A group of fourteen six and seven year old Birhor boys have been brought to the Bokaro Steel Limited (BSL) complex in Bokaro, India, for an education, and they are now running wild—like children almost everywhere.
According to a Times of India report on the new arrivals, the youngsters from the villages of Tulbul, Khakhanda, Chotki Sidhiwara and Dumri Vihar, in the Gomia Block of Bokaro District, Jharkhand State, are constantly getting into trouble. They mess around with the electrical switches, hide in cupboards and under beds, and run around naked after they take their baths. They are adapting to their new lives in the dormitory, an incredible contrast to the mud huts in their home villages. The first two communities mentioned in the article, Tulbul and Khakhanda, were the home villages of an earlier group of Birhor boys educated at BSL.
The journalist, Divy Khare, indicates that the children seem to be happy with their new lives. They have been provided with a clean home and stuff that some of them may not have seen before—bathrooms, sports equipment, tables and chairs, a fan, a television, good food, and so on.
Bahadur Singh, the caretaker of the Birhor hostel, has been kept busy chaperoning the children. “For the past 10 days, I am running after them all the time. They find this building strange, so unlike their huts in [their] village[s] and have discovered new ways of mischief.” One day they were given drinking water in plastic bottles, which they found a good use for—hurling at each other. Mr. Singh finds it difficult to talk with the kids, however, since most of them only speak Birhor and he only speaks Hindi.
Mukesh Birhor, one of the boys, told the reporter that they love the foods, such as dosas and parathas, cakes and breads that are popular in India. He added that they like playing football. Another youngster, Subhash Birhor, said that his room was larger than his entire house back in his village.
Arun Kumar Singh, a guard, said that every time he has taken attendance, he has found some of the kids missing. He has learned to search for them under the beds or in the cupboards. However, he explained that he has found a way to tranquilize them: get them addicted to television. “They are fond of cartoons and songs. They sit quietly and watch it for hours,” he said.
All of their room, board, and tuition expenses are provided by BSL. They will be starting school shortly. According to BSL spokesperson Sanjay Tiwari, “the motive behind adoption [by BSL] is to help [the Birhor] tribe join the mainstream.” Getting the kids addicted to TV appears to be part of it.