Naveen, son of a hamali in the backward Raichur district, battled great odds to emerge as the topper in the State in the II Pre-University exam in the arts stream.
A Kannada medium student of Infant Jesus Pre-University College, Raichur, he has scored 574 out of 600. He has secured 98 in Kannada, 92 in English, 95 in Economics, 94 in Sociology, 95 in Political Science and 100 in History.
Rajak Ustad, a Chemistry lecturer at SLN Engineering College and leader of Jana Sangram Parishat, said Naveen had brought fame to the Hyderabad Karnataka region. “Toppers are usually from Udupi, Mangalore, Bangalore, Mysore or other cities. For the first time, Raichur has got the fame thanks to Naveen, who belongs to a marginalised section of society,” Dr. Ustad told The Hindu on Thursday.
Naveen hails from Talamari, a remote village in Raichur taluk, which was almost washed away in the 2009 floods. His family owns an acre of dry land. Since the family finds it almost impossible to sustain with the income from the small piece of land, Naveen’s father, Venkatesh, works as a hamali and his mother, Divya, works as an agricultural labour on daily wages. His parents are non-literates.
“When I told my father over the phone that I have scored 95.66 per cent, he did not fully comprehend what I meant. He just thought that I must have performed a little better than my friends in the college and hostel. He understood that I have achieved something remarkable only after I explained him that I had topped the entire State in the arts stream,” Naveen said.
His parents had told him to discontinue his studies after SSLC and support them. Naveen, who had passed SSLC with 85 per cent, somehow managed to get admission I PUC with the help of his cousin Veeresh and Khaleed, a chemistry lecturer at Infant Jesus Pre-University College, who also hails from Talamari.
“We somehow convinced his parents and got him admitted to my college. Considering his poor economic background, the college offered him concession in fee. And as he was a meritorious student, he got accommodation in the Backward Classes and Minority (BCM) Hostel being run by the government,” Mr. Khaleed said.
Naveen is proud of having studied well despite living in the hostel where there were innumerable problems such as overcrowded rooms, poor quality food, lack of study material, unhygienic premises, mosquitoes and frequent power cuts.
“The study environment, however, was good as most of the hardworking and poor students at the hostel had taken studies seriously. I exploited the college library to the maximum apart from borrowing study material from friends,” he said.
Naveen, who had initially joined the science stream, switched to arts within 15 days as he found it difficult to understand the topics that were taught in English.
Now, having scored 92 in English, he said, “I want to study English in under-graduation and post-graduation and become a lecturer so that I can teach the language to rural students.” He thanked all those who stood behind him in his academic pursuit.