The story of Bengaluru-based Shiva Kumar Nagendra gives testimony to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous words — “If the single man plants himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abides, this huge world will come around to him.”
Growing up in an atmosphere choked with worries and the bleakness of financial constraints, Shiva not only helped his parents by doing odd jobs early in life, but he also made them proud by staying loyal to his education.
Years later, the little boy who sold newspapers grew up into a man of strong convictions and in 2013, cracked his way through CAT exams and earned a place at IIM-Calcutta.
The Better India (TBI) caught up with Shiva Kumar Nagendra to find out his incredible life journey.
Giving Priority to Education
Born in Mysuru, Shiva’s parents moved to Bengaluru soon after his birth and that is where he grew up.
“My father worked as a driver while my mother took care of my sister and me at home.” Shiva credits his parents for sending him to school — Maruthi Vidyalaya — despite their limited financial means. He was the first to receive formal schooling in his entire family.
“It was important for my mother that I attended the best possible English medium school within what we could afford. She took a lot of pride in it,” he says.
Shiva’s mother firmly believed that a good education was his ticket to success, and to that end, enrolled him in after school coaching classes to help him with his homework.
“She knew that there was no one at home who could help me with my lessons. Till I could study on my own, she somehow managed to send me to tuition classes. It was almost like she went through the entire journey of schooling and learning along with me,” he says.
Shiva responded in kind. He made sure he gave his best to his lessons. “I was always a good student and the marks were a source of instant motivation for me. It also helped that I was popular amongst the teachers,” he says with a smile.
Helping His Family Financially
Aware of the economic situation of his family, Shiva decided to deliver newspapers in the morning when he was in class four. “It wasn’t something that anyone told me to do. I would see some other kids deliver the morning newspapers and it seemed something I could do before school began, and would also mean some additional money for the family,” he recollects.
He earned Rs 100 a month, but for Shiva, it was more than just money, “I felt empowered,” he says. “I knew what my family’s financial position was. Working helped me take care of my small needs. I didn’t need to ask my parents for money. I continued doing small jobs,” he says.
Working and earning money also helped shape his worldview.
Shiva never looked at any job as menial or beneath him — from washing cars, selling flowers, to working in a retail store — he’s taken it all up to support himself and his family.
“With the exposures I got, I started understanding the value of money, what struggle meant, and what all I could achieve if I put my mind to it,” he says.
Putting Experience To Practical Use
When Shiva was in class 10, he got an opportunity to buy a newspaper dealership.
“Having worked on deliveries for so many years, I knew exactly what the systems were and felt it would be a great opportunity to buy the dealership,” he says.
A discussion ensued between mother and son and they put together the first instalment for the dealership by selling some of his mother’s gold jewellery.
Shiva recollects how he worked towards growing the business. “A lot of my time after school was invested in making the business better. Over the years from a distribution base of 50, we grew to almost 800,” he says.
Currently, Shiva’s father manages the dealership. And even today when there is a shortage of delivery boys, Shiva goes around in the morning to deliver newspapers.
Cracking His Way Through IIM-C
“My father met with an accident when I was 13 years old and the family went into greater financial trouble. We had to pay my school fee too,” he says.
While thinking about what to do, Shiva mind went to Krishna Veda Vyas – a businessman to whom he delivered newspapers. Gathering his courage, Shiva walked up to Krishna one day and requested him to pay his school fees.
Taken aback, Krishna still heard Shiva out and went to his school to verify the details. Once he found out that the young boy had not only been telling the truth but was also a topper in his class, Krishna decided to fund Shiva’s education.
From paying Shiva’s school fees to counselling him towards higher studies, Krishna [uncle] has been a constant in Shiva’s life.
“He has been a guardian to our son. Not only did he financially help but also guided Shiva at every step. We are grateful for the contribution he has made to all our lives,” Shiva’s parents say.
Shiva went on to complete his engineering from the Bangalore Institute Of Technology and in October 2013, he scored 99.86 percentile in CAT examination.
“At every step of the way Krishna uncle was with me – whether it was to prepare for the group discussion, interview, or to write a note about myself for the application form. He held my hand through it all,” says Shiva.
“There have been crazy challenges in life – all you have to do is keep working hard and believe that at some point things will change and start looking better,” says Shiva.
Today, Shiva currently works with a corporate house in Bengaluru.
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(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)