This Manjhi can move mountains

Book: Tooti slate, aadhi pencil say wazir-e a’ala kee kursee tak - Jitan Ram Manji
Author: Ashraf Asthanvi (
Pages: 204
Price: Rs 175
Year: 2014
Publisher: Alankar Printers, Karmali Chak, Patna 800008

Kamraan Ghani
Editor, Ezazi Urdunet, Japan 

“Tooti slate, aadhi pencil se wazir-e-a’la kee kursi tak: Jitan Ram Manjhi”, is the new book penned by the well-known Urdu journalist Ashraf Asthanvi. The author has beautifully described the journey of the Bihar Chief Minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi from his childhood to taking over the charge of the Chief Minister of Bihar. The forceful narrative sometime makes us cry while at times we are moved by the agonies of the downtrodden to which Manjhi belongs.   

This book not only introduces us to the different facets of the life of Jitan Manjhi but also unearths the pains and aches of his backward community. Ashraf Asthanvi, on one hand, has fulfilled the responsibility of a journalist, on the other he showed his sympathy towards backward communities.

The first chapter of this book portrays  how Manjhi and his ancestors struggled for survival. The author has depicted the early years of Manjhi’s life as if the author himself had experienced those situations.

Jitan Manjhi was very intelligent since childhood but being a boy from the backward Mus-har community, he never enjoyed the social freedom available to people of the upper castes. Education was a great sin for backward people. Manjhi used to watch the children of his master going for education to schools but he could not even think of getting education. There is a scene in the book in which a teacher asks children some questions which they are unable to answer. The teacher gets angry and was about to punish them. Here young Jitan requests the teacher not to punish them as he will answer the questions. Then he answered all the questions. The teacher was so impressed that he met Manjhi’s father, Ramajeet Manjhi, and convinced him to give education to his young son. Ramajieet Manjhi pleaded with his master to allow his son to get education but the master got angry. Yet Ramajeet Manjhi did not give up and kept requesting his master to allow his son to go to school. At last his master relented and threw to young Manjhi a broken slate and a half pencil, saying “Take this and study”.  The author chose this incident as the title of his book.

In the succeeding chapters, the author tries to offer an analytical look at the social, economic and political struggle of Jitan Ram Manjhi. To know Jitan Manjhi closely, the author met with his family members  in addition to interviewing him several times.

The author has included three of Jitan Manjhi’s interviews which tell about the vision of the chief minister. Answering to a question Manjhi accepts that the state of affairs in the Bihar Madrasa Board is not good and promises that soon the problems will be tackled. Now we hear that the chairman of the Madrasa Board has been sacked which means that Manjhi follows up on his promises.

One part of the book consists of photographs of Jitan Ram Manjhi from his childhood to the post-CM era. These photographs also include pictures of his family members.

The book not only tells us the happenings in the life of Jitan Ram Manjhi but also offers a mirror of our society. It is a tribute to Jitan Manjhi which could lighten the lives of the downtrodden. (Translated from Urdu by The Milli Gazette) 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2015 on page no. 21

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at

blog comments powered by Disqus