NAGPUR: After topping ‘most wanted’ charts at police stations for years, underworld don-turned-politician Arun Gawli has now made his presence felt in academic merit lists too. With a 92.5% score, Gawli can boast of adding another feather to his trademark ‘Gandhi topi’ after topping an exam on Gandhian thought held at Nagpur Central Jail, where he is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Shiv Sena corporator. Gawli scored 74 marks (out of 80) in the test taken also by 159 other inmates.
The exam is organised every year by Sahyog Trust, Sarvodaya Ashram (Nagpur) and Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal for the inmates as part of their rehabilitation programme. Rani Bhonsale, SP of the jail, said, “The inmates are given the course material hardly a month in advance and they follow a selfstudy pattern. This exam is held so that the inmates learn about Gandhiji’s teachings and life.”
Ravindra Bhusari, the trustee of Sahyog Trust, said, “The exam’s duration is of one hour. We give various options but the candidate has to write down the answer as opposed to just ticking ‘A’, ‘B’ etc.” Though Gawli had the self-study book, he did get tutored by ‘teachers’ inside the jail. Bhusari said, “These people inside the jail are called ‘gurujis’ and they basically act as teachers. They act as tutors to all inmates and help in clarifying doubts.”
Gawli appeared for the exam in his cell unlike other ‘common’ prisoners who gathered at the prayer hall for the test. Bhusari said, “Inmates in ‘andaa cell’, on death row etc are not allowed outside their cells and mix with other inmates. For security reasons, Gawli was kept in his regular place.” Since the test is of ‘open book’ format, there really was no need for invigilation.
Bhusari said, “Every inmate is allowed to keep the book open during the exam and has to find the answers from therein. This is not a regular kind of test; its purpose is more of spiritual enrichment.” Sandesh Singalkar, one of the organisers of the test, said, “The exam could be attempted in English, Hindi and Marathi. To the best of my knowledge, Gawli wrote the exam in Marathi.”