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JEE Advanced 2017: Egged on by sister, boy from Mumbai slum cracks the test

Mumbai city news: Masoom Siddiqui , who secured an all-India rank of 2,593, is a son of zari embroidery artiste who earns Rs8,000 a month

mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2017 11:44 IST
Musab Qazi
Masoom Siddiqui with his sister and parents.
Masoom Siddiqui with his sister and parents. (HT photo )

As a student at St Andrew's School in Bandra, Masoom Siddiqui had only one passion: cricket. He would play the sport day in and day out, often at the expense of the academics. He represented his school in various under-16 cricket tournaments but ended up failing his class 10 prelims examination. Little did Masoom know that two years later he would crack Joint Entrance Examination Advanced (JEE Adv). 

It wasn't an easy ride for the 17-year-old from Rajiv Nagar -. a slum locality in Bandra. Son of a Zari embroidery artisan with an average monthly salary of Rs 8,000, Masoom didn't have the means to prepare for the examination. But thanks to Rahmani30, a JEE coaching initiative that trains students from Muslim community for the entrance examination free-of-cost, he was ranked 2,593 at all Indian level in JEE Adv. 

Of around 12 lakh students who had appeared for JEE Mains examination - which serves as the gateway for admission in engineering colleges - around 1.72 lakh students qualified for JEE Adv. Of these 50,455 students have been selected for admission in 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). 

Masoom gives the credit to his elder sister Tarranum. "In school, I had only cricket on my mind. But when I failed the prelims examination, my sister pushed towards academics. As a result, I cleared the class 10 examination with 78% marks. At that time, I didn't know anything about IITs. She's the one who persuaded me to appear for JEE," he said. 

Masoom and Tarannum explored various coaching classes offering training for the entrance test, but were put off by high fees. When Tarannum learnt about Rahmani30, she made Masoom take the entrance test for the coaching initiative. Although he failed the test, the sister successfully persuaded officials from Anjuman-i-Islam, a city-based trust that is funding and running the project in the city, to accept his brother. 

When asked why she had such a confidence in Masoom, Tarannum said, "He was very good at by-hearting. He would learn the concepts quickly, whenever I taught him." 

Although he had plans to play cricket professionally, Masoom had to abandon his sporting dreams in order to concentrate on JEE preparations. For two years, he stayed at Sobani Hostel in Anjuman-i-Islam campus opposite Chhhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). "As my interest in academics grew, I moved away from cricket," said Masoom. He now wants to pursue Mechanical Engineering preferably at IIT Bombay. 

Masoom is not the only one from Rahmani30's Mumbai chapter to qualify for admission. Of the 23 students who received training 18 students cleared JEE Mains, of which 11 students cracked JEE Adv. 

Zaheer Kazi, president, Anjuman-i-Islam, said that most of these students are from poor and middle-class households. "We were not expecting such a high success rate, as the project is still in pilot phase. It proves that there's tremendous talent among have-nots," he said.