Anand Kumar and the Ramanujan School for Mathematics

Anand Kumar teaching at the Ramanujan School for Mathematics

India is booming.

For anyone involved in the sourcing and outsourcing-cum- offshoring business, the fact that India seems to be tapping from a sheer endless pool of whizzy talent, is taken for granted.

Much less known is the fact that, for millions of India's underprivileged, the road to prosperity remains firmly locked - and a great deal of affirmative action is still needed to get away with inherent social injustice.

Take the case of Anand Kumar (37), the son of a Bihari postmaster, who has taken it upon him to unlock the hidden mathematical wizzardry of the poor - and has to walk around with a guard of armed gunmen in order to do so.

Anand KumarHimself a master of Number Theory (with papers published in the UK Mathematical Spectrum and the Mathemaitical Gazette), in 1995 he rented an empty warehouse in the Bihari State Capital Patna for 500 Rs a month and started teaching the poor, for a nominal fee of 1500 Rs a year. In the meantime, his Ramanujan School for Mathematics has produced thousands of skilled mathematicians and informaticians. Boys and girls from the street, with hardly more than an odd few scraps of basic education.

With his Super 30 program, Anand Kumar selects the 30 most deserving students of his school, houses them, feeds them, trains them vigorously, and prepares them for entry exams at the elite IIT's (Indian Institutes of Technology). From here, the road to professional success unfolds itself, and with this, a unique chance for so many Dalit and Scheduled Castes families to break away from poverty once and for all. (see the video link at the bottom of this page)

But Bihar remains Bihar. Governmental education is notoriously bad, and the private education business, like so many other enterprises in the state, is firmly in the hands of goondas (gangsters) living on bribes and enforcing their own business success with armed gangs, threatening, and often killing, anyone who comes in their way. One of Anand Kumar's co-workers was stabbed in the street, Kumar started receiving death threats, and a hand grenade was thrown at him, fortunately leaving him unhurt. These days, as his popularity among the Patna slum-dwellers rises and articles were devoted to his work in the global press (Newsweek, Geo Magazine, ...), he himself has to walk around with armed gunmen to safeguard his life.

Fortunately, gunmen notwithstanding, the Anand Kumar program is a huge success. My students have junoon (passion), he says, and my informal way of education is there to nurture junoon into prosperity. If only a few of the students make it to a career at Infosys, TCS, or any of the outsourcing offshoring giants on the global market, it is all worthwhile.

Jeevan deep - Children at schoolTogether, we can prove that social background is no impediment to having talent for excellence.

Together, we can show the world that education unwraps an untapped pool of talent, which by itself will turn social injustice around.

Giving children the right to be educated is our key value, and we will leave no stone unturned until we have done everything in our power to help make this possible.

In Bodhgaya, Jeevan Deep is at the bottom of the stairway.

Making that first step upwards, is our mission. Unfolding the ladder to a better future.

 

To learn more about how you can help, visit our Help Us page (English) or browse through Ideetjes om te helpen (Dutch).

 

(Francis Laleman)

 

- Learn more about Anand Kumar through this excellent and inspiring documentary video -