‘Government job’ is our only hope, say Bihar students taking exams

Enduring pitiful living conditions, they struggle for the security of a ‘permanent job’

Enduring pitiful living conditions, they struggle for the security of a ‘permanent job’

Stuck in a dark, narrow alley in Patna’s Musallahpur district, surrounded by ugly buildings, old structures with temporary walls and rickety corrugated roofs, is an eight-foot-by-eight-foot windowless room in a four-foot structure. floors. Here brothers Aryan and Aditya Raj have piled up their beds, study table, books, training materials, clothes, gas cooker, LPG bottle and other miscellaneous things they need to get by. Nearly 70 students preparing for the various competitions stay in this building. Each floor has a common toilet. About 80% of residents cook for themselves. Others have a tiffin delivery service for food. Hygiene is terrible. Diarrhea is a common illness. Daylight barely even reaches the trails outside.

“This is where we dream of getting a government job, day and night. It’s our only hope to be here,” says Mr. Aryan Raj, who is preparing for an exam while his younger brother is doing heavy
chapati s on the single-burner gas stove on the floor. The son of a government school teacher, they came to Patna from Jhajha of Jamui district nearly 300 km away, spending no less than ₹10,000 every month to pursue their dream.

A walk through the dank maze of narrowing alleys and alleyways that smell of sewage and sweets in Patna’s Musallahpur, Chak Musallahpur, Bhikhna Pahari, Bazaar Samiti, Mahendru Ghat and Ashok Rajpath neighborhoods reveals thousands of students who enter or leave decrepit housing daily. They come from all over the state, some even from neighboring states, seeking lessons in particular subjects or with a particular teacher. Hundreds of coaching institutes populate these localities. Around them, traffic bleats, poorly lit hotels are infested with mosquitoes, and flies settle on roadside food carts.

“It is the hub of coaching institutes in Patna. Students from all over Bihar are pouring in, chasing their dreams of getting a government job, and they continue to pursue it for years,” says Devesh Manglam Dev, adding that he continued to miss the mark by a point or two and is now approaching “over-age” to appear for them. “What to do? There is no choice for us but to stay in such hellish conditions and prepare for exams,” he laments. “Over 90% of students like me come here from a rural background and live in such pitiful conditions for years to get a government job.”

But why only a government job? “Because it’s permanent and it gives the stability of a regular income to support our family,” Mr. Dev says with a smile. His friends Ravi and Rajdip Kumar agree, signs of shyness in their eyes.

“Not even 10% of the students are here these days due to the COVID-19 lockdown, as we are taking classes online. In normal times it is not possible to find a place to stand,” says Pradeep Kumar of Kautilya and The Pathway Coaching Institute “In my coaching institute, a student gets support for every subject under one roof. They don’t have to go anywhere else. That’s why we’re popular,” says Kumar.

Among these hundreds of coaching institutes is the “Khan GS Research Center”, which has several rooms in a shabby building covered with brightly colored billboards of other coaching institutes. They claim to prepare students for jobs in Group D services and Indian Railways, and help them pass the Bihar Personnel Selection Committee and Civil Service Commission examinations. The shutters of the establishment are locked.

Professor Faisal Khan, popular among students as “Khan sir”, is among six teachers against whom Patna District Administration recently filed a First Information Report (FIR) at Patrakar Police Station Nagar for allegedly “inciting” students to protest, which rocked Bihar and neighboring Uttar Pradesh for three days from January 25. Since then, Mr. Khan has been unreachable and incommunicado.

“I hope we will start our classes from February 7, when the confinement standards are lifted. Khan sir is very present and will be taking classes,” institute director Rana Pratap Singh told a staff member on the phone.

“Khan sir is popular among students because of his style of teaching in local jargon with local references. He talks like us and makes things easy,” says Mr. Aditya Raj, who adds that students need to come to “Khan sir” classes two hours in advance to get a seat in the room. “Otherwise, you have to stand outside or sit in the next room to hear your lecture on a screen.” he explains.

On the evening of January 25, thousands of students suddenly gathered at the Rajendra Nagar railway terminal in Patna and blocked the movement of trains while protesting against the results of the examinations of the non-technical popular categories of the Railways Recruitment Board iron for the jobs of train assistants, guards, juniors. clerks, timekeepers and station masters. For about 35,000 vacancies, nearly 1.25 crore candidates had applied. Among them, 60 lakh applicants came from all over India, with the remaining majority coming from Bihar, where unemployment is a major problem among students.

“Do they [the government] really want us to fry and sell
pakodas (fried snack) to live? asks Niranjan Kumar, a history graduate from the University of Patna, as his friends laugh together at a tea stall in the Chak Musallahpur area on a cold winter day in early February.

Meanwhile, since the state government reserved 35% seats for women in the police department, a large number of girls are also arriving in Patna from rural areas, living in equally pitiful conditions to obtain government jobs. Braving the freezing winter winds in the early morning, hundreds of these girls are undergoing physical training on the road outside the Moin-ul-Haq stadium in the Rajendra Nagar district of Patna “because the gates of the stadium are locked due to COVID-19 restrictions,” says aspirant Anita Kumari, who is here from Saharsha district. “A government job is a permanent thing,” she also says with a smile.

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