Sons of labourer, shopkeeper crack prestigious IIT exam

June 1st, 2008 - 9:46 am ICT by admin  

By Imran Khan
Patna, June 1 (IANS) Jai Ram’s father earns less than Rs.80 a day for eight hours of back-breaking labour, but today his joy is overflowing at his son having cracked the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) exam - thanks to Super 30, an innovative coaching institute here. Jai Ram, who belongs to Other Backward Classes (OBC), secured the 2,421st rank in the general category in the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), and 309th in the OBC category. His father, Shrikishna Nandan Sah, is celebrating his son’s astounding achievement with his friends, relatives and neighbours.

“I never thought the son of an illiterate labourer like me could study in the IIT. The credit goes to his hard work and the help and support he received from Super 30,” said Sah, who works as a labourer in Barhaia in Lakhisarai district, about 160 km from here.

In all, 8,652 candidates passed the exam this year out of the 311,258 who appeared in what is considered one of the most gruelling under-graduate entrance exams. The results were declared Friday.

Jai Ram plans to study computer science or mechanical engineering in IIT and wants to help his family and contribute towards the development of the country.

“IIT will provide me an opportunity to do something for my country,” said Jai Ram, clad in a simple pant-shirt, with slippers on his feet.

Like Jai Ram, there are over a dozen students from backward castes as well as the Scheduled Castes with poor socio- economic backgrounds, who have cracked the IIT.

Deepu Kumar secured the 4,225th rank. His father, Bishwanath Chaurasia, is physically challenged and runs a small shop to earn a living. Similarly, there is Kulesh Kumar, son of Lakshmi Prasad, who runs a small utensil shop in Sitamarhi, and Ranjan Kumar, son of Bindeshwar Yadav, a primary school teacher in Madhubani district.

Jai Ram, Deepu, Kulesh and Ranjan belong to this year’s batch of 30 successful students of Super 30 to have cracked the tough exam. Half the students belong to socially marginalised sections of society.

The success of the students has brought new hope to over a dozen poor families from across Bihar, where nearly half of the 83 million population cannot read or write and nearly 50 percent live below the poverty line.

“It is the first time that the Super 30 achieved 100 percent success, our dream is fulfilled now,” Anand Kumar, 36, the brain behind Super 30, told IANS.

The students admitted that the costly coaching in other institutes, study material and the lack of an environment conducive to studying posed huge obstacles for them before they joined Super 30 last October-November. But Super 30, located inside a small thatched house with fraying wooden benches and creaking tables in a densely populated lower middle class locality here, made their dream come true.

The average private institute that train students for the IIT-JEE demand Rs.40,000-50,000, excluding the cost of study material.

But Super 30 is different. Most of the successful students do not come from any elite English medium school but from Hindi medium institutions or little-known English medium ones.

Over five years ago, when Super 30 took shape, it was housed in a ramshackle yard. But in its very first year in 2003, 18 of the 30 students cracked the IIT entrance test. The number rose to 22 in 2004, 26 in 2005, 28 in 2006, and 28 last year. Among them were children of landless labourers, auto-rickshaw drivers, watch mechanics and construction workers.

Incidentally, Anand Kumar has never been to an IIT himself, but has won praise for his work in mathematics.

Every year Super 30 selects a group of 30 IIT aspirants from poor families and provides them free coaching, food and accommodation.

“The handpicked 30 students are coached rigorously for five months. We conduct about 100 tests and IIT-JEE is the 101st test for them. It becomes easy for them in the process,” Kumar told IANS.

Bihar’s Additional Director-General of Police Abhyanand, who teaches physics at the institute, said: “The success of Super 30 lies in the hard work and proper guidance that fetches excellent results.”

Anand Kumar, who also runs the Ramanujan School of Mathematics, said Super 30 is supported by the income generated from the mathematics school which has students from affluent families who can afford to pay.

He said he decided to begin Super 30 as he himself had been unable to cough up the money needed to finance his higher education when he received admission to Cambridge University in the 1990s. He funded his studies by delivering poppadums made by his mother to shops and homes as his father had died of illness.

There are seven IITs - the ones in Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai, and Roorkee - besides the six new IITs proposed by the central government in the eleventh five- year plan. The new locations are to be in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Orissa, Punjab and Rajasthan. Admissions start this academic year in the new IITs.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at

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