Ramu, a resident of the village by name Krishnapalem, is now working as a clerk in a corporate office. He studied at his local village school run by the Government of India. Kiran, who is a good friend of Ramu attended a private school in the nearby town. He is now working as a pseudo software engineer (testing engineer) at a software consulting company. Despite the economic inequality of their families, these previous students had one thing in common. Both the schools they attended are not equipped with a library.
67% of India stills lives in rural areas. And, the majority of the children from these areas pursue their primary education either in their village or in nearby towns. The students in any of these schools aren’t encouraged to go out of their fixed curriculum and textbooks. And, none of these schools boasts a place for books.
I was born in a family whose income was swayed not by an employer, but by the rainfall of the crop season. I attended a private school in the nearby town by name Ibrahimpatnam and managed to get an admission into one of the reputed colleges. My initial aspiration was to continue studying hard and settle as a government employee. Upon suggestion from a senior, I read my first book ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’ back in 2014 when I was 20. By the time I read my 30th book, my aspirations and my perspective about life has already reshaped indefinitely. All my endeavours of doing research work, starting a company, travelling solo, absconding from an MNC, and setting foot on an alien land for my master's degree came as a result of my reading habit.
I could not find a better example other than my own life experience to exemplify the importance of books. The distance I geographically travelled and my brain cognitively covered explains the potential of books in moulding the young minds. Thirteen years ago, a 12-year old went to the town’s library (Ibrahimpatnam Shaka Gradhalayam) to find and read the book “The Story of My experiments with truth”. All he could find was an uninspiring bundle of newspapers and magazines. I cannot resist imagining the outcome of my life if I could have read that Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography as my first book when I was 12.
Before we get wifi cables to our villages and towns, we need access to good libraries and great books. Atleast in schools.
If I suppose myself adopting a village or a town in India, establishing a library would be the first thing on my developmental agenda. Books can reshape young minds. Young minds can mould the entire nation one village at a time.