At an age when he should be spending time with school books, 8-year-old Gopala Krishna is bravely shouldering his family responsibilities, by driving an electric autorickshaw on the dusty village roads near the temple town of Tirupati.
A video of the child has gone viral, after a local youth captured the boy at work.
Poverty and fate have forced the boy to take the hard road at a tender age. Just like Shravan Kumar in Ramayan, was the ideal son who carried his parents on his shoulders, Gopala tries to help out his parents in every way possible.
Both his parents were born visually impaired and have been getting government assistance of Rs 3,000 each.
Gopal also has two younger siblings to take care of. The family of five lives in Gangudupalle village in Chittoor district. After school hours, the boy drives the e-autorickshaw to ferry people and supplies for his blind parents who run a small rice and staples business.
His father Papi Reddy said that his eldest son is like a pair of eyes. “He does everything. It’s like my brain and his eyes are working together” (just outside his body).
To tide them through hard times, the family purchased the e-autorickshaw on instalment basis. However with both parents unfit to drive it on account of their visual disability, Gopal, a Class 3 student rose to the occasion.
The video shows the little kid perched on the seat’s edge, straining to keep his feet on the brake pedal, should the need arise.
Concerns have been raised about such a young child driving the vehicle. As per the law, only licensed drivers can operate vehicles with speeds above 25 kmph. While local authorities are silent on the issue, TDP president Nara Lokesh has announced help for Gopala Krishna Reddy.
Apart from helping the child’s family cover the EMI cost of the electric vehicle through a fundraiser, Lokesh tweeted Friday, that they will get the boy admitted to school.