I always enjoy seeing the land mass spreading up to horizon when I near my home railway station, Sasaram from the door of the coach. MahaBodhi Express was almost five hours late. It proved perhaps a boon in disguise. The schedule time of arrival at 4AM would have been inconvenient for everyone. Alok was on the station. Yamuna had to walk almost half of the platform as our bogey was in the front.
I have a lot in my memory bank of many years since my childhood. I had come to this station with my grandfather at all odd times, mainly from or to Calcutta. On one side of the platforms of the Chord line, there used to be a small track running between Sasaram to Arrah. Our route used to be from Pipra to Kharadih on bullock cart or on feet and from there to Sasaram by the light railway. On one such day we had reached Sasaram late in night and stayed in a small room that was perhaps for resting. It was a real scary night. My grand kept guarding, as he suspected some burglars targeting us.
Roads: Roads linking Pipra, my home village today are good enough to showcase the excellent work done by Nitish government for linking the rural Bihar. Our Alto could reach right up to the garage in our house at Pipra. Highways between Sasaram and Kochas that is on the highway connecting Mohania and Patna are in very good condition except for small stretches at Karaghar, Kochas, and Dinara. Unfortunately, the internal roads connecting the highway to Madhukarpur, Yamuna’s village are still not metalled and so I had to leave my car Alto a little short of my destination. As many told me, it was only because the contractors left the work without completing it. And all hoped that by the next season, the roads to be as good as I found around Pipra.
Lanes inside the villages also have improved with bricks laid suitable all over. Some stretches need redesign and reconstruction. Photographs clearly show these successes and shortcomings.
Raod to Pipra
Road to Madhukarpur
Bad inner lanes in Pipra
We returned from Madhukarpur after the function of Brahmbhoj got over, though my brother-in-law and the main host of the day (who lost his wife) was insisting us to stay back. Yamuna was in double mind. But with the heavy rain in the afternoon, I was afraid if we could get out of the village. Yamuna was really morose. They arranged a Zeep of the village to take us up to the highway. Alok had already sent the driver to take our car to the highway as soon as he had finished his lunch. Most of the guests had come on their motorcycles that are as popular as the cell phone in Bihar. Bihar has prospered over the years. One can see harvesters, tractors, motorcycles all around. Some including my brother-in-law owns utility vehicles too. And very soon one will see many cars also. Even today one can get a rental car very easily using your cell phone.
Rural Electrification: It appeared that Madhukarpur gets electricity from the grid a little more than what Pipra gets. But Bihar lacks badly in electricity supply. Alok could barely provide the comfort of fan with his inverter and household solar system that he has installed. In Pipra they get power very much sparingly. May be that by the next time I visit it will be better. The central government will have to help Bihar and provide electricity otherwise Bihar’s development will remain a dream only.
Education is undergoing a turbulent change. I got the chance of talking with a number of Sulekha’s girls students of class X. They go to the only private girls’ high school in the panchayat and come to Sulekha for tuition. Interestingly, almost all the students that I met were from the backward castes. I got a shock to know that forward castes of the village hardly show the required interest in education of the girls in their families. As it appeared, hardly few would continue their education after class X. For that they will have to move to the town. I suggested them to group together and go ahead. I wanted to help them but they hardly knew the help they require.
Pipra’s new Elementary SchoolPipra Middle School under construction
Pipra has a government school now and so also almost majority of the villages in the panchayat or the state. It has a boundary wall. All rooms are plastered and have good doors too. A separate middle school building is under construction. I visited the school and was there for almost an hour and a half talking about many education related things with the teachers, what they can and should do. The student strength (boys and girls) is around 450. I met six teachers including three women. I did also see the textbooks prepared by the Bihar school board that are distributed free to the students. The quality of the books appeared to be excellent. However, I doubt if the teachers are good enough to use the text books effectively and to make the students learn properly. The output and its quality of the investment on the school appear to be dismal. Teachers didn’t appear to be an inspired lot. Surprisingly, the mukhia of the panchayat is the boss who appoints teachers. The education system can hardly ensure entry of good teachers and I doubt if they can teach well.
Parents and none of the even educated villagers take any interest in the functioning of the school. The road leading to the beautiful school is just very bad and filthy making it difficult for the students to reach the school. The village is pretty away. I don’t know why the rural schools everywhere in the region have been built away from the village.
May be with physical infrastructure in place the quality of teaching will improve and soon the parents will get involved in seeing their wards getting better education.
Teachers in Pipra’s school have promised a better show when I visit next time.
I wish the school could grow up to class XII.
The rural Bihar is certainly changing for better. But many bad things of urban living style and culture are getting into the villages. One of them is ‘pouch’ culture and another is the deteriorating fellowship among the villagers