WHEN OFFICIALS from the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan took him to Kochi Friday morning, 18-year-old Vinayak M Malil was told that he would get a call from a “top person”. It was only when the call came that they finally broke the suspense — it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling during the recording of Mann Ki Baat, which was aired Sunday.
The teenager, hailing from an SC family in Manjallur village of Kerala’s Ernakulam district, is among the top scorers in the CBSE Commerce stream in the Class 12 board exams. And the Prime Minister was speaking to him during his interaction with four star performers who braved the odds to score high marks in this year’s exams.
The son of daily wage worker Manoj and Thankamma, Vinayak studied at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) at Neriamangalam in Ernakulam, and bagged 493 marks out of 500 in the exam.
“When officials from the Kendriya Vidyalaya regional office came home on July 23, they told me that a top person would call the next day and that they would come in the morning to take me. They did not give any indication that it would be the Prime Minister. I thought it would be someone from the Education Department,’’ says Vinayak.
For the last 17 years, Vinayak’s family has been living in a two-room house erected on a small parcel of land allotted under a government scheme for the landless. His father works in pineapple farms and his elder brother Vishnu Prasad is a sales employee with an automobile firm.
According to Vinayak’s mother, the family is still repaying the bank loan availed to construct the house in the Dalit colony. “But the hardships did not stop my son from dreaming of a better life, right from his primary school days,” she says.
Vinayak’s secret to success is hardwork and proper time management.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 26, 2020
“My dream is to enter the Civil Service. I want to pursue a degree course in the Commerce stream, preferably in Delhi University, and attend Civil Service coaching. I am applying to various institutions,’’ says Vinayak, speaking to The Indian Express soon after returning home from an Internet cafe in Muvattupuzha town nearby where he had mailed a bunch of applications.
“I haven’t really travelled outside Kerala, except for visits to the temples in Madurai and Palani (in neighbouring Tamil Nadu),” he says.
Vinayak’s mother says it was a teacher at the local St Andrews Lower Primary School who suggested that her son should be sent to JNV, part of the central government’s residential school network for talented rural children.
“He has been good at studies, and the teacher wanted him to attend the Navodaya entrance test for Class 6. When he was in Class 5, we would send him for coaching on weekends. We could not fulfil our dreams of a good education, but we didn’t want our children to be denied an opportunity to come up in life,’’ says Thankamma.
On Friday, the Prime Minister also spoke with Kritika Nanda from Panipat in Haryana, Usman Saifi from Amroha in UP, and Kaniga from Namakkal in Tamil Nadu.
When the Prime Minister asked whether he had a message for those who will appear for the board exams in future, Vinayak’s reply summed up the secret of his success: “Hard work and proper utilisation of time.’’ Responding to another question on the use of social media, he said that his school did not allow students to use electronic gadgets. The Prime Minister quipped: “So, you are lucky.’’
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