Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address below.

Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Anand Kumar and his Super 30

Bring Anand Kumar to Malaysia, not Shahrukh Khan.

Probably the best science and technology school in the world is the Indian Institute of Technology. Entrance into this prestigious university is even more difficult than getting into MIT or Caltech.

The dream of many Indians is to get into IIT. Every year 230,000 Indian youths sit for the rigorous entrance exams to get into IIT. Naturally, the results favour the better privileged Indians who have private tuitions and come from better off families.

Yesterday, I happened to watch a documentary (Aljazeera) on the work of Mr. Anand Kumar. Mr Kumar started a school known as the Ramanujan School of Mathematics to instruct students so that they can enter IIT. He will travel the Indian country side of Bihar, searching and identifying 30 bright students for entrance into his school. There he will provide the students free lodging and meals. Meals are given twice a day taken out from stainless steel Tiffin carriers. These students study for free under the personal instruction of Anand Kumar and that of his like minded colleagues.

The story of Mr. Anand Kumar and his Ramanujan Scool of Mathematics is truly an inspirational one. It takes a lot of resolve and hard work to come out of difficult situations and succeed in life. It takes even more to share one's success with others like oneself and help them also succeed. Anand Kumar has been there and done that.

Anand Kumar lost his father at a young age and his family faced many financial hardships early on. The family had to depend on their mother's earnings. Anand himself would sometimes deliver home made papad's made by his mother, to shops and homes on his bicycle.

Like his school's namesake, Ramanujan, Anand is gifted with superb mathematical skills. In 1992, he founded the Ramanujan School of Mathematics as a club where anyone could join free of any cost and attend training camps.

In 1994, he secured an admission to Cambridge and Sheffield universities but his financial health did not allow him to pursue his dreams. However he did not let that deter him. He converted his club into a coaching institute providing coaching for various competitive examinations. At the same time, he decided that what happened to him should not happen to others. Financial health should not come in the way of talent being recognized and nurtured.

This led to the creation of the Super 30 initiative.

This initiative provides free coaching, boarding and lodging to 30 talented students from financially weak backgrounds. These students are handpicked by Anand and his team and trained for the IIT entrance exam. Founded in 2003, 18 students made it to the IIT's in the founding year. The number rose to 22 in 2004 to 26 in 2005 to 28 in 2006 and 2007 and up to 30 in 2008 and 2009. Yes that's correct! In the last two years, the super 30 boasts of a 100 percent record with 30 out of 30 students coming through.

Today Anand Kumar has come a long way. His dream of going abroad has been fulfilled and he has been a speaker at Atlanta, where he addressed an annual conference organized by the American Mathematics Society and the Mathematics Association of America. He also has made contributions to The Mathematical Gazette and the Mathematics Spectrum, both reputed journals published from the UK, and Parabola, published in Australia.

But he derives most satisfaction from the fact that he has helped talented students from the lower strata of society to fulfill their dreams. With future plans of spotting and nurturing talent in young students, he now intends to set up schools for the financially weak segment of society and leverage a similar business model. So that talent does not fade away for want of finances and education does not remain the privilege of the financially stable only.

Every April, some 230,000 Indian youths sharpen their pencils and sit for the intensely competitive entrance exam to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) -- the seven prestigious schools that train India's top-notch engineers and entrepreneurs. After the grueling six-hour test, only 5,000 students are offered a place in the IITs. Most come from middle-class backgrounds and prepare for the exams through private coaching. But in the past few years, a small group of desperately poor, talented students have made it into the IITs, thanks to the Ramanujan School of Mathematics.

The school, named after a famous Indian mathematician, is even more intense than the IITs themselves. Located in Patna, the capital of Bihar, one of India's least developed states, the Ramanujan School trains just 30 students a year to take the IIT exam.

Helping out Anand Kumar is an unlikely character. He is Mr. Abhayanand, 52, Patna's deputy director general of police and a lover of physics. I have never heard of a high ranking police officer dedicating part of hislife to the cause of education for the underprivileged. We are more accustomed to listening to stories about high ranking police officers threatening to arrest people.

Anand Kumar and his partner in good deed will scour Bihar's least privileged communities for 30 bright students to coach for the exam, providing free lessons and housing. They call their group the Super 30. "Intelligence is not birth-specific," says Abhayanand. In the first year, 16 of the group made it into the IITs. The next year, 22 made it. "This year," Kumar says confidently, "all 30 will get into the IITs." It has been 30 out of 30 for the last 2 years in succession.



Anonymous,  11 August 2009 at 10:58  

There are many individuals who have put in much effort in alleviating poverty, providing free educational programs, and medical services to the undeveloped sections of society.

These are the marks that separate us as humans with consciense against the wall street gekko 'greed is good' mentality.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can indeed change the world. It is heartening to read and hear its sucess stories. We salute them.

Hope our young in the Uni and our society at large can emulate the many good things done all over the world instead of wasting our energy in unfruitful activities.

May Allah bless Anand Kumar and his band of workers.


Anonymous,  11 August 2009 at 11:32  

Can our beloved country have such personalities;only than I guess we will be a developed natation. Kudos for your effort in highlighting such noble personalities.

CYC,  11 August 2009 at 11:56  

There is hope for a country when such charitable character exists rather than recycling 100s of millionaires who would bankrupt the country due to ill equipped brains.

When will our people realise the mother of all best policies is to educate your young generation in an environment filled with freedom. No censorship nor shall shall it dictate by even the government when comes to education. Otherwise, the likes of Dr Sak will vanish in due course as no one understand his written wisdom.

My greatest respect to Mr. Anand Kumar who shines humanity to its fullest.

Fi-sha 11 August 2009 at 12:27  

Good afternoon Datuk Sak

Truly inspiring and that brought tears to my eyes. I am not sure if Shri Anand Kumar has political muscles behind his fantastic Super 30 Initiatives but can you imagine Datuk Sak if our youth leaders could start something similar in Malaysia.

Seriously, I had enough of reading about politico-campaigning, here and there, bahagian sana, negeri sini.

Could you smart guys out there empower your people and their children so they could live a better life?

Yes Datuk, how i wish we could bring Shri Anand Kumar to Malaysia.

And Datuk, i dont mind at all if the syok-sendiri politicians brought Dato' Shah Rukh Khan here (after-all, he is the most powerful bollywood actor in the world, perhaps he could 'kick' some sense into our little, wheeny, tiny movie industry), but over-glorification of entertainment is killing the souls of this nation.

Thanks for sharing Datuk Sak. Cheerio!

Anonymous,  11 August 2009 at 12:34  

An inspiring article.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that, if Msia is to follow in Anand's trail, the heading will be "Super Bumis-only 30"

ahoo,  11 August 2009 at 13:12  

When this is a will, one can always find the way. I srongly believe that we have in our midst many of such character. But sadly when we equate it with politics whereby fame over rule the noble objective, we will have not so happy ending in that pursuit.

If only we can leave race, politic and religion out of this noble aspect of enriching our youths, we will not find the path to our former glory,.... sad Malaysia.

Suci Dalam Debu 11 August 2009 at 20:52  


Reading your article brings tears to my eyes.

I don't have much money but hopefully one day, I can sponsor a few poor students through college. This is nothing compared to what Mr A Kumar has done.

GOD, please grant me good health so that I can do it.

Anonymous,  11 August 2009 at 21:01  

tq dato for sharing this


GreenBug 12 August 2009 at 00:10  

An inspring write-up from you, Dato Sak, Thank you. If only this article helps but just one of the many super-rich egocentric politikus to extened his hand to the many under privileged people we have here in this country, you would have done a great service to this nation.

I personally know of a few individuals who are providing financial assistance and these are the unsung heroes I hold with great respect and admiration.

Our country certainly need more of such people that politikus who plunder and rob the poor and the underprivileged.

Khun Pana aka johanssm 12 August 2009 at 04:32  

Reading this article is the best ever today.
Already sick of the "super dump" churned out by our local msm.
Multiple dosages of typical racist news day in day out.

Extraordinary feat and efforts by Mr. Anand and his senior police officer friend.
Anand and his friend are willing to share their rich knowledge for FREE
How both of them coach their students?
What type of style or teaching technique ?
And of course this one we should ask as well. Are they using the English language to learn and to teach.
We must ask , we must see and we must compare.

I bet muhidin (edu minister)does not know about Mr.Anand Kumar.
Sak , you're right.
This country needs to invite people like Mr.Anand and not those people who rolls on grass and hides behind a coconut tree while singing.

walla 12 August 2009 at 11:51  

It's a supply chain.

One end is slumdog squalor. Grinding poverty, no hope, no means.

The other end is world-class status, global recognition, cutting edge contribution, personal fulfillment, professional achievement and financial independence.

A good education system will stretch itself from one end to the other of this supply chain.

It will convince itself that poverty and one's birth condition are no constraints to personal achievement.

But personal achievement will only be built on the universal foundations of focus, hard work, drive, discipline and intelligence.

Take any failure and it is hard to miss out the factors. They don't focus. Almost to the extent of being laconic about their situation. Because they have already given up long ago. Something happened at one specific time in their lives. It happened when they stopped, compared, looked around and within, and then just gave up. Their despondency deepened. The eyes turned hollow and glassy, their reaction was to just affect a behavior to say they don't care. And it spreads because they see their friends in similar situations doing the same. Giving up then becomes the ritual initialization of apathy.

The Ramanujan whizz kids must have gone through that phase too. And yet they outgrew it. Someone or something came along to provide the spark that goads them to get up and try again.

Someone or something gave them a target. It became a hunting game. Their youthful energy was channeled. It became an electric focus. The energies dovetailed. It drew out inner reserves of hard work. Everyone did the same. It became a drive. And because all aimed at the same target, self-discipline was instilled by peer pressure. And innate intelligence took form and surfaced. Driven by competition to excel which was defined by each small step to solve one niggling puzzle whose solution built inner confidence to tackle the next, more difficult, one. A series of personally derived, and individually earned, statements of can-do.

There are very few things as satisfying as being able to authoritatively put with a flourish the term 'Q.E.D.' at the bottom of a page.

Solving puzzles and itching to tackle tests are a good way to awaken innate intelligence. Even the most abstruse of science and maths are about conundrums designed from nature and built on the stilts of axiomatic truths reflecting some inner order.

What of science and maths.....of everything else in every other subject in the field of knowledge.

Even religion is codified to deliver understanding and truth beyond the realm of the senses.

To be able to delve into mysteries, understand their underlying coherence and use that understanding to illuminate other things is a repast that has no substitute.

It is like knowing the mobile number of the Almighty. And His internet protocol address. With the exact port number.

A good education system has faith in human beings. It has faith that every single person is gifted somewhere sometime in his or her life to do something above and beyond his or her own expectation. You just need to tease it out. And build it step by step, brick by brick. Across each unique storyboard that has been written as a life. Harper Lee's famous novel, there was a character whose sole activity in life was to make mud pies and whose sole ambition in life was to make the best mud pie in the world....

The slumdog squalor in our own midst is a calling to our own educationists to find again their own inner calling to come out and deliver a really great and cracking success story to every single Malaysian out there.

walla 12 August 2009 at 11:51  

That "education system" i have in mind is not just the province of an artifact like a Rowling's
"ministry of education". Or Muhyiddin's of Johor, for that matter. Nor is it the inchoate sprawl of schools, colleges, public universities and private institutions. It is "a system of values" inside each and everyone of us that targets what we personally and individually feel for ourselves as what constitutes a "human being".

The Anand Kumar's of the world took the challenge of transmuting that personal conviction into something great, visible, uplifting, and measurable.

Even the state was doing it. It started the IIT to compete with the best of the rest of the world. It went through the same supply chain as a state that was being experienced by the peoples it served.

State, and subjects. The same.

Do we have any IIT's in our midst? Is our State cognizant of what is the transcending vision needed to help people realize the highest potential they can achieve in the brevity of human life? Is there an inviolate set of uncompromising standards, focus, commitment, intelligence, drive, hard work, self-sacrifice, discipline...?

Do our best get to write winning codes for the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and SAP? Do they get to build IT empires that span globes and change the way people do business and enjoy their technology-enabled lifestyles? Do billions pour into our country because corporations place utmost faith that we have the brains that will "make the difference"? Do we have the means and wherewithal to create quickly our own "braincosm"? People who can excite other minds with fresh thoughts and incisive insights, people who can generate an idea a day that will transform our industries and keep economic crises away, people who can take "can't-do" and just remove that "'t" step by step?

walla 12 August 2009 at 11:52  

...One sunday afternoon, at MIT. It was the hols for them. Walking the grounds saw phy-101 tutorial submissions. One question required the students, teenagers at most, to use first principles and derive their OWN equations to explain an event and produce some results for a scenario extended from that event....

Can our kids answer such questions?

The indian texts where preparing their students for exams are works of precision. There's very little fluff. Every para is fact-packed and incisive. Some of the russian texts are equally famous for those qualities. The quality of the questions is high. Some test the exceptions to the rule to see if the students understand the limits of the knowledge. Some of the american, british, german, french, japanese and korean texts draw out creativity and challenge students to think out of the box; others draw realworld examples and ask students to explain them using what they have learned.

Stretched knowledge. So necessary to climb those international competitiveness indices.

They all prepare for the international olympiads.

....China has been numero uno on the international maths and phy olympiads for years in succession. ...

The sparse academic excellence, we have seen in some of our schools. The chinese schools like Chung Ling in Penang and Sam Tet in Ipoh. Is it any wonder that these produce the students that had scored strings of "Y" grades (higher than A+) in the engineering courses of UM - in those halcyon days when UM was a force to reckon? And any wonder that the most singular focus of the neighbour is to recruit our graduates from chinese stream schools - because they had long ago already seen the importance of real academic excellence combined with chinese language for Asia as growth region of this century?

Our human capital paradigm. Does our Umno-flecked education "system" have eyes which unflinchingly and honestly see such things, too?

It is a colossal and unrecoverable national loss. Like shooting the foot with a blunderbuss.

There is no reason why we cannot have our own official anand-kumar programs to lift up our own hidden gems.

When one truly realizes one is at the bottom that the light shines the only direction left from the bottom is ..up.

But those qualities are needed. All in Anand Kumar's school of hard-knocks were bonded one to another by the common feature. Special rights for some would have been especially wrong for the others which in turn would have broken up the bonding. It was the bonding and one helping the other and the other helping one which had helped all to overcome individual problems.

..this post for young fi-sha. Who has a good heart.

thanks for waiting for this one, sak.

walla 12 August 2009 at 13:10  

and for suci dalam debu, too.

sigh, age is finishing me.

Snakebite 12 August 2009 at 16:01  


there is a small group of pahang born lecturers from ukm who did a similar projek. they went out to remote kampungs and setinggans in pahang identifying bright but poor children and organise special classes during holidays to teach mathematics science and english. the students are gathered at a place, transport, accomodaton, food provided and given the training to prepare them for exams. more than sixty percent of the student managed to enter iptas. the tengku mahkota provides some funding for the project.

of course, in this country efforts like this are never given publicity or recognisance because there are no politivians involved.

Anonymous,  13 August 2009 at 11:27  


You are wrong, the little red dot 'sapu' every single student that qualifies for their university but that cannot get a place in a local university. These are the brains and talent that the politicians would rather let go than retain because of political expediency. Charles Darwin was correct in his Evolutionary Theory. Those that have to endure hardship, will emerge stronger.


canons 16 September 2009 at 19:20  

Hi ALl I m a graduate from one of the IITs and I have studied with some of guys who came through Super30.
I know that this initiative is in a small but very deep and solid way improving the local society!

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP