railway station filled with young men with books. They squat here for hours, studying, chasing government jobs as their ticket to success. For the station gives them what they don’t get at home: round-the-clock electricity and lamp posts with working lights.
This story from Sasaram station in Bihar — though only partly true — has gone viral again after a corporate executive, Hari Singh Shekhawat, posted it with a photograph on LinkedIn, a social network for professionals. Some months ago, IAS officer Awanish Sharan had posted the same story as a Twitter thread that had caught the imagination of lakhs on the internet.
The post said, “For two hours every morning and evening, both the platforms 1 and 2 of the railway station turn into a coaching class for young people who are aspirants for the Civil Services.”
“Mostly, the boys are from Rohtas, the district in Bihar that is hit by Left-wing insurgency. In many villages, either there is no power or the electricity is only intermittent,” it further read.
After the tweet went viral, The Indian Express last year found that these study groups existed in some form since 2002 but had ceased to exist now. Railways officials acknowledged that aspirants studied here in groups, but they differed on the numbers and scale. One officer even said that the photo going viral was not specifically of those groups but of students headed out for an exam and waiting for a train.
Students and locals said the number of students had swelled to a thousand at one point. Some local men who had got jobs in government departments credited the platforms for their success; some would travel 20 kilometres to reach the station at night. A local resident cited a 2018 protest by the aspirants – reportedly over a delay in holding railway job exams – as the reason why they were no longer allowed to study here.
Despite some caveats in the story, Hari Singh Shekhawat’s LinkedIn post has led to a flurry of comments. Posted four days ago, it had nearly 11,000 reactions by June 7. While many are drawing inspiration from the men’s struggle, others are seeking to make larger points.
One user commented, “And it’s only boys! Shows how much the girls are left behind in rural India. When boys at least have a dream or an opportunity, girls are not even in the picture.”
Another said it was “awesome and inspiring”, adding, “I saw such study centre in heart of Mumbai in Colaba too.”
Comments“Glorifying desperation and failing our younger generation,” was how a LinkedIn user saw it, and there were some who claimed the “old” photo was “a ploy to defame Bihar”.