WHEN 14-YEAR-OLD Masoom Farooqui failed his class X pre-board exams three years ago, he had no hopes of continuing with his education, let alone becoming an engineer. Today, the son of a Zari worker from Nagpada stands a chance to study at one of the most sought-after engineering colleges, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
Masoom, now 17, has cleared the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Advanced this year with a rank of 2,593 and is hopeful of a seat for the Mechanical Engineering course at IIT Bombay. His family— parents and three siblings— are naturally overjoyed at what Masoom has achieved. Hailing from a slum in Bandra West, Masoom had always been inclined towards a career in cricket— an interest that had led to his failure in the pre-boards. “I rarely studied and spent most of my time on the field,” said Masoom.
An off-spinner, Masoom made it to the under-16 team of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). However, since the family did not have enough identity proofs, he was not able to get an MCA card and hence dropped out. It was then that his older sister Tarannum, the eldest of the four, took him under her tutelage. “With a month’s preparation, Masoom scored 78 percent in his class X board. That’s when I realised that he had an excellent grasping power and pushed him to prepare for IITs,” said Tarannum.
However, the family could not afford to send Masoom for coaching classes. “When we checked with some of the top coaching classes, we couldn’t afford their fees despite scholarship. I barely make Rs 8,000 a month on an average,” said Mohammed Shamim, the father. It was then that Tarannum found out about the Rahmani Mission of the Rahmani30 fame. The Patna-based foundation that prepares candidates from the minorities for the JEE was starting a similar programme in Mumbai in association with the Anjuman-i-Islam trust.
“It was pilot project started two years ago. The course was free of cost and candidates had to go through a rigorous three-phase entrance test,” said Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-i-Islam. Through the two-year course the trust spent Rs 2 lakh per student per year. The trust provided accommodation, food, medical facilities as well as the fee for Rahmani’s expertise. Of the 15 candidates in Mumbai who cleared the JEE exam, Masoom scored the highest.
The trust will now bear the expenses of Masoom’s engineering course, said Kazi. With the success of the second batch of the Mumbai branch of Rahmani30— over 26 students have made it to IITs in two years— the trust now plans to continue with the programme but is now looking for philanthropists, said Kazi.