This is a story from India. A story about beating the odds, and about the massive changes that are convulsing Indian society.
Ten years ago Al Jazeera was granted exclusive access to the Ramanujan School of Mathematics in Patna, capital of Bihar, India’s poorest state.
Fewer than half the 90 million inhabitants of Bihar can sign their own name, and only one in ten lives in a house with electricity.
Yet each year, a small number of impoverished Bihari children gained entry to a highly intensive tutoring programme preparing them to seek admission to some of the toughest universities in the world, the elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) where 60 hopefuls apply for each place.
This series is about the vision of Anand Kumar, a brilliant mathematician, and Abhayanand, a senior police officer. These unlikely visionaries share the belief that poverty, caste and religion should be no barrier to opportunity.
Their pupils are the teenage sons (and occasionally daughters) of rural labourers, rickshaw drivers and brick-kiln workers, selected, not just for their outstanding abilities in mathematics, physics and chemistry, but because they have the vision and self-belief to sustain them through seven months of intensive coaching that culminate in uniquely difficult exams. These young people, the Super 30 – selected annually from more than 4,000 applicants – were at the beginning of a journey away from the grinding poverty of Indian village life to the cutting edge of global science, technology and business.
Now, ten years on, Al Jazeera has returned to Patna to find out what has become of this innovative scheme and the bright young people it helped get started on the path to success.
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