When it comes to Dalit youths from humble backgrounds doing well in higher education, Pratapgarh district’s story just got better.
Days after brothers Raju and Brijesh Saroj, sons of daily wage labourers, were felicitated by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for cracking IIT-JEE 2015 by bagging 167th and 410th ranks, a Dalit youth with weak eyesight — son of a cycle repairer — has secured 93rd position in the examination’s preparatory course (see box) for persons with disability. This may help him secure a position that may lead to his eventual entry to the IIT from the next session.
Kapoor Kumar Saroj — a resident of Kalyanpur-Dhidwal village in Babaganj — is now on his way to Lucknow, where he will be felicitated by Akhilesh. He is being accompanied by SP MLA from Babaganj, Vinod Kumar Saroj.
While Kapoor’s journey to the IIT may still not have been complete, it has been full of struggles.
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Kapoor’s father Shiv Kumar Saroj said: “Kapoor had qualified for Navodaya School in Pratapgarh, where he was admitted in Class VI. I don’t remember ever having to tell him to study. He has been an inspiration for his younger brother, Akshay, who too is now in Navodaya. Otherwise, given my poor financial condition, I don’t think I would have been able to support them to follow their dreams.”
With eight children — four sons and four daughters — to feed, Shiv tries to earn a few extra bucks by working on the fields of others.
While the family has around a bigha of land, Shiv said he did not have the resources to grow anything substantial there.
“My eldest son, Arvind, helps me at my small cycle shop. The second one has gone to Delhi to study and works at a mobile phone repair shop. The youngest of my daughters is in Class X and wants to study further. The elder daughters have been married,” he added.
The media glare and attention from politicians may not have come to fruition had the Dakshana Foundation not called up to inform Shiv about his son’s rank and importance. “They waited for a few days. But when they did not see anything in the newspapers, they alerted us. Gradually, the word spread and everybody now knows about my son’s feat,” said Shiv.
He added that Kapoor’s eyes started getting affected a few years ago. “I did not have the resources to get him the best treatment. But I tried. He had gone to Pune to study and there, his sight got weaker,” he added. The last time Kapoor had got his sight checked, he was given glasses of minus-10 power.
Kapoor said over phone that he had cleared his intermediate from Pune in 2014. As he had topped Class X in UP Navodaya Vidyalayas, with Dakshana Foundation’s help, he got admission in Pune for Class XI and XII. “I had taken IIT-JEE last year, but could not succeed. Therefore, I wanted to give it another try. But as my father was not in a position to support me in Pune, I returned home and prepared from here,” he said.
Kapoor, who shares a two-room kutcha house with his parents and siblings, added: “We do not have electricity in our home. My eyes are weak and are getting weaker because I study in front of a dhibri (oil lamp) or a lantern. I just continued because I had told my father that there is no need for him to worry about me getting financial help.”
When contacted, MLA Saroj said: “This boy has not only increased the prestige of my area, but the entire district. I am going to help financially. Also, the CM will meet the boy. I will try to get him financial help from the CM, besides getting him felicitated.”
He added that if the boy has taken some loan, as it seems to be coming to light, he will help in repaying the same.