A life-changing scholarship for self-taught scholar


Ranjan, the only one of his siblings to be educated, grew up with his fathFrom struggling to get education to making it to Stanford Graduate School of Business on a full scholarship, Sangeet Ranjan’s career journey has come full circle. Ranjan, a 26-year-old ITC employee, is one of the three recipients of the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship this year. The scholarship, more than $1,80,000 each (Rs 1.21 crore), covers the tuition and living costs at GSB and is offered to up to five students every year since 2009.

The fellowship, created by Reliance IndustriesNSE 0.13 %, supports Indian nationals who need financial assistance in obtaining an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (GSB), Kristin Harlan, director of strategic communications at GSB, said while refusing to speak about individual achievements. “The Reliance fellowship specifically seeks students who, in addition to needing financial assistance, plan to return to India and aspire to have a positive impact on India after business school,” she added.

Consultants say education at top US B-schools is expensive — on an average, a top B-school can charge anywhere between $1,50,000 and $2,00,000 per year in tuition alone. In the MBA class of 2019, GSB has 418 students including 15 Indians, selected from 8,173 applicants. Ranjan’s admission at Stanford comes on the back of his GMAT score of 760, or 99 percentile. But getting education has itself been a story of many tribulations for Ranjan, who grew up in semi-urban Bihar in a family of seven. He rose through significant social and monetary challenges to make it to IIT-Kharagpur. “I have seen poverty very closely and this scholarship is a dream come true for me. I am the first in my extended family to go to IIT and work in a reputed company like ITC,” said Ranjan.

Ranjan, the only one of his siblings to be educated, grew up with his father earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum working with an NGO.

Ranjan then went on to get selected for ‘Super 30’, the free Patna-based coaching programme founded by Anand Kumar, from more than 10,000 applicants to be coached for the premier engineering entrance test in 2008. However, a minor health problem forced him to drop out of the Super 30 programme. This set him on the path to work even harder towards a place at IIT-Kharagpur, something he achieved with selfstudy. Four years later, he secured a bachelor of technology in mechanical engineering with a CGPA of 8.58 on 10 — a CGPA above 8.0 is considered robust. In 2013, Ranjan refused a posting with US engineering company Schlumberger and chose to work with ITC that hired him during a campus placement. Since then, at ITC, he has been working at the company’s Munger unit in rural Bihar.

ET found out that this year, the scholarship has been granted to only two more candidates. Saswasti Roy, one of those two, said: “This scholarship reduced my financial strain a lot and I am coming back to India after I finish my studies. Going abroad for an MBA would have been very difficult for me without this.” Puneet Kumar, a former recipient who now works as a vice president at Nexus Venture Partners, said: “Such a scholarship is life-changing for people who come from humble beginnings. Not having to pay off a loan after an MBA helped me make the right kind of employment decision.” “The fellowship is merit-cumneed-based and provides everyone an equal opportunity to attend Stanford,” said Rajdeep Chimni, founder of MBA consultancy Admissions Gateway.

Meanwhile, after finishing the Stanford programme, Rajan wants to build a pan-India agritech company by bringing tech innovations to strengthen the agrarian economy of the country’s hinterland. He is aiming to create sustainable livelihoods in a country where 400 million rural people are unemployed for half the year owing to the seasonal nature of agriculture and lack of industrialisation. er earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum working with an NGO.



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