Saturday, April 02, 2011

Winds of Change in Bihar

Bihar, led by Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar, is on the road to progress. Literally yes; the tarred roads are well laid out and look spick and span. Among others, on the list of changes are renovated railway stations and improved living conditions. Indeed, Bihar, like other Indian states, is on the path of growth. The endeavors initiated by Christian missionaries with farsightedness have begun to bear fruit. There is a sharp increase in the level of literacy, and the number of well educated men and women. Bicycles are freely being distributed to girl students in schools. Another noticeable fact is that the number of Christian schools in the state too is going up. It is in this context that one should review the steady progress of Indian Christian Mission Schools founded by President of Indian Christian Mission (ICM), Pastor M. Samuelkutty. ICM has been making waves in the educational sector in the remote villages in Bihar.

From New Delhi railway station, I had boarded Mahabodhi Express in the afternoon at 2.30 PM on December 17th, 2010 with the intention of participating in the annual celebrations and Christmas programs of the Indian Christian Mission Schools at Kochas, Bihar; I got down at Bihar’s Bhabua railway station in the early morning at 4.30 AM on 18th. The cold sent shivers through my body as the jacket I had on couldn’t hold back the cold winds. People who were to receive had called on the mobile phone to say that they would be a trifle late. I covered myself with the blanket I had in my travel bag sat on the bench at the station, with a monkey cap on my head. Within half an hour, Pastor Rajanikanth and Indian Christian Mission School manager, Brother Vinod Kumar reached the station. They passed me by as they couldn’t recognize me covered with the blanket. In the subdued light, I too could recognize them only when Vinod Kumar took out his mobile phone to make a call to me. They did recognize me only after I had run towards them and greeted them with jai Masih ki. They apologized to me for being late and set out with me towards the Indian Christian Mission office at Kochas. After covering a distance of about 35 km, we reached our destination.

Saturday 19th, 10.30 in the morning: the preparations are underway at Indian Christian Mission School for the scheduled Christmas rally. I had reached the school office with Vinod. Santa Claus is getting ready. All teachers are very busy engaged in different activities. I made a quick reconnaissance of the school and its premises. Though housed in a rented building, Indian Christian Mission School is standing tall with three stories. I took a picture of the school building on my mobile phone. At 11 in the morning, the rally is all set to start. I was asked to pray before the flag off. About 500 students, their teachers and other staff members; all are ready. The rally was flagged off after the prayer. The rally moved forward literally making Kochas town still. The rally halted for a little while at the main junction of the town. The children who were waiting with preparedness presented with ease songs, action songs and skits related with the birth of Jesus. Others distributed Gospel tracts to people sitting inside vehicles and shops. The colorful rally resumed its revolution of the town. A variety of items were performed at every junction the rally passed through. Gospel tracts were given to thousands of people who had thronged to witness the grand rally. The sight of the students from nursery to class VII shouting aloud Christian slogans, and Christmas and New Year greetings (Naya Saal Mubarak) was spectacular. A cycle rickshaw, the school transport, was at hand to relieve the tiny tots who had become tired walking. When I saw this I quickly uttered a prayer, “Lord, please, provide a school bus as soon as possible!” I expect that the readers will repeat my prayer. After going round the town, the rally returned to the school at 2 PM. After having snacks, all the participants dispersed in the hope of meeting again on Sunday at the Christmas program.

Delicious food was prepared for me by school accountant Dharminder and family. I rested a little after the meal. There was no program was scheduled for the rest of the day. While others had gone for the preparations for the next day, I reflected on the changes taking place in Bihar. I remembered the first instance when I traveled to Bihar along with Pastor M. Samuelkutty. That time there was no electricity and we had to sleep outside listening to the lullabies of the mosquitoes. But, now changes have become visible. Except for some hours in the night, electricity supply has become constant. My thoughts were interrupted by Dharminder who warned me the electricity supply would be cut off at 8 PM and dinner had to be taken before that. Habitual of taking dinner after 11 PM in Delhi, I was the least hungry; albeit, I ate the delectable dinner before 8 PM. Dharminder had made my bed with a mosquito net spread over it. In that dark night, Dharminder gave me a flash light and sleepily said good night to me before retiring to his room. I made an attempt to sleep earlier than the usual hour and couldn’t remember when I fell asleep. I woke up hearing the words, “Sir, tea”.

Pastor Binoy P John, New Delhi