Santosh Ram in Dhanbad. Picture by Gautam Dey
Frail + short + poor + unflagging energy = grand success.
This equation isn’t found in any chartered accountancy (CA) textbook, but this is what Dhanbad’s Santosh Ram (26) swears by.
Two months after CA national final exam results were declared in January, the son of a construction labourer, who topped among all Hindi-medium examinees of Dhanbad with 52.6 per cent marks, is now a consultant operating out of home.
This year’s national CA topper — Mumbai’s Prema Jayakumar (24), who clocked 75.88 per cent — is also an auto rickshaw driver’s daughter.
Santosh, a resident of Bishunpur area of Dhanbad, also worked at a book binding shop and tutored other children to partly sponsor his studies.
As a student of Zilla School Dhanbad in Class VIII, the then 14-year-old was keenly aware there wasn’t enough money at home. So he started working at a book binding shop. “I got Rs 10 for binding a book. Sometimes, if the book I was binding was useful to me, I spent extra hours in the shop to jot down important paragraphs. My friends Mukesh and Sudhir also helped me with books,” said Ram.
He passed matriculation in 2001 with 57 per cent only to face a stiffer test.
Father Arjun Singh met with an accident at the construction site. His ailing father and relatives asked him to stop studies and join his elder brothers Premchand and Sudhir in construction work.
“That’s when my mother Premlata Devi stepped in. She decided she would work as a maid to support my education. Thanks to my mother, who is illiterate herself, I joined intermediate commerce at PK Roy Memorial College,” he said.
He got 57 per cent in intermediate in 2003 and went ahead to do his graduation, increasing the circle of his private tuition along the way and earning a decent Rs 5,000-Rs 7,000 ever month.
“I visited homes to offer tuitions as my small mud house wasn’t a suitable venue for teaching. I studied only at night. I was up all day, busy for probably 18-20 hours out of the 24. But in 2007, when I cleared my graduation with 62 per cent marks, I found the courage to dream big,” said Santosh.
He was on his way to proving the adage that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
He cleared the first group of CA intermediate exams in November 2007 in his first attempt with 52 per cent and the second in 2008 with 50.6 per cent.
That’s when he started his articleship at DN Dokania and Associates, Dhanbad, which continued for two years. “I could finally afford my own tuition for the final CA exam, which the whole world knows is very, very tough,” Santosh smiled. “I failed twice in November 2011 and in May 2012. It was worrying, but my mother, brother Pradip, teachers B. Jagdish Rao and Sanjay Sinha and friends stood by me,” he said.
CA is a high-paying career. As a consultant, he’ll save money for his sister Soni’s married. “Family is number one,” the number cruncher smiled.