New Delhi: Akshay Saxena and Krishna Ramkumar left high paying corporate jobs to help students from economically weaker families nurture their dreams. Through their organisation Avanti, Krishna and Akshay help economically weaker students from far flung areas prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams absolutely free.
Raj Kumar has studied only up to class 10. Today, he sells vegetables for a living. Nikhil Kumar, Raj Kumar's son is 15, studies in class 11th and he has a dream. "I want to become a doctor. They get a lot of respect," Nikhil says.
Nikhil studies in a government school for outstanding students. But clearing medical entrance exams needs special coaching, which his dad couldn't pay for, till Avanti helped out.
"We are in seven cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kanpur, Dehradun, Rourkee, Puducherry. We have student chapters in Delhi and Mumbai, we work through them. In these chapters, there are 200 to 250 volunteers working on Avanti," Akshay says.
Akshay is one of two founders of Avanti. A bunch of former and current students from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Avanti identifies bright students from poor families and helps them prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams.
"The level of motivation in rural kids is far higher than in urban kids. Urbanites have already seen the good life. There are distractions. Rural kids have a chance to lift their entire family out of poverty. They have great motivation," Krishna says.
Thanks to Avanti, Nikhil bagged a scholarship at an elite coaching institute. Today, he studies in the company of much richer kids.
For students in far flung areas, Avanti records and projects lectures. They also arrange for medical and engineering students to coach these kids on the weekends. All this is currently free, thanks to generous investors from both the US and India.
Krishna says, "I was 24 and I wanted to do something interesting with my life. There is no sacrifice really. We pay ourselves decent salaries. Not as much as a corporate pay. But we aren't on the roads either. For us, it's about the excitement."