EDITORS: Following is a series of special features that seek to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation based in Washington.
From pain and penury to pinnacle of success: The winning tale of gritty Swapna Barman (IANS Special Series) (12:32)
By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Oct 14 (IANS) Until that evening in Jakarta when the country celebrated her success with much fanfare, everything about heptathlete Swapna Barman spelt hardship. From extreme poverty to physical deformity of the kind that threatened to time and again derail her ambition, Swapna pushed every odd to its limits on course to become the first Indian heptathlete to win an Asian Games gold.
What a woman! She battled personal odds to become crusader against child marriages (IANS Special Series) (12:48)
By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Oct 7 (IANS) Her struggle for survival began even before she was born. Her own family members wanted to kill her in her mother's womb after her father abandoned them. Rajasthan-based Kriti Bharti had been fighting ever since -- which eventually led her to battle for those who are are let down by their families and forced to get married as children.
Babar Ali's inspiring story: How a nine-year-old's zeal brought education to Bengal's poor (IANS Special Series) (12:14)
By Bhavana Akella
Murshidabad (West Bengal), Sep 30 (IANS) Walking home from school in a small town in West Bengal, a nine-year-old boy saw some of his friends work as rag-pickers. The thought that his companions were unable to study like him because they were poor so agonised the young Babar Ali that he decided to do something about it and bring school to those who could not afford it.
Matka Man: From London to Delhi on a thirst-quenching mission (IANS Special Series) (12:08)
By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) On a scorching summer day, the likes of which are plentiful in Delhi, what one needs most is a glass of water to quench one's thirst, more so for those who toil in the unbearable heat to earn their livelihoods. The hundreds of civic workers, rickshaw pullers, street vendors and road sweepers cannot afford to buy water several times a day from vending kiosks. To their rescue come the "matkas", or traditional earthen pitchers, installed at different parts of the city which seem to get magically filled up with water every single day.
How India's sports stars overcame tough personal odds to achieve success (IANS Special Series) (16:36)
By Ajeyo Basu
New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) Ever since she was a kid, Hima Das woke up every morning before the crack of dawn and would go to the local grazing ground in a remote Assam village. With no proper gear or even a playground, she practiced running at this grazing ground, around 50 metres from her house, before the villagers let their cattle loose post sunrise.
A hijab-wearing Muslim bodybuilder breaks stereotypes in India (IANS Special Series) (12:06)
By Sanu George
Vadakara (Kerala), Sep 9 (IANS) When 23-year-old Majiziya Bhanu took to the stage to compete in the women's segment of the Mr Kerala competition in Kochi earlier this year, all eyes were on her -- never before had a bodybuilder wearing a hijab (Muslim head scarf) participated in the event. Proving that hijab is no hurdle for her or any other woman, she went on to win the competition.
How Delhi schools are revolutionising education, one teacher at a time (IANS Special Series) (12:50)
By Nivedita Singh
New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) When Roshan Lal, a 40-year-old rickshawpuller, got his son Rakesh admitted to a government school in Delhi, all he wanted for him was to get a decent education. Since he could not afford to pay for a private school, all that was on his mind was that "government school mein kuch toh seekh hi lega" (at least, he would learn something there).
This smart village empowers differently-abled to stand on their own (IANS Special Series) (12:00)
By Archana Sharma
Udaipur, Aug 26 (IANS) In a small village near this famous lake city in Rajasthan, thousands of physically challenged people are given a fresh lease of life. Not only do they receive corrective surgeries free of cost but, during the course of their treatment, they are also imparted training to repair computers and mobiles or learn the art of stitching to ensure they become self-reliant.