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Rituparna Neog – A Torchbearer of Inclusive Education 

In a remote village of Assam, a young woman named Rituparna Neog is on a mission to make education accessible and inclusive for all. Her dream of opening a free library for the people in her village stems from her own childhood experiences of finding solace and empowerment in books during a time when she faced bullying and harassment for her queer identity. 

The Meaning Behind the Name 

For Rituparna, her name holds a deep significance. Literally translated, it means “evergreen,” and she believes this aptly describes her journey of self-discovery and growth. “I see myself as someone who loves herself very much and is always on a journey to find herself,” she says. Her name is also a reflection of how others perceive her, a culmination of her own self-perception and the perspectives of those around her. 

A Childhood Shaped by Books 

Rituparna’s fondest memories are from her childhood, which she describes as “happy” and “beautiful.” She credits her family especially her mother, father and sister, for providing her with a nurturing environment where she felt accepted and included in decision-making processes. However, her experiences outside the home were different. She faced bullying and harassment in school due to her queer identity, and the library became her safe haven. 

Rituparna Neog (Photos by DNN24)

“The world of the library was the safest place for me in this world,” she recalls. “The outside world of the library was full of danger for me, and I always say that I learned to fly from there in life.” It was this profound connection with books and libraries that planted the seed for her dream of establishing a free library in her village. 

The Journey Towards Inclusive Education 

Rituparna’s journey towards realizing her dream began with sharing her idea with her family and the community. Her parents not only supported her wholeheartedly but also provided her with a physical space to start the library. The villagers, too, expressed their desire for a free library where they could access books without financial constraints. 

Rituparna’s vision for the library was to create an inclusive space that welcomed individuals from all castes, religions, classes, identities, colors, and abilities. “In a library, every caste, religion, class, language, identity, color, and ability – who has what capability? Seeing all that, everyone is able to come, and the place is for everyone,” she explains. 

Overcoming Challenges and Fostering Inclusivity 

Rituparna Neog (Photos by DNN24)

Despite facing societal prejudices and stereotypes, Rituparna remained resilient in her pursuit of creating an inclusive space for learning and growth. She believes that education has the power to promote equality and justice, and her libraries aim to be platforms where people can engage in discussions, ask questions, and challenge existing norms. 

Through storytelling, Rituparna raises awareness about societal issues, particularly those related to gender and sexuality. She curates’ stories that resonate with people of all ages, using language that is accessible and relatable. Her approach has been met with open minds and a willingness to engage in dialogue, rather than dismissal or rejection. 

A Beacon of Hope 

Rituparna’s work has inspired many others to contribute to her cause, with people from across India donating books and resources to her libraries. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, and she has become a beacon of hope for those who believe in the transformative power of education and inclusivity. 

As she continues her journey, Rituparna’s message remains clear: embrace diversity, nurture potential, and create spaces where every individual can thrive, learn, and grow without fear or discrimination. Her free libraries stand as a testament to the impact one person’s dream can have on an entire community. 

Also Read: Naik Qayoom: Pioneering Innovation in South Kashmir

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