THE fate of India may change when education reaches every village. But until that happens, a handful of young men and women will continue to fight their circumstances and government apathy, to rise above their deprivation. In this cover, we bring you five such stories of hardship and struggle, of people born in places with limited means, but with unlimited dreams. Common in their difficult journey, is a passion which has kept these bright young people going, while they wore old, used clothes, studied from borrowed books and sold papad to run the household. This they braved, because for them education was their only hope for a better life. But their struggles also bring to the fore an imperfect education system that while on one hand gives poor students a chance to change their lives, on the other leaves them with bruised self-confidence. Because as with most, their journey starts from government schools - some even without roofs or good teachers -that teach in Hindi or a regional language. So, when they come to big cities for higher studies, their poor English or communication skills create a social divide between them and the others. As though getting into the country's top institutes wasn't enough, now they have to prove that they are equally good, all over again. Nevertheless, their personal journeys have burnished and tempered them so much, that today no problem frightens or scares them. Writing about these young men and women has been a humbling experience, as one learns from them, that much can be achieved with very little.
Meet the survivers
Tilling land and dreamsSuresh Ram, a farmer's son from a village calle Adhkhani, discovers a burning passion for mathematics. And makes it to IIT.
Sketching in the coal mines
Amit Sinha grew up in Jharkhand, amidst the coal and mica mines. But his creativity and artistic abilities helped him graduate from NID. Today, he teaches at the institute. A story of grit and commitment.
Pragya Verma's burning desire to make her mother proud, helped this young girl overcame financial difficulties and make it to IIT. This algorithm-cruncher's long-term ambition: to be a researcher.
Dreaming in the lantern light
Nirmal Kumar's village had no electricity or hospitals, and he was struck by polio at the age of three. Yet, today he is an IIM graduate turned entrepreneur, with his own companies, G Auto and Mr Coco.
Creativity knows no barrier
Manish Patel worked as an office boy with an advertising agency for want of finances, after Class 12. But today he is a successful copywriter won silver at Cannes. He rose in the ranks because of his passion, hard work and talent.
No matter how privileged you are, there is no substitute for hard work, advises this CEO, who hails from humble background but grew up with no time for self-pity.
Ajit Balakrishnan Founder, Chairman & CEO, Rediff.comBig lessons from a small-town teacher
Nirmala's innovative teaching method is a beacon of hope for Indian education. Read how this teacher at a remote, government school, used Malayalam writer SK Pottakad's short story to teach students the real value of human life.
Explore these scholarshipsA listing of government and non-governmental organisations offer fellowships, interest-free loans and freeships
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