‘An IIM professor was born here.’
The social media caption paired with the photo of a dilapidated house canopied by a tarpaulin sheet in a non-descript village of Kerala’s Kasargod, has gone viral.
What has impressed netizens more is the inspiring story of its resident – 28-year-old Ranjith Ramachandran – who has charted a rather arduous journey, from being a watchman to an assistant professor at the prestigious IIM-Ranchi.
Hailing from the Marathi-speaking scheduled tribe community of Panathur in Kasargod, Ranjith, who lives with his family of five in the district, says his father, a tailor and mother, a MGNREGA worker have put up with a lot of struggles to educate him and his two younger siblings.
Ranjith whose rags-to-riches story has grabbed eyeballs on the social media space, in interviews to media houses, has said that although the poor financial condition of his parents pushed him to the brink of quitting high school several times, he never gave up hope. After completing his higher secondary education, he took the job of a night watchman at a BSNL telephone exchange at a salary of ₹4,000 per month. He simultaneously enrolled in a BA Economics course in Pious Tenth College in Rajapuram. He would attend classes in the day and work in the night.
“After higher secondary, I longed for a job to help me support my parents financially. I had to support my younger brother and sister, both students then. I got the job of a night watchman at a local BSNL telephone exchange for ₹4,000 a month. I joined a degree course (Economics) at Pious Xth College, Rajapuram, near my village. During day I went to college and in evenings returned to the telephone exchange, where I spent the entire night,” he told Indian Express in an interview.
Ranjith said during his graduation and subsequent post-graduation years (at the Central University, Kasargod) he literally lived at the telephone exchange. I would only visit home to have food after college and would rush to the telephone exchange.
“I had converted the exchange into my study room as well as living room,” he said.
Persevering through the years, Ranjith successfully completed his PhD from IIT-Madras. But, that too wasn’t a cakewalk. During his initial years there, Ranjith says he was someone who didn’t even know how to speak English and the thought of quitting the course often crossed his mind. But a little push from a mentor helped.
“My guide, professor Subhash, reminded me of how unwise it would be to leave. I started nurturing the dream of becoming a teacher at IIM,” he told News18 in an interview.
Ranjith says he would use a part of his PhD stipend and send the rest home to sponsor the studies of his sister Ranjitha and brother Rahul.
He worked as an assistant professor at Christ College in Bengaluru for two months before getting the job at IIM.
Ranjith says despite challenges and difficulties, he never used reservation and his caste as a leverage to get ahead in the academic race.
“I wanted my life to inspire youths who are struggling to find success – my success should inspire other people’s dreams.”