Sons in IIT, daily-wager dad doesn’t have Rs 1 lakh for fees

REHUA LALGUNJ (Pratapgarh): Dharamraj Saroj of UP’s Pratapgarh district is in a fix. Both his sons have cracked the IIT entrance test — one securing rank 167 and the other 410. Dharamraj, a daily-wage earner, desperately needs Rs 1 lakh for their admission fees. But that’s an astronomical sum, for he barely makes ends meet.

Dharamraj works for a Surat mill and hardly manages to fend for his family of seven. When sons – Raju, 18, and Brijesh, 19, broke the news of their stellar performance to their dad, he didn’t even know why it was such a big deal. Raju ranked 167 and elder brother Brijesh 410. Today, Dharamraj knows. But he isn’t celebrating. He’s lost sleep over rustling up Rs 1 lakh (Rs 30,000 admission fee and Rs 20,000 for the first semester) to get the boys admitted to the country’s best tech institution.

“True, it’s a great achievement, but we’re worried about making it, that too before the June 25 counselling date. Banks would give us loans only after we get admission,” Raju told TOI.

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Dharamraj and his family live in a rundown mud hut with a tarpaulin thatch at Rehua Lalganj village. Dharamraj owns eight goats, one cycle, and a table fan.

“Double shift work in Surat gets me Rs 12,000 a month. Things were smoother when the boys got admitted to Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya at Pratapgarh. They bagged scholarships to prepare for their IIT entrance. But now what? Where to raise the money from? I don’t own a single inch of land,” lamented Dharamraj.

Both boys scored over 95% in their Class X exams, after which they were picked for a scholarship programme. “Our village has a number of sharp students, but don’t know that dreams don’t need facilities to support them. It’s the commitment that matters,” Brijesh told TOI over the phone from Patna. “I’ll opt for electrical engineering and after finishing studies at IIT, prepare for IAS. A district magistrate can do a lot more for people,” he added.

Warriors of will: Raju (in shirt) ranked 167 in the IIT-JEE, and his brother Brijesh (not in the photo) 410. The boys and their family live in a rundown mud hut with a tarpaulin thatch.

Raju, though, wants to get an MBA after IIT and make money for himself and his family. “We’ve been brought up in extremely side conditions. Our family of seven lives in two small rooms that has two CFL bulbs,” he said.

“Had it not been for our school, where we got three meals and scholarships for IIT preparations, things would have been different,” he added.

Their house got an electricity connection last year and they use a chulha to cook. Children of this family have never eaten ‘paneer’ (cottage cheese), rode a car or had the luxury of a radio or a TV set. But knowledge comes to them easy. Asked to recite the table of 32, their youngest brother Rohit (11) does it with ease.

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