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Let Libraries Light the Way

District Magistrate of Jamtara in Jharkhand, Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz, is on a mission. With a lightning speed, he has been converting old, dilapidated buildings into libraries- the new temples of learning for the people.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Talk about transformation. Jamtara district in Jharkhand was, at one time, known for spreading the illegal “phishing activity’’ – a cybercrime- all over the country. But today, it’s at the forefront of promoting free and accessible education.

This happened when the District Magistrate (DM) of Jamtara, Mr Faiz Ahmed Mumtaz, started an initiative of converting dilapidated buildings in the village panchayats to community libraries.

Appointed as the DM of Jamtara in July this year, Mr Mumtaz is in the process of bringing a much-required change in this backward district. He aims at making 30 such community libraries by the end of the year; and eventually a total of 118 libraries in every village panchayat of the district.

KICKSTARTING THE INITIATIVE

In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Faiz said “In every village panchayat of Jamtara, there are some government buildings which are not in use or are in disrepair. Therefore, we starting refurbishing these buildings and making community libraries in these premises.”

He added, “As reading and gaining education is not given too much priority in the district, I wanted to create a culture of reading and studying among the youth. The libraries will also benefit students whose studies were affected due to the Covid pandemic.”

The district administration headed by Mr. Faiz kickstarted the initiative in the month of November 2020, when the first community library was inaugurated in Chengadih Panchayat of Jamtara. The library was constructed out of an old abandoned building, with contributions coming from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the general public.

Inaugurated first library at Chengadih Panchayat

Soon, three more libraries were inaugurated in Fatehpur, Kundhit & Nala panchayats, with the convergence of government schemes and public contribution.

Inaugurated three more libraries in the district

Till now, six such libraries have been constructed in the district, the latest two inaugurated in Menjhiya & Chandradhipa Panchayats. The administration plans to construct 30 such libraries by the end of this year.

RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS THE COMMUNITY

Mr. Faiz said, “As other institutions in the district operate from 9 to 5 pm, the libraries have been handed over to the community where they have the freedom to make their own rules for the operation of the library. The committee formed in each panchayat which will be overseen by the Gram Sabha and will manage the libraries. Retired teachers or social activists have been appointed as librarians.”

Meeting with the committee

He added, “Apart from this, an account has been opened for each community library where the contribution from the public will be collected. Provisions are also made to buy books, pay bills, and upgrade a library periodically. After the library is constructed and is made operational, it is handed over to the community, with no involvement thereafter of the district administration.’’

As most people in these village panchayats are seeing such libraries for the first time in their life, there is a feeling of excitement among them. To check the response of people in these villages, some members of the administration went for a random visit and found that a bunch of children were already devouring the books with keen interest!

Administration in an inspection found out that children are already making good use of the library

Ironically, the city which gained popularity for its phishing operations got featured in a Netflix show called ‘Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega’. That might have been a reality of  Jamtara at one time. Now, officers like Mr Mumtaz are scripting an altogether different, and much more inspiring, story of this place.


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