The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teacher & officer work IIT magic

Patna, June 16: Suresh Ram’s father works as a construction labourer. Anupam Kumar’s father drives an auto-rickshaw.

Today, the two fathers can sit back and smile in between their daily grind. Both the boys have cleared the IIT entrance test. It would not have been possible but for two dedicated men ' a mathematics teacher and a police officer of the rank of inspector-general.

Anant Kumar and Abhayanand coached the two boys and 28 others of the third “Super-30” batch of poor rural students and prepared them over nine months for the gruelling tests. Only four failed to make it to the coveted list.

The first two batches sent 38 candidates to IITs across the country.

For the 35-year-old teacher, it is a challenge ' not to let poverty come in the way of talent, as it did when he was a student with dreams of going abroad. So he started the batch of 30 and, along with Abhayanand who teaches physics, began giving free lessons to the brainy but poor students selected after a written test and an interview. “I need about Rs 3.5-4 lakh a year to train these kids,” says Anant Kumar.

The money comes from the Ramanujam Society of Mathematics that he founded. “With the money from the coaching, I take care of the academic expenses of the 30 as well as their boarding and lodging,” he says.

The two men take classes in a thatched shed in Anant’s house. “There is no dearth of talent, especially in mathematics, in rural Bihar. We need to tap them and give them the opportunity and the proper environment,” says Abhayanand, who was the Patna zonal IG before he was recently transferred to a less significant posting.

“He is an able officer, sincere and committed,” says an officer of the rank of superintendent about Abhayanand, who is about 50. “He also feels for the weaker sections. That, perhaps, explains why most of his career he has been shunted to less significant posts.”

For Anant Kumar, the lessons he has learnt have made him what he is today. Selected to study at Cambridge and Sheffield University in the US, he gave up the idea of going abroad after failing to rustle up the money needed. All those politicians he thought would lend a helping hand failed him when he needed their support the most after his father suddenly died.

He has not forgotten his struggle, how he continued his studies by selling the papads his mother used to make. “A strong will and support from a few good people can help you achieve your goal,” he says. But the one lesson he has passed on to the 800 who have enrolled in his institute is: “Don’t expect politicians to come to your assistance.”

The students worship their teachers. “I don’t know how to thank god,” says Priyanshu, whose father is a watch mechanic.

Suresh, Anupam and a few others turned up at the institute with sweets this afternoon. The glow on their faces said it all.

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