WHILE THE state government is heaping praises for its decision to appoint Somnath Giram, a tea seller-turned-chartered accountant as its brand ambassador for Maharashtra’s ‘earn and learn’ scheme, it seems that he is expected to do the job for free.
Giram, who ran a tea stall in the city’s Sadashiv Peth, to fund his education is expected to travel to different colleges and universities across the state as a brand ambassador but he won’t get any remuneration for the same. In the GR issued by state higher and technical education department, universities and colleges have been instructed that they should take care of his travel and food-related expenses.
The decision hasn’t gone down well with his mentor and friends who say he should have been offered some remuneration. His mentor, Ram Jagdale, a city-based developer, who gave a small working space in Sahakar Nagar after reading Giram’s story in newspaper, said he expected that at least a nominal amount be given by the government.
“His financial situation should have been considered, it is not like he can afford to keep his work aside and go without a day’s work. At least, not in his initial stages. He has appointed a boy to run his tea stall, he has to even manage those expenses. I know Giram won’t complain since he is bent towards social work but the state government should consider his case,” he said. Another close acquaintance of Giram said, he has debts of over Rs 10 lakh and hence, needs to concentrate on setting up his practice to be able to pay off debts.
While education minister Vinod Tawde didn’t respond to queries but a spokesperson on his behalf said, “Even when celebrities were appointed by the state government, there was no compensation involved as this is a honorary position. There is no provision for any monetary compensation but his travel, food expenses will be borne by the host university or college. This appointment is for a year and Giram accepted it knowing the circumstances.”
The 30-year-old Pune-based tea-seller had recently come into limelight when he cleared chartered accountancy (CA), beating all odds.
The son of a farmer from Karmala taluka in Solapur district, he had come to the city in 2006 to complete his education. He worked in various food stalls and later, set up his own tea stall and during this time, completed BCom, MCom and cleared CA with 55 per cent marks. The Fadnavis government hopes that Giram’s inspiring story of ‘earn and learn’ will inspire youngsters who are regularly dropping out due to lack of funds to complete their higher education.
Meanwhile, Giram himself says he did hope for some compensation but also that he has accepted the appointment even if there is no money involved. “No I was not promised any money and while some help would have been good but I am ready to take up this responsibility. I think that if my story reaches youth and even if a few decide not to drop out and continue their studies by pushing themselves a little harder, I would feel my motive is achieved,” he said.