Ranjith’s post describing his journey along with a photo of the house have gone viral on Facebook with over 10,000 people sharing it.

Kasaragod native R Ranjith and the one-room house he grew up in
Features Human Interest Sunday, April 11, 2021 - 15:47
Written by  Abhish K Bose

The photo shows a tiny, one-room house with unplastered brick walls. The tile roof is covered with a black tarpaulin sheet. A cooking gas cylinder and a few vessels are seen beside the front door. This photo of his home was shared on social media by 28-year-old Kasaragod native R Ranjith, who was recently appointed an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ranchi.

Ranjith’s difficult journey to secure a good education against all odds and ending with his appointment as an Assistant Professor is inspiring. The photo along with Ranjith’s post on Facebook describing his journey have gone viral with over 10,000 people sharing it.

“It’s in this house that I was born. It’s here that I grew up and here that I live now. With utmost happiness I’d like to tell you all, an IIM Assistant Professor was born here. If this story becomes a catalyst for at least one person’s dreams, that is my success,” Ranjith writes.

Ranjith, who hails from Panathur in Kasaragod district, has been working as an assistant professor at Christ University, Bengaluru since last December.

The IIM appointment letter was the culmination of struggle, privation and poverty against which Ranjith waged a relentless battle. Due to his adversities, he even contemplated dropping out after Class 12. However, he was destined to complete his PhD. His life is a message to all of us that adversities cannot deprive you of your dreams and that hard work will pay off ultimately.

“I had really good marks in Class 12. But due to the circumstances at home, I thought about dropping out of studies. But by luck, I got the job of a night security guard at Panathur telephone exchange and the opportunity to study during the day. Education, which I thought was a closed chapter, opened up again for me,” Ranjith goes on to explain how he continued his studies.

Though there was no one to guide him, Ranjith says, wherever he went it was beautiful. “St Pius College taught me how to talk on stage. Central University of Kerala taught me that there is a world outside Kasaragod. Then I came to the huge world of IIT Madras, but that was a strange place,” he writes.

Ranjith writes that at one point he even decided to quit the PhD he was pursuing at IIT Madras. “For the first time I felt as if I was alone in a crowd. My heart often kept saying that I cannot sustain here. I was afraid to even speak there as I grew up speaking Malayalam. I decided to quit my PhD thinking it was not for me. But my guide, Dr Subhash, made me understand that the decision was wrong and asked me to fight before I quit. From then on, I was stubborn to win,” he says.

“The distance from this house to the position of assistant professor at IIM Ranchi was paved with hardships,” he adds. “It was the sum total of my dreams. It was also the endurance of my parents,” Ranjith adds in the post.

He says he knows very well the stories of scores of dreams from huts like these that wilted before they bloomed. “But again, there should instead be stories of dreams that are fulfilled. Though there are dilapidated roofs above our heads and walls that could fall anytime, dream till the sky. One day you can also reach the shores of success through the wings of that dream,” Ranjith says, ending his Facebook note.

Ranjith’s family, comprising his two younger siblings, father Ramachandran, a tailor, and mother Baby, who works as part of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, belongs to a Scheduled Tribe community.

He studied at the local government UP school and completed Class 10 from the Model Residential School, Panathur. He completed Class 11 and 12 at the government higher secondary school, Panathur. His graduation was from St Pius College, Rajapuram in economics. Ranjith says he didn’t face much financial difficulty till Class 10 as he was at the hostel. However, for completing his Class 12 and degree it was necessary for him to take up jobs, including that of a daily wager as well as the security guard job.

“It was with these jobs that I sustained my life and expenses. There was financial difficulty all my life. Most people from my locality work as daily wagers, and I also did the same to complete my education,” Ranjith tells TNM.

Amidst life’s struggles, he maintained a sterling academic record, securing first class till his post-graduation. While doing his Masters in Economics at Central University, Kasaragod, he was grateful for the help he received from Shyam Prasad, a faculty in the Economics department. “He helped me immensely. He even paid my last semester fees at IIT Madras,” Ranjith recalls. He completed his PhD in ‘Spatial distribution of foreign direct investment and industrial agglomeration’ at IIT Madras under the supervision of Dr Subhash, associate professor, department of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Regarding posting the photo of his house on Facebook, he says that he usually doesn’t like to proclaim his family’s difficulties. “However, some of my friends told me that this message should be communicated to society so that it may inspire at least a few. That’s why I decided to post on Facebook. It’s not for any kind of publicity,” Ranjith says.

Ranjith’s message to society

“Everyone has difficulties in life. But we should have dreams and work towards achieving those dreams. Many teachers motivated me at different stages of my life. Now my parents and family are happy over my achievement,” Ranjith says.

He says that till his Masters he didn’t have any specific goal and had decided to pursue research. His favourite economist is Paul Krugman.

Ranjith, who is constructing a new house for his family, will be joining IIM Ranchi next month.

Abhish K Bose is a journalist based in Kerala.

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