pursued his M.Sc. in Geology from Patna University, before joining Central Fuel Research Institute, a CSIR lab, where he pursued his science and research career. Basudam’s career in research and exploration led him to a Ph.D. degree as well, from the Indian School of Mines, but Ajit Prasad Singh Deo did not live to see this.
Ajit Prasad Singh Deo and his family’s involvement did not end with funding Basudam’s education. Basudam became a member of the family. Ajit Prasad Singh Deo was father, and his wife, Sarojini Devi, mother to Basudam. Their children were brothers and sisters of Basudam, and with time, grandchildren were nephews and nieces.
A few years after his marriage, Basudam was diagnosed with a life threatening disease. Sarojini Devi and her sons and daughters responded like a close family would. Not just in organising the best available treatment, but being with him, for the one and half years it demanded till he completely recovered. This and many other instances provide the confidence that the deepest emotions among humans, e.g. love, caring and sharing need not be limited within relationships by birth alone. It is for us to broaden our perception of who we are, and who is our family – and enjoy the expanded sense of our perspective.
Basudam’s life was not the only one impacted by Ajit Prasad Singh Deo’s perspective of the world around. There were many deprived children who grew up along with Basudam, going on to pursue successful professions.
But, as you have understood by now, this story is Basudam’s. Basudam understood how education can change lives. His son, Kalyan Banerjee, pursued a career in computing before being drawn into education and eventually conceiving Klorofeel School, building it with patience along with Dr Haribandhu Panda, Anand Rao Ladi, Adarsh Rath, Gopal Krishna Rao, Somnath Patnaik, Taniya Mukherjee and all the early teachers you have experienced so far.
Wish you all a hearty welcome to Klorofeel School. We are inspired by Ajit Prasad Singh Deo whose thinking and actions brought transformational shift in Basudam Banerjee’s life.
Together, we shall create something beautiful. And we have already begun the journey.
This talk was delivered by Kalyan Banerjee to Class 6 students of Klorofeel School, Nov 2021
Ajit Singhdeo’s image adorns the intersection of the two main corridors of Klorofeel School.