At just 13 years and 11 months old, Poorna, a tribal girl from Andhra Pradesh, has become the youngest woman to conquer Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world.
Poorna, daughter of farm labourers from Andhra Pradesh’s Nizamabad district, studies in Class IX in a government-run social welfare hostel. On this unique mission, along with Poorna, is Anand, another Class IX student, who is the son of a cycle mechanic from the state’s Khammam district. Anand is said to have become the first Dalit to conquer the tallest peak.
The teenagers, Poorna and Anand, symbolically carried photographs of BR Ambedkar and former IAS officer SR Sankaran, to the top of the world.
In November last year, Poorna and Anand were among a dozen teenagers, all from similar social background, who became the youngest group to climb Mount Renock, after initially being denied training for being too young. From then on, the group had set its sights on Everest. “I will climb Mount Everest and after I am back, I am going to be an IPS officer,” Poorna had told, brimming with confidence, at a time when her target was miles and miles away. Her inspiration, IPS officer Praveen Kumar, who as secretary of Andhra Pradesh’s social welfare hostels, has been the force behind making this happen and to show that given the opportunity, the most so-called backward can make it to the top of the world.
New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay were the first people to climb Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. This week marks the 61st anniversary of the conquest. Since then, more than 4,000 people have climbed the 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) summit.