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Once a tea seller, now a teacher in Odisha

Beating all odds these 14 students cleared the exam this year and the credit goes to 47-year-old Ajaya Bahadur Singh

In a fresh tale of youth overcoming poverty to scale the ladder of success, 14 underprivileged students in Odisha have cracked the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

It is a well-known fact that clearing NEET is no child’s play as lakhs of students aspire to become doctors in India.

However, beating all odds these 14 students cleared the exam this year and the credit goes to 47-year-old Ajaya Bahadur Singh.

Singh, who hails from Odisha wanted to become a doctor but he couldn’t fulfil his dream. So, instead, he started ‘Zindagi’ foundation in 2017 to help the underprivileged students, who aim to become doctors.

Modelled along the lines of Super 30, a record-setting programme run by the acclaimed mathematician Anand Kumar, Zindagi is specifically set for students who are highly talented but have financial limitation to undertake the highly-expensive tuition classes.

“In 2018, students came to Zindagi. 18 students had qualified and out of them 12 took admissions in different medical colleges in Odisha,” Singh said.

Singh aspired to become a doctor but family obligations prevented him from pursuing higher education. His father was an engineer and aspired to make his son a doctor. However, a kidney transplant of Singh’s father forced the family to sell their property, leaving them financially constrained. In order to support his family, Singh had to sell tea. However, he completed his graduation with sociology honours.

“I always wanted to be a doctor and I was preparing for it as well. But my studies suffered due to kidney failure of my father. I started my career by selling tea and syrup. After completing intermediate education, I used to sell soda making machine. I gave tuitions as well to complete my education,” he said.

However, after overcoming financial crisis, Singh pledged to help needy students in fulfilling their dreams.

“When I am now in a good condition, I think I should find helpless students who could not afford to pay and help them. Poor students can join our foundation, the expenses of their accommodation, food, studies and coaching of medical entrance examinations are borne by us,” he said.

“This year I taught 14 students and they all cleared the NEET exam,” Singh added.

Krishna Mohanty is one of 14 students of Zindagi who qualified for the exam. Her mother sells a local cake called ‘Pitha’ at Bhubaneswar’s ISCON temple.

“My father was ‘rajmistri’ while my mother was a housewife. When my father died, I was in the sixth standard. My mother prepares ‘pitha’ for ISCON temple at Bhubaneswar. I joined the Zindagi batch and scored 573 marks in NEET exam 2019,” she said.

Mohanty has been roped in by a government medical college after 15,295 all-India rank in NEET.

Among the 14 students of Zindagi, Aniruddha Nayak who hails from Narasinghpur area of Cuttack district secured the highest rank in Singh’s 2018 batch with All India Rank (AIR) of 5662.

Besides these two, Abanikant Swain (8582), Sailendu Raut (9196), Sai Gourav Mohapatra (10558), Sudhansu Priyadarshini (14831), Krishna Mohanty (15295), Omm Singh (16501), Amiya Ranjan Das (25361), Rutuparna Malla (35265), Jaya Prakash Panda (36900), Manas Ranjan Mishra (47571), Rakesh Kumar Rout (63502), Happin Pattanayak (65010) and Namrata Panda (72778) qualified the exam.

“I will continue to take gurudakshina from students for the rest of my life. I only want my students to treat poor patients free of cost,” he said.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) announced the results and scorecard of National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test, NEET 2019 on June 5.

Over 14 lakh students appeared for NEET exam this year, 7,95,031 candidates living in India qualified the exam while 315 foreign nationals, 1,209 NRIs, 441 candidates holding OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India), and 46 PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) cleared the


In Odisha, over 30,000 have qualified the NEET exam but the story of these 14 students is an inspiration to those who dream of becoming a doctor but could not owing to lack of funds.

(HT Media)

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