Vishwanath Prasad Vishwakarma is a crusader spreading the light of literacy among the unlettered. His classroom is any one of the trains that criss-crosses Gaya district; this has earned him the nickname ‘train ka teacher’. His students are the hawkers and street urchins who frequent these trains. Without him, they would not have a chance at an education.
A government schoolteacher, Vishwakarma has been holding classes in trains for 11 years and has no intention to stop. “It has worked. And above all, it gives me immense pleasure,” he says, pointing to a group of enthusiastic learners.
Vishwakarma is a familiar face on the Gaya-Kiul passenger train, especially among his students. To his credit, many of them have gone on to clear the matriculation examination privately. “It is not a pastime but a mission — to empower the downtrodden and neglected through education,” Vishwakarma says. “I got the idea while commuting between Nawada and Gaya. The sight of these children begging and selling to eke out a living firmed up my resolve to teach them,” he adds.
Vishwakarma utilises the two-hour journey between Gaya and Nawada to the full, teaching Hindi, English and Mathematics to a dozen children while they also do their vending. He goes about his work quietly, which is why the Railways has not even heard of him. “We have no knowledge of such a person but would like to help him within the ambit of law,” says an East Central Railway official.