National

Moulding Minds: How Super30 Changed The Concept Of Coaching

Super30 is a coaching concept that tries to light a spark in inquisitive minds, while encouraging successful alumna to give back to society

Moulding Minds: How Super30 Changed The Concept Of Coaching
info_icon

Chaitanya Arya of Magadh Super30 says, “Abhayanand Sir would never answer any of my questions in Phys­ics. Instead, he would make all efforts to confuse me, letting me find my way out of the mire myself.” After completing his MTech in En­g­i­neering Physics from IIT-Delhi, Chaitanya is pur­suing a PhD progr­a­mme in nanotechnology at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich.

Javed was scared. A top cop as an instructor who does not give a straightforward answer to his questi­ons. He later felt happy on realising that he had been able to de­b­­ate with the state DGP on Physics and Mathemat­ics. Javed, an alumnus of Rahma­ni­30, graduated from IIT-Kanpur. He works with a big MNC today, leaving poverty behind him.

There is no exact number, but the likes of Chaita­nya and Javed have multiplied manifold. At this stage of the journey, as I look back at the last 20 years of Super30, individual incidents and the collective roller-coaster ride fade away. I am left only with the takeaways of this social experiment.

Teaching has transformed into an art of transfe­r­ring information from the overflowing ‘mind box’ of the teacher to the ‘hollow box’ of the stud­ent. This is the worst that could have happened to the education system of this country. A country whose learning population is not encouraged to intelligently question the fundamentals is surely headed towards disaster. Human beings are not to be moulded into gatherers of information, but as avid processors of the same. I tried to sow the see­ds of ‘teaching as a self-learning process’ in deba­tes with instructors. In my definition, a teacher is one who may not give the right answers, but keeps asking the right questions, through which, he prods students to seek the answ­ers themselves.

info_icon
Minds on fire A classrom at Rahmani30

Super30 for me was a long and arduous haul of my effort towards answering the questions: “Who taught Newton the laws of motion?” Richard Fey­n­man, a teacher with one of the most inquisitive minds, would never let his stude­nts navigate predetermined paths to scientific fac­ts. Instead, he would encourage them to ask que­s­tions, apply hit­herto known scientific principles and eventually find their own solutions. At times, they would stumble over unusual probl­ems, but that would only lead them to novel ideas. This is the model I tried to implement. I sincerely believe this is the surest path for a nation to become a world leader.

What caught the world’s attention in the initial years of this experiment? This is a question that has neither been asked nor answered.

Nothing is alarming about a dog biting a man, but the reverse is news. A top cop teaching Physics was an instance of a “man biting a dog”. An Inspe­ctor-General in uniform, teaching students was an object of curiosity for the international media.

Many young minds with the potential to become thought leaders end up dying, fighting a battle against poverty and hunger. Who will help? State or society? Perhaps neither.

I realised to my chagrin that poverty is a major roadblock on this path. Many young minds with the potential to become thought leaders end up dying by the wayside fighting a battle against poverty and hunger. I have seen them at their tender age. I have palpated their innate thinking abilities only to realise that this talent would never get to blossom, but get buried under the weight of their “fight for survival”. Who will help? State or society? Perhaps neither.

Ankit, from Abhayanand Super30, came from a poor rural family. The only training I had impar­ted him was to “think”. He was successful in the selection processes of both IISC-Bangalore and IIT-Delhi. I coaxed him into joining IISC. He refu­sed, “My family cannot sustain the luxury of rese­a­rch. I want to earn money for my parents.” The country lost an original thinking mind. He was sacrificed at the altar of poverty. So much for Sup­er30 as a programme for poverty alleviation.

The late Maulana Wali Rahmani was a Muslim religious leader. My first meeting with him happe­ned in 2009, when he came to me with an unusual request. He wanted the children of his community to get a decent grounding in science and mathem­atics, especially since the Sachar Committee had established that they had taken a back seat in ter­ms of education. Rahmani30 was born. It is going from strength to strength every year. The changes that Rahmani30 has brought to the Mus­lim community are there for people to see. Bihar’s Magadh region is badly hit by Naxalism for decades. I tried to fight this through Magadh Super30. Its impact is worth an objective assessment.

info_icon
Succesful alumnus Chaitanya Arya at Zurich lab working on his PhD in nanotechnology

The first centre of CSRL Super 30 was started at Kanpur under the aegis of GAIL. I was requested by its chairman to guide this CSR pro­ject as its academic mentor. I acc­epted the responsibility when I was still an IGP in Bihar Police. I directed the entire academic activity and even taught Physics and Mathematics during official holidays. All this was volu­n­tary, bereft of any monetary gain.

The result of the first batch was res­o­unding. Other GoI PSUs that were watching from the sidelines, made a beeline for opening new centres. Wit­hin no time, 23 Super30 centres sprang up all over the country. For the last 12 years, this system has hel­ped around 300 poor children every year to get into IITs.

Year after year, the results of all Super30 centres speak of the credibility of this concept. This has enth­used individuals as well as private and public sector managements.

On my retirement day, I got a req­u­est from Sangam Industries in Bhi­l­wara, seeking my help in one such philant­h­ropic activity. I accepted their request on the same condition—no pecuniary benefit. Their Super30 has been in operation for eight years now, producing spectacular results in Rajasthan.

A couple of years ago, some young, Kota-based instructors led by Sunil Rathore, came to Patna to study the Super30 system. They returned to Surat in Gujarat and started their first batch there. I con­tinue to guide him virtually from Patna.

Advertisement

There isn’t any IIT or NIT that doesn’t have students from these Super30 centres that are runn­ing under my mentorship. After retirement, I was once on a visit to NIT-Silchar. There were around 50 students from various Super30 centres enrol­led on campus. They all flocked to the room of the institute guest house where I was staying. I was requested to sit cross-legged on the bed. They lin­ed up in front of me and one by one, prostrated the­mselves on the floor in reverence. I was moved, as I had not seen such devotion before.

People have often asked me, “What is the busin­ess model of Super30?” My simple answer fails to satisfy them: “It is a business without any busin­ess model.” I am not as poor to seek money from anyone, nor am I as rich to donate money to a pub­­lic cause. What I have developed is “software” that is free to download by anyone who desires to. He can use whatever “hardware” he has, to help the cause of poor and talented children in their preparation for national-level competitive exams.

Advertisement

Is Super30 a coaching institute for IIT-JEE? No. It is not a product, but a concept. In the language of economics, it is not a good but a service. This concept has the potential to transform society in many ways. All that it needs is an ambience that is unbounded.

During my tenure as the head of Bihar Police, I successfully applied this conc­ept to diverse fields, such as health and sports. Muskan, a young girl from Bihar who was selected for the Indian Wom­en’s basketball team, is today playing in the Jr. NBA Global Championship in Florida. I had extended my Super30 programme to sports while I was in the police. Muskan is its success story.

Advertisement

Constables of Bihar Police got toge­t­her to create a modern nursing home for their families under my leadership when I was their ADG. The working model was the qualitative concept of Super30. The nursing home is running and functioning well.

Giving back to society is in vogue these days. People are practicing it in various forms. Some are really comm­e­ndable, some not so. Whatever be the form, one aspect that must remain true in all cases is that a proc­ess of giving back cannot, in any way, become a means of livelihood. I feel so satisfied when I see my students, who themselves are in the mid rungs of their individual professions, sincerely practicing this in their own ways.

Advertisement

After graduating from IIT-Kharagpur, Imbe­sat of Rahmani30 is devoted full-time to helping the cause of education in Kashmir. He has carved a niche for himself in his domain. Con­gratulations to him and his team.

God has been sufficiently gracious to me. Pra­y­ing for more would have been selfish. Super30 was a godsend for me to give back to the society, to which I owe a lot. I desired to become debt-free, or as the Ramayana says, “Urin”.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Moulding Minds")

(The writer is ex-DGP, Bihar, co-founder of Super30 and author of forthcoming book Unbounded)

(Views expressed are personal)

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement