Published: 17th October 2020
Odisha group keeps its mission alive, all 19 underprivileged medical aspirants crack NEET exam
These successful students are products of Zindagi programme run by a non-governmental organisation of academician Ajay Bahadur Singh, who himself had similar experiences
Keeping alive its motto of giving wings to medical aspirants hailing from the deprived sections of the society, an Odisha-based charitable group has achieved remarkable success this year also as all 19 students cracked the medical entrance examination NEET. The results of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) were declared on Friday. They are children of humble daily labourer, vegetable seller, truck driver, fisherman and idli-vada seller.
These successful students are products of Zindagi programme run by a non-governmental organisation of academician Ajay Bahadur Singh, who himself had to experience pangs of hunger and scarcity of money in childhood which prevented him from becoming a doctor. Under the programme, talented underprivileged students are selected from across Odisha and provided free coaching and food to help them crack NEET and become a doctor.
The noble initiative in Odisha is akin to famed Super 30 experiment of mathematician Anand Kumar. "Neither poverty nor coronavirus pandemic could dampen the spirit of these students to achieve their dream to become a doctor. This year also the Zindagi foundation students created history, 19 out of 19 students of the foundation have qualified in NEET 2020 exam," Singh said on Saturday.
Amongst the kids of Zindagi foundation, there is Khirodini Sahoo, who belongs to Angul district. Her father works as a farm labourer, who lost his job during the pandemic further driving the family to poverty. "I fell ill during the lockdown, and came to Bhubaneswar by ambulance and told everything to Ajay Sir. He kept me at his home and provided everything required," Khirodini, who has secured 2,594 All India rank, in NEET conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA), said.
Satyajit Sahoo, whose father vends vegetables on cycle has achieved 619 marks. Another success story is of Subhendu Parida, who use to vend "Idli Vada" alongside his parents. He qualified in NEET exam by achieving 609 marks. Nivedita Panda, her father is a betel shop owner in their village in Dhenkanal district, has achieved 591 marks. Roshan Paik, who used to lend helping hands to his farm labourer father is another qualifier.
Manjeet, whose family survives of catching of fish, is another successful candidate. Smruti Ranjan Senapati, ward of a truck driver, has qualified in the NEET exam for admission in government medical college scoring 536 marks and having 59044 AIR rank. Ajay Bahadur Singh initiated Zindagi Foundation in the year 2017 in Bhubaneswar. "I do all this without taking any donation from any individual or an organisation though many have offered. I manage everything from my own resources, because I see my childhood in them," Singh told Express.
The man behind the success stories of these children had to leave his medical studies and sell tea and sharbat (squash) to sustain his family undergoing financial hardship. "I had to sale tea and sharbat at shravani mela in temple town of Baba Baidyanath in Jharkhand to pursue studies," he said. Under the project, the talented students of the poor financial background selected through a state-wide screening test, are provided free food, lodging and teaching to help them become a doctor.
Twelve out of a batch of 14 who had cracked NEET in 2018 got admission in government medical colleges of Odisha. They were hosted by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik then to commemorate their achievements. "I could not become a doctor but when I see these kids achieve their dreams, I feel I have achieved mine. I would never accept that any brilliant child is not able to achieve his or her dream just because of financial constraints.