This may come as a surprise to parents, students and even educationists - you do not need air-conditioned schools, latest technology, coaching classes and more to do well in studies. The one key ingredient essential for success is the will to excel. This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised in his July 2018 edition of Mann Ki Baat, his regular broadcast to the nation via radio and television. While the theme of the message was youthcentric, July marking the beginning of the college sessions across India, he spent a significant portion praising young students who achieved great academic excellence despite coming from extremely humble backgrounds. For him, examples like these are a source of energy, they energise him.
Here's why the eight young boys and girls figured in his Mann Ki Baat:
Asharam Chowdhary - Beacon of hope
Hailing from Devas in Madhya Pradesh, Asharam is a shining example of how hard work and dedication can defeat even the most extreme hardships. As he heads towards Jodhpur where he will be joining AIIMS to do his MBBS, he leaves behind a family headed by his ragpicker father. This is no mean achievement in these intensely competitive times when the number of aspirants far outnumber the number of seats available. Parents and students spend lakhs on coaching classes. Students who can afford it dedicate hours to study. But Asharam had no such luxuries at his disposal. he had no separate study room, no tuition classes and no option of second chances. In his very first attempt, Asharam cleared the entrance and is now on his way to becoming a doctor.
This is where he studied - in a thatched hut in Vijayaganj village in Devas. They have neither running water, nor toilets and nor do they have electricity. he has a younger brother and sister who are both studing. The sole earning member of the family is his father Ranjit Chowdhary. As a rag picker, he sorts through garbage to pick out plastic bags, empty bottles and other recyclables. It is with the earnings from this that he is putting his children through school. Now, Asharam has asked him to stop rag picking. They plan to set up a small vegetable stall now.
Asharam wants to specialise in neurosurgery. He wants to go abroad for higher studies but his aim is to return to his village where he wants to set up a hospital. Asharam, as his name suggests, is a beacon of hope for all around him.
Prince Kumar - In the driving seat
Prince Kumar just stopped short of a perfect 100 in three subjects in his class XII exams. he scored 100/100 in Maths, 99/100 in Economics and 98/100 in Chemistry. His overall score was a 97 percent making him the topper in the science stream in Delhi Government schools.
He is the son of a DTC bus driver.
For the youngster, the full extent of his achievement became clear when the media started calling him up. Humble, he couldn't get over the fact that he, a bus driver's son, had managed to do so well. Now, it is not just the media that is talking about him, even the prime minister of India is hailing him as an example of what hard work can accomplish.
He wants to be an electronics and communications engineer.
Abhay Gupta - Leading light
His father sold books and he studied on the footpath under the streetlight. And he became a topper. Abhay Gupta, a student of Harrow Hall in Kolkata, scored 93 percent in his class X ICSE board exams.
He may have a posh Park Street address, but his home was a single room where there was not even enough space for a study table. For the past 20 years, his father Ram Babu sold books off the street near Moulin Rouge. Abhay would study under the streetlight on the same pavement where his father sold books. Not just the streets, Abhay took his books wherever he could - he studied in hotel lobbies and even corridors.
Today, Abhay has fulfilled his father's dream of getting a good education. He wanted his sons to be fluent in English so that they could read the books he sold. Poverty and strained circumstances were not strong enough to hold back this young man.
Afreen Sheikh - Doctor dreams
Just a few points behind a 100 percentile. Afreen Shaikh of Ahmedabad scored a near perfect 99.31 percentile in her class X Gujarat Board exams. Afreen's father, Shaikh Mohammad Hamza is an autorickshaw driver. For him, making ends meet is a tough task but he is certain that he will move heaven and earth to see his daughter fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
Khushi Duke - Driven to succeed
Khushi Duke's father is a school bus driver. Among the students he drove to school every day were many from very privileged backgrounds. Children whose parents were in positions where they could fulfil every desire their children voiced. Children who could be anything they wanted, do anything they wanted.
But despite his financial limitations, he too did his best for Khushi - even arranging special tuitions for her. And she did not let him down. She has scored 93.2 per cent in her board exams. And now, even the prime minister mentioned her achievement in Mann Ki Baat.
Kartik - Watchful father
For a boy from Jind being the best in anything was distant dream. Yet, this son of a watchman is the best. Kartik is the Haryana class X topped with a score of 99.6 percent. He scored 100/100 in Sanskrit, Maths and Science. This son of a watchman now has plans to join the Indian Foreign Service after completing his graduation.
Ramesh Sahu - Balloon seller who wants to fly high
Ramesh lives in Nevni village in the naxal affected Gumla district of Jharkhand. His father Lakshman Sahu works in a brick kiln. Ramesh himself sells toys and balloons in village fairs to augment the family income. His long term goal - to become and IAS officer. He is well on his way to achieving his dream. He is the Gumla district topper in class XII. Now that Prime Minister Modi has held him up as an example for the youth of India, even the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Raghuvir Das, has stepped forward and announced monetary help of Rs 1 lakh for his higher studies.
Anushka Panda- No limits to dreams
She is a topper. She is a trained classical singer. And she wants to be a software engineer. And she is not going to let an inconsequential thing like being in a wheelchair stop her. Asharam Ch
She is Anushka Panda of Gurgaon. She topped the class X CBSE board in the differently abled category with a score of 97.8 percent.
Anushka was born with muscular spinal atrophy - a condition that has made her wheelchair bound. Given her condition, she cannot sit for long and this made long study sessions difficult. When she has to sit for long, she needs to wear a spinal brace.
Her achievement has brought her to the notice of Prime Minister Modi and he holds her up as an example of how even being differently able cannot be a stumbling block for those who are really keen to succeed.