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Rocket scientist, 59, clears NEET, to take exam again

BENGALURU: An autodidact (self-taught person) all his life, a 59-year-old Bengalurean who went on to become an engineer, did MSc in computer science at BITS Pilani , worked as a rocket scientist at Isro , is now having a go at another professional field — medical education.

Having successfully appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) this year, Rajan Babu is getting ready to take the test again next year, determined as he is to score more and land an MBBS seat under government quota.

His son and daughter are already pursuing their MBBS course.

Born in 1963, Babu could not attend school owing to financial crisis in his family. When neighbouring boys of his age were in classrooms, he had to toil in power looms and work as a valet in small shops to take care of his family, comprising an ill father, homemaker-mother, and elder sisters, even as he yearned to study.

Things changed in 1981 when a friend of Babu told him he can continue studies by appearing for the Class 10 exam as a private candidate.

“I took basic lessons in alphabet and tables among other things from my mother. I studied all the subjects on my own. I appeared for the exam and was successful. Then, based on my Class 10 scorecard, I joined a diploma course in electrical engineering and, simultaneously, worked with Mico Bosch in different capacities for more than five years,” Babu told TOI.

With a diploma in hand and work experience as an electrical engineer, Babu cleared the Associate Member of the Institution of Engineers (AMIE) exam in 1992, which is considered an equivalent of BE. “I worked as electrical engineer with the Post and Telegraph department for a little over two years,” he said. “While working at the P&T, I applied at Isro, which had called for engineers. There were only two posts and I was told Isro received nearly one lakh applications. I was selected in 1995 and worked for five years as a rocket scientist,” he said.

During his Isro stint, Babu started pursuing MSc at BITS Pilani and completed it in 1999. He flew to the US in 2000, where he worked at different firms until 2007. Babu got back to Bengaluru so he could be with his family.

However, another change in his life came in 2019, when his childhood dream of becoming a doctor was reignited after seeing his children pursue MBBS.

Former education minister and Rajajinagar MLA S Suresh Kumar met Babu on Tuesday while visiting houses in his constituency. Later, Kumar wrote about Babu’s achievements on Facebook.