Craze for Bihar's Super 30, an innovative free coaching centre for IIT joint entrance examination, is such that thousands of students drawn from different parts of Bihar ignored 'Bharat bandh' and appeared for its entrance test in Patna on Thursday.
Sunil Mayank, a native of Paliganj, about 30 km from Patna, had to walk a fair distance before he could get lift on a cycle to reach the centre. "I had filled up the form long back and did not want to lose this opportunity. I want to prepare for IIT-JEE," he said, hurriedly glancing through the notice board to search for his roll number.
Another student, Amarjeet, a differently abled boy, came with his father from Gorakhpur in UP. "I have to overcome my disability at any cost. I am poor and I know Super 30 is only way I can do it," he said.
Saqib Ansari, who hails from neighbouring Vaishali district, managed to reach just in the nick of time. "My father dropped me, taking a circuitous route, as many intersections were blocked," he added.
While the state elsewhere was in the grip of bandh, the school was hustling with activity. It was sheer hunger for quality education that brought thousands of students to the examination centre.
Rajesh Singh and Manoj Rai were lucky to make it to entrance test of Super 30 thanks to a timely help from a police jeep. "We lost all hope after reaching near Patna on Thursday morning, about 8 am. There was no vehicle available due to the shutdown. We were desperate not to miss the entrance test, we approached a police vehicle for lift and it clicked," Singh, a native of Muzaffarpur, said.
There were students like Sunny Sinha, who started early from Jehanabad, another neighbouring district, to reach the centre in Patna.
Founder of Super 30 Anand, who was supervising the examination, said that the date of the exam had been announced quite early and it was not possible to cancel it at the last moment. "I am thankful that the bandh supporters did not create any trouble at the centre, which shows their sensitivity. It is sheer hunger of education that made these students reach here despite bandh and scorching heat," he added.
At the centre, there were boys and girls, along with parents since morning. "My daughter was particular about Super 30 examination. She had aimed for it soon after her class 10 results were announced. The bandh did not create some trouble in reaching here, but now we are all relaxed. Hopefully, she will be through," said Kamla Sinha.
Arvind said that he had to wait at Patna station the whole night before walking up to the centre. "I, along with my two friends from Jehanabad, came on Wednesday itself. Today, we reached the centre well before time. Thankfully, the roads were deserted, but there was no problem at the centre," he said. He came from Arwal, about 70 km from Patna.
Super 30, which helps economically backward youngsters crack the IIT-JEE, saw 27 of their 30 students clear the competitive exam this year. Last year, 24 out of 30 qualified.
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 television channels Discovery and Al Jazeera, among others.
Anand set up Super 30 over a decade ago to provide absolutely free residential coaching to 30 talented students from poor families.
Image: Bharat Bandh couldn't prevent thousands of IIT aspirants from appearing for Super 30 entrance exam, in Patna on Thursday