Rajiv: IITian by Chance – Journey of a Small Village Guy
It is not easy to crack the IIT-JEE. It is even more difficult to do when you are from a Hindi medium government school in a small village in Rajasthan and have a host of financial problems in your family. All this and a lot of other factors were faced by Rajiv Dandotiya. Coming from a remote village where the classrooms were set up under a tree, Rajiv was never really aware of heard of the JEE and wasn’t familiar with engineering. Like most of his classmates, he spent his entire school life just whiling his time away and when the results for the board exams in the year 1995 were announced, he wasn’t really surprised with the 39% he had achieved. What did surprise him was that he was ranked 5th in a class of 60 students. This just goes on to show a lack of productive environment for the students in this village.
Fast forward a couple of years where his father’s small time business had to be closed, leading to his family plunging into financial troubles. This was when Rajiv started thinking about getting admission into some graduation course which would help him get a job. However he soon found out that his board result were not satisfactory for any course. While looking for some course or college that would take him in despite the 39% marks, he stumbled up on the JEE (at that time the minimum 60% marks requirement was not applied). Since he had no other option, Rajiv got to studying for India’s premier engineering entrance exam.
What started off as a choice out of desperation soon became a passion for him. To overcome his handicap of having studied in a Hindi medium school, Rajiv bought a dictionary and started working on his English. As he started studying the concepts, he realized that for the first time in his life he was actually understanding something and applying the principles. It took a long time and 3 attempts (including the screening exam in the year 2000) for Rajiv to finally crack the JEE with a good rank. In the year 2002, having obtained a rank of 1758, he was given admission to IIT-Kharagpur in the 5-year Dual Degree Program in Industrial Engineering & Management.
Rajiv went on to obtain a PhD from Lulea University in Sweden, which was one of the 4 universities from across the world to have given him the offer. Today he is working as the Assistant General Manager at Maersk, one the world’s most popular drilling companies. He still visits his village school every year and meets the students there. Rajiv’s message to the students is- “You can do anything in life as long as you believe in yourself and work hard to realize the dream”.