OpIndia has been bringing to you reports from those places in Bihar that tell the true story of the state. In this series, we visited the ‘Musahar Tola’ in the Jamsaut village in Danapur sub-division near Patna in Bihar. In 2011, this village had made headlines when business magnate Bill Gates visited it along with his wife Melinda Gates.
Billionaire couple Bill and Melinda Gates who co-chair the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation were on a one-day visit to the village to review the progress of health projects funded by their foundation in partnership with the Bihar government aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality. The foundation had made a five-year $80 million grant in partnership with the state government. The Gates’ visit was much hyped and many top state leaders, including CM Nitish Kumar, had met them. The Gates Foundation has spent a lot, but for some reasons, the village, and many other villages like it, are still trapped in poverty.
Nothing Changed since the visit of Bill Gates
We went to meet the girl named Rani, whom Bill Gates had adopted during his visit to the village, to see what has changed in her life ever since. Rani is the youngest of the four children of her parents. She lives in the village and studies in the third standard in the local primary school. Her mother told us that neither Rani nor her family received anything after the visit of Bill Gates to the village.
It has been ten years since the couple visited the village but nothing seems to have changed for the villagers who are still living in poverty. There are power lines in the village but no electricity. Some families got houses allocated by the government but others did not. Similarly, in some houses toilets were built but in others, there were no toilets. It appears that whatever little has been done in the name of development has not reached all the people uniformly.
Media limelight for one day, Jamsaut is still untouched by Development
Broken roads and a shabby building of a government primary school welcomed us in Jamsaut village. On a tour of the village, we found that the village is untouched by development. It is deprived of several government schemes. On interacting with the people in the village, we got to know that the benefits of government schemes have not reached them. They still use clay stoves to cook as only a few houses in the village have LPG connection. Most of the houses in the village looked shabby with only bare brick walls and roof. The only relief seemed to be a water tank that was set up in the village under the Nal Jal Yojana of the Bihar government. Villagers told that they get full-day water supply from the tank.
The government primary school in the village was closed due to Covid-19. Locals told us that prior to lock down the school was open and teachers used to come for teaching. However, the building of the school was in a very bad condition. The roof of the school building had the iron bars visible in several places where the plaster had fallen off. The dilapidated building looked as if it can fall off any day.
Most of the houses in the village are shabby, and many households are yet to receive the benefits of Awas Yojna and Ujjwala Yojna, even some are yet to receive the monetary help for building toilets. Electrification seems done but the electricity supply is problematic. Many people are facing joblessness. Many are travelling to other states for livelihood.
Overall, the village and the family which was shot to limelight for a day when the billionaire philanthropist couple had visited, seems still trapped in the same place that where it was a decade ago. The irony is that the village is situated close to the capital city Patna. Locals say that many in the village are graduates, some are even post-graduates, but there are no jobs.
Bihar polls are set to begin with first phase polls scheduled for October 28. A local villager, who did not know who Narendra Modi was, told us that people always cast their votes in elections. When asked about how they decided whom to vote for, he said that villagers discuss among themselves about whom to vote for and then vote for the candidate unanimously selected.
The exclusive OpIndia video can be watched here: