Piyush Jha had to battle not just financial constraints during his journey to clearing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Undergraduate (NEET UG) 2023 for medical education, he also struggled for a place to study.
He lived in a two-bedroom flat in joint family that comprised 10 members, making studies difficult.
The 20-year-old son of a security guard, who got overall (all India) rank of 88 and stood third in the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) category in his 3rd attempt, had to enrol in an affordable coaching course online and join a library nearby to study in peace.
“The [dire] financial situation of my family motivated me to do better and focus on my goal. My parents never pressurised me or made me feel demotivated due to lack of money. I purchased very limited books. My uncle who lives with my family also helped me (especially financially) in this journey and I credit him,” said Jha.
Jha’s journey was full of obstacles and besides struggling for a place to study and finances, he also felt demoralised with his class 12 marks.
“I completed my twelfth from RPVV (Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya), Paschim Vihar. My performance was poor because the board exam was not conducted that year [due to corona], so I got 89% marks on the basis of a mock test and 10th standard result, in which I had got 94%. The main reason was that I changed my school after 10th, so I couldn’t adjust myself in the new school environment,” said Jha who is among over a thousand students from Delhi government schools to qualify for NEET, 2023.
“After this, I started NEET preparation seriously and joined an online coaching batch, which was affordable at 4,000 rupees annually. We live in a joint family with my uncle in a two-bedroom rented house, so it was not possible to study properly. I joined a library nearby, where I spent time usually from 8 am to 10 pm and followed the batch (coaching) procedure consistently.”
According to Delhi government, a total of 1,074 students from Delhi government schools have cracked NEET exam in 2023. Out of these, 695 are girls and 379 are boys.
This is an increase from previous years. In 2022, 648 government school students had cleared NEET and in 2021, 496 had made it through.
Delhi’s education minister Atishi had also excitedly tweeted, “For the first time in Delhi Govt Schools’ history, more than 1,000 students have cracked NEET. 695 of them are girls! Our kids have made us so proud. The Education Revolution continues to give so many a chance to realise their aspirations. Excited to meet our future doctors soon!”
Originally from Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and youngest of two brothers and two sisters living in Nangloi, Jha had a good score in 2022 also but it wasn’t high enough for admission to a government medical college and his family couldn’t afford private college.
This was his third attempt. He first appeared in NEET after class 12 in 2021 just to gain experience and he got a good rank (615/720) in 2022. But admission to government college was tough, so he tried again.
“I was disappointed with my score in 2022. Then I made sure to attend all the lectures diligently, focus on NCERT, go through the notes, which I had made that year and follow the test series carefully. I also joined a test series for marks practice. In the test (coaching), I got around 650. I thought I could do better and become a topper. My parents also supported me and said ‘no problem, you can try this year too’,” he explains.
“So, due to consistency, I got 706/720 this year. My rank is 88th at all India level and 3rd in EWS. AIIMS, Delhi is the top medical college in the country. Hopefully, I will get a seat there because EWS reservation in AIIMS is for 10 seats and I am ranked 3rd in the category,” he said hopefully.
Life changing incident
Jha was aspiring to become a civil servant till he was in 10th standard. A loss of life in the family made him opt for medicine.
“Until the 10th grade, I wanted to appear in the UPSC examination. But in class 10, my maternal uncle died of cancer. That is what pushed me into the medical field and I decided to become a doctor.”
He feels that things have changed over the years and digitisation has helped make education more accessible.
“See, if I talk about four years ago, online coaching was not easily accessible and offline fees, which was around Rs 2 lakh, couldn’t be afforded by everybody. However, online coaching has made things affordable. You can top and get a good rank through online classes too. It helped me a lot personally. Also, after the 11th standard, the Delhi government distributed tabs (tablet computers) which helped me in my studies. I think I would have faced many difficulties without it. So, I also have to thank the Delhi government for it,” he added.
Jha’s family has been living in Delhi for around 25 years. His brother joined the Indian Railways around two months ago and is currently posted in Chennai. His sister has completed her undergraduate degree. His neighbours are also very happy with his success.
Murari Singh, who runs a tuition class ‘Golden Academy’ near Jha’s house, said, “I am very happy to hear about it. He is a very talented student. I teach his sister, she is also brilliant. He used to be always busy studying, and had no interest in anything except books. I also motivate my students by giving his example.”
Mother Sunaina Devi says that Jha was always driven and focussed.
“We did not need to tell him to study. Even last year, he did not attend his real sister’s marriage in his ancestral village due to studies. He got an award in school earlier too. We always want to educate our children. God has fulfilled our dream. It took five years of study, but now that he is successful, we are feeling at peace and satisfied,” said Sunaina.
APJ Abdul Kalam an inspiration
Jha is deeply influenced by former India president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
“I am highly affected by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s biography. Despite coming from an economically weak social background, how he achieved a lot in the field of science motivates me a lot,” added Jha.
He says that becoming a doctor has become much easier for those from poorer backgrounds nowadays since the entire material is available online.
“I want to tell the aspirants (especially EWS) that five years ago, it was tough to become a doctor for those from EWS background because it needed coaching. But now all material is available online and at a very affordable price. Take limited resources and work hard, then you will be successful,” Jha concluded.