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Some teachers and alumni from an urban Jharkhand school have formed a group in order to help develop the living conditions of a Birhor village in a rural area of the state. Their inaugural project was the installation of the first sanitary toilet in the village, which they accomplished on the 60th anniversary of India’s Republic Day last week.

The article that appeared in The Telegraph last Wednesday does not give many details about the Birhor village, Chalkari, except to indicate that unhygienic conditions there have led to a loss of life due to water-borne diseases. A photo accompanying the article shows a group of people gathered around, solemnly inaugurating the new toilet.

The school behind this achievement is the DAV Public School in Koyla Nagar, which is part of the major city of Dhanbad, in Jharkhand. To judge by their website, the Koyla Nagar DAV public school is a high-achieving, academic institution that is part of a nationwide system of 725 DAV schools and colleges. If the article last week is a good indication, the school wants to reach out to the poorer, rural areas of the state.

In addition to the toilet, the school group also gathered some warm clothing, sporting goods, a couple transistor radios, and some other items for the Birhor villagers. The principal of the school promised to provide a solar-powered lamp for the village. He indicated that his school students would help educate the Birhor children, though he didn’t say how that was going to be arranged.

Manish Yadav, a member of the school group working with the Birhor, explained to the paper how the group got started. “We constituted the group in 2006 with the aim of [carrying] out a study project of the Birhor population. Later, we expanded our activities to other areas such as education and hygiene.” An academic assignment thus grew into very practical development projects.