Patna: In a land where the curse of caste has often impaired the progress of the downtrodden, the story of Anand Kumar's “Super- 30” students cracking the IIT JEE is more than just a ‘feel-good' Hollywood script with contrived plots and composite heroes.
In the news recently for its inclusion in Time Magazine's “Best of 2010 Asia” list, the personal tribulations of the institute's students - often children of marginal farmers and landless labourers - reveal a larger, determined struggle to usher in a semblance of democracy within Bihar's jaundiced education system.
“This year, more than 20 students who made the cut-off were from the backward classes,” says Mr. Kumar, who, along with his mother, once used to sell papads in the streets of Patna following the untimely death of his father.
For Anand Kumar and his dedicated team of teachers, the purpose behind setting up the “Super 30” goes beyond merely helping needy students secure a chance to have a go at the IIT-JEE.
It is a mission of social transformation – one aimed at subtly hacking away the fundamentals of Bihar's repressive caste system.
For instance, take the case of Anand Kishore, who secured an AIR of 1190, clearing the exam in his second attempt. He is the son of a landless labourer while his mother works as a maid. Dire poverty forced him to sell vegetables to support his family. Buoyed by his remarkable achievement, he now dreams of cracking the Civil Services and becoming an IAS officer.
“It will take us a long time to shake of this deeply entrenched feudal mentality,” opines Mr. Kumar. “It causes great discomfiture to the elite ruling classes when they see sons of toddy sellers and stone cutters crack the IIT- JEE.”
In 2003, a year after the inception of the institute, 18 students cracked the exam while the rest made it to the regional engineering colleges. The following year saw 22 students clearing the exam. Since then, there has been no looking back with all 30 students making it to the country's most prestigious institutions for three years in a row.
To expand his students' thinking skills within a relatively short time-frame, he uses innovative teaching methods loaded with socially conscious examples that instill a do-or-die spirit in the students.
“We plan to increase the intake this year to 60 . Our aim is to find someone who is poor, but has the talent to deliver,” says Mr. Kumar.