Spirit of Mumbai - Profile 1
- Subject: Spirit of Mumbai - 15 PEOPLE. You may not have heard of them... but they are slowly changing your city1. Vraj Patel (50)LENDS BOOKS TO NEEDY STUDENTS Real life: Excise Inspector50,000 books and a thousand dreams
He is a boon to people like me who can't afford classes and books. The best part is that Sir gives us tips on how to deal with exams. KRISHNA THAKKAR 16-year-old student and IAS aspirant 15 PEOPLE. You may not have heard of them... but they are slowly changing your city HT will honour one person who embodies the Spirit of Mumbai. Starting today, for five days, we profile 15 Mumbai citizens, who are quietly changing lives. HT would like you to judge their contributions. All you need to do is read about them, then vote. Voting will begin on November 6, and the winner will be announced on November 16 at a public ceremony
Every year for the past 12 years, Vraj Patel has taken 12 days off from his day job in the last week of November.
For the 50-year-old excise inspector with the Central Excise and Customs Department, this time off is his busiest in the year. This is when Patel goes to Delhi to stock up his 15-year-old li- brary of books meant for entrance examina- tions for the civil services.
The library is a godsend for as pirants whose ambitions are stronger than their wallets, the ones who have little money to buy books worth thousands of rupees (a single geography book, for instance, costs Rs 3,000) or enroll with private tutorials to prepare for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) or Indian Revenue Service (IRS) examinations.
"The library is a novel thought. We need more people like him," said Dr R Subramanian, a hospital management consultant who has donated 4,000 medical books because he found the centre "genuine".
In Dadar, next to the 1,000-sq-foot flat in which Patel lives, is his 1,100-sq-foot library home to about 50,000 books.
Started in 1992, the library - The Maharshi Dayanand Foundation Career Development Academy - lent books free for five years. Patel stopped after he realised that most books were not being returned. He fixed a refundable de posit of Rs 2,000, and a membership fee of Rs 2,000. Those who can't afford it - and Patel's is the final word on this - needn't pay.
That's not all. Patel offers free guidance too. There are coaching classes on Sunday as well as mock group discussions and interviews. Though it started for those aspiring to enter the civil services, it now offers coaching for exams like medical, banking, insurance, railways, state services, among others.
Private tutorials cost a student between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
Each of the 200 students - some from Karjat and even Dhulia (eight hours from Dadar by train) - know that. After approaching tutorials costing Rs 50,000 a year, 30-year-old Bhavana Mali settled for the Acade my because it was "very reasonable".
Travelling for eight hours from her Dahanu home, Mali - she is study ing for the IAS - said the guidance is good. "The best part is it is not com mercial," said the homemaker.
Commercial it is not. "I can earn one lakh a month on rent but I was clear that the library would not run for profit," Patel said.
The library was born of his unfulfilled dream of becoming a bureaucrat.
An IAS aspirant in the 80s, Patel failed all three attempts allowed then (it is four now). "I did not have the guidance or money to buy the books I needed," Patel sighed.
Till date Patel has seven successful candi dates to his credit. Is that a lot? "Considering that not too many clear in such exams, it is fig ure to be proud of," he said.
The library has 50,000 books (subjects: from math to Plato). Private tutorials charge between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh per student for civil services entrance exams. Patel charges a refundable deposit of Rs 2,000 and a membership fee of Rs 2,000. Those who can't afford it need not pay.
Vraj Patel (50) LENDS BOOKS TO NEEDY STUDENTS Real life: Excise Inspector
URL : http://epaper.hindustantimes.com/artMailDisp.aspx?article=01_11_2007_002_001&typ=0&pub=264
- We have received some queries regarding the contact details of Mr. Patel.(Profile 1 - Spirit of Mumbai series: he lends books to needy students and has a library with 50,000 books at his house in Dadar)
For those who would like to contact Mr. Vraj Patel:Vrajlal P. Patel4-Palm View,1st Floor,opposite Swami Narayan TempleDadar (E), Mumbai 400 014(Phone: 022-4125174).