Grit, tenacity take tribesman to IIM

R. Ranjith (centre), who has been appointed as Assistant Professor in IIM, Ranchi, with members of his family.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A few months ago, R. Ranjith was a name that hardly anyone knew. But this 28-year-old man, belonging to a Scheduled Tribe, has become an overnight sensation. People now look at him with admiration and he inspires many with his story.

It all began with his post in the social media which has gone viral. The picture of his small unplastered house, a tiled roof covered with a tarpaulin to prevent rain water leaking and a message that it was where his journey to becoming an Assistant Professor in the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi, began was well received by people.

The post was widely shared and he was flooded with messages congratulating him on his grit and determination to achieve his dream. CPI(M) leader and Finance Minister Thomas Isaac shared the post and congratulated him on his feat.

For Mr. Ranjith, however, the journey was never a cakewalk. He was born into a poor family. His father, Ramachandran Naik, is a tailor and his mother R. Baby is a daily wage labourer. After completing his Class 10 education at the government-run Model Residential School for Boys in Pillicode in the district, his love for the subject of economics grew during his higher secondary education in a government school at Balanthode. Later, he graduated in the subject from St. Pius X College, Rajapuram.

“Those days were never easy, as I had to shuffle between duty as a watchman at the BSNL exchange in the evening and pursue my education in the morning. There was hardly any time to rest. But it was the difficulties in the house that kept me going,” he recalled.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said that after his post-graduation from the Central University of Kerala, things changed for him when he joined IIT Chennai, for his PhD programme. “It was altogether a different world. I was unable to communicate with the people for lack of fluency in English and it was difficult to adjust to the new environment,” he said. But, his guide Subash Sasidharan and his wife, Vaidehi, both faculty members at the IIT, kept him motivated to pursue his research.

He completed his research on “Special distribution of FDI and industrial agglomeration in India” before the stipulated period, which helped him to get a six-month pre-doctoral fellowship.

No reservation roster

It was during this period that he applied for the vacancy in the economics department in Calicut University. He said that this was a huge moment of disappointment him. Despite qualifying for the post in the department which had four vacant posts, he did not receive the appointment letter. To add to the feeling of injustice, the appointments were in the university were made without publishing the rank list. The reservation roster was also not released. This was highly controversial and it made headlines in the media. Many qualified scholars such as Mr. Ranjith were not given appointments. Mr. Ranjith said that in an academic institution, eligible candidates should be given the job without any discrimination on the basis of religion or caste since they would be responsible for training a new generation of students.

The loss for the Calicut University turned out to be a gain for the IIM, Ranchi, where he will be joining soon.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 4:21:25 AM |

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