Two dozen students have made it to the coveted IITs from among the 29 trained by Bihar mathematician Anand Kumar’s Super 30 programme, which over the years has changed the lives of hundreds of deprived engineering aspirants in one of India’s poorest states.
Loud cheers rang out at Kumar’s Patna residence where the students had gathered as the results for the IIT-JEE (Advanced), an entrance examination for admission to India’s top engineering schools, were declared on Thursday morning.
Every year, 30 promising students—many of them sons and daughters of rickshaw pullers and vegetable vendors—are picked and trained under the programme with Kumar bearing the expenses himself.
“Their hard work has paid off and Super 30 again proved talent requires nothing but the right encouragement and opportunity to blossom,” the mathematician said.
Engineering remains a preferred career of choice for parents figuring out what they’d like their children to do, while the Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, are regarded as the premier schools of technical education in the country.
“My father, Bhagwan Jha, is a driver in Kolkata. He wanted me to study, but had no resources,” said Neeraj Kumar Jha, one of the success stories. “I also realised this. It was around this time that I got to know of Super 30 and told my father. He brought me here and from then on, things changed.”
Super 30 was reduced to 29 this year as one of its members, Abhishek Gupta, was selected by the University of Tokyo and decided to train in Japanese language instead of preparing for the IIT-JEE (Advanced).
Since its launch in 2002, the programme has helped over 330 students realise their IIT dreams with the aspirants living and eating together under Kumar’s roof for the duration of the training.
“Nobody knew if the other was a Brahmin, Muslim, member of a scheduled caste or from outside Bihar. It was like one family and I hope, apart from education, they carry on with the same spirit in life,” the teacher noted.
Kumar says he dedicated himself to teaching underprivileged students reach their full potential after he was accepted into the prestigious Cambridge University but was unable to attend due to financial reasons.