Govind Jaiswal – An Example
of Empowerment through Education
His father, a rickshaw
vendor, toiled hard, sold off land so that the son can get education.
Complementing his father’s struggle and dream, Govind ranked
48th in Civil Service Examination, 2006 – among 474 candidates.
Foundation believes that whether you are addressing healthcare,
poverty, population control, unemployment or human rights, there's
no better place to start than in the corridors of Education.
Because education is both the means as well as the end to a
better life: means, because it empowers an individual to earn
his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one's awareness
on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate
social behaviour to understanding one's rights - and in the
process evolve as a better citizen.
Let's take a pledge to encourage educating the Children of our
Govind is son of a
rickshaw vendor from Varanasi. He has cleared the IAS toppers list
this year; thus setting an example of empowerment through education.
Although due credit goes also to his father who has toiled all the
past years to educate his son with a dream in his eyes!
When Govind got the
news of clearing the Civil Services Exam, tears ran down Govind Jaiswal's
face and refused to stop. Staring him in the face was the only thing
he had ever wanted, and now that he had achieved it.
He waited till the
tears dried up, till the news sunk in and made that one phone call
on which depended the hopes of his entire family.
Govind, the son of
an illiterate rickshaw vendor in Varanasi, had grown up with cruel
taunts like 'However much you study, you will still be a rickshaw
puller.' He had studied with cotton stuffed in his ears to drown the
noise of printing machines and generators below his window in a poor
neighbourhood where small workshops existed cheek by jowl with tiny
He had given Math tuitions
to supplement the paltry sum his father could afford to send him each
month. His ailing father had sold a small plot of land to give Govind
about Rs 40,000 so that he could move to Delhi which would provide
him a better place to study.
Throughout his life,
he had lived with only one dream -- to become an officer of the Indian
Administrative Service. For him that was the only way. And when he
broke the news to his family, that he was ranked 48 among 474 successful
candidates in his first attempt at the exam -- it was the turn of
his three sisters and father to weep with unbridled joy.
I could not afford
to have any other career goal. My life would have been absolutely
futile had I not made it into the civil services," says Govind,
just back from his medicals in New Delhi, mandatory for the IAS.
"You must understand
that my circumstances were such that besides the Civil Services, I
had no option. I didn't have much of a chance with lower government
jobs because they are mostly fixed, neither could I start a business
because I had no money. The only thing I could do was work hard at
It was almost impossible
for him to study in the one room he shared with his family. To add
to his woes was the power cut that extended between 10 and 14 hours
every day. The moment the lights went out, he had to shut the window
to block out the deafening noise of generators in the many workshops
around his home.
So in search for a
quiet place to study, he briefly shared a friend's room at the Banaras
Hindu University. Since that did not help him much, he did what many
civil services aspirants in northern India do -- he moved to New Delhi.
For his son to make a fresh start in a city Govind had never visited
before, Narayan Jaiswal, Govind's father, sold the only remaining
plot of land he had saved after getting his three daughters married.
Working for ten years
at the government ration shop, Narayan earned a living by weighing
goods at the store. One day when the shop shut down, he bought one
rickshaw and hired it out. He added three more and at one time was
prosperous enough to own about 36 rickshaws.
That was a period of financial security and Narayan was prudent enough
to buy three small plots of land. With three daughters to marry off,
he knew he would need it in times to come. But bad times soon befell
the family. His wife passed away when Govind was in school. For 10
years there was acute hardship. The rickshaws dwindled.
On his meager earnings,
the uneducated rickshaw vendor with a hearing disability continued
the education of his children. The girls were married after their
graduation -- Narayan sold two pieces of land for the weddings, the
last plot was sold to achieve his Govinda's dream.
Narayan gave his son
Rs 40,000 to prepare for his Civil Services exam in New Delhi and
pursue his childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer. For the next
three years, he sent his son between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 every month,
sometimes foregoing the expense of treating the septic wound in his
foot that continues to nag him till today.
Outside his narrow lane, opposite the Varanasi City railway station,
where Narayan Jaiswal parks his rickshaws and spends most of his waking
hours, he still walks barefooted with a bandage, one end hanging loose
and scraping the dirty road.
"Beyond this year,
my father could not have afforded to send Govind any more money. It
was getting very tough for him. Govind was earning Rs 1,500 from tuitions,
I don't know what he would have done if he didn't make it to the IAS
this year. My father could not sleep for 10 days before the results
came," says Govind's eldest sister Nirmala, whose son is almost
the same age as her brother.
Now that he will earn
Rs 8,000 as his starting salary during his two-year training period
in Mussoorie, Govind says his first priority is getting good treatment
for his father's wound.
"I want to look
after him, I don't know if he will leave Varanasi but I will definitely
move him out of this rented room that we have lived for 35 years."
If his son's new job
dramatically changes things for the better, Narayan Jaiswal is quite
unaffected by it. He is surprised by the scores of journalists and
well wishers flocking to his house.
Until now, courier
delivery boys found his house with great difficulty but now even the
fruit cart-wallah, one-and-a-half kilometres away, will tell you where
the 'IAS' house is.
"I like my work.
I haven't decided about the future -- what could be a better place
than Kashi? As long as my son looks after me, what else can one want?"
he says, visibly uncomfortable with the media spotlight.
Having lived his life
in Varanasi, the holy city on the banks of the Ganga, Govind has given
his home state Uttar Pradesh as his preferred region of posting. If
he doesn't get UP, he is open to being sent to any state in India.
a tight administration. As for me, I want to be a good officer. We
are the agents of change and I as an administrator would like to inform
common people about their right to know, their right to information.
The benefit should finally go to the people."
His hero is President
A P J Abdul Kalam. Govind is reading the Hindi translation of the
President's best-selling book On Wings of Fire and takes out a nicely
thumbed copy from a plastic bag.
President Kalam has given us a dream and the power to dream. His dream
is of a developed India and he is a symbol of many common people's
In a time when the
Indian bureaucracy has its drawbacks like a lack of accountability,
corruption and perpetuating a system that was handed down by the British
to rule a subordinate population Govind's thoughts are fired by the
idealism of youth. He insists his idealism will not be watered down
in future years, that he will not allow himself to be influenced.
"I am a product
of my circumstances that has been wrought with hardships. When I go
out as an officer my character will be put to the test, and then I
want to see what a real man I am."
Outlook Magazine and Rediff.com]