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Super 30 and Anand Kumar : decoding the journey

There is a popular phrase in Hindi “badnami me bhi bada naam h” but one who is famous by his name already, how relevant is defaming!! Over the last few days, we are witnessing a lot of hue and cry over Super 30 and Anand kumar. Why now? What’s truth? Is he the man, who he claimed to be? A godfather to those students who has talent but not money? How transparent he is? Is he earning crores? How true his biography is? What would be in his movie?

Before we even star talking about Super 30, it is obvious to talk about the name behind that brand name i.e Anand Kumar.

Who is Anand Kumar?

In general, Anand is very common name in India, millions have their name with Anand. So whenever I used to tell people, I studied under guidance of Anand kumar it was like “kaun?….wo…. Anand kumar Super30 wale?”(Who …that Anand who run Super 30? )

“Haan wahi Anand kumar …. Super30 wale”(Yes !! that one).

This was the starting conversation in most cases before people used to jump into questions with Why? How? Where? And all.

Anand kumar is a mathematician based at Patna, Bihar who run the famous Super 30 IIT JEE training program which is recognized as one of the most innovative school in Asia.

Early Days

Born on 1st of January, 1973, to a poor family as son of a clerk working in the Indian postal department, Anand’s initial schooling was in Hindi medium only. His father was a clerk but he knew value of education. That’s all what we people have in Bihar, Education. It is the only tool in the hands of weak and marginalized society that keep their spirit lifted and on basis of which even an uneducated parent dreams to see their children as officer in future.

Those days’ family don’t used to burn old book or throw that as garbage but they used to sell it to hawker and hawker used to sell those to old book shop where he was having chance to earn more money on a single book rather than selling book in kg to paper industry. His father used to buy old books from the footpath about great personalities, math, science etc. for Anand, which had a very positive impact on Anand’s life.

vigyan pragati super 30
Vigyan Pragati Edition

With the time, by reading science magazines and books, science became his interest and which turned into addiction.  Like any other kid he was always dreaming to be like Ramanujam , Aryabhatt or Thomas Edison since old days. At that time one of the most famous and interactive science magazine was “ Vigyan Pragati”. which is getting published now a days also. This magazine used to have a regular column called “hum sujhaein aap banayein“(We suggest, You create).

 

It was about building science model based on some information given for hint. Anand was too much into the idea of making scientific models. He was like completely into this. Attraction of model building was that much prevalent that in order to meet his desire for creativity he started visiting repair houses, work shops and learnt how to repair transistor, radio etc. His love to create models badly affected his studies and he barely managed to pass his class 8th exams. That day the mechanic, on whose shop he used to spend the whole day said to him “Your craziness will lead you to end up being a mechanic only”.

All this pushes him to purse interest in other subjects as well and in 9th class he met Mr. Ranendra Kumar Sinha who was his math teacher. He helped him in developing interest in mathematics which defined his journey and turned him into math icon of country.

Rise of a Mathematician

Later after completing intermediate, he took up Mathematics honors for study in graduation at B N college under Patna University. While he was in second year, one of his mathematical theories on “theory of divisibility” got published in “The Mathematical Gazzate of London” journal. Another one “the squaring of the digits of the number” got published in Mathematical spectrum. In his undergraduate days his 4-5 papers were already published in international journals. He was in the news and everyone starts recognizing him. A student from B N college whose paper has got published in International journal!! That was a big achievement at that time. A real big one.

In an interview to The Times of India in 1993, on asking about how he has achieved this mark even when then it was hard to find latest journals in Patna university and around? He said,

“Patna University library does not have a single journal on mathematics. The library has not even bought a single book in the last 10 years. I used to go to BHU periodically to study about latest happening in the area of mathematics. BHU library was the place where I used to get all this answers”

BHU was a big university and there he used to find the journals and study materials. That’s how he used to full fill his thirst for knowledge.

In 1992, while he was in graduation only he formed Mathematics Club for knowledge sharing and teaching with name ‘Ramanujan School of Mathematics’. He was well encouraged by fellow mathematicians and teachers. He worked under the guidance of his mentor and guru, Devi Prasad Verma, then the Head, Department of Mathematics, Patna Science College, and Bal Gangadhar Prasad of B.N College on this initiative.

Why Ramanujan name only for his mathematics club?

He has been always fascinated with number theory and same was also obsession of Ramanujan, his hero. Perhaps this was the way he went on with name of one of great mind of mathematics.

It was a free program, which anybody with interest in Mathematics could join. As months rolled by, Anand contributed several problems and papers on Mathematics to various national and international journals, magazines and newspapers.

Call from Cambridge

After his article got publishes, he received offer from different foreign university for pursuing research there. Few to name were University of Cambridge, University of Hull school of Mathematics, University of Kent. Seeing his extraordinary talent, and passion for Mathematics, his guru Devi Prasad Verma asked him to join Cambridge for his post-graduation where he had secured his admission.

So It was all set. A boy from small town was ready to take a big lap. It was like a dream come true, recall Anand. His masters at Cambridge was about to start on 1st October 1994. He needed 6 lakhs to meet the expenses and study. For this, he met ministers of Bihar and also an article in his support was published by Times of India and Hindustan Times. His father had got 50K support from his department but still it was a long way to go.

On the fateful night of 23rdAugust 1994, it was pouring heavily, the slum area that he lived in was waterlogged. suddenly Anand’s father got a heart attack and he passed away, sitting in front of him. Unable to sense that his father has actually passed away, he ran towards the home of a compounder and brought him home. The compounder on examining pulse knew that his father has gone but was unable to tell the same to Anand. He suggested him to be taken to PMCH( Patna Medical College and Hospital ). On reaching PMCH ,the doctors confirmed that his father had died hours back.

World came to shattered for Anand kumar. What an irony of life, it hit him when it hurt him most. What next !! few hour earlier where the planning was going on that how to go to London and now preparation of funeral at home. After that he was having option to go for compensatory job but that was not his future he knew that. If not job then how to meet house hold expense? His mother took the charge knowing interest of his son and suggested them to continue study and teaching. She used to prepare “Papad” (an Indian snack) and then both the brothers in evening used to go in the city to sell those.

From Cambridge scholar to Papad wala !!

Beginning of Ramanujan School of Mathematics

With suggestion of his brother, to turn his love for mathematics into profession, he started giving tuitions and started teaching mathematics to kids. Journey begins with enrolment of two students without charging any fee. By 1997, Anand became famous for teaching Mathematics, an article was also published in June and its tag line was ‘Bina Rupaiya ka Hisaab’. (Math without any money).

RMS Inauguration
Ramanujan school of Mathematics – Inauguration

 

Anand Kumar with students
Anand Kumar with students in 1996

After that a lot of student started coming for study and they started feeling of have infrastructure upgrade to accommodate then and availing basic amenities. Considering this they started charging Rs 500 to every student. To accommodate more students, Anand renovated his home, added two extra floors to it and repaired some of the basic facilities. One-year mathematics coaching in 500 fair deal that was. By the third year, the institute had enrolled almost 500 students.

Birth of Super 30

Things were going in the flow and Anand kumar was destined to be another well established mathematician running a big coaching center in Patna but perhaps destiny had some other plan for him. He was not born to be just another teacher running and earning coaching institutions. In his early days he used to talk about what his vision is regarding mathematics and education system in bihar. Since the days he was in college he always had a bigger picture regarding education system and its impact on common masses.

The turning point in Anand’s life came in early 2000, a boy who scripted the concept of Super 30 in his mind. His coaching were running good, he was enjoying teaching and then one day he met a student Abhishek, who approached him seeking coaching for IIT-JEE but was unable to pay the fees. Instead he promised to pay him back whenever his farmer father would dig out potatoes. At that time institution fee was 1,500 annually.

Again a student, because of lack of money was about to lose education. This reminded him of his own days. Amazed at his zeal Anand went after him to look for how was he managing to stay in Patna, to which he saw that Abhishek was living in a crumpled place below stairs of an advocate’s home of which he was a guard.

There the idea of Super 30 first flourished in his mind, selecting 30 of the most deserving and poor students, who were denied opportunities and training them for IIT entrance. Anand generated finances by his other tuitions and his mother Jayanti Devi cooked food for the 30 students. Anand took care of everything for these students ,tutored them, fed them, took care and made them to work hard.

Anand kumar in class in 1996.
Anand kumar in class in 1996.

 

Super 30 and HC verma
Eminent Prof H C Verma taking class in 1998

Super 30 milestones

Their hard work gave result and when the results were announced, 18 out of 30 students had make their way to the IIT in 2003. Inaugural batch result.

Here is the result of Super 30 year wise since inception.

Super 30 student qualified year wise
Super 30 student qualified year wise

On being asked that what does education means for him?

For me , Education is a weapon that arms you to fight with any discrimination”

“I want to show that if you have will power, even in Bihar, you don’t need infrastructure or money, You just need devoted teachers.”

3rd batch of Super 30
3rd batch of Super 30 along with Abhayanad sir (extreme right)
Super 30 success with Nitish kumar
Super 30 success with Nitish kumar in 2006

In the background you can see Super 30 banner along with Ramanujan School of Mathematics name on that. All that matter is the one person, the man himself Anand Kumar. Even the official website of Super 30 describe it as

“Super 30 is a highly ambitious and innovative educational program running under the banner of “Ramanujan School of  Mathematics”. It hunts for 30 meritorious talents from among the economically backward sections of the society and shapes them for India’s most prestigious institution – the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).”

 

 Super 30 result in 2012,
Super 30 result in 2012, 27 student made it this time

On being asked about teaching methodology, Anand says,

“I focus on three factors. First, My students have junoon (passion), a fire in them to achieve. Two, our teaching approach is different. I use multimedia slides to make a little story with characters to explain math concepts. Three, we take tests every day. Well, in a nutshell, we teach our students the how and why! That’s all.”

Talking about his teaching approach, Anand says that he uses two characters- Rikki and Bholu in order to boost the confidence of students who are aspiring but lack proper resources. While Rikki, is portrayed rich with more urban habits, Bholu appears to be more like one of them. Rikki is portrayed as one who wears ties and jackets, eats pizzas and burgers and rides a motorbike, while Bholu is one who wears a simple shirt and broken chappals, eats bhutta and rides a broken cycle.

Upon given a problem, Rikki solves using traditional methods while Bholu generalizes problems to give five different solutions. This multifaceted approach to a problem not only provides clarity and in-depth understanding of the subject but also helps provide the students with a confidence that they can achieve their dream. He always encourages students to solve a problem with more than one ways this will help them in exploring their knowledge and also will make them compatible according to JEE question pattern.

Challenges and Controversies with Super 30

Its not that Anand kumar is only achieving success when comes to JEE result. There are many institution that gives much better result and high ranker also but time remember and applaud trendsetter.

He started something unique 16 year ago and many are following his foot step now, in some case they are giving better result as well by selecting a set of students and then nurturing them be it Abhayanad sir “Rahmani-30” or any other institution with similar name. In Jammu and Kashmir also Indian Army inspired by Anand kumar initiative has started Kashmir Super 30 program that is proving to be a thread of integration in valley. Even Anand kumar, find this as a healthy trend and ultimately by collective effort students are getting beneficial.

After two year of consecutive success of Super 30 result, Anand kumar popularity was oh high in Patna and around. A teacher who teaches 30 students and 22 of them made to IIT. This worked in either way for Anand Kumar.

  • One side he was gaining image of a teacher and mentor, who with full dedication work on his students and teaches them so well that he is always around 100% result. This was his image among students and parents who were aspiring for JEE. If you are with Anand sir then there is maximum chances that you are through JEE, was becoming a common thought among students. A symbol of trust and excellence, Anand Sir.

 

  •  At the same time this status rise was not so good for other peer tuition big brands, in already highly competitive tuition environment there at Patna. Every year lakhs of student reaches Patna from every corner of Bihar to make their fortune. Anand kumar because of super 30 brand was becoming synonym of success gradually. A ticket to JEE. Had this been till Ramanujan School of Mathematics, it would have been digestible for coaching mafia there but Super 30 had become game changer in the Patna coaching market. Anand sir was drawing a large chunk of student every year on his name only. Earlier where everyone was getting something in their pocket now because of the rise of Super 30, other coaching centers started feeling insecure.

He started getting threat. Even goons went for a murderous attack on Kumar, which he luckily escaped, his staff were beaten and some more attempts were done to abort the Super 30 program. Following this , the state government provided security to him.

A teacher who is having security guard with him. What an irony of State !!

Through various channel be it social media or print media, Anand kumar keep sharing the details of students who got selected in JEE.

Super 30 students
students of Super 30, who appeared.

 

Anand kumar never denied existence of Ramanujan school of mathematics(RSM), where any one can join. Actually RSM is the beginning of his journey. He selects students for his Super 30, after tests and any one can give that test. Be it student of Ramanujan classes or any one studying outside. There are teachers in super 30, who teaches chemistry and physics to students as well. They dedicates their time and effort to these student on the same scale as Anand kumar does.

In 2016, Penguin publishes a book on Anand Kumar, which was written by Canada-based psychiatrist Biju Mathew. This book touches various aspects, struggle and ladder to success in Anand kumar. Simple yet inspiration, This book is available online and you can get book from here  Worth reading.

Being a public figure is always challenging in India. You have to face controversies and questions always. Especially in the current situation, when Bollywood is making movie on this journey it becomes an obvious matter of publicity.     “badnami me bhi bada naam h”  You need spice and controversies to sell a movie to audience, a good man clear image may fill heart with gratitude but don’t fill seats of cinema hall. Its matter of time only when this shining star of education world will be out of such cloud.

Source:- Various interviews of Anand kumar  and super30.org

 

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