A Community Of Weavers That Tailors Engineer – The Second Angle

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In the village of Patwatoli, which comprises of a household of 1500 families; nearly every family has an aspirant who is looking forward to making it to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Of which more than 250 boys and girls already succeeded in cracking the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) which paves their path to renowned IITs of the country.

Patwatoli, which is in Gaya district of Bihar, is a place which is known for dealing in the weaving of clothes primarily known for making traditional Indian towel – Gamcha. Every household is a weaving workshop here which is the primary source of nearly every family in the region.

Boys & Girls of Patwatoli making it to IITs is also a big deal because their primary source of income doesn’t come with much margin of profit, parents of most of the aspirants are either daily wage workers or weavers. Hence, the financial condition of families residing here isn’t enough to provide fancy schooling or coaching to their children. Students here in Patwatoli have done this collectively only with their own efforts using lesser resources and no privilege.
From every family in the village being associated with weaving to every family having someone who is either an IIT graduate or an aspirant, people of Patwatoli have come so far with their efforts to be an epitome of hard work even in adverse of the conditions.

Kedarnath who qualified for IIT with his father/ Image Source: TOI

Many students of Patwatoli are working with significant Indian, UK, US, & International companies. One of whom, Dev Narayan (26), an IIT graduate now working in Singapore said “The IIT boom hit Patwatoli in the early 2000s. Until then, there were no proper schools here, no good college nearby, and nil job prospects. Girls were rarely literate; boys dropped out after class 10. Even as JEE coaching centres mushroomed across India, Patwatoli had never heard of IIT.”

Jeetender Prasad, who is a legendary name in Patwatoli, was the very first person who graduated from an IIT to pave the path for the whole community to arise as engineers.

One of the top scorers of 2014 JEE, Sushish Kumar said, “We don’t know what prompted him to attempt the exam, it was in the early 1990s. He lives in the US now. But his success spawned our common goal, which is like a movement.”
In 1999, seven out of 16 boys made it to secure their seats in IIT. “We realised it’s not difficult to crack JEE, and we wanted to help others,” says Vijay Kumar, (39).

When students came back home in summer of 2000, they went on to visit every school in the district to announce a talent search exam which tests children on science & maths. The selected youngsters were to be trained through counselling and guidance, which was unavailable for an area without internet access.
Vijay Kumar added, “To laud the winners, we invited the parents on stage, which encouraged the parents to educate their children.”

A student run-organisation, ‘Navprayas’, collaborated with students and promoted the agenda of education in the village. Annually, during summer break, undergraduate IIT students volunteer to guide students with mathematics and science.

Patwatoli
Students celebrating after qualifying for IIT/ Image Source: The Telegraph

As resources became more accessible, now aspirants are being guided throughout by Engineers and IIT graduates of Patwatoli living in other parts of the world through virtual connectivity. There have been no going back since for triumphant tales keep coming from here.
Patwatoli has continued to be an epitome of hard work which adds more number of successful stories to it every year. We can say if Magadh (Gaya) have a proud legacy of Dashrath Manjhi paving a path through the heart of a giant mountain, people and students of Patwatoli stood out and paved successful engineers through conquering obstacles of shortcomings and hard times.

For more such stories explore our Inspiring Section

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