With Gandhi’s talisman showing the path to development of socio-backwards class and JP Narayan focuses on Bihar’s revolution, we have amongst ourselves J K Sinha, an iconoclast who shackles the stereotypes and transforming the lives of unprivileged and deprived people of Musahar community.
It’s never too late to bring changes in the society, with this pure reflective thought in the mind, an ex-government IPS officer has sprinkled the spores of changes via education in the Musahar hamlets of Bihar.
Jyoti Kumar Sinha, a retired IPS officer of 1967 batch was born in Patna, Bihar. He received his early education from St. Xavier’s school and later graduated from Patna College, Patna University. As Sinha grew up, his dreams to serve his country took him over. He followed the footsteps of his father, Late Rai Bahadur Shri A.K. Sinha, who was the first Indian to become DIG of Police, Bihar way back in 1939. J.K Sinha joined the Indian Police Services from Bihar cadre in 1967 and served as Director General of Central Reserve Police Force, Member of the National Disaster Management Authority and later retired as the special secretary of Research and Analysis Wing(RAW) in 2005.
During his training in 1968, he came across the musahar community, commonly known as the Rat Eaters of India. Musahar community has been one of the chronic impoverished, subjugated and marginalised community of India and considered as untouchables in the present age. Living in the degraded state, they are nearly 2.2 million in numbers according to the state Mahadalit Commission’s interim report. Musahars live in the hamlets of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and are originally landless labours. They work on rich landowners fields or as unskilled farm labour to earn their living and roast rats to satiate their hunger pangs. Musahar has the literacy rate of 9.8 percent– lowest among Dalits in the country.
Recoiling his fits, Sinha said,
“When I saw the condition of the Musahars, I felt that it was a national shame. Therefore when I retired, I was determined to do something for the community, in my own small way.”
After his retirement, Sinha laid the foundation of Shoshit Samadhan Kendra, an English medium school in Danapur (a satellite town near Patna, Bihar) in 2005. As govt denied his financial appeal, he started the school with his savings and seeded money of his family. Later, balanced funds were raised with the help of friends, well-wishers and corporates which transformed the infrastructure in a two-acre plot with a net worth of 20 crores and improved quality of education. Shoshit Seva Sangh (SSS), a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation was created in 2005 by Mr. Sinha to fund the economic, educational, social and cultural uplift of Musahar sections of society.
The school is affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education. It has periodic classes from Montessori to Class XII for humanities and science stream. They also provide other services like free boarding, lodging, clothing and healthcare facilities too.
Initiated with 4 students in 2005, shoshit samadhan kendra has nearly 600 students now. As 40-45 students get enrolled every year, Sinha is hopeful to touch the mark of strength up to 1000 by 2020. Today, the school has about 20 teachers and 25 support staffs to contribute to this noble cause. The school’s Principal, R.U Khan, says, “We provide best of education and other facilities. Even after students pass out, we provide them support till they get suitable jobs.”
“We had a modest beginning in 2005, and the four students who passed out of the first batch are pursuing higher education in institutions of repute,” says Sinha.
Shaan Kumar and Suraj Kumar are pursuing BA LLB and BA B.Ed courses, respectively, at the Central University of South Bihar at Gaya; Sharmesh Kumar is a student of BBE (Bachelor in Business and Economics) at St Xavier’s College, Patna and Bablu Kumar is studying political science (honours) at AN College, Patna.
While speaking about the working model of school, Sinha said, “We select students from Musahar community from different parts of the state, maximum two students are chosen from a village so that they act as Agents of Change in a wide area by spreading awareness about the social and economic empowerment that education brings in the different corners of the villages.
After 14 years of the establishment of Shoshit Samadhan Kendra, Sinha’s selfless dedication and rigorous efforts towards the betterment of the Musahar Community got recognition when he has been conferred with the Padamshri award (The fourth highest civilian honour) on the 70th Republic day of India. “I am happy that my work has been recognised. This honour reminds me of the huge work of improving the education system for the needy that lies before us” Sinha said. “He is a tireless man who has vowed to help provide Musahar children a better future,” said his wife Pratibha Sinha, who oversees the school’s academic and administrative functioning.
As Musahars has been discriminated by a strong caste line and faced some serious oppressions by the society for untold generations, Educational reforms are the only way to mould their mindsets and uplift their social status. Undeniably, their lifestyles have changed a lot with the course of time but they are still far away from the mainstream society due to their ancestry and economical bites. It is unfortunate that most of the Musahar children are not able to make it in school even in the 21st century where every child has a right to education. Recently many initiatives have been taken by the govt like schools for musahars and reservations in the educational institutes, there is a lot more to do on bedrock level or we need some superhumans like Sinha who don’t wear capes but definitely ward off the social crisis.
Quote of the day:“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” ― Mark Twain