Dr Rajpal Singh of Johri Village under Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh shows how sports can prove to be a good career tool for rural youth
At the time when match-fixing in cricket or IPL scams hit the headlines frequently and grounds are being prepared for more scams by forming new leagues, a silent revolution is taking place at Village Johri under Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh. Here shooting has transformed the lives of village youth to the extent that over 200 boys and girls not only excelled at international level winning gold medals, but got good jobs in armed forces and other leading institutions of the country. The man behind this career-oriented revolution is Dr Rajpal Singh, who, himself being an international shooter, is dedicated to uplift his village youth to repay his village debt. Till now more than 1,000 youth have learnt shooting here.
Thousands of crore rupees are spent on developing infrastructure for cricket and other sports every year, which mostly add more zeros in the annual income of cricketers. Recently, the Indian Badminton League (IBL) has also been formed to earn huge money through game. The fact, which agitates many people, is how many of these games benefit the common man, especially the rural youth.
A medico in Johri village under Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, around 500 km from State capital Lucknow and about 70 km from national capital New Delhi, presented a unique example of connecting sports with the transformation of rural life. The impact of his efforts can be understood from the fact that more than 200 boys and girls from Johri and surrounding villages are today not only excelling at international level, but are also working in armed forces and reputed institutions of the country like the Indian Railways, Air India, ONGC, etc.
More than 100 boys from this village are in the boys company of Army. The children between the age group of 11 to 14 years are selected in the boys company. Another 25 youth have been selected by the Army for regular services. Additionally, 7 are in Air Force, 10 in Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 4 in Delhi Police, 10 in Air India, three in ONGC, one in Punjab Police, and two in the Uttar Pradesh Police. The list has many more names. Not only this, 23 students of the village got admission in different colleges of Delhi University including 6 in St. Stephen’s College, 2 in Shri Ram College of Commerce and 15 in Hansraj College. At the time when even the top students of Delhi fail to secure admission in these top colleges, these average students of Johri were picked up by the colleges itself after getting impressed with their outstanding performance in shooting. They also did not disappoint the college authorities, as many of them further excelled and won many medals for the colleges. Not only this, the official shooting coaches of Delhi, Faizabad, Bikaner, Meerut, Jammu & Kashmir and Gurukul Kangari universities are from this village.
“Compare to most other games, shooting is the only game, which is 100 per cent job-oriented. The good shooters are easily picked up by the government agencies or the leading institutions. Others get job in armed forces including the State police. Just a 16 year old boy or girl can get an arm licence and is allowed to import a weapon. Those who do not get any job can at least get a job of bodyguard. This is the reason, none of the sportsperson of this game is found indulging in any crime because a job surety is there,” says Dr Rajpal Singh.
The game has really transformed the lives of rural youth. This is the reason that about 1,000 youth from 40 surrounding villages of Johri learnt shooting and are now settled in different jobs. Some are coaching in different states. One interesting part of this mission of Dr Rajpal is that he imparts training to only village youth and he declined many offers with lucrative amount from bigwigs of metro cities. “Since the village youth have the lowest employment opportunities it has been my firm determination since beginning to impart training to only the village youth. Another reason is that compare to urban youth, the rural youth join the armed forces in the largest number. My little guidance help them excel anywhere they go,” says Dr Rajpal Singh.
The most interesting part of this success story is that the foundation of this work was laid with the help of two borrowed pistols in a temporary range. Since everybody did not have a pistol for practice, majority of the youth practised with the help of sugarcane, bamboo sticks and brick. Many of them have now become international shooters. Undoubtedly, their remarkable performance has surprised both the national and international sports experts. It is basically because of this reason that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) rushed to this village and offered to build an air-conditioned shooting range. The then BJP Rajya Sabha MP Shri BP Singhal provided Rs 25 lakh from his MP development fund and Dr Rajpal himself provided his agriculture land for the range, which is to be inaugurated shortly.
The 1986 Asian Games participant Dr Rajpal has imparted training to the national shooting teams of Nepal and Mauritius. He helped Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal set up a national shooting academy in his village Badal. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar also started a range in his village Kalyan Bigha under Nalanda district. Shooting ranges have also been started in Amethi and Bikaner. Dr Rajpal divides time between his work at CGHS Dispensary in Delhi and the shooting range in Johri or other parts of the country. “I believe in lighting one candle with another. That is people I have trained are imparting training to others in Johri and other places,” he says. Vivek Singh—gold medal winner at the Asian, Commonwealth, SAF and National Games – who got the Arjuna Award in 1999, belongs to Johri village only. Mumbai Police Commissioner Dr Satpal Singh is patron of this Johri Rifle Club. The passion of shooting is too high in this village that even the women of 78 years are international shooters.