off the record

All for a  common cause 

After Discovery channel, CCTV from China and Japan’s NHK channel featured the rare success of Anand Kumar of Super 30, who offers free coaching to poor students and helps them crack the prestigious IIT entrance examination, it’s the turn of home-grown researchers to understand how his untiring efforts have ushered in a silent revolution among underprivileged sections.

In her bid to get a first-hand account of this initiative, a research scholar from Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) Mini Narayanan, 41, was in Patna recently to meet Anand and his students. Incidentally, this was the time when 28 out of 30 students from Super 30 cracked the joint entrance examination (JEE) of the IIT, a sort of record Anand has created in the last one decade.

Mini spent hours talking to students drawn from different backgrounds, their passion and the reaction of their families.

Of the 28 successful students, one was the son of a road-side vendor, the other was the son of a daily wage labourer. One successful candidate’s father was a magazine vendor, while still another was the son of a linesman in telephone department.

All these students from poor families had passed a competitive test conducted by Anand before getting into the Super 30. 

“In my class, no one knows who is Brahmin or a Muslim or a Dalit? All they know is that they have come here for a common cause, which they together championed and achieved, overcoming severe odds,” he informed the research scholar.

Abhay Kumar, Patna


Conversations on the wall

People in India whose houses have walls facing the road can seldom stop them from being defaced. But sometimes, the result isn’t all that displeasing to the eye. For example, this house near a bus stand had its wall subjected to unwanted attention from time to time, and it even had garbage thrown in front of it.

The owner of the house must have been so hassled that he had gotten someone to write on the wall: “Those who throw garbage here are fools.”

And true to the Indian tradition of wisecracking, some smart Alec had added the following words below the original: “Unfortunately, India has no dearth of either!”

Talk about the writing on the wall...

Arkadev Ghoshal, Bangalore

Quick packagesof relief

The devastation in Uttarakhand exposed politicians to intense public glare.  This seems to be only disaster in the country which has proved itself to be so divisive as to completely divide political parties and their leaders. It became a free-for-all kind of situation. The only thing that remained in common is that all the politicians were clear about  individual political interests. 
 
They had time to attack each other for their actions or utterances, but no time to sit together and discuss the problems faced by the flood hit people.  The most cynical part of the whole exercise was sending relief supplies to the flood-hit areas.  Powerful politicians including Rahul Gandhi were in such a hurry that they did not even bother to coordinate with the state authorities before doing it. Trucks with such supplies were standing on the roadsides along the Uttarakhand route.  “Why such a hurry in sending relief packages?”  someone asks.  

“Relief packages are meant to assure political workers across the country that parties are functioning and the leaders are in action.”

The real concern, however, is to secure public sympathy in the coming elections. “Who knows things will work as desired;  people these days are not as innocent as they used to be ,” a quick answer came in.

Anil Sinha, New Delhi

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