New Delhi: In India's 66th year as a Republic, Bihar-based activist Rakesh Ranjan is trying to gather steam for his campaign to get the government to recognise as Bharat Ratna 'Mountain Man' Dashrath Manjhi. He hand-chiseled a road through a rocky hill to connect his inacessible village to the nearest town over 22 years of labour.
Ranjan from Gaya in Bihar is deeply "inspired" by Manjhi, and he wants India to know the story of the unsung hero.
"He (Manjhi) needs to be honoured and with the highest civilian award...Dashrath's feat came about in a selfless way and the man worked relentlessly for 22 years without any resources," Ranjan said.
Manjhi hails from Dashrath Nagar in Gaya district. In 22 years, he cut a 300-metre-long and 25-ft-wide road through a hill to link Ghivra Mauja of Dashrath Nagar, in Gehlaur Ghati, to Atara Prakhand, Wajirganj, thereby reducing the distance between the two places from 75 km to just one km.
He launched his truly Herculean effort when taking his injured wife to a hospital became an arduous task.
Manjhi himself died in 2007 at the age of 70, but stories of his work are now being spoken about.
Ranjan is now trying to bring forth Manjhi's story on the social medium.
"The online world has received Manjhi's story with fascination, respect and disbelief. A few days ago, this was the trending story on an Indian website. There is also a Twitter Chat, and Reddit India AMA organised on Republic Day to discuss how the country should celebrate heroes like Manjhi. Some of the comments I have seen from people are truly inspirational. Everyone is moved by his story," Ranjan told IANS.
Milaap.org, a crowdfunding platform for social impact, has also launched its 'The Mountain Man Project', named after Manjhi, to galvanise efforts towards recognising the common Indian's heroism.
Meanwhile, the Mountain Man has also found his share of the fans in the film fraternity.
An episode of Aamir Khan's TV Show "Satyamev Jayate" in 2014 was dedicated to Manjhi, and even director Ketan Mehta has made a film on him, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead since he was so inspired by this common man's uncommon story.
"In sharing these stories, I hope every Indian is inspired and many more take up the challenge to be the change ourselves," Ranjan added.