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
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