The students are part of a community initiative to increase Muslim representation in IITs.
IN an age where how you look creates perceptions about who you are, Farhat Shaikh with his straggly beard and skull cap looks unlike an IIT aspirant. The 17-year-old who hails from Udgir, a riot-prone area in Marathwada, has, however, managed to overcome the odds, including his humble background, to qualify for the prestigious Olympiad Science Test.
He is one of the 15 students from Anjuman-I-Islam Rahmani 30 to have qualified for the test, deemed as an important milestone in taking a shot at the IIT exams.
Rahmani 30 is the first non-government venture that came up in 2008 in Bihar to prepare poor Muslim students for Joint Entrance Exams of IIT. The institute, which provides free coaching, food and lodging for students has so far helped 56 Muslim candidates to join IITs.
“I had no idea what IIT was till I reached class 10. Very few people in Udgir have an idea about these institutes. The awareness is lower still when it comes to Muslims,” says Farhat. He applied for Anjuman-I-Islam Rahmani 30 after his family came across an advertisement seeking interested candidates.
Farhat and 26 others were chosen after a strenuous weeding process which saw thousands of bright Muslim students turn up to seek coaching.
For a community, which makes up 14.88% of the country’s population, Muslim representation in IITs is a measly 1.3%.
A plan to bridge this gap was formulated by Maulana Mohammad Wali Rahmani, a Bihar-based politician and General Secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The initiative began in Bihar under the mentorship of former Bihar DGP Abhyananad, who conceptualized Super 30 to teach poor students to crack the entrance exam.
Maulana Rahmani sold his personal property to start this programme which he claimed was an attempt to take Muslims from “ITIs to IITs”. A branch was later opened in Hyderabad and another in Mumbai last year.
Interestingly 16 of the 27 students from the first batch in Maharashtra have also cleared the Olympiad Test. These tests are organised every year to motivate students to strive for better and deeper understanding of scientific facts and data and to enhance their reasoning, analytical and problem solving skills.
The students spend 14 hours of rigourous studies in a residential campus at Anjuman-I-Islam near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Nearly 80 per cent of them hail from families whose monthly income is less than Rs 9000.
Interestingly the students are taught by two IITians, one a Muslim with a full beard and another a clean shaven Hindu.
Many of the students claim they want to join IIT because of the prestige associated with it.
“It is such a prestigious institute. Being part of it gives you so much respect. Apart from the money that you will make being an IITian it will also give me the opportunity to do something good for society and my country,” Adbul Wadood, a student who hails from Vasai said.
Fahad Rahmani, a former technical solutions consultant who gave up his job to manage Rahmani 30 claims that the aim of the entire project was to create opportunities for young Muslims.
“Never in my wildest dreams have I believed that getting 30 of these kids into IIT would make a huge change. What we want to do is send this message that there is capability as well as intent in the community. All that is lacking is opportunity which we are working to create,” Fahad Rahmani, General Secretary of Rahmani 30, said. Courtesy: indianexpress