When twenty-four year old Aashik Jayswal, son of a poor teacher and farmer in Nepal, made it to the premier institute of higher education, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), it was like his dream come true. Except, the fees for the two year Post Graduate Programme in Food and Agri-business Management (PGPFABM) were too high for him.
Back in Nepal, Jayswal lives with his family about 20 kms from India-Nepal border in East Champaran where everyone is engaged in farming. His father works as a temporary teacher and also does farming. Till 10th he studied in his village after which he went to Kathmandu for his remaining school graduation. He won a scholarship from Indian Embassy to study BSc in Agriculture in Prayagraj, India.
While studying, he got to know of the two-year course at IIMA in agriculture, the profession his family is engaged in back in Nepal and decided to take it up further.
“During my undergraduation, I saw my seniors trying to solve these papers to appear for the CAT. I loved the maths problems and could solve them very quickly. My seniors told me that a degree in agriculture from IIMA would be more beneficial to me than an MSc. So I began preparation for the CAT,” he said. As luck would have it, he cracked the CAT (Common Admission Test) and made it through. But here is when things get tough for him.
Aashik Jayswal faced hurdles arranging for fees for IIMA course
Jayswal comes from a family which could not afford the high fees at IIMA. “I on the 7th floor of the building in Nepal when the 2015 earthquake devastated the country. I survived for a week without access to sanitation. But I learnt a big lesson there. I learnt that I could survive even if things go to the lowest of low phases,” he said while speaking to OpIndia.
Jayswal said that previously, his relatives in India had promised to help him with finances. However, the Chinese coronavirus pandemic struck which put the plans on hold. Jayswal approached banks for loans. Aashik’s family owns 0.5 acres of wetlands and a house and his father’s annual income is Rs 3 lakh.
The banks in Nepal were not in a position to offer him collateral free loans and could not get a secured loan either. And while Indian citizens are eligible for financial aide at the IIMA, the same is not applicable to Jayswal as he is a Nepali citizen.
“I could not get loan from Indian banks as I am a Nepal citizen. As a non-Indian I was not eligible for the loan here. This is where my mentor Abhishek Srivastava came in. I don’t want to crowdfund my education. I would like either sponsorship from corporates who believe in agriculture or loans which I could repay. People are kind-hearted. They may help out today out of goodness in their hearts. But the pandemic is a tough time for all. The money they might give me today may come handy to them tomorrow if uncertainty over coronavirus remains. Hence, I want to go ahead on my merits and while I appreciate the kind gestures, in good conscience I could not take money from individuals,” he said.
Jayswal has approached everyone – NBFCs, private investors, SAARC alumni, anyone who could help him. The IIMA alumni tried to look at ways to help him out.
Indians come together to help Nepali citizen
Meanwhile, some help has started pouring in. An NGO based in Ahmedabad has helped him with the fees of first term which is to start from later this week. Ahmedabad-based entrepreneur Pankaj Mashruwala, who deals in agri-business has come forward to help him as well. Mashruwala, Jayswal says, was in same position 40 years back and someone had come forward to help him with his tuition fees. He had promised that he will pay it forward when time comes.
Nagpur-based individual K S Cheema has also offered him loan for whatever amount remains. A Nepal-based individual, Diwesh Bothra, has also gotten in touch with him and he’s currently talking to his employers on how things could be taken forward with Jayswal.
However, the fees problem is only partially taken care of. Jayswal still needs to make arrangements for the second year. He is still talking to individuals, corporates and financial institutions who could help him out.
Aashik Jayswal could be reached out on firstname.lastname@example.org