Bihar centre for poor IIT aspirants impresses Obama envoy

August 8th, 2010 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Patna, Aug 8 (IANS) Rashad Hussain, son of an Indian migrant couple from Bihar who is US special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Sunday visited Bihar’s free coaching centre here for poor students aspiring for an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) berth.
After visiting Super 30, a free coaching centre that helps economically backward students crack the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), he said that President Barack Obama will also love to see the institute.

“Super 30 was a big initiative to bring about change. Once I get back to the US, I will tell President Barack Obama about the school. I am really touched to see the institute that has done so well over the years,” Hussain told IANS.

Hussain met Anand Kumar, the institute’s director and founder, his team as well as the successful students of Super 30 and the Ramanujam School of Mathematics.

“I am proud to be with the distinguished group of brilliant students. President Obama will also love to see the institute,” he said, when a student asked him if the US president would visit Super 30.

He said that during his India visit, he enjoyed being at Super 30 the most. “My father is from Bihar. I went to Dariapur, a middle class locality in Patna, in the morning to meet my family members.”

“Here at Super 30, I am amazed by the environment. This underlines how an individual like Anand can make a big difference. I hope all the students here will be like Anand,” Hussain said.

Hussain took questions from students and answered freely. He said change did not mean change in government. “Change comes through education,” he said.

He was accompanied by Clinton Brown, consul for political-economic affairs at the US consulate in Kolkata.

Anand Kumar said that he was happy that Obama’s special envoy was impressed by Super 30.

“Their visit will inspire the students. And more importantly, it will take a positive message about Bihar forward,” he added.

Brown, who had earlier visited Super 30 a couple of days ago, asked the students if they would like the US president to be told about Super 30. The excited students replied in affirmative.

Earlier, several dignitaries have visited Super 30, which was recently featured by the Time magazine as the “Best school in Asia”.

In the last eight years, the novel initiative has helped 212 students clear the IIT-JEE. For the last three years, all the 30 students in the annual intake of the institute have made it to an IIT, drawing worldwide attention.

The Discovery Channel made an hour-long documentary on the institute while a film made on it by Christopher Michel went on to win an award in the US. Two Japanese channels also made films on Super 30.

Anand Kumar, who himself missed a chance to study at Cambridge because he didn’t have enough money, gives full scholarships, including travel and stay, to every student of the batch of 30.

The students have to clear a competitive test to get into Super 30 and then they commit themselves to a year of 16-hour study each day.

Since 2003, of a total 210 students, 182 have made it to the IITs.

“The project has even won the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who met Anand Kumar in February to hear about his plans to launch a national programme for talented rural children. In a country that has struggled to offer those students even basic education, Super 30 is an example of what’s possible when human potential is tapped,” the Time magazine said.

Hussain, both a Quran scholar and an ardent North Carolina Tar Heels basketball fan, is charged with helping to bridge the cultural divide in US relations with Muslims inside and outside America’s borders as part of Obama’s new approach to engage the Islamic world. India has the world’s second largest Muslim population after Indonesia.

Hussain’s father, a mining engineer, moved from Bihar to Wyoming in the late 1960s. A few years later, during a visit to India, he married Hussain’s mother, now an obstetrician in Plano.

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