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Rickshaw driver’s daughter in western India tops chartered accountancy exam

posted Jan 24, 2013, 5:00 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Jan 24, 2013, 5:00 AM ]

The daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver in India's western Mumbai city does her family proud, by overcoming all odds and topping a competitive examination of chartered accountancy (CA).

MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRAINDIA (JANUARY 23, 2013)  (ANI) - India's western Mumbai city was witness to an inspiring story of a poor family braving all odds to make its children achieve the very pinnacle of academic achievement.

Prema Jayakumar, daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver, was declared the topper of a competitive examination of chartered accountancy (CA) when the results were declared on Wednesday (January 23), sparking off celebrations and a flurry of presents from relatives, friends and well-wishers.

Prema's brother Dhanraj also cleared the CA exam, the culmination of years of hard work and study in the family's cramped one-room tenement in the city's Malad suburb.

Prema's father, Jayakumar Perumal, said that his children's dedication inspired faith and that he had resolved never to let financial difficulties to stand in the way of their education.

"We managed in any way we could. There was a small farm in our village, I sold that. I told the children not to worry and to concentrate on their studies. I did not let the lack of money stop them. Money will come tomorrow, if not today. But if the time meant for studies is lost, it never comes back," Perumal said.

The parents basked in the glory that their children had brought to their household, recounting how Prema and Dhanraj would study together from early morning to late at night.

"They used to wake up at six and the morning and stay awake until midnight. They used to work very hard. I would not sleep until they had slept as well. I used to help them in any way I could. Every few hours I would make sure they had eaten something," said their mother, Lingammal Jayakumar.

The topper, Prema, recounted how she had determined to crack the tough exam, talking about how she and her brother had made the best use of what little resources they had, studying together and helping each other out in the pursuit of their common objective.

"We used to study here itself. My brother used to sit at the table, while I would study on the floor. Whenever we would complete a topic, we would discuss it and make notes of the important points so that we could revise before the exams," Prema said.

Since they were studying for the same exam, the duo would manage with just one set of books shared between themselves. Their early studies qualified them for training with accountancy firms, and they would use the stipends they earned to manage their expenses.

Prema's brother, Dhanraj, said that while his sister's efforts convinced the family that she would rank among the very best, her top rank was a pleasant surprise. He rejoiced in her success, saying that Prema had brought to their family the pride they had hitherto seen only in the news.

"I am very happy. We were expecting that Prema would get a high rank, but we never thought she would top the exam. That was an additional gift for us. We were very happy and when we gave our mother the news, she literally started crying over the phone. We used to see in the news that people in various cities had topped exams, today the topper is my own sister. I am feeling really great and proud," Dhanraj said.

Having qualified as an accountant, Prema aims to study further for a doctorate. Hers is an example of a family extending equal support to both son and daughter in the pursuit of their careers, which is not a common occurrence in India.

Her success story comes as a source of inspiration at a time when the country is rife with anger against gender inequality, against a patriarchal culture that prefers female foeticide, honour killings, even condoning rape in a blatant denial of rights to women.