Sullia boy fights poverty in pursuit of his IIT dream

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Friends in hostel, who called him “gujri (scrap) Manja” and disturbed him while studying, today take pride in the fact the “bookworm” is now heading to IIT Bhubaneswar.

That is Manjunatha M. of Yenekallu, Sullia taluk, who, despite his abject poverty, has cleared one of the toughest entrance exams – Joint Admission Test (JAM).

Clearly, the journey was not a bed of roses for Manjunatha, as he had to earn while learning. His aged mother Susheela, a daily wage earner, could not support his education expenses. After all, she had to educate her daughters Nethravathi and Rajeshwari, who have now completed PUC and B.Sc. Nursing respectively.

As a student of Canara College here, he worked for caterers on weekends and holidays. “They paid me Rs. 220 to Rs. 250 per day. Besides, I also took educational loan because I needed a computer.”

He stayed in BCM government hostel, Ashoknagar, where food and stay are free for students from the backward classes and minorities.

But the life of hostel was not ideal for him as his hostel mates were always in “mood for fun”. He always locked himself in and preferred reading books or newspapers he borrowed from the library. “Sometimes, the seniors disturbed me. They did not like the fact that I was always studying. But I had my own ambition.”

Once he even had to lodge a complaint against his friends at Barke police station. They used to call him ‘Gujiri (scrap) Manja’ since he collected electronic scrap and then made something out of it.

Shravan Kumar, one of his roommates, recollects, “While we all made merry, he was immersed in reading. It makes me so happy to know that one of my friend got into IIT. We are proud of him.” Another friend, Bhojaraj, said, “We were scared to enter his room because he had electronic devices all around with cables hanging from everywhere. However, we went to him to get our electronic equipment repaired. Besides, he built a library of his own.”

Manjunatha will soon join IIT – Bhubaneswar, Orissa, to pursue an integrated six-year M.Sc. and Ph.D course.

The 21-year-old had his initial education at Subrahmanya Ashrama School and Yenekallu Government School before joining Jawahar Navodaya School in Mudupi where he studied up to PUC.

Though he received 192nd rank in AIEEE, he could not get into an engineering course since he could not afford to pay the fee of Rs. 25,000 under Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, says Manjunath. Thanks to the support of Srivaram C., a physical trainer in Yenekallu, he could join B.Sc. in Canara College here.

Mr. Manjunatha is expecting contributions from philanthropists to pursue his dream at IIT Bubhaneswar. He can be reached on 99024-95359. Contributions can be credited to his account number 2858101003675 at Canara Bank, Centenary Branch, Canara College, Mangalore, with IFSc Code CNRB0002858.

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