A noble initiative in Odisha to mentor aspiring medicos from financially downtrodden families has drawn effusive praise from Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan among others.
Modelled along the lines of Super 30, helmed by ace mathematician Anand Kumar, non-governmental organisation Zindagi Foundation runs a free-of-cost coaching programme for poor students aspiring to crack the NEET exam, and also bears their food and lodging expenses.
Roshan, who earned accolades for playing Kumar in the recently released 'Super 30', took to Twitter to laud the efforts of Ajay Bahadur Singh, the man behind the success stories of Odisha boys and girls hailing from remote areas of Koraput, Behrampur, Angul, Malkangiri, among other areas.
"What a fantastic initiative. Kudos to you, Ajay Bahadur Singh," the actor tweeted.
'Zindagi', as the project has been named by Singh, also drew appreciation from Kumar, who had pioneered the initiative in Bihar way back in 2002 by providing free food and lodging along with regular tuitions to 30 meritorious students willing to crack JEE exams.
"It's heartening to see that the concept is inspiring people like Ajay Bahadur Singh, who has launched a similar effort," Kumar told.
Others who have extolled the 'Zindagi' programme include writer and director Ratan K Gupta, filmmaker Harshan Shankar and Punjab's ex-education minister Amarjeet Singh.
Singh, who had to give up his dream of becoming a doctor early in life and sell tea and sherbet to sustain his family, said "kind words" from different sections of the society have boosted his confidence.
"It will inspire me to serve the society with greater dedication," he told.
Currently, the 'Zindagi' programme is mentoring and providing for 19 students, selected through a statewide screening test, in the state capital.
Last year, 14 of its students had cracked NEET, 12 of whom secured admission in government medical colleges.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had in July invited the meritorious students here and felicitated them.
Senior coordinator of the Zindagi Foundation, Shiven Kumar Choudhry, said the accolades received from a large cross-section of people have helped the students firm up their resolve to do well in life, some of whom hail from families of vegetable sellers, fishermen and marginal farmers.
As "guru dakshina" (fees), Singh said, the students are told to take a pledge that they would never turn away "hapless patients with empty pockets".
Asked why he chose to name his educational programme "Zindagi', he said, "It is inspired by the thought 'zindagi jeetna sabhi chahte hain, par kissi aur ki zindagi jeetna sab ki bas ki baat nahin hain' (everybody wants to triumph in life, but it's rare to win over others).