An Inspector at Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax, Akash Tripathi becomes a Messiah for thousands of underprivileged students every weekend. He gives free coaching for competitive exams to these students and also makes them part of various campaigns to make them better citizens.
His father, Jaishankar Tripathi, left farming and migrated to Kolkata from his small village Aanhi in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh to provide better education to Akash, who was in class 6 at the time. He would run a rented shop in Kolkata’s Natun Bazar and stayed with his wife and four children in a one-room house, but he had never compromised with his children’s education.
Akash who studied in a Hindi-medium school would excel in every class and would go to help his father in his shop after school.
“While I was studying in class 12, I was unable to pay the fees. When the school Secretary Shri Jagmohan Bagla came to know about my academic achievements and my financial constraints, he readily paid my school fees.Then during my graduation, the fees was increased to almost double, which was difficult for us to pay but my principal waived the remaining fees. Again during my admission in MCA my relatives, Nisha Dubey and Dilip Pandey, helped me with the admission fees. And my friend Mohammed Ali would lend me money for books. Had it not been these people, it would have been impossible for me to reach here,” says Akash.
Akash also worked as a part-time teacher in his own school on a monthly salary of Rs. 2,000 and would take tuitions in his one-room house to pay his fees during his graduation and post-graduation from 2005 to 2010. He also mentions eagerly Mr. Indramani Shukla, who offered him a room to take tuitions, which he left after a year when he was capable of paying the rent. Even during this time, Akash would not charge anything to teach the needy students, who would come to him.
He would wake up in the morning, go to school to teach, go to his college, take tuitions and then study for competitive exams.
“I always wanted to become a teacher, but one of my teachers asked me to try for the competitive exams as I was good at mathematics,” he says.
Akash cleared most of the competitive exams and finally his struggles came to an end when he got a government job in DRDO. In 2015, Akash was posted an Inspector in the Income tax department in Bhubaneshwar. Once Akash was financially stable, he decided to teach children for free in his free time. As he did not have any contacts in Bhubaneshwar, he would ask the drivers, peons or gardeners at his office to send their kids to him to study.
“As I didn’t know many people in Bhubaneshwar, there were only 5-6 kids who would come to me to study. I knew I could help more needy students back in Kolkata, so I would travel every weekend to Kolkata and teach underprivileged students aspiring for competitive exams,” Akash says.
As luck would have it, Akash got posted as an Inspector in Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax in Kolkata in 2016. He still teaches the students on his off-days but can give more time to them now.
The room to teach the students is taken on rent on a temporary basis –when it is available, the students are informed to join. The only fee charged to the students is the room rent, which is divided among all the students and Akash himself. As of now,that works out to Rs. 8 per student per month. And even that is waived off if the student is unable to pay.To ensure the seriousness of the students, a fully refundable amount of Rs. 600 is taken from the students at the time of admission, which is returned after the completion of the course.
Akash teaches around 150 students in one batch and in a year he conducts four to five batches.
Akash also inspires these students to work on various social sectors. He urges the students who are from the slums to spread the knowledge they are gaining here. Many of his students also teach other students in their locality for free.
He also conducts plantation or cleanliness drives along with his students. He distributes free books and has designed a module for competitive exams, which can be downloaded for free here.
“Many of my friends are opening these type of centres in their locality in various cities and many of them have contacted me to know how to start. After hearing about my classes, many officers also visited us to motivate the students. Recently, IPS Anand Mishra visited us from Meghalaya,” he says.
On asking for some success stories, Akash says that they don’t keep a record of success stories. He doesn’t want those students to remember him, but he makes his students assure him that they will help at least one other child in need.
“Just like the people I mentioned helped me and made me capable to help these students, I want my students to help more students like them,” concludes Akash.
You can contact Akash at firstname.lastname@example.org