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The story of a tea-laborer and his path-breaking journey

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.- Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Bike Ambulance Dada, the authorised biography of Padma Shri awardee Karimul Hak, is the most inspiring and heart-warming biography you will read this year. It documents the extraordinary journey of a tea-garden worker who saved thousands of lives by starting a free bike-ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital.

Here is an excerpt from Bike Ambulance Dada by Biswajit Jha titled A Bike Ambulance Takes Shape.

Front Cover Bike Ambulance Dada
Bike Ambulance Dada || Biswajit Jha

Now that Karimul had a bike, he was no longer dependent on his cycle to ferry a patient. The bike gave the patients a greater chance of survival by ensuring they got to the hospital quickly. Karimul, too, was under less pressure, physically and mentally; he could be more certain of patients getting timely medical attention, be they sick or injured, and riding a motorbike was far less physically taxing than cycling all the way with a passenger.

One day, in 2008, when Karimul was enjoying a cup of tea with some acquaintances at a tea shop in Kranti Bazaar, one of them, Babu Mohanta, suddenly cried out. The engrossing discussion on political affairs was halted abruptly. The small group sprang into action to find out the reason behind Mohanta’s shriek. Investigations revealed that a snake had bitten him just above the ankle. Karimul immediately made up his mind to identify the snake, as this would help the doctor decide on the course of treatment; it was imperative in such cases. He saw the snake but could not identify it. Thinking fast, he somehow caught the snake and put it in a small box so that he could carry it to the hospital. He applied a pressure bandage on the wound as well. With the help of those around them, Karimul got Mohanta tied to his back and asked a villager to ride pillion with him. Before starting out for Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital, Karimul instructed the man to make sure that Mohanta did not fall sleep. The snake, carefully locked in the box, accompanied them to the hospital.

On the way, they met with a huge traffic jam on the bridge over the Teesta, just 5 kilometres from the hospital. The road was chock-a-block with vehicles stranded on the bridge, all trying to find a way out and, in the process, aggravating the situation. As Karimul zipped past the four- wheeled vehicles, he saw an ambulance stuck in the traffic. When he asked the ambulance driver for the patient’s details, he was told that the man had also been bitten by a snake, and they were heading for the same hospital as Karimul. Manoeuvring his much-smaller vehicle between the cars and moving towards the hospital with Mohanta, the soft-hearted Karimul felt sorry for the patient in the ‘proper’ ambulance, unable to get out.

Karimul soon reached the hospital. Once there, he showed the snake to the doctor, who was at first startled but then observed it intently for a few seconds before springing into action with the treatment.

After getting Mohanta admitted, Karimul went back to the bridge where they had seen the ambulance. He saw that the ambulance, along with other vehicles, was still there; the patient had, unfortunately, passed away.

After a couple of days, Babu Mohanta was released from the hospital. He was the first person bitten by a poisonous snake in the village to be saved—all because of Karimul’s timely intervention and bike ambulance service.

Before this incident, though Karimul had ignored the taunts of some of the villagers and had gone about ferrying patients to hospital, he had sometimes harboured misgivings that his bike ambulance was a poor substitute for the conventional ambulance. But that day, he realized that his bike ambulance was sometimes far more convenient than a standard ambulance. From then on, there was no looking back for him. His new-found confidence enthused him to serve people with increased passion.

After he was awarded the Padma Shri, the Navayuvak Brindal Club, Siliguri, donated to him an ambulance that he used for some months. But the traditional ambulance not only consumed more fuel, it was also rather difficult to drive it to remote and far-flung areas. After some weeks, he stopped using that ambulance; though it is still with him, he doesn’t use it. Instead, he now has three bike ambulances at home; one is used by his elder son, Raju, another by his younger son, Rajesh, while Karimul himself mostly uses the bike ambulance donated by Bajaj Auto, which has an attached carrier for patients.

Thanks to Karimul Hak’s unique initiative, the bike ambulance has become popular in rural areas of India. Inspired by him, some social workers, as well as some NGOs, have started this service too, thereby saving thousands of lives in far-off areas of the country.

While Karimul has saved many lives, he deeply regrets not being able to save some. Still, he derives immense satisfaction from the fact that a person like him, with a paltry income and limited capacity, has made a difference in the lives of so many people. Relatives and family members of those who died en route to the hospital, or even after reaching the hospital, at least know that they, through Karimul, tried their best to save their loved one. This is a noteworthy achievement for Karimul, who dreams of a day when lack of medical treatment will not be the reason for someone’s death.

Bike Ambulance Dada is a must-read today as it will inspire us to do and be better in our lives.

Writing the story of the man who saved 4000 lives

Bike Ambulance Dada, the authorised biography of Padma Shri awardee Karimul Hak, is the most inspiring and heart-warming biography you will read this year. Written by Biswajit Jha, it documents the extraordinary journey of a tea-garden worker who saved thousands of lives by starting a free bike-ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital. The book is a must-read today as it will inspire us to do and be better in our lives.

In this interview, we talk to the author to understand his personal journey with the book and it’s story.


  • Where did you come across Karimul Hak’s story?

After I quit my job and came back from Delhi in 2013 to work for the people of my area in the northern parts of West Bengal. I first read about Karimul Hak in a local newspaper and came to know the amazing story of this tea garden worker who carried critically ill patients to the hospital on his motorbike – free of cost.


  • What inspired you to share this story with the world?

In 2015 when a friend of mine told me that she personally knew Karimul Hak, I felt an urge to meet this person. One day, I, along with my friend, went to meet Karimul Hak in his village much before he received the Padma Shri and much before he became a well-known figure. But I, at once, got hooked to this simple man who does such great work for the people. What amazed me is that despite being a tea garden labourer, he does such incredible work to help his fellow villagers without thinking much about his own family.

After that I started working with him to serve the poor. I made him the brand ambassador of my school which I started in 2017.

I felt people all over the world should know the story of Karimul Hak, who is living proof that you don’t have to be an extraordinary person to do extraordinary work. You can be ordinary and still do outstanding work for people. His life is an inspiration for all of us. When a tea garden labourer with a meagre monthly salary can undertake such a path-breaking journey, we all are capable of doing wonders.


  • Your own father was very particular about helping others. Can you share some incidents that stuck with you?

My father, from whom I got my first lesson to serve others unconditionally, was a primary school teacher and has always led a simple and honest life. From my childhood I saw my father helping others despite the fact that he was not a rich person.

front cover Bike Ambulance Dada
Bike Ambulance Dada||Biswajit Jha

So, the lesson about doing things for others and sacrificing your own comfort for someone less fortunate than you, I got from my father who, despite being not very well-off, did everything he could in his entire life for the betterment of society. He took on a frontal role in establishing three charitable schools in our village and also worked tirelessly to improve education in and around our village. It is due to his tireless effort that we got the first English medium school in our area. I did not have to go outside my own home to find inspiration to help others.

One incident that stuck with me the most, which I also shared in the book, is a story of a sanyasi. It was a sultry summer noon in the early nineties. Hungry and exhausted, an old sanyasi came to our doorstep. My father ushered him into the puja room. After my mother fed him, the sanyasi expressed his wish to rest inside the puja room. But the room did not have a ceiling fan as we couldn’t afford one in every room. Realizing the old man might not feel comfortable without a fan, my father got the ceiling fan uninstalled from his own room and fixed it inside the puja room so that the sanyasi could sleep well.

The second incident which I remember vividly is that every year there used to take place a fair in our village. Though thousands of people would come to the fair, in those days there was no facility for drinking water in and around the fair. People would suffer due to this. Seeing the sufferings of the people, my father started to carry water in big jars from our home to the fair and started distributing drinking water along with jaggery to the people for free. I was very small at that time but my brother and I also used to go with my father and distribute water to the people. After that he made it a routine of conducting this ‘water camp’ every year. This is another lesson I learnt from my father that whenever you see people suffering, you should come up with some sort of solutions in your capacity.


  • What was the book-writing experience for you? Particularly knowing you’ve always wanted to write?

I always wanted to write a book. But I did not know when that would actually happen. As I am a social entrepreneur and not a full-time author, writing a book was very challenging. Taking out time from my busy schedule was a challenge. After quitting journalism, I stopped writing for almost two years. That actually helped me. My urge for writing increased manifold during these two years.

When I had started working with Karimul Hak, I felt an urge to take this story to the people all over the world and inspire them. When you have such a mission to accomplish, no job in world seems a challenging. Rather, I enjoyed writing this story. I enjoyed knowing Karimul Hak more closely while researching for this book, talking to him and interacting with people of his close quarters. I was so engrossed with the struggles of his life that I cried several times while writing his story.


  • What was the biggest challenge in this project?

There were many challenges I faced while writing this book. The biggest challenge was to make Karimul sit and talk. Since he can’t sit for more than 10/15 minutes in a single place, listening to the stories of his life from him was a challenging task. Apart from that he does not remember many incidents of his life. He would keep on telling me only 5/6 stories of his life which were not enough to write a book. Getting information about Karimul’s childhood days was also a challenge. Apart from that I had to write within certain parameters while writing a biography or a real life story. But I wanted this book to be interesting to the readers also so that it does not become monotonous. So, writing a non-fiction in a fictional way was a challenge but I tried to keep that ‘tension’ alive throughout the book.


  • What made you switch professions, from a journalist to a social entrepreneur?

Like Karimul, I was also born and brought up in a humble family of a small village in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. I struggled my way into becoming a national level journalist. I hardly got any support while I grew up. But I wanted that no one should face the same ordeal which I faced in my childhood.

With this thought in mind, me and my wife both quit our jobs and well-settled life in Delhi and came back to my roots in the northern parts of West Bengal which is considered to be the backward area of the state. After that we started serving the poor and helpless people. I basically wanted to be a part of the difficult but successful stories of many struggling men like Karimul.

Apart from many other social activities I am involved in right now, writing this book on this unsung hero is one of my ways of giving back to the society.


  • How satisfying has the change been and what changes have you experienced in yourself after this switch?

Initially, it was very challenging. To start everything all over again was very tough. I had many sleepless nights. But I kept on doing good for the others in my tough days. That, I think, helped me overcome my personal troubles. When I found that there were thousands of people who did not have basic things like food, clothes and shelter, my problems seemed much lesser compared to theirs.

While working for the others, I became a much better person. I found my true meaning of life. I felt happy within. And when you start to feel happy within, everything around you becomes beautiful. That’s why in my second book, which is a fiction and will be published after my debut book Bike Ambulance Dada, I wrote that the only way to get happiness is to serve others unconditionally.


Start the new year with the right book!

Let’s admit it: 2020 was not fun. But as well go into 2021 it’s hard to get the new year feeling. Some argue it’s just a day apart from 2020 – why should it be drastically different?

Well, dear reader, it could be. All you need to do is change up your mindset, and what better way than to educate/explore/entertain yourself with new books? Here are the new releases at Penguin Random House India. We hope you find the perfect fit!


India 2030

Front cover of India 2030
India 2030 || Gautam Chikermane

Thought leaders from twenty diverse fields, ranging from politics, economics and foreign policy to health care and energy, predict what 2030 will look like for India and how the nation will evolve in this decade.
A handbook for citizens, a road map for policymakers and a guide for scholars, this collection captures the many aspects of a future that will see India becoming the world’s third-largest economy and a regional power before the decade gets over.


Flying Blind

front cover of Flying Blind
Flying Blind || Mohamed Zeeshan

In recent years, India has repeatedly expressed its ambitions of becoming a global power – or ‘jagat guru’. Yet, many believe that India’s economic troubles at home are far more pressing and that foreign policy aspirations can wait. But is a proactive foreign policy really a ‘luxury’ for India, to be postponed until the economy develops; or is it, in fact, a prerequisite for economic growth in a globalized world?


The Little Book of Encouragement

Front cover of little book of encouragement
Little Book of Encouragement || His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness The Dalai Lama, a perennial source of inspiration, is one of the most eminent spiritual leaders in the world. Recipient of the Noble Peace Prize, His Holiness’s life and works have inspired millions of lives throughout the world. In this specially curated companion volume, His Holiness shares words of encouragement to deal with new realities in a pandemic stricken world.



Front cover of Ghalib
Ghalib || Mehr Afshan Farooqi

Ghalib’s poetic trajectory begins from Urdu, then moves to composing almost entirely in Persian and finally swings back to Urdu. It is nearly as complex as his poetry. However, his poetic output in Persian is far more than what he wrote in Urdu. More important is that he gave precedence to Persian over Urdu. Ghalib’s voice presents us with a double bind, a linguistic paradox. Exploring his life, works and philosophy, this authoritative critical biography of Ghalib opens a window to many shades of India and the subcontinent’s cultural and literary tradition.


The Good Girls

Front cover of The Good Girls
The Good Girls || Sonia Faleiro

One night in the summer of 2014, two teenagers disappeared from their home in the village of Katra Sadatganj in Uttar Pradesh. The next morning India woke up to the devastating image of their dead bodies hanging from a tree in a mango orchard. Slipping deftly behind political manoeuvring caste systems and codes of honour in a village in northern India, The Good Girls returns to the scene of Padma and Lalli’s short lives and tragic deaths, and dares to ask: what is the human cost of shame?


Bike Ambulance Dada

Front Cover of Bike Ambulance Dada
Bike Ambulance Dada || Biswajit Jha

Bike Ambulance Dada, the authorized biography of Padma Shri awardee Karimul Hak, is the most inspiring and heart-warming story you will read this year. It documents the extraordinary journey of a tea garden worker who saved thousands of lives by starting a free bike-ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital in an attempt to fill the gap the insufficient rural healthcare created.



Front cover of Cages
Cages || Aabid Surti

Cages touches upon the themes of patriarchy, gendered violence, sisterhood and the validity of a woman’s sexual desires. Even fifty years after it was first written, it makes you realize that some things don’t change – as long as predatory men are around, women will have to fight to retain control over their bodies, their identities and their ability to say no.


The Hidden Garden

Front cover of The Hidden Garden
The Hidden Garden || Gopi Chand Narang

Mir Taqi Mir is widely admired for his poetic genius. The most prolific among all Urdu poets, he produced six divans. His deceptively simple poetry had an unusual mellowness and natural flow. With a substantial selection of Mir’s most memorable ghazals, The Hidden Garden introduces readers to the life and poetry of the grossly misunderstood poet. This book is the perfect read for lovers of poetry and Urdu alike.



front cover of Unscipted
Unscripted || Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Starting in Wazir Bagh, a small mohalla in Kashmir, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s life has been well and truly unscripted. Over the last thirty years, he has blazed a trail in Hindi cinema-even going on to direct a film in Hollywood. From someone who once released his student film though it was incomplete, because he ran out of money and film stock, he now has the distinction of heading one of the key production houses in India, VVC Films.


A Touch of Eternity

Front cover of A Touch of Eternity
A Touch of Eternity || Durjoy Datta

Born on the same day and at the same time, Druvan and Anvesha know they are soulmates in every sense of the word. Their parents, however, refuse to accept their ‘togetherness’ at first and try to tear them apart. Druvan and Anvesha hold on to each other against all odds.
In the same timeline, the world is on the brink of a major scientific breakthrough that could make reincarnation possible.
Druvan and Anvesha participate in the experiment as if their life depends on it, because it does. Will the dream of a man to control love and life come true? And when the time comes, can one stay true to their soulmate?


Elephants and Cheetahs

Front cover of Elephants and Cheetahs
Elephants and Cheetahs || Saral Mukherjee

Do systems have souls? This book encourages business leaders to ask two different sets of existential questions: Does the organization that I am managing have a soul, and if so, what are the strategic choices that enable its synthesis (external orientation)? And, do I have a soul, and if so, who am I (internal orientation)? In the process, it uncovers a beauty inherent in patterns of strategic choices that enables an organizational soul to emerge, and an appreciation of the diversity of such souls.



Front cover of Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization
Indians || Namit Arora

Indian civilization is an idea, a reality, an enigma. In this riveting book, Namit Arora takes us on an unforgettable journey through 5000 years of history, reimagining in rich detail the social and cultural moorings of Indians through the ages. Drawing on credible sources, he discovers what inspired and shaped them: their political upheavals and rivalries, customs and vocations, and a variety of unusual festivals.


Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership 

front cover of Coaching
Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership || Ruchira Chaudhary


This is a book for our times. Businesses are facing a new reality, characterized by a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. This new reality has forced organizations to depart from conventional command-and-control practices to a completely new model – a model in which leaders support and guide, rather than instruct and control, their team members. Exploring some of the key ingredients of impactful leadership, Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership offers tips and tricks, backed by research and incisive insights, on how to become an effective leader-coach.


Maverick Messiah

front cover of Maverick Messiah
Maverick Messiah || Ramesh Kandula


Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, widely known as NTR, was not merely a film star who strayed into politics and captured power in Andhra Pradesh. The actor-politician redefined the political culture in the state and scripted a new political idiom.
Maverick Messiah captures the different facets of NTR’s life in all their varied hues and puts in perspective the significant contribution of the actor-politician to the Indian political tapestry.


Platform Scale for a Post-Pandemic World

front cover of Platform Scale
Platform Scale || Sangeet Paul Choudary


The pandemic has accelerated the very grounds on which BigTech was supposed to be regulated. Data access, privacy and usage laws are being revisited to counter the pandemic through contact tracing and other surveillance mechanisms.
The pandemic has reinforced the importance of the platform economy. In the 2020s, we will see the platform economy gain further strength as the post-pandemic world uncovers new value pools for platforms to exploit. This book provides a compelling framework for building platforms, networks and marketplaces.




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