Orwell BBC


Motihari Millionaire
Sushil Kumar, who won the equivalent of one million $US dollars
in the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire",
said that listening to BBC Hindi contributed to his success.

To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

I am happy to report that Mr. Sushil Kumar, a resident of Motihari, East Champaran, Bihar, India has won the Rupees 5 Crores jackpot on the TV quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). A Lakh is a hundred thousand. Hundred lakhs make 1 Crore.

The photographs are available on Google.

Another son of Motihari after George Orwell has attained great fame and also fortune. But the winning contestant has been advised to buy a gun to protect himself from abductions and kidnapping.

I have been a keen reader and ardent fan of your website. Hope you will find this little piece of information useful.

Best regards,
James Sunder Raj
Bangalore, India

Greetings James,

Thanks for the exciting news about a Motiharian winning a million dollars in India's version of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. According to all reports the winner, Sushil Kumar, is a real-life version of the fictional winner in the mega-hit SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

It's wonderful that a Motihari native son -- in addition to George Orwell -- has achieved great fame and fortune through his intellect. See ORWELL STATUE IN MOTIHARI

Another similarity between the two sons of Motihari -- Orwell and Kumar -- is a connection to BBC radio. Kumar said that one of the reasons he did so well on WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE is that he'd been listening to BBC all his life and the questions he was asked had been discussed over the years on the broadcasts he'd heard.

Orwell, from afterlife, will be very pleased because Orwell was a BBC talk-show host during WWII and his program was broadcast only in India -- his target audience being students and people interested in talking about books and literary subjects. Orwell interviewed many Indian scholars and writers on his program, some notable ones seen in the photo below:


(A recording session for the poetry magazine 'Voice': (sitting) Venu Chitale, JM Tambimuttu, TS Eliot, Una Marson, Mulk Raj Anand, C Pemberton, Narayana Menon; (standing) George Orwell, Nancy Barratt, William Empson)

I read, also, that Kumar won't be letting the million-dollar winnings interfere with his plans to study for the Civil Service exam. That's another Orwellian similarity because Orwell had to study very hard to pass the India Civil Service exam too. He even hired a tutor to help him get through it.

The news articles about Sushil Kumar say that after he passes the Civil Service exam he'll be building a library in Motihari so young people will have access to learning. I can't help but think that books by George Orwell will be prominent on the shelves.

Below are excerpts from the book THE UNKNOWN ORWELL describing Orwell's 1922 exam preparations and successful results.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Orwell Unknown Bk
by Peter Stansky & William Abrahams, 1972
pages 126-130

...Eric's coming home to live after being away at school for more than ten years, would make no appreciable difference in the way things went between himself and his father, except as it offered a day-to-day provocation and setting for disagreement. Given the nature of this particular father and son, and given the general proposition that eighteen, notoriously, is an age when sons know much more than their fathers, it may appear surprising that Eric should so readily have accepted his father's advice. But he had no reason to disagree with it, for it fitted in nicely with a wish of his own: that someday he might go out to the East, to India, to Burma.

Thus, with no argument at all, the Blairs and Eric arrived at the same conclusion, although for very different reasons. Mr and Mrs Blair, as one would expect of parents in their situation, put forth a variety of practical and sensible considerations. He was eighteen years old; he had finished his schooling; he had to support himself; he had expressed no interest in any of the learned professions, or in business.... The important thing was to choose a career that was respectable and suitable, that would not require a good deal of costly training or other expense at the outset, that would provide a modest but sufficient yearly income, and that, entered upon early, allowed for early retirement -- in his case at forty -- after which he would receive an assured pension for the remainder of his life. The Indian Imperial Police answered to all these particulars. (This, of course, was how a lower-upper-middle Anglo-Indian family like the Blairs might see it; from the point of view of Eton it would seem an unexpected choice, and it would be the odd Colleger indeed who would choose it.) There were other considerations. It was a career appropriate to family tradition -- his grandfather Blair had gone out to India as a young man, his father had served there, his mother's people were teak merchants in Burma, her mother and a sister still lived in Moulmein -- and it was suitable. To serve King and Country in an outpost of Empire carried with it a certain distinction: one was placed, and not discreditably.

His parents' considerations, then, were mostly realistic and practical; his own were romantic and deeply coloured by fantasy -- a reminder to us that he was, after all, a very young and inexperienced Old Boy. He seems to have had no understanding or premonition of what it means to become an officer in the Indian Imperial Police, what the job would demand of him. His entire interest was directed to going out, going back, to a dreamscape of India. He had been brought to England when he was one year old, but he had not forgotten his still earlier memories or else they had been incorporated into his fantasies and gathered force there as they were transformed and intensified. He worshipeed Kipling; Kim was one of the favourite books of his childhood. India, in his conversations with Runciman, stood for the furthest remove from Etonian life, and as such would figure in his fantasies of the future, although what precisely he was to do should he go there (be a journalist, like Kipling?) was never defined. That first, earliest childhood encounter with the hot, flamboyant, red and saffron landscape proved ineradicable: very different in its impact, for example, from Eton, to whose historic architecture and green fields (whch have inspired so many other writers) he responded only diffidently. So that there was an almost uncanny congruence between the realistic wishes of his parents and his own romantic notion of going out to India, and it was decided in the early months of that winter of 1922 that he would put in for the examination for the Indian Imperial Police....

Once the decision had been made, realities began to take precedence over romance. It meant, first of all, that he must re-enter the world of schooling and the competitive exam, which, upon leaving Eton, he thought he had left behind him for ever. In January 1922 he enrolled in Mr Hope's tutorial establishment in Southwold, which specialized in getting young men ready for the service examinations, and started to cram. The multi-part, comprehensive examination was not to be held until the end of June, by which time Blair would not only have been crammed, but would also have arrived at the minimum age allowable for a candidate -- nineteen. (The maximum age was twenty-two.) The application, sent off to India Office during the winter, required that Mr Blair should give his consent to his son's applying to join the service, and indicate his willingness to pay for the prescribed uniforms -- Full Dress, Mess Dress, and Service Khaki. (Although the Government gave a 30-pound subsidy for this purpose, it did not begin to cover the total cost, which came to 150-pounds. Once more, as at St Cyprian's, at Wellington, and at Eton, the money was found.)

Two testimonials as to Blair's character and scholarly attainments had also to be sent to the India Office. One of these was written by Mr Hope; the other by the long-suffering Crace*, the Master in Eton College, who accompanied his with a cool little note which would suggest that the colonial constabulary was not often chosen as a career by Collegers: "I do not know at all what is required by the authorities for candidates for the India police. I send a formal certificate which is probably all that is necessary. If anything more is required, perhaps you will let me know."

The examination, identical in its many parts with that given to officer candidates for the army, navy or air force, was administered over an eight-day period -- in this particular instance from June 27 to July 4, 1922.

It began with English.... With English taken care of he proceded to the History paper.... After History came Mathematics, two two-hour papers; and then, at last, a choice -- either a French or German paper. Blair naturally chose the former.... From the remaining three papers he was allowed to choose from among German, Latin, Greek, Physics, Chemistry, General Science, Advanced Mathematics, and Freehand Drawing. He decided to exploit his years of having done Classics, and took the Latin and Greek papers.... For his final paper, since he was fond of drawing (and would continue to do a little all his life), he chose Freehand Drawing....

Blair, fresh from Eton and with further advantage of having crammed at Mr Hope's establishment, did relatively well on the examination. He was at his best, and for this Eton could take full credit, on the Latin and Greek papers, receiving 1,782 marks out of 2,000 in Latin and 1,702 marks out of 2,000 in Greek. On the other papers -- in each of which there was again a 2,000 marks maximum -- he received 1,372 marks in English, 1,256 in French, a rather-better-than-might-be-expected 1,158 in Mathematics (his weakest subject at Eton; so credit for this would go to Mr Hope); and a perfectly mediocre 1,019 in History. His drawing was apparently not of the sort that would be helpful -- or recognizable -- in battle, and he received only 174 marks out of 400 in Drawing.

Passing grade for the Examination was 6,000 marks out of a possible 12,400. This did not mean, however, that all the numerous applicants who had received a passing grade would be accepted as candidates. From this particular group only the top twenty-six were; and Blair with a score of 8,463 was seventh on the list. In September, he and the twenty-five other successful candidates were required to take a riding test, for which he prepared himself during the summer at a stable in or near Southwold, and was placed twenty-first on the list of twenty-three who passed....

~ end quoting from The Unknown Orwell ~

watch Indian million dollar gameshow win inspires local poor, BBC, Nov 7, 2011
Sushil Kumar's million dollar win in India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was the biggest ever on an Indian television show. The computer operator, who earns a salary of US$120 a month, says he intends to renovate his ramshackle house. And residents in his home city of Motihari say he is inspiration to them, with students vowing to study harder in the hope of similar gameshow rewards....

I'm a four-day Shah Rukh Khan: Sushil Kumar, Times of India, Nov 11, 2011
Sushil Kumar, the winner of Rs.5 crore on "Kaun Banega Crorepati 5", is taking instant fame and overnight celebrity status with a pinch of salt and says it is short lived. He also rubbishes reports of getting endorsement offers and also clarifies that there is no threat to him or his family from anyone. The winner of the popular game show has returned his home in Motihari, Bihar. Sushil's near impoverished family members, according to some reports, are getting extortion and kidnapping threats. Says the humble 'crorepati', "I feel such talk about kidnapping threats and extortion brings a bad name to our state of Bihar and to my home town. "Whatever the risks and dangers, let me first state I don't have the prize money with me. It will take a couple of months to be cleared and deposited in my account. Secondly, the people of Motihari have formed a protective cordon around me. They are so proud of what I've achieved. If any harm was to come to me or to my family members I don't know what the people here will do." Sushil keeps getting calls from politicians and top officials of the police department offering security and protection. "I don't think I am in any real danger. The love that I'm getting from all around me is a much bigger prize than the money. When I arrived in my city Motihari, almost the entire city had come to fetch me," says the 27-year-old. "It's like I'm living in a dream. Only, far more unreal than any dream that I could imagine. But I know all this fame is 'chaar din ki chandni'. Main 'chaar din ka' Shah Rukh Khan hoon. It would all be over in four days. Then I'll go back to my normal life," he adds. Columnist Shobha De wrote a glowing column on Sushil Kumar. But he won't be able to read it. "I can't speak English and I can barely read the language. I had only heard of Shobha De, never read or seen her. I was on a flight from Mumbai to Delhi when I was told she was also on the flight. I introduced myself and told her what an honour it was to come face-to-face with her. When we got down from the flight I stood at the door of the bus that was to take us to the terminal blocking other passengers until she emerged and boarded the bus. "I don't know what she wrote about me. But I am not trying to create an impression. I am what I am," he says. It has been reported that endorsements are coming Sushil's way by the dozens and that he as been approached to be the brand ambassador for the central government's National Rural Job Guarantee Scheme. Sushil, who now wants to sit for civil services examination, says with disarming honesty: "I keep hearing of and reading about all these offers. But no one has approached me directly."

watch Indian man becomes real life Slumdog Millionaire as he wins game show, Telegraph, Nov 3, 2011
...In the final moments before he won the coveted jackpot, Mr Kumar held a glass of water with clenched fists, his hopes, dreams and aspirations rested on the answer on the computer screen. Meanwhile his family were shown chanting silent prayers for his victory. Mr Kumar's win drew comparisons with the plot of 2008 Oscar-winning film 'Slumdog Millionaire' and its fictional protagonist, Jamal Malik, the call centre chaiwallah or tea boy whose street urchin life gave him the winning answers. In reality, Mr Kumar is several leagues above that of Slumdog Millionaire's Jamal, but the 27-year-old did see the TV show as an escape from penury. Mr Kumar is a role model for young, lower middle class, small-town Indians: he teaches computer studies part-time in his local college in Motihari, a district town close to North Bihar's border with Nepal, for extra money. His prize is the largest ever won on an Indian television show and will inspire the several hundred million people living in India's small rural towns Kaun Banega Crorepati is aimed at.

Indian clerk wins game show with history question, AP, Nov 3, 2011
The question that made a poor clerk from eastern India the first person to win 1 million dollars on an Indian game show has been revealed. It is: "Which colonial power ended its involvement in India by selling the rights to the Nicobar Islands to the British on October 16, 1868?"  The answer: "Denmark".... His wife closed her eyes and prayed as Kumar grappled with the question. When he won, the audience whooped and gave him a standing ovation. He and his wife wept...

Jackpot for office worker on "Kaun Banega Crorepati", Reuters, Nov 1, 2011
An office worker too poor to own a television set has won an unprecedented $1 million on TV game show "Kaun Banega Crorepati". Sushil Kumar's win this week drew comparisons with the plot of 2008 Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" and, like its fictional protagonist Jamal, the 27-year-old also watched the TV show as an escape from penury. This is the first time a contestant has won a million dollars on the popular TV show hosted by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan....Kumar said he had not made any grand plans for the money, a fortune in a country with a per capita income of $1,265. "I'm going to repair my house, fulfil a few basic needs and then move to Delhi to study for the civil service exams," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. Kumar works as a computer operator in a government office in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar and earns 6,000 rupees (around $120) per month. "Our house has almost broken down and we have a lot of loans that have to be repaid," he said. "If it hadn't been for this money, I would have gotten old before I sorted out my life. I've been getting a lot of suggestions about what to do with the money, but right now I can only think about my dream of getting through the civil services exam," he said...

Million-dollar winner Sushil Kumar talks to BBC Hindi, Daily Times Pakistan, Oct 30, 2011
Sushil Kumar, who won the equivalent of US$1,000,000 in the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Milliaonire", gave his first major interview since winning the prize to BBC Hindi. The winner of "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (KBC) told BBC Hindi's Vineet Khare that listening to BBC Hindi contributed to his success.

On BBC Hindi: "My father, grandfather, everyone listens to the BBC [Hindi]. BBC radio has been played at our home since childhood. During the audition, I did mention that I am a BBC listener. We didn't have a television at home and power cuts were frequent. People in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar do discuss the BBC stories.”

On the game and Amitabh Bachchan: "When I went on the hot seat, my biggest achievement was to sit opposite Amitabh Bachchan. People in my city came to know of that. When the "KBC" team went to my city, the news spread everywhere. When I had won a crore [US$200,000], I thought that was it and it was time to head home. I thought, let's have a look at the question at least. It was a mere formality. But when I looked at the final question, it got me interested and I thought, if I could give it a little more attention, I may have the answer. The questions were routine. Whoever regularly listens to the BBC, or reads magazines can perform well".

On how he felt, having won: "It's unbelievable. My life has changed, although I feel like the same person who has a simple lifestyle -- who listens to the BBC at night, reads newspapers in the morning and spends his day in office. I am staying in a grand hotel. Earlier I used to stand at the gates of similar hotels and think that the charge for one-night stay over there would be equivalent to my two to three months' salary".

On how he'll spend the prize money: "I will be proud to give away a part of the prize money as tax as it would be more than the sum I could have earned in my lifetime. This is a matter of pride for me. I am very happy. This may be something very small for the country, but for me it will be a big amount. There are some small needs. I have to get my house constructed and help my brothers in their business. I would like to spend the rest of the money on the education of poor children. I shall definitely do something for them as I come from a similar background. I have struggled for my education. I know a lot of bright kids, but their financial condition is such that they have to work in hotels. I wish to educate them or help them in their education".

On security and Bihar: "I am not worried. Bihar has undergone a considerable change. I am proud to be from Bihar. I have seen how Bihar has changed. I have experienced what it was in the past and what it is now. There is peace here".

On his plans for the future: "For my Mumbai visit, I had bought a few clothes for around 500 rupees [US$10]. I will wear the same clothes when I go back. I always wanted to prepare for civil services exams. I will leave my present job and go to Delhi to prepare for the competition".

Man wins India's 'Millionaire' show -- prompts Slumdog Millionaire comments, Asylum, Oct 29, 2011
...The government clerk says he was encouraged to audition for the show by friends who were surprised by how many questions he was able to answer when they watched together. And they were right to do so, because he recently gave all the right answers on the show which is due to be aired next week -- winning the prize of more than £638,000. "Our financial condition was very bad. We don't have a house of our own." Kumar said after accepting his cheque from Bollywood great Amitabh Bachchan. Asked what he now plans to do with the money, he added that he will build a new house for his family, pay off his parents' debts and build a library in Motihari so the children of his village will have access to knowledge....

Winner Sushil Kumar's kin revel in his star turn, India Today, Oct 28, 2011
When the roof of his mud-tiled house started leaking this monsoon, Amarnath Prasad did not have the money to repair it. With no regular source of income of his own, he barely manages to meet the needs of his family. Three months later, the dilapidated house at Hanumangarhi in Motihari, the administrative headquarters of East Champaran district in Bihar, is drawing scores of people - both neighbours and strangers. Everybody wants to see the house where Motihari's proverbial 'son of the soil' Sushil Kumar -- the first-ever Rs. 5-crore jackpot winner on Kaun Banega Crorepati -- grew up....

None is as talented as Sushil, a meritorious student since his childhood. Prasad, Sushil's father, said Sushil used to spend most of his time in libraries.... Sushil started taking a keen interest in KBC since the game show started and used to watch it on a neighbour's TV for several years when his family did not own a television. He used to give answers to most of the questions even while watching it....After passing his matriculation, Sushil did his BA (honours) and post-graduation in psychology. He later got the job of a computer operator with a paltry salary of Rs.6,000 a month. But he never gave up his dream of making it big. He would often appear in different competitive examinations and had set his goal of making it to the civil services ranks....



Coming up for Motihari, by Shreevatsa Nevatia, Hindu Business Line, Aug 1, 2014
With the restoration of his birthplace, residents of a small town in Bihar hope that George Orwell will give them a place on the world map.... If it weren't for the recent presence of masons and labourers, there would have been little cause for optimism. After many promises, district authorities finally began renovating Orwell's birthplace in the last week of June, and handed current occupants notices to evict the property.... Mookherjee, a member of the Rotary Motihari Lake Town, also doubles as the chairman of the club's George Orwell Commemorative Committee. Looking out at patches of coarse grass near the erstwhile Blair residence, he speaks of landscaping plans, the possibility of a fountain and a statue. For the proposed Orwell museum -- the first of its kind in the world -- Mookherjee talks of convincing Richard Blair, the writer's son, to send replicas of his father's manuscripts from the George Orwell Archive at University College London. "Rather than travelling to Britain, we want Orwell scholars in India to be able to come to Motihari for their research"....






India gov't saving Orwell's birthplace from decay (dedicated fan Jackie Jura runs ORWELL TODAY website) & George Orwell & India ("I am Indian and was born there") & Orwell birthplace to be restored (priority to protect it followed by renovation) & Orwell birthplace saved from becoming animal farm (Jackie Jura at ORWELL TODAY thrilled gov't will restore) & Orwell's birthplace aims to attract tourists (funds being raised for Orwell museum in Bihar) & India declares Orwell birth house protected (plan to develop building & site in Motihari). AFP/Blog/NYT/Times/Telegraph, Dec 27-31, 2009














Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com