In this era of competition, academic education is not enough. One has to put some extra effort and prepare systematically for competitive exams. For this purpose, there are many coaching institutes who take care of these needs. However, in the country, such institutes are mostly run for monetary benefits other than to get students ready for competitive fields. Because of the hefty fees of such institutes, students from poor sections are unable to afford their service. Owing to this, most of the bright candidates from poor communities are not able to crack competitive exams.
Nonetheless, if the government is unable to provide enough for such students, there are individual efforts to offer professional coaching to needy students so that they could shine in their respective areas. One such marvelous initiative has been set up by Anand Kumar of Bihar. A published mathematician, Anand Kumar runs a Super 30 program, through which he tutors financially backward students for the entrance examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology. Started in 2002, more than 350 of his students have made it to IITs. The spectacular success of his work has made him quite famous, and Discovery Channel has broadcasted even a documentary on his work. He has been invited by the prestigious institutes around the world to speak on his acclaimed endeavor to mentor students from the deprived sections for admission to IIT.
On 1st January 1973, Anand was born to a humble family in the Patna district of Bihar. His father served as a clerk in the postal department. Due to his low income, his father could not afford private schooling for his kids, and Anand studied in a govt-run Hindi medium school. From the very early days of academic life, Anand developed an interest in Mathematics. During his graduation, he even submitted papers on the subject, which were published in a Mathematical Gazette.
Afterward, Anand secured his birth to study in Cambridge. But the untimely death of his father and the subsequent financial crisis could not let him attend the grand institution.
Kumar used to work on Mathematics during day time and help his mother in selling papads in evenings with his mother. He also taught Mathematics to earn extra money. Since Patna University library did not have international journals, Anand would travel every weekend on a six-hour train journey to Varanasi for his study. There he used to spend his time at the Central Library, BHU.
The inception of Super 30
In the early 90s, Anand began teaching Mathematics. He rented a room for Rs. 500/month and started his institute, the Ramanujan School of Mathematics, named after the great Indian Mathematician. Within a year, his class grew above 30 students, and after more couple of years, there were almost 500 pupils enrolled.
Later, in early 2000, a poor student came to him to seek coaching classes for IIT-JEE, who couldn’t pay the annual admission fee due to utmost poverty. This stirred the heart of Kumar, and he was motivated to start a program that would provide for such candidates. And, sooner he started Super 30, the special program to coach students for the pre-IIT test.
So from then, every year in May, Anand’s Institute holds a test to select 30 students for the ‘Super 30’ scheme. Many students take up the test, and only thirty qualified students from economically backward sections are selected. Anand tutors them and provides study materials and accommodation for a year. His mother cooks for the students, and his brother Pranav Kumar takes care of the management.
Between 2003-2014, more than 300 students out of 360 have made it to the IITs. In 2010, all the students of Super 30 cleared IIT JEE entrance making it a three in a row for the institution. Anand Kumar gets no financial aid from any government as well as private agencies and manages on whatever he earns from his institute. After the remarkable success of Super 30, he got many offers from the private as well as the government sector for monetary help, but he always refused them. He wanted to sustain Super 30 on his own. Anand Kumar does not take donations. The fund is mainly created by his team by organizing tuitions in Patna.
Recognition and Accolades
Anand Kumar’s enterprise has garnered him enough applause around the globe. In 2009, Discovery Channel programmed a show on Super 30, alongside an article celebrating Kumar’misson by The New York Times. Even, the former Miss Japan Norika Fujiwara came to Patna to make a documentary film on Anand’s journey. Kumar has also appeared in BBC shows. He has been invited by reputed institutions, both national and international, to his experiences with their students. He has received many honors from governments of other countries.
For his contribution in helping underprivileged students pass the IIT-JEE by providing them free coaching, Kumar was included in the Limca Book of Records (2009). In 2010’s list of Best of Asia, Time Magazine selected Anand’s school – Super 30.
His Super 30 was praised by the then US President Barack Obama’s special emissary Rashad Hussain. Newsweek Magazine has included Anand’s school in the list of most innovative schools. In 2011, the European magazine Focus noted Anand Kumar for his ‘ability to shape exceptionally talented people’. The UK-based magazine Monocle has selected Kumar among 20 pioneering teachers of the world.
Anand received the S. Ramanujan Award in 2010 from the Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences. In 2010, Anand Kumar was awarded the “Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Shiksha Puraskar” by the state government. He was also honored with the Prof Yashwantrao Kelkar Yuva Puraskar 2010 by ABVP, a BJP youth wing. Bank of Baroda has also awarded Anand Kumar with the Baroda Sun Life Achievement Award. Anand was conferred Honorary Dsc by Karpagam University, Coimbatore. Madhya Pradesh government also honored him for his extraordinary contribution to education.
The Canada-based psychiatrist Biju Mathew has authored the biography of Anand Kumar. Also, many people from Bollywood are interested in making a movie on the life of Anand Kumar. Even, a biopic on Anand has been announced. It will be produced by Priti Sinha and directed by Vikas Bahl.
An ideal teacher and educator
Despite gaining so much reputation, Anand is not distracted from his firm mission to provide for deprived students. He is working harder to expand his Super 30 so that more students can be admitted and mentored to achieve their goals in life. With an established institute like that, anyone would earn hundreds of thousands. But Anand lives up to the high ideals of education and refuses to commercialize it.
In the time of sheer necessity to provide for innovative initiatives so that ambitious individuals could make their career, the inception of Anand Kumar is a most groundbreaking one. The government should take inspiration from it and set up such institutions for economically backward communities so that the process of upliftment is triggered. Also, we as individuals should follow the example of Anand Kumar and do something likewise so that the poor students are not left behind and are provided enough academic as well as career-wise education.