The power of 30

Mov­ing be­hind head­lines of stu­dents get­ting into IITs, Biju Mathew’s bi­og­ra­phy of Anand Ku­mar tells for the first time the in­spir­ing life story of the math­e­mat­ics teacher who is help­ing poor and mer­i­to­ri­ous stu­dents achieve their dreams, says

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Su­per 30: Chang­ing the World 30 Stu­dents at a Time am­rita. dutta@ dnain­dia. net, @ Am­ri­taNayak3

The ex­tra­or­di­nary suc­cess of Anand Ku­mar and his Su­per 30 magic in get­ting his pro­tégées through the IIT joint en­trance exam ( JEE) has led to many sto­ries in the last decade. But they have mostly been short news re­ports with the odd one stretch­ing a bit into Ku­mar’s past. Biju Mathew’s Su­per 30… is the first defini­tive ac­count of how it all started.

It tells the amaz­ing life story of the Bi­har- based math­e­mat­ics teacher who has faced many chal­lenges. As a child, Ku­mar would re­pair dis­carded ra­dios to earn­somr money. De­spite get­ting his dream call from Cam­bridge Univer­sity, he could not join be­cause his fa­ther had just passed away, and he didn’t have the money. He then started his ac­claimed coach­ing classes called Ra­manu­jan School of Math­e­mat­ics, bet­ter known as Su­per 30 be­cause he coaches 30 mer­i­to­ri­ous- but- poor stu­dents each year for IIT JEE and pays for their board­ing and lodg­ing. Though Su­per 30’ s su­per suc­cess rate has been widely feted the world over, and Chief Min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar has recog­nised him as the face of Bi­har, Anand re­mains mod­est and hum­ble.

Mathew’s chron­i­cles have anec­dotes that add an emo­tional and en­dear­ing charm to the nar­ra­tive. The first chap­ter, A Hero’s Wel­come, about Ku­mar’s visit to MIT me­dia labs, is a be­fit­ting start to the book. “I have not come here to ask for any­thing. As you know, I don’t ac­cept any fi­nan­cial help. I have come all this dis­tance to ap­peal to all you great tech­nol­ogy ex­perts that tech­nol­ogy should not just be a tool to make big money. It should be made a vi­tal weapon to fight il­lit­er­acy,” it quotes Ku­mar in his speech there.

No won­der, Su­per 30 strikes a chord with the reader. Af­ter all, who doesn’t like a rags- to- riches story about a man who then goes onto help oth­ers achieve their dreams as well? Anand not just basks in the suc­cess of his stu­dents, but con­tin­ues to be pas­sion­ate about his dream. Suc­cess, for him, is equated with sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness, which may not nec­es­sar­ily cul­mi­nate in ma­te­rial riches.

A quick, easy read thanks to its clear, lu­cid writ­ing, Mathew’s ac­count of Anand’s jour­ney is en- gag­ing and in­spir­ing. It can mo­ti­vate read­ers across gen­er­a­tions, fac­ing very dif­fer­ent, yet daily chal­lenges in their lives. Tes­ti­mo­ni­als writ­ten by stu­dents, who have been a part of Su­per 30 and went on to com­plete their univer­sity and es­tab­lish them­selves in their ca­reers, run through­out the book. It will leave read­ers with food for thought.

Anand Ku­mar teach­ing his Su­per 30 class; ( right) At a con­fer­ence

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