The news is true; we were indeed in Tihar Jail for 2 hours today. Here is an honest account of the what, where and why of this –
At noon today, Sushant and I were at Tihar Jail Gate No. 3 in West Delhi. Dy. Superintendent of Jail #8, Mr Rajendra Kumar, took us inside the premises. In searing heat, we marched in, had to deposit all our belongings and were left with one piece of paper. After rounds of frisking, an armed policeman stamped us on our lower arms – unlike clubbing where it ensures right person is entering, here it ensures right person is leaving
The atmosphere inside though was completely different from what we have seen in Hindi movies – exceptionally clean surrounding, well-mannered people roaming around and nice Bollywood songs playing in the back-ground. Once inside, we exchanged ideas with Rajendra Ji and his team on our business, solar technology and energy needs of our country while we were served piping hot coffee.
The jail folks then took us to the most impressive part of this visit. We realised how childhood songs and idioms about “jail me chakki pisna” are as way off the mark as English cricket team’s limited overs’ strategies. There are excellent laboratories inside these jails to provide industrial training to the inmates. Quoting Rajendra Ji, “We are trying to develop mental skills of the inmates, it is about increasing their confidence so they can go back to the world after their sentences run over and re-start their lives. Of course, it helps to have real-world skills which will help them do so”.
One of such initiatives is a LED bulb-manufacturing unit. Rajendra Ji has personally taken great pains to learn the ropes of the trade. He started by watching hours of youtube content on this and found external trainers to begin with. There were theory classes going on for the prisoners on how capacitors, transformers and small circuit boards combine to provide “earth-saving”, exceptional quality, LED bulbs. And right next to that was a lab to learn and practice soldering and assembly of these units. Believe me, lab facilities and trainers (all inmates themselves) were better than a lot of engineering colleges in our country.
We were let out at 2 PM on showing our stamped-arms and that is the end of this saga. Sushant and I have always believed that doing a start-up makes you a better person, one experience at a time; meeting Rajendra Ji, his team and inmates will definitely count as one of such experiences.
Oh, before we forget – we were there for a solar rooftop site assessment 🙂
If you want us to visit you too,