In the sleepy Kadus village in Rajgurunagar town, 45 km from here, a handpicked batch of 70 students swotted for t he past one year before giving the JEE Mains, one of the toughest exams to crack at the undergraduate level in the country . The result was stupendous, with all of them clearing the examination.

Drawn from as far as Kargil in Kashmir and Kottayam in Kerala, all the students come from poor background and are trained free by Dakshana Foundation, which has been running JEE coaching batches in seven Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) in the country since 2009. Apart from the Dakshana Valley centre in Rajgurunagar, two other centres at Bundi in Rajasthan (50 students) and Kottayam (99) also had cent per cent results.

Mousumi Das from West Bengal's Nadia, whose parents are labourers, is a first-generation learner in her family . “Whenever I am home, I coach village children to give the entrance exam for the JNV . I want them to get the opportunity that I have,“ she says.

Preeti Banjare from Janjgir-Champa in Chhattisgarh lost her mother when she was three and her father abandoned her to marry someone else. “I was looked after by my grandfather. There was opposition to my studies. Relatives would say money was unnecessarily being spent on a girl who would be better off married. I want to change the mentality of people towards educating the girl child,“ she says.

Noor-e-Jahan Fatima has come to Rajgurunagar a long way from her home in Kargil.“I always wanted to become a doctor. Good healthcare is not affordable for the poor in our village,“ she says. NEET aspirant Sunidhi Snawer from Haridwar decided she wanted to become a doctor after her parents met with an accident.“I'm the first in my family to get education,“ she says.