Nishi Anand with her parents at their Jamshedpur residence on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
One look at Nishi Anand’s curriculum vitae will make anyone do a double take. The Jamshedpur girl topped ICSE in Jharkhand in 2009, went on to become world No. 1 in International Baccalaureate from Singapore in 2011, scored 2400 out of 2400 in her Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) — the gateway to American universities — and has bagged an engineering seat in the University of Cambridge, UK.
The flip side of the success story is that her parents — father B.N. Prasad, the head of the mathematics department of Jamshedpur Cooperative College, and mother Meera, a Hindi teacher in Carmel Junior College — are scouring for funds. They have risked all their assets — fixed deposits, loans from Prasad’s college, provident fund loans, personal savings — to collect Rs 16 lakh for their gifted daughter’s education.
Tragically, it falls far short of Rs 30 lakh per annum, the tuition fee required at Cambridge for the four-year course.
But in a society where female foeticide is practised by even the middle classes, where families are still glum over the birth of a girl child and parents save for their daughter’s marriage with far more enthusiasm than for her studies, the Prasads have proved that exceptions do exist.
The daughter on her part said she was very lucky to have such parents.
“All I can say is that I am fortunate to get parents who can risk everything they have for the higher education of a girl child. I am really very lucky,” she repeated.
She added that she was always encouraged by her family to dream big. She faced absolutely no bias — Nishi has an older brother Kumar Nishat, an engineer from Clemson University, South Carolina — when it came to her education.
“That’s why I am hopeful about things working out. After engineering, I want to do an MBA from Harvard. That’s my ultimate dream,” said the spunky girl.
In the normal course of events, Nishi would have secured the Manmohan Singh Scholarship meant for Indian students in Cambridge. But the scholarship is open only for students who have completed their plus two from India. Nishi has done hers from Global Indian International School (GIIS), Singapore.
But Prasad is undeterred. “My daughter has been a meritorious student from the very beginning. I don’t mind risking all my savings as I trust that Nishi will excel in her career,” said the doting father.
Unfortunately, it is not enough and the Prasads will have to seek help from corporate firms and other NGOs.
Nishi, who has also applied for a berth in some prestigious universities in the US, whose results will be out by March, however confessed she was uncomfortable that their parents were risking everything for her future.
“They want the best for me, but I also want the best for them,” she said.