Now, a ‘netagiri’ school to help aspiring politicians

By Nityanand Shukla, Gaea News Network
Thursday, March 5, 2009

RANCHI - With campaign for the Lok Sabha elections starting in right earnest, aspiring politicians can learn a few tips on how to become seasoned ‘netas’ (leaders) - courtesy a Netagiri Vidyalaya in Jharkhand.

The school was established in 2001 in Ranchi by Raj Ranjan, brother of prominent Congress leader Gyan Ranjan.

Among the useful ‘netagiri’ (leadership) tips the school promises to teach students are how to promote one’s agenda in politics, how to defend oneself in difficult situations and how to keep opponents engaged in trivial issues in order to divert attention from the core subject.

Besides a Rs.50 ($1) fee for an admission form, the Netagiri Vidyalaya does not charge its students for the six month course, after which a student is given a certificate.

Although the school has not been registered yet, the process has been initiated by the human resource department of Jharkhand, says Raj Ranjan.

The motive behind opening such a school was to inculcate an interest in politics among common people, he said.

‘This year we have planned to participate in the campaign of the Lok Sabha elections. Our teaching will certainly make a difference to a student’s campaign,’ said Raj Ranjan, coordinator of the Netagiri school. ‘Some potential candidates have approached us for help with their campaign, but we are verifying their backgrounds.’

The only condition for joining the school is one should be 18 or above. There are 30 students in each batch.

The current batch of students include businessmen and employees from both the government and the private sector. The school holds classes every Saturday so that students working in different fields can attend. The teachers include journalists, politicians and academics.

The subjects taught are how a government is formed and run, people’s rights, society and the markets. ‘The Netagiri Vidyalaya teaches students that the government is formed and run under the provisions of the constitution. The school emphasises that citizens should understand their rights and what they can get from the government. We also train student politicians about their responsibilities towards society and their country,’ said Raj Ranjan.

‘There are three key components to any country. First is government, second is the market and the third is society. All three are interconnected and influence each other,’ said Ajay Rai, a Congress leader who teaches at the school.

Ajay Rai is one of the first students to graduate from the Netagiri Vidyalaya and join politics. He is the president of the local labour organisation and participates in party activities.

‘I am happy to be a part of the school. I learnt some key tips which helped me in politics,’ said Rai.

Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, secretary of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha party, said: ‘We will welcome the students in our election campaign.’

‘I am excited to get admission here. My friend passed out from Netagiri Vidyalaya three years ago. I am trying to learn what politics means,’ said Aneeta, a homemaker.

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