What can only be described as a story of true inspiration and grit, P Arun Kumar from Tamil Nadu's Trichy with limited means, cracked the JEE Advanced examination in his first attempt to bag an all-India ranking of 12,175 and OBC-NCL rank of 2,503. Son of labourer N Ponnalagan, the 17-year-old boy is now set to enter the hallowed precincts of the Indian Institute of Technology.
According to reports in Times of India, Kumar hails from Karadipatty, a village located 50km from the city of Trichy. The reports further explained how the teenager's fortunes started to change when he got selected by the school education department and Trichy district administration for an entrance exam for JEE coaching in 2019. The programme was offered by IGNITTE, an outlet conducted by students of NIT-Trichy to help individuals from economically backward backgrounds to crack competitive exams.
Overcoming All Odds
Kumar, who lives with his parents, two sisters, and grandparents, cracked the test amid monetary and other difficulties. He used to attend coaching classes initially using his basic cell phone through calls that lasted half an hour a day due to network problems. However, his father later decided to shell out Rs 10,000 to buy a smartphone for his son to attend the classes online. Arun was also quoted as saying by the publication that the cost-free laptop which was given by the government had audio issues.
Arun's father also revealed how he did odd jobs like a helper in restaurants in Kanchipuram, however, stated that he was particular that his son received a proper education.
"Six years ago, as I could not afford the fee of a private school, I enrolled him in a government school. I never thought about pushing him to work as he is a bright student," Ponnalagan was quoted as saying by TOI.
'Had No Idea What IIT Was Until 2019'
Kumar is also open-minded enough to admit that he had no idea about the existence of IITs until 2019. "Quality coaching and practice and more importantly the faith reposed in me by my family and school helped me achieve this feat. I did not let myself get distracted by our difficulties and financial constraints," he told TOI.
Due to their monthly income hardly reaching Rs 10,000, Arun's family is currently worried about paying the semester fee which costs more than a lakh in an IIT. With help for IIT admission likely to commence in the coming days, the boy's family is relying on scholarships and good Samaritans to fulfil the young boy's dream to enter IIT.