18-year-old Rakesh Ranjan Nayak, the son of a poor village shopkeeper, surprised all when his name appeared in the list of successful candidates when IIT-JEE 2012 results were unveiled.
While Rakesh ranked 154 in the All-India merit list, he stood 18th in the list of Other Backward Caste (OBC) category students. He also topped the list of 240 successful candidates from Odisha.
"I was expecting a place in the top 500 list. But I am surprised to find my name in the 154th rank," Rakesh said after being felicitated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here at the state secretariat.
Eldest among three children of Raj Kishore Nayak of Saranggada village in riot-hit Kandhamal district, Rakesh had secured 95.8 per cent in 10th standard board examination and 95.2 per cent in Plus-II (Science) examination last year.
He was a student of Jawahar Navadoy Vidyalaya (JNV) near his village. "I am indebted to my school which shaped my career. Had I not been in JNV, it was impossible on may part to dream to get opportunity to study in IIT," Rakesh said.
Rakesh said he was interested to get into IIT-Mumbai and study electrical engineering. "I want to do research in electrical engineering in future," he said.
Rakesh's father Raj Kishore, having a formal education upto 10th standard, was happy with his son's success while mother Sabitarani visited the temple to thank the village goddess. The entire village is celebrating Rakesh's success, Sabitarani said.
"I am a poor shopkeeper. I do not know much about his education. His uncles got him admitted at a private coaching institute in Bhubaneswar a year ago. I do not know what IIT is," the father told PTI over phone from his small grocery shop at Saranggada village.
Recalling the hardship his family faced, the father said he did not have Rs 35,000 for admission of Rakesh in the coaching institute.
"Keeping Rakesh's interest in education and his marksheet of Plus-II examination in view, they reduced the tuition fee from Rs 60,000 to Rs 35,000. Still the reduced amount was a big amount for me. I borrowed money from others for Rakesh's admission," Kishore said.
Asked whether the communal riot in Kandhamal in 2008 affected his studies, Rakesh said he was in 10th standard when the violence broke out.
"I was in JNV campus. Therefore, the riot had no impact on us. However, the entire atmosphere in Kandhamal remained volatile for a long time," he said.