July 15, 2011, Patna: From his crumbling hut in a village in Bihar's Madhubani district to the sprawling campus of IIT-Mandi, the journey of Abhimanyu Kumar has been awe-inspiring. Abhimanyu cracked IIT-JEE in 2009 though he had no idea about either the IITs or JEE till 2006 when he came to stay with his father, a tea vendor in the state capital.
"I came to Patna for higher studies because there is no college in my village, Balwa. The idea was to study hard and get a government job." As he went around filling up forms for admission to ISc in Patna's TPS College, he heard about the "country's toughest exam". And he decided to give it a try.
That he had to share a dingy room with his father and brother did not deter him, and he studied hard — 17 hours a day. Yet, he could not clear the exam in 2008.
Abhimanyu was devastated. His kinsmen, working as daily wage earners in places like Mumbai and Punjab, appeared to add insult to his injury as they advised him, albeit sincerely, to come to their place and they would help him get a job.
Abhimanyu was not a quitter, however. Having read in newspapers about the 'Super-30' initiative under which poor and bright IIT aspirants are coached for free, he approached the 'Super-30' mentor Anand Kumar. Bright as he was, he also cleared Kumar's selection test and started JEE preparations afresh under the guidance of Super-30 faculty. Success did not elude him in 2009.
Abhimanyu is pursuing computer science from IIT-Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), which earlier functioned from the IIT's Roorkee campus. "I touched a computer for the first time in Roorkee," the 21-year-old told TOI and added, rather proudly, he was the topper in his class in 4th semester.
While an education loan from a bank takes care of his fees etc, he also gets a scholarship from IIT "which, if used responsibly, is adequate for other expenses".
Back home at Balwa, villagers address Abhimanyu as "engineer saheb" even though he is yet to complete the course. "I can feel that they are proud of me. I can also feel that the students of my village school now also dream big," he said.
But graduation form IIT is not the last degree on Abhimanyu's wish list. "IIM grads are earning Rs 10L a month. I will leave no stone unturned to bell the CAT," is his latest facebook status.