A 26-year-old Dalit rap artist’s dream of studying at the UK’s Oxford University was fulfilled after he successfully crowdfunded over £36000 to pay for his college fee.
Sumit Samos Turuk, who hails from Koraput district in the eastern state of Odisha, is a Dalit anti-caste activist and student who had applied for the MSc in Modern South Asian Studies in Oxford’s St Antony’s College in November 2020 and was chosen for the course in January this year.
The basic course fee for the one-year programme is £25900 excluding living expenses.
Turuk’s father, who is a teacher at a primary school in the locality, wasn’t able to arrange more than £4000 for his son.
Turuk’s friends encouraged him to start a fundraiser through India’s crowdfunding website Milaap on 1 June.
“I reach out to you because I have run out of options to pay for this opportunity. The total sum of course fees, college community charge and college deposit come to £26240, equivalent to 27,13,480 Indian Rupees,” he wrote in the description.
“I have to submit a financial declaration for the same by 30 June, 2021. As the fees have been raised, I am now also hoping to work part-time to secure my living expenses and other costs, but I would appreciate having a headstart on this. Any contribution will help, and I sincerely thank you if you can spread this campaign, move it through your networks or help in any other way,” he wrote.
The artist told the Indian Express: “My friends from India and Pakistan who have studied in Oxford helped me in the entire process. About 1,500 people from India, United Kingdom and the United States donated Rs 37 lakh (£36000) within four to five hours of opening the fundraiser on June 1.”
“Though I need a few more lakhs, students of Oxford have requested the management to waive off some amount of the fee”, he added.
Many Twitter users ran a hashtag #SumitToOxford, appealing to people to donate for the cause.
Oxford University scholar and writer Gurmehar Kaur wrote: “Sumit Samos (@SamosSumeet) rapper, scholar, Anti-Caste activist has been offered a place at Oxford to study Modern South Asian Studies. We are seeking to raise 25 lakhs to cover tuition fees. Join us in sending Sumeet to Oxford!”
Another Oxford University alumna and reporter Hajira Maryam wrote: “Let’s make #SumitToOxford happen! An anti-caste activist from India, Sumit got accepted in the same programme as I did, in @StAntsCollege as I did! About time we tackle discrepancies in education. Crowdfunding is its future.”
Dalits are among India’s most downtrodden people, formerly known as “untouchables.” Even though India outlawed caste-based discrimination, marginalised castes continue to suffer discrimination and oppression at the hand of upper castes and struggle for equal opportunities in education and jobs.
Contribution to Turuk’s fundraiser can be made here.