Two cousin sisters from a family of goatherds in Rajasthan, an electrician’s son in Meerut, and daughters of a Dehradun taxi driver and a truck mechanic in Agra. Poverty is the background fixture for all of them, but they bucked resource inequities to reach their full academic potential. They cleared the medical college entrance exam NEET– UG 2023—and will, in the course of time, become first-time doctors in their families, or perhaps in their extended clans.
Cousins Ritu Yadav, 19, and Kareena Yadav, 20, are from a family of goatherds in Nangal Tulsidas village of Jamwa Ramgarh in Jaipur. They cleared NEET this year—a staggering feat for a family that until now had a lone graduate, Thakarsi Yadav, a retired science teacher who pushed his nieces to realise his dream of seeing someone of his own “wearing a stethoscope”. “I carried a dream of seeing children from my family become doctors ever since I failed in the medical entrance test of 1983-84,” said Thakarsi, who trained his two nieces and later put them in a coaching institute for seven months. Kareena’s father, Nanchu Ram, and Ritu’s father, Hanuman Sahay, own two bighas of land each and a few goats, which are the main source of their livelihood.
When 17-year-old Shivam Patel, son of an electrician in Meerut, secured the 29th rank in NEET this year, “it’s a dream come true” for the youngster whose favourite movie is a tale of triumph of the human spirit, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. Shivam’s family lives in a small two-room house along a busy road. He’s so determined that even the constant hum of traffic couldn’t break his concentration when he was studying—long hours, of course. Homemakermother Seema and father Arvind Patel stood by him, as did his sister, a nurse in a Lucknow hospital. Mother Seema said he would be the first in the entire clan to become a doctor.
Aarti Jha, the 21-year old daughter of a truck mechanic in Agra, secured 192nd rank in NEET this year. “I cannot express in words how happy I am. This result gave me the strength to forget all the nightmares I faced. I used to travel to my coaching centre 17 km away from my area. I walked 3 km every day to save Rs 10. For extra income, I used to give tuition classes to school students,” she said. Arti lives with her parents and three siblings in the Sewla area of Agra. Vishambhar Jha said his daughter has fulfilled his dream. “I earn around Rs 25,000 a month, and I have to spend a large amount on the education of my children. I use a 14-year-old bike to go to work. I will do whatever it takes to provide better education to my children.”
The medical profession always fascinated 20-yearold Dehradun native Jasneet Kaur, who in her second attempt at NEET, scored 588 marks out of 720 this year and took the allIndia ranking of 36,574. “I appeared for a scholarship test with Baluni classes and was in the super 50 batch in which the coaching fees were waived off. I am happy with my result this time and am eager for the admission process now,” said the daughter of a cab driver and a homemaker. “I had my family’s support to pursue my dreams,” she said.
(Inputs from Rajiv Saxena in Kota, Mohammad Dilshad in Agra, Krishna Chaudhary in Meerut, and Tanmayee Tyagi in Dehradun)


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