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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In Search of Capt. Kamal Bakshi

In 1960, Col. O.P. Bakshi of the Sikh Regiment bought a bungalow called Gloria Villa in McCluskiegunj. Later after his retirement in 1970 he shifted in to this house with his wife Shanta, daughters Neeta and Reeta and only son Kamal.

After marriage Neeta and Reeta migrated to Canada and London respectively while Kamal had finished studying at Sherwood College Nainital. Later Kamal joined the Indian Army.
Col. Bakshi expired 17 years ago and Shanta Bakshi expired 4 years ago.
Reeta has been in search of her brother Kamal since the past 44 years. She has decided that she will keep up her search as long as she lives.

Capt. Kamal Bakshi has been missing since the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
Reeta says that in 1971 Capt. Kamal Bakshi had come down here on leave to attend Reeta's marriage but due to the war his leave was cancelled and he was called back on duty. That was the last that they had seen him.

Col. Bakshi had written many letters to the President, Prime Minster and to high military officials in this matter but in vain. Reeta is not alone in her mission of finding her lost brother who is jailed in Pakistan. She has been assured by military personnel and other sources that he is in some jail in Pakistan. Ajitabh Bachchan (brother of Superstar Amitabh Bachchan) and Kabir Bedi are also assisting her in the search.

On 22nd June this year Jasveer Uppal, an advocate from London will be filing a case against the government of India in the Supereme Court in this regard.

With the change of government Reeta had hopes of success but gradually this faith is also beginning to fade away. She expressed her feeling against the government of India by saying that America made sure to get back the remains of it's soldiers from Vietnam and India is not at all concerned about its brave soldiers.

We wish Reeta best of luck in succeeding to find her brother, Capt. Kamal Bakshi.

News source: Prabhat Khabar, Ranchi 02/06/2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Upgraded Middle School, Kolpara - McCluskiegunj

On Friday, 15th May 2015, I accompanied a newspaper reporter friend of mine to one government Upgraded Middle School. I have seen other UMS as well but was surprised by this particular one situated at Kolpara near Chatti Nadi Village here in McCluskiegunj.

The Team

Mr. Sudhanshu Srivastava (Principal)

I met the Principal Mr. Sudhanshu Kumar Srivastava and his four teaching staff who were more than obliged to show us around and to explain to us the system and functioning of the school.We started with the kitchen.

Rice and eggs boiling for Friday's midday meal

As per the government rules, free midday meals are provided to all the students that include children studying in eight classes, class I to VIII. There was a fireplace built of mud. It had logs of wood burning under it to boil the rice and the eggs that were on the menu for the day. Due to the wood fire, the walls were quite black but it was very clean otherwise. This school follows a menu that has additional items to go with the normally supplied stuff by the government such as pickles.

The weekly menu

Those pink coloured cards suspended above the students are cards which have words printed on one side and the object representing the words on the other side.

Then we went to take a look into the classrooms. Here again I noted that there were using teaching aids in the lower classes. This is not to be seen in all such schools. Mr. Srivastava has included extra books into the curriculum to help the children learn English. He takes separate classes to teach the children spoken English. Common words and sentences though. Please, thank you, my name is, I live in/at etc.

The school Time-Table

He has a printed time-table pasted on the office cupboard which determines which teacher teaches which subject and on which days. Each teacher has to fill in a lesson plan copy which has been additionally introduced into the school at his expense. He also gifts pencils and erasers to kids and pays for them from his own pocket. Mr. Srivastava is indeed the Principal all the UMS deserve. He is dedicated and works in a team. He emphasizes on games and sports as well. He did mention that the school lacks a lot in terms of infrastructure.

The toilets and the hand-pump. The hand-pump, only source of drinking and washing water 

There is need of proper boundary walls and toilets. Currently there is a toilet for boys and girls separately under one roof but it isn't enough. There is a  boundary wall but only on one side. He was pleased to allow me put this article and these pictures on this blog and hopes it will be an inspiration to others in charge of other UMS and also it helps the government in learning where it needs to concentrate for the proper development and requirements of such schools.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Watch Tower : McCluskiegunj Hill : Tourist Attraction

Good news for McCluskiegunj!

Once upon a time, there used to be a watch tower (wooden) on a hill at McCluskiegunj. It was there till the seventies but as the old settlers left or isolated themselves in their homes, the tower was part by part taken away by villagers to make furniture or to use as firewood. Sad but true.

The hill that it was built on is at a triangle that touches three villages. Hesalong, Lapra and Konka. It is said that from the tower distant places such as Khalari were easily visible.

Since McCluskiegunj has been declared a Tourist Centre, there has been demands of making it more attractive and making it a reason for people to long to visit the place.

The State Forest Department has finally taken the first step in this direction and has now started building a similar tower in the same location. It is believed that the hill that the tower is being built on, will be walled off and more trees will be planted. It will also have steps from the foot of the hill to the top where the tower is being constructed.

Isn't this something to share?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spreading Awareness about Education

Parents,teachers and schools presidents in village Hesalong, McCluskiegunj

Students, teachers and parents of the State Middle School at Hesalong village here joined a campaign to spread the awareness of schools and education in the surrounding area and requested the villagers to send their children to school and to seek admission for them.

Ward Member Yashoda Devi along with teachers Lakhan Kumar, Kavita Devi, Kabir Minj, Gopal Singh and student leaders Pooja Kumari, Sangeeta Kumari, Vijay Kumar, Varsha Kumari, Sandhya Kumari, Sonia Kumari and others took part in the campaign.

Teacher Lakhan Kumar is also a Hindi Weekly Newspaper reporter and a R.T.I. activist and runs a blog "Movement Against Corruption".

A primary school in Hutab village, McCluskiegunj

In another episode, free school uniforms were distributed among 50 students of a Primary School here. These students are studying in classes 1 to 5. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

School Children Protest on Streets in McCluskiegunj

Children from local Hindi medium schools including primary and middle schools protest on streets here in McCluskiegunj holding hand written banners and boards in Hindi today. They demand the right for female students to be educated before being married off and are willing to make do with half a meal a day but need education in return.
Many female children are not allowed to study even up to the 10th standard and are forced into marriage at an early age while male children are forced to work in hotels, brick kilns or on vehicles etc. depriving them from the most essential need, education.
Neha Prasad, Usha Choudhary, Geeta Giri, Sabina Khatoon, Prem Kumar, Gopal Singh and Kabir Minj were leading the students in their protest.