Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A School and a Schoolboy

Many of us India have always wondered about where the tax payer’s money is going. Ever since Rajiv Gandhi made that famous statement about 15 paisa of every rupee allocated by the state was actually utilised for the given purpose, the figure has slid down now to 5 paisa! So this story of a young man who told this story and who boasts that half of his body belongs to the government of India because he was brought up and fed and sheltered at the expense of the state is a touching one indeed.

The story of Viswas begins in a small Andhra coastal village where his father was a family physician to the local landlords of the area. The father was not a qualified physician; he was a traditional healer who had learnt the craft from his family. Although he and his family were not living in penury, they were not rich either. The father had enrolled Viswas in the local village school and in time was expected to take up an apprenticeship with his father and learn the trade.

Slowly he crept up the ladder in the village school till class V when the elderly school headmaster called him to his office and got him to fill in some forms. Viswas filled in the forms because he trusted the headmaster and he was a kind man who cared for his students and the child had grown to be fond of him. Shortly after filling in the forms, he was called by his class teacher and told that he would have to appear for a set of examinations based on his Class V subjects. Viswas was good in his studies and he sat for his examinations with out any difficulty.

A day came when Visas was called to the headmaster’s office again and told that he would no longer be studying in the local village school. He had gained admission to the Navodaya Vidayala, where he would get free education in the residential schools of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Society till he passed his Standard XII. There would be other opportunities for him to apply for scholarships to further pursue higher education in a congenial environment. By the time he finished his education, he had finished his M.Tech

The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya were first set up in 1985 cater to the educational needs of the talented students generally belonging to the rural areas of the nation. The schools were a brainchild of P.V. Narasimha Rao when he was the minister for human resources development in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet. One can come across Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas everywhere in the nation, except in the state of Tamil Nadu with approximately five hundred and fifty seven of them operating all over the country. Even the teachers in these institutes are selected with care with a national level competitive examination recruiting trained and qualified teachers for the schools.

Visas finished his Class XII and then went on to study M.Tech. Among his friends are an NRI academic, an income tax commissioner, a software engineer and a college lecturer. Viswas himself too teaches in a private college and is busy guiding other small town boys and girls about the way to a bright career. Viswas has company. There have been Navodians who have joined the elite Indian Administrative Service. The Navodaya Schools, by picking up students from some of the remotest parts of the country and giving them an education that they might never had and providing them with opportunities they would perhaps have never even dreamt of are one small example of Bharat Nirman. A small illustration that there is plenty of good in government; with all the rot, decay and corruption that we talk about day in and day out.

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