Friday, September 04, 2009

Patwatoli Village: Bihar's academic hothouse

BBC's Outlook has this amazing human interest story on Patwatoli, a village of about 1000 families, which has sent over 50 students to the IITs over the last ten years. Give it a listen. The Patwatoli story starts at 9:30 minutes.

A commenter pointed this out to me and asked:

I also learned from [BBC's Outlook] that there are several Nobel laureates on the faculty of the IITs. Can someone tell me who they are?

Update: Here's an Outlook piece from 2001 on Patwatoli's amazing story (Thanks, Rahul):

In the boondocks of Patwatoli, a hotbed of Naxalite activity, many like Munna are chasing the same dream. Cutting themselves off from sundry distractions, these boys from the backward Patwa (weaver) community study hard, sometimes in the din of noisy looms, for a place in the JEE. The results from this small town have begun showing in a state which has the highest number of school dropouts (58 per cent at the primary level and up to 80 per cent at high school level) and the literacy rate is 47.53 per cent: 22 boys of Patwatoli have qualified in IIT-JEE and more than 75 have competed in other engineering tests since 1996. Before 1990, the place had only 10 graduates and 30 matriculates. Now there are some 25 IITians, 75 engineers and one UPSC qualifier from this OBC collective of 10,000 families. And, mind you, most qualifiers are first generation.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Though rhetorically that is a correct question but I would still say that the near-term goal should be get the infrastructural conditions and performance to the level of many of the middle-ranking US univs. Once that momentum is set then the rest of benefits should follow. Nobel prize is mostly individualistic achievements on the shoulder of giants

  2. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    The BBC guy also refers to the IIT in Calcutta. Clearly not much fact-checking there.

    Here's an older article from Outlook on Patwatoli. Makes you wonder, if they can do it, why can't others? Proves that it's nurture, not nature. Somehow the right environment has come in place at Patwatoli.