Dasari Pradeep Kumar, the son of a cobbler in coastal Andhra Pradesh, has finally joined IIT-Chennai.
Last week it had seemed that his struggles — against social stigma, poverty and the patronising attitude of his classmates, which he successfully banished by cracking the toughest engineering entrance examination in the country — were all in vain. Pradeep was on the verge of dropping out of IIT-Chennai because he did not even have the money to travel to Chennai.
The Khandrigagudem slum colony, where he had lived with his parents in a one-room house, erupted with joy on hearing that one of their boys had broken into the hallowed portals of an IIT. But the joy soon turned into sorrow when it dawned on everyone that the family had no money to fund his education.
The boy's plight came to light at a felicitation function for meritorious students organised by West Godavari District Collector G Jayalakshmi. She promptly sanctioned Rs 13,000 from the education fund and a local businessmen chipped in with Rs 5,000 to enable Pradeep to travel to Chennai to complete his admission formalities.
As a member of the Scheduled Caste community, Pradeep will get a scholarship for the entire course but that may not suffice. He will need to buy books and other study material.
After HT reported the story, several organisations and individuals came forward to help the boy.
G Nookayya Setty of Sakinaka, Mumbai sent a cheque for Rs 7,000 for his books.
Vijaya Narayanan, an NRI based in the US offered assistance and wanted HT to help contact the family.
The Foundation for Academic Excellence and Access, a New Delhi-based organisation, joined those wishing to help Pradeep.
Jayalakshmi's office told HT it had received cash and cheques amounting to Rs 16,500 from various people over the past four days. The State Bank of India has offered Pradeep an education loan of upto Rs 4 lakh.
Pradeep’s father Dasari Divi Raju said in Eluru after dropping his son in Chennai, “Had it not been for HT and other media organisations highlighting my son’s case, he would never have fulfilled his ambition of studying in an IIT.”