Ushering the children of mechanics and labourers into IIT
Students from poor families, including those who work as truck mechanics, marginal farmers, daily-wage labourers and vendors, have cracked the prestigious IIT-JEE this year thanks to Bihar's Super 30, an innovative free coaching centre.
Twenty seven of their 30 students made it to IIT-JEE' last year, 24 of 30 qualified.
"My father is a security guard in Kolkata. When I gave him the news he was extremely happy, although he does not quite understand what it means," said Biswajit Bahera, adding that his stay at the Super 30 hostel and 'Anand Sir' (Super 30 founder Anant Kumar) and his team infused a lot of confidence in him.
"Anand Sir not only taught math, he also kept motivating us at every step. He made us understand our strengths and weaknesses and then helped us overcome the latter," he said after he shared sweets with Anand here on Friday morning.
And so mathematician Anand Kumar's Super 30 continues with its amazing record.
"What is special about it is the fact that it has underlined how, with proper opportunity, students from poor families can also reach the prestigious IIT," a smiling Anand told rediff.com.
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Image: Biswajit Bahera
'When Anand Sir teaches, it is like music'
Another student, Sumit Kumar Gupta was on cloud nine after seeing his result.
"I got to know of Super 30 through a newspaper. I came to Patna and took the test. Luckily, I made it to Super 30 and that changed the course for me. Else, with meagre income from Father's grocer shop, I would not have been able to continue my studies. At Super 30, there was no botheration, as I did not have to pay for anything. Plus, there was quality teaching," said Gupta.
Sumit explained how two of his brothers could not continue their studies due to financial hardship.
"I want to go for UPSC after B.Tech. I have seen how Anand Sir is making a difference to so many poor students, who don't even have proper schooling. His style of teaching is distinct. I also want to do something for society," he added.
Shailesh Kumar felt that being at Super 30 under the guidance of Anand and his team was a big factor.
"At Super 30, it is only education that matters. Even in the hostel, the peer group helps. We sit, eat and sleep together, solving problems."
When Anand Sir teaches, it is like music," he continued. "As most of the students are from poor backgrounds, they put in all their effort, which gives birth to healthy competition."
Shailesh's father owns less than two bigha of land for farming. It is a very difficult task for him to meet the needs of his family -- sometimes he's slept without a meal.
Image: Anand Kumar is offered sweets by his students
'We slept in front of the stall, as we did not have a house'
Diwakar Kumar hails from a village in the Munger district of Bihar, where his father runs a small mechanics stall.
"We slept in front of the stall, as we did not have a house. But today, when I told my father that I had made it to the IIT, he was extremely happy. Instead of me, he started blessing Anand Sir first for making it happen. He is truly remarkable."
Diwakar added that the atmosphere at Super 30 was such that everyone felt encouraged to give more than 100 percent.
"As soon as I told my father about my success, he was extremely happy. But he often said ITI, instead of IIT! He is a truck mechanic and never knew anything about it until I started preparing for the IIT. He did not have enough money, but I read about Super 30 and came here to take the entrance test. Once I qualified and stayed here, I felt I could do it," he said.
Image: Diwakar Kumar
'Till a couple of years ago, I did not know if I could clear even Class XII'
The daughter of a cooperative office clerk, Megha is one of the two girls in Super 30 this year and said that it was her father's dream to see her into IIT.
"He bore with a lot of pain and sacrificed everything for us. After my BTech, I would like to take up a good job to sustain my family, which has sustained me for so long," she said, adding, "It was my sheer luck that I could reach Super 30, where money was no concern. After all, where else can one get quality teaching from people like Anand Sir and that too, without spending money? In fact, Anand Sir ends up spending quite a lot on us."
There are many others like Megha, who are overwhelmed with their success.
"I want to be a scientist. Till a couple of years ago, I did not know if I could clear even Class XII, as my unemployed father had a tough time sustaining the family. At Super 30, Anand Sir taught us to dream. Our lives are enriched not only through his teaching, but also through how he himself has faced stiff odds," said Neelabh Srivastav.
The Super 30 record so far: 263 students in IIT
Having experienced acute poverty in his student days, which prevented him from attending Cambridge University for a higher education, Anand set up Super 30 over a decade ago to provide absolutely free residential coaching to 30 talented students from poor families.
So far, 263 students from Super 30 have made it to the IIT, bringing global recognition to Anand and Bihar. Publications like Time, Newsweek and The Monocle have covered the Super 30 success story, as well as TV channels Discovery and Al Jajeera, among others.
Film director Anurag Basu has also announced that he will be making a film on Anand's life and his pioneering initiative.
Image: Anand Kumar in his class
Photographs: Careers 360