For primary school teacher Bhaskar Bhakta, a Bhatra tribal staying in a small village in Odisha’s Nabarangpur district, Sunday evening was the most pleasant one in many years.
On that day, the principal of Khatiguda-based Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, from where his son Kailash Chandra Bhakta passed his Class XII boards this year, called Bhakta up to inform that his son had cracked the IIT-JEE. “For a moment, I thought it was a dream. He was a good student, but I did not have money to enrol him into a coaching class. I was thinking of getting him admitted to a BSc course,” Bhakta said over the telephone from his home in Dahibhata village near Nabarangpur town.
Kailash, the third of Bhakta’s four children, has secured a rank of 1,114 among the tribal candidates who took the IIT-JEE this year. Results of the IIT-JEE advanced were declared Sunday.
“It was my first attempt and I did not expect to make the cut. I did not even know that the results had been declared till my school principal called up and asked for my registration number. It seemed so unreal,” said Kailash, who is so far the second person from Nabarangpur to crack the IIT-JEE ever.
In 2010, Nabin Kumar Bhatra, also a tribal, had made it to IIT Kharagpur where he studied biotechnology.
Kailash scored 77.8 per cent in his Class XII boards, scoring 95 in maths and 96 in biology. He said school principal N V S Shanta Rao, chemistry teacher Animesh Mandal and his maths teacher asked him to take the IIT-JEE exam. “They told me to sit for the exam as I was good in mathematics. I had Rs 500 with me with which I registered for the exam,” said Kailash.
Bhakta admitted that had it not been for the centrally-funded JNV, he would not have been able to get his son educated. “I spent a lot on the education of my elder son in a private college and to get my daughter married. My parents and brothers stay at our native village in Koraput and I have to send money to them for agriculture. At JNV, I did not have to pay anything,” said Bhakta, who works at an upper primary school in Dabugam block, 40 km away from his rented home in Dahibhata village.
Kailash is waiting for the counselling in July and hopes to get through IIT-Bhubaneswar. “I want to study pure science, especially physics. I want to research and develop a technology that would help farmers in my region. But I would also be glad if I get to study biotechnology,” he said.
School principal Rao termed Kailash’s success “incredible”. “He was one of the best students of our class. Very disciplined and hardworking. We did not expect him to crack the exam in the first attempt, but he did,” Rao said.
District Collector Rashmita Panda said Kailash’s success has made Nabarangpur proud. “He has shown that despite hailing from a poor background and with no coaching whatsoever, one can crack IIT-JEE,” she said.