The education of a man begins at his birth and continues throughout his life. Being born in a large family with a very humble background, Saurabh Pratap Singh learned from his birth that he will have to cross several hurdles to reach the peak. A Gold Medalist from IIM Ranchi, Fulbright Fellow from Harvard University and an Assistant General Manager at RBI, it was a long and arduous way from his birth place in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh to the United States.
In spite of all the hurdles that life kept hurling at him, Saurabh, an alumnus of Naga Ji Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Maldepur, Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, never shied away from braving it all. After completing his school, he joined Delhi University and graduated with Economics honors. In 2009 he appeared and cleared CAT examinations with a 99.65 percentile, ranking among top 100 in India. He joined the IIM Ranchi Campus and completed his MBA with a Gold Medal. Through his campus interview he got selected in the managerial position at Reserve Bank of India in 2012.
It may sound very easy, but Saurabh’s family literally had to make ends meet in order to support his education. There was a time when Saurabh did not even have money to pay for the entrance examinations, leave alone any study materials. Joining a coaching centre was a far fetched dream and he would have to borrow money to get his admission forms.
“I come from a humble background where we did not have enough money to even fulfill the basic needs of the family. My father had retired when I was in 6th standard. We have a large family and I am the youngest one, so, by the time it was the turn of my education, there were a lot of financial hurdles”, recalls Saurabh.
But that did not stop Saurabh from moving ahead. He always gave his education a top priority in spite of limited resources. He considers himself privileged to have reached this far and felt it was time to give back to society. “The place where I come from, people were not aware of IIMs, they were more aware of IITs. Before I got selected in IIM, I had already got selected in three other premium institutions. My father had to borrow money to pay the initial enrollment fee. So when I told my father about my selection in IIM, his immediate response was, ‘अब फिर से उधार मांगना पड़ेगा क्या किसी से पैसो के लिए?’ (Do I have to borrow money from someone again?) He was not aware of IIM at that time. We did not have any property to mortgage and take loans from the bank. But when I showed my CAT 99.65 percentile marks and my IIM selection letter, the SBI manager took a pack of sweets and reached my home for loan. He assured us that nothing was required from our end to get the loan amount. It was at this time that my father realized that I had probably achieved something great. Today I find myself very privileged to have reached this far. So, after crossing all the financial hurdles, achieving all the degrees, earning a gold medal and getting a job in the RBI, it was time to pay back to society”, said Saurabh.
He thought he needed to do something for the education system. So, when he joined RBI Lucknow in 2012, after completing his training at RBI Academy, he talked to certain educationists, psychologists and people from various walks of life and formed a group of like minded people. He also connected with Vidya Bharati and launched his self-funded initiative – Project Impact.
“Project Impact is all about redesigning the education system in a way that we create value by improving the mental faculties of our students. It’s not about how much marks you have got in various subjects, but it’s about whether while graduating from one class to another how much visible improvement of your mental faculty has taken place”, shared Saurabh.
The Project Impact team identified 15 dimensions of improvement in a child including 7 to 8 hard intelligence or IQ and 7 to 8 emotional and behavioral aspects for example stress depression management, leadership qualities, motivation, self-discipline etc. Based on these 15 parameters Saurabh started to do a survey in Vidya Bharati Schools and presented a report on how the students were performing. During this time Saurabh also trained principals and teachers.
His work was highly appreciated among different quarters. The then Deputy CM of Uttar Pradesh invited him to become an advisor. Saurabh also received a call from the PS of Honorable Education Minister of India and was invited to Delhi for a discussion on New Education Policy 2020. His work was also recognized through the Governor's Award.
In 2018, Saurabh got promoted as Assistant General Manager in RBI and was transferred to Mumbai. He also got selected for the world’s most renowned fellowship programme. “Based on the sponsorship of the US government, I had applied and got selected in almost all top universities in the US. Finally I choose Harvard University from where I will be doing a 2 years Masters course in International Development. RBI has sanctioned a 2 years of study leave which will continue till my course completes”, shared Saurabh. As for summer projects, he has already started working with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
In spite of all his achievements, Saurabh keeps himself grounded and gives the entire credit to his school for coming this far. “We all admire monuments like the Taj Mahal, but we don’t see the makers of it. We students are like the Monuments, the Taj Mahal. The teachers are the architects of such monuments. This is how I feel when I think about the teachers of my school. You can consider my journey – a boy from Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, with a village background, with no resources at all, is now studying in the world’s best university. This journey itself – I attribute everything from building my foundation to inculcating self-confidence to my school. And it is not just because of education. Education is not the only factor of this achievement. What also matters is the behavioral part, the discipline, the leadership – if these values are inculcated from a very early childhood, then we can do wonders with our lives”, mentions Saurabh with a smile.