Mon, 06 Sep 2010 11:24:28 GMT

The man behind Nitish Kumar's Hindi

Minister Nitish Kumar was a student at Sri Ganesh High School in Bakhtiyarpur, Bihar, when then railway minister Jagjivan Ram came visiting.

Former railway minister and now Bihar Chief

Anandi Prasad Singh, a teacher at the school, asked his students if they wanted to see him. Nitish Kumar was more than "curious to know how a railway minister looked like, spoke and behaved".

Years later, when Nitish became railway minister, at a public meeting in Bakhtiyarpur, he introduced his teacher to people. "When I became railway minister, I wanted people to know who first introduced me to a railway minister," he later said.

Anandi Prasad Singh, now 90, remained a guiding force all through Nitish's school days at Bakhtiyarpur. It was Singh who taught him Hindi and English. Singh can perhaps take credit for the CM's chaste Hindi.

A graduate of Patna University, Singh was interested in academics and always wanted to be a teacher. In 1947, he started teaching Hindi and English at Sri Ganesh School, which was a private school then. Till the school was taken over by the government in 1952, Singh was an honorary teacher, depending on tuitions for money. It was only in 1952 that he drew his first salary of Rs 100. He retired in 1980 with a monthly salary of Rs 255.

"I have taught three generations. But I find students these days are less tolerant than they f were earlier," says Singh.