Opportunity knocked at his door last year in the shape of an offer from the London School of Economics. But financial constraints forced Chinmaya Kumar to turn it down.
Things, however, have changed this year. Kumar is no longer on the wrong side of luck. On Saturday, he — a student of Kirori Mal College — along with Kritika Bhattacharjee of St. Stephen’s College secured two out of the five prestigious Rhodes Scholarships on offer for 2009.
Selected from 550 applicants from across the country, Kumar and Bhattacharjee will now join the University of Oxford during its fall term, starting October 2009. While the former has received the award to pursue M Phil in Development Studies, the latter has chosen to get a second graduate degree in History.
In fact, Delhi students were stiff competition for the rest during the final interview round conducted by a seven-member panel headed by Chief Mentor Infosys N.R. Narayana Murthy on Saturday. Eight out of the 19 shortlisted candidates were Delhi University students, including six St. Stephen’s students.
While Bhattacharjee is now the torch bearer of St. Stephen’s strong tradition of producing Rhodes scholars like Planning Commission Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Kumar’s journey from a nondescript hamlet to becoming a Rhodes scholar sure makes for an inspiring narrative.
Hailing from small village called Sutihara in Bihar’s Sitamani district, Kumar completed his BA in Economics from Kirori Mal College this year. “Kumar is an unusual young candidate. Despite hailing from a relatively small place, he has done well during his three years in Delhi. I was amazed by the amount of reading that he has done,” said Professor VS Chauhan, Indian Secretary, The Rhodes Trust.
Sushila Rao of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Rakesh Sharma of St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, and Dhvani Mehta of Government Law College, Mumbai, have bagged the other three scholarships.