theindialog

October 22, 2009

Abhayanand- Bihar’s Supercop

Filed under: Bihar,Conversation,Education — loggers @ 12:07 am

Background

Abhayanand is a senior IPS (Indian Police Service) officer based in Patna, Bihar. He serves as a policeman from 9am – 5pm, and spends the rest of his time teaching. At the age of 40, he decided that after having taken everything from Bihar, it was time to give back. So he started his version of the Super 30’s…the road to IIT for poor teenagers who can’t otherwise afford coaching.

Abhayanand

courtesy of abhay-anand.blogspot.com

Super 30’s

Through Super 30’s, Abhayanand provides coaching to underprivileged IIT aspirants in Bihar. Students are taught via video conference in classes of 30 or less, and Abhayanand has maintained a ~90% success rate in getting his students into IIT (which has an acceptance rate of ~2%). The programs, which after starting in Bihar have now expanded to new locations in Uttar Pradesh, are completely funded by the communities themselves. Formal social audit is conducted regularly to keep track of the students’ accounts, and the program sustains itself as long as the community sees it as a worthy investment.

Targeting the Poor

Abhayanand shared his thoughts with us as just after wrapping up an evening lesson at 6pm. An integral aspect of his philosophy is to target poor Muslim communities, which approached him some time ago saying that their education conditions were worse than those of shunned Dalit societies in Bihar. He finds that Muslim students are the most vulnerable to social evils, as misled youth have ample channels of fundamentalism and terrorist groups to turn to when deprived of opportunity. Abhayanand brushed off questions of social backlash due to segregation, stating that he will continue to do his work for the Muslim community and that people can criticize his philosophy all they want.

When asked how he manages to restrict admission to the poor, Abhayanand said that it is impractical and inefficient to use family income as part of his admission criteria. However, he also mentioned that the housing that he provides under the community-funding scheme serves as an effective weed-out mechanism. Rich kids in the area would find it near impossible to share a common toilet and put up with the living conditions, even if it gets them into IIT. This social segmentation, in addition to a highly competitive entrance exam, decides who gets a seat in Abhayanand’s Super 30.

Wrap-up

Abhayanand is a modern-day super hero. A senior police officer-by-day, he starts teaching as soon as he is off-duty to help underprivileged children, from a different social background than his own, get into IIT. It’s not every day that we find stories like this, but when we do find them, they are an important reminder of the innate goodness in people. We maintain that this upright minority is what can bring about the justice and development that India desperately needs at the moment.

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