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Sarita Mali Story: Once used to sell flowers at Mumbai’s traffic signals, now she will do PhD from University of California, know who is Sarita Mali


New Delhi, Story of Sarita Mali (Story Of Sarita Mali) may sound like a fairy tale. Sarita was born in the slums of Mumbai, attended a municipal school and then ran behind vehicles to sell flowers at traffic signals on the streets. But the dream of becoming something always stuck in his eyes. He never blamed his circumstances and his luck as he always remembered his father’s teaching that education is the only weapon which can save him from this life of suffering. This education was made by Sarita as a magic wand which turned her luck and today she has got admission in the prestigious University of California, Santa Barbara, USA for doing PhD in Hindi from the slum of Mumbai.

Used to sell flowers with father in Mumbai’s traffic signal
Sarita’s father belongs to Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh where her caste is counted among Other Backward Classes (OBC). But in search of livelihood, he came to Mumbai and started selling flower garlands at traffic signals. Sarita studied in class VI when she along with her father had to run behind vehicles to sell flowers at traffic signals in Mumbai. Both father and daughter used to earn hardly 300 rupees a day by selling flowers. Growing up in a slum near Mumbai’s Ghatkopar area, Sarita had seen discrimination in her childhood for being a girl and her dark complexion. Although his father supported him at every step.

Tuition used to teach children after tenth
After tenth, Sarita started teaching tuitions to the children of the area. She wanted to fulfill her father’s desire to study. Saving money, he joined KJ Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce. Inspired by him, the elder sister and two brothers also did not stop studies. His father does not understand the degrees of BA, MA but he definitely knows that education is the biggest strength.

Share tales of struggle on Facebook
in facebook post Sarita Mali has shared the stories of their struggles. He wrote that I have been selected in two universities of America – University of California and University of Washington, I have given preference to University of California. This university has awarded me the ‘Chancellor’s Fellowship’, one of the most prestigious fellowships in America based on merit and academic record.

Even while selling flowers on the road, her father used to explain to Sarita that only education can liberate all the brothers and sisters from this curse. According to Sarita, ‘Father used to tell us, if we don’t study then our whole life will be spent fighting to keep ourselves alive and arrange food. We will not be able to give anything to this country and society and will continue to be humiliated in the society by remaining illiterate like them. Seeing this hunger, atrocities, humiliation and crime happening around, Sarita came to Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2014 to take a master’s degree in Hindi literature.

Admission in JNU turning point in Sarita’s life
Studying in JNU was also the biggest ambition of Sarita’s life because once when she went to her maternal grandmother’s place she saw that her maternal brother was preparing for admission in JNU. His maternal uncle told his mother that one who gets admission in JNU, he comes out from there only as ‘something’. And from here Sarita got the urge to go to JNU and become ‘something’. Although she says, ‘At that time I didn’t know what JNU was. But to become something like this, I decided in class XII itself that I have to take admission in JNU itself. And after three years of hard work, he got admission in OBC seat in Hindi MA first year. Sarita says that admission in JNU was a turning point in her life and for this she worked hard for three years.

Sarita credits the academic world, faculty and progressive student politics of JNU in Delhi for shaping her personality. She says, “JNU made me a human being first. JNU made me the person who can speak out against all kinds of exploitation prevailing in the society. I am extremely excited that I have got an opportunity to pass on what JNU has taught so far to the whole world through my research.

In 2014, at the age of 20, Sarita, who came to JNU to do her post-graduation (PG), is now going to do her PhD again in the US after taking her MA, MPhil degree from here and submitting her PhD thesis this year. There she will do research on the topic ‘Writings of Lower Class Women during the Bhakti Period’.

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