Australia to Araria, engineering a dream college

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  • Published 6.07.13
Amit Kumar Das

Years ago he left Bihar, his dream of becoming an engineer shattered. Later this month he will give his Araria district a Rs 120 crore gift — an engineering college.

Bihar boy Amit Kumar Das, 31, toiled endlessly to reach the top. He is now chairman of Sydney-based ISOFT software technologies, with annual turnover of Rs 150 crore. But he has not forgotten his roots. “I hail from a small village called Mirdaul in Narpatganj block of Araria district’s Forbesganj, 300 km east of Patna. I put in a lot of work and struggle. But, the Bihari in me is alive.

“I always wanted to give something back to my state and it had to be in education. In 2010, I laid the foundation stone of an engineering college here. Biada helped me get 18 acres. I was advised to look for land in Patna or Bihta, but I refused. Araria, the district I was born in, is quite backward, so I decided to build it there. The Moti Babu Institute of Technology (MBIT), named after my father who passed away in 2009, will be inaugurated this month,” Das told The Telegraph.

Das went to government schools in Supaul and Saharsa districts before completing his intermediate in science from A.N College in Patna. Till 1997, he didn’t know a word of English.

“I wanted to do something on my own. I wanted to be an engineer but my family could not afford that. So, I thought about fishery. But I was told one needs at least Rs 25,000 to begin. Someone suggested I go to Delhi and try for a computer operator’s job... it would fetch me Rs 3,000 a month. My father was against it but I pleaded with him. With Rs 250 I borrowed from him, I landed in Delhi and went to the office of a private computer training centre (NIIT).

“There, I looked blank when the lady at the reception asked me, ‘When did you come?’ I’d no clue what she was saying. The lady told me I need to know English. I was refused admission,” Das said.

Seeing him so dejected on a DTC bus, a co-passenger asked him why. Told the reason, he asked me join an english speaking course. “I joined the Delhi-based British School of Language for three months. On completion, I went back to NIIT and got admission into a six-month course. I topped the course and got a chance to do a three-year programme. I then took admission into a BA correspondence course. NIIT recruited me as faculty at Rs 500. By 2002, my salary had risen to Rs 1,500.

“I was offered to go to England for a project but declined. I wanted to do something on my own.” He took a 10 by 10 feet space in Delhi’s Bharat Nagar and started his own software company. For months there were no projects. “So, I used to teach Jamia Millia Islamia students till 8 pm and then make softwares till 3 am. Small projects began coming my way and my first job (order) was worth Rs 5,000,” he said. Unable to afford laptops, Das would carry CPUs in public buses to show softwares to his clients. “I cleared the Microsoft professional examination. During this time, I developed and patented a software named ERSys.”

In 2006, Das went to attend a software fair in Australia. In 2008, he shifted to Sydney to start his own company. “In 2010, I participated in the Bihar NRI meet and got this idea to do something for Bihar. We’ve been able to rope in a number of national and international agencies to set up MBIT, a state-of-the-art institution having academic alliance with the NSW Technical and Further Education Commission, known as TAFE NSW,” Das said.

Bihar can expect more gifts. “If this project succeeds, we plan a Matribhumi Project under which we’ll come up with a multi-specialty hospital,” Das told The Telegraph.