XLRI student Himanshu Singh with village pradhan Manu Singh Sardar on Sunday. (Bhola Prasad)
Seventy-year-old Manu Singh Sardar had a dream for his village Janumdih in Potka block of East Singhbhum. It came true on Sunday for village boys like Rohit Sardar, an eighth grader, with a digital twist.
Manu Singh, who dropped out of school in Class VIII but went on to become a Mundari poet and village pradhan, always wanted a library for Janumdih.
XLRI students and NGO Kalamandir fulfilled the elderly man’s vision with some 21st century extras thrown in.
While Kalamandir constructed the library near its grass-mat training and weaving centre, XLRI students collected the lion’s share of the 500 books in Hindi, English and Bengali. XLRI students also donated a computer with Internet connection and a webcam to the library that Manu Singh inaugurated on Sunday.
So if Rohit and his friends were excited about Aesop’s fables, Champak, Tintin and Tinkle comics as well as textbooks, they were completely in awe of the Internet. “I know about www dot com and Google,” smiled Rohit, pronouncing each word carefully.
His school, Mutkeshwardham High School, Harina, doesn’t even have a library.
The general management programme students of XLRI who did most of the project’s legwork sounded moved with the digital gateway.
“This was a social project for our group of 10 students, a part of the course where we take up a sustainable social project and implement it. Though it is a part of our curriculum, it gives us pleasure to see villagers happy. If they use the Net and read books, they can achieve so much,” said Himanshu Singh, part of Team XLRI.
He and other students — Deepak Suri, Devesh Thakur, Gaurav Sharma, Mayank Gupta, Ravjit Kokardekar, Mandar Buddhikot, Tanveer Anwar and Paul Jacob — went around telling villagers about books and Internet.
A computer-trained local youth, Satyajit Barui, will maintain the system. Villagers can learn to browse the Net and chat on the web with anybody, even the district administration if needed. “We will convert this hub into a full-fledged computer system and shift the library to a bigger area. We will also appoint a librarian,” said Monica Bhatia, Kalamandir co-ordinator.
The Telegraph asked Rohit what he would search on the Net.
“America!” he grinned.