Price Paid Through Life For Online Class By A 13 Year Old Boy In Odisha, Where Is Our Sabka Sath?

  • | Tuesday | 24th August, 2021

DN Singh 

There a huge question mark stares at the Union IT ministry when a young student in Odisha fell to death while attending his online classes from the tip of a hillock.

Elating bangs of welcome to the Union IT minister, Ashwini Vaishnav, on his arrival in Bhubaneswar airport today, should not lose sight of the tragic death of a child in the Rayagada district.    

Vaishnav may have to face questions that how the digital congestion in the internet has led to the tragic death of a young boy, Andria Jagaranga, who fell to death when struggling for clear connectivity in his mobile phone sitting atop a hillock near his village, Pandraguda.

Tragic Fall

This grim tale of the class eight students reflects the bottom reality as how the system, even after 18 months of the pandemic has not been able to address the issues related to the unavoidable online classes.

Andria, as usual, climbed up the hillock nearby and reached up to a certain point at the peak from where he used to get the network. Post a rain in the area the rocks were bit slippery but, unmindful of the risks Andria was making movements atop to get the network.

At a certain point, his feet slipped off the rock and he fell down the steep which was bit precipitous. He became unconscious and had several injuries in his leg and other parts. When he was found by the parents lying down there, it was late.

The 13-year-old was declared brought dead by the doctor at the Block hospital, 20 kms away. For his father Narahari Jagaranaga, who makes a living from a paltry income, nothing could have been more disastrous than an incident. The loss of his son and the latter’s dream to study further, all went crashing down.

IT Ministry Has A Job To Do

Andria is one among the 22 odd lakh students in Odisha who do not have either access to online classes or do not have the right kind of Smartphone to attend the class.

It was not only Andria but many children in this nondescript village in Raygada district of Odisha who climb up 200 plus meters hillocks for the required connectivity and there are more than 24 lakh students in the state who do not have any smartphones with them let alone connectivity.

Even after almost 24 hours of the incident the District Education Officer of Rayagada, Purnachandra Baria, was not aware of the tragedy as he was quoted by the local media that, “ our team visited the village and met the parents” and added that, “ we will work out alternatives so that the students do not have to take such risks”. 

Less than 20 % of students across the state have access to internet facilities or good internet penetration. Whereas less than 25% have smartphones and more than 55% have ordinary mobile phones only.    

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