Purnea (Bihar), Jan. 15: Religion could not have played a better role in Taruni, a nondescript tribal village. It has generated cent per cent literacy here.
Powered with words, more than 80 per cent of the villagers have bagged government jobs too — a phenomenon unheard in any village in this part of the country.
The Santhal-dominated village owes its decades of success only to Bonga, the family deity. Illiteracy is a sin. Our Bonga becomes angry, if any family member is illiterate, said Rajina Murmu, a primary schoolteacher of the village in Dhamdaha block in this east Bihar district.
Fear about any possible mishap without the wish of Bonga has helped Taruni, about 39km from Purnea district headquarters, earn a new name — Hakimo ka basti (village of rich ones). The mukhiya (village head) of Taruni, Sunil Tudu, said that the village always produced persons of a different class. At present, with one magistrate, one deputy superintendent of police, two assistant inspectors of police, two bank managers, about 24 government teachers with several others in railways, postal department and other departments, villagers cannot but feel proud. Nearly 12 women in the village are employed in government schools, Tudu added.
Our ancestors had realised the importance of education centuries back and made it mandatory for all. Till today, villagers have been practising the way of our forefathers, said Mandal Kisku, a retired sub judge. According to him, if anyone fails or deliberately neglects providing education to his ward, the society has the responsibility to create pressure on the persons. The figures say it all: while the literacy rate of Bihar (47.53) and Purnea (35.51) is way below the national average of 65.38, Taruni is on top of all with 100 per cent.
But the darker side of the village lies with girl education. Boys have the opportunity to continue their study but the dropout rates among girls are high here because many of them are deprived of higher education, said Yamuna Prasad Murmu, a retired government employee and CPI(ML) leader. He said that as there was no high school in the village, students have to walk 7km to attend class in a high school at Dhamdaha block headquarters.
People at Taruni have very clear concept: implement religious sentiments for prosperity, said Mukesh Kumar Choudhury, a villager at Dhamdaha. But people in the village produce an example for many, particularly for tribal hamlets, said Abu Bakkar, a resident in Purnea.