Indian boy who sells snacks cracks difficult GATE exam in first attempt


Dubai: Where there is a will, there is a way. The story of Sagar Shah, from a small village in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, went viral on social media last week and proved this age old proverb.

Shah is being applauded by Twitter users in India. The young boy hails from Pipalkoti village in Chamoli district, a remote place, which lacks advanced education amenities. But that didn’t stop the student from clearing the difficult and competitive Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam in just his first attempt!

@DrNausheenKhan posted: “Success comes to those who persevere. Meet Sagar Shah from #Uttarakhand… I wish him luck for a bright future. Such an inspiration!”

What is the GATE exam?

GATE is an examination in India that tests students on their comprehensive understanding of various undergraduate subjects in engineering and science. It is conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science and the seven branches of the Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai and Mumbai on behalf of the National Coordination Board-GATE, and the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India.

The score is used for admissions to various post-graduate education programs in higher education institutes with financial assistance provided by the MHRD and other government agencies.

Recently, GATE scores are also being used by several Indian public sector undertakings for recruiting graduate engineers in entry-level positions. It is one of the toughest competitive examinations in India.

A big achievement

Shah, who completed schooling from a government facility, moved on to pursue a diploma in civil engineering from Dehradun. He belongs to a simple middle-class rural family that owns the small yet renowned Shahji’s Pakora Shop in Pipalkoti’s main market. Pakoras are made of chickpea flour and vegetable fritters.

However, that’s not it. Sagar managed to achieve this feat while working at the pakora shop alongside his father and uncle.

According to news website “The young engineering graduate serves tea to the customers, deep fries parodas and does every odd job like cleaning utensils. Unlike many of his peers, he didn’t seek additional coaching from anywhere.”

An article on a social impact media website in India mentioned: “The youngster attributes his success to the unwavering support of his family and his teachers.”

Many shared Shah’s story saying it was an inspiration for hardworking and meritorious students in small towns.

Talent pool in rural India

Speaking to, Sagar Shah added how talent in rural India is often untapped.

According to a 2016 news article on Times of India, eminent Indian scientist C N R Rao said: “I have witnessed exciting talent in rural parts of Karnataka, while in [urban areas] youngsters are busy making money. The real science of India lies among girls and boys of villages.”

Tweep @Anoopnautiyal1 posted: “Time to stand up and applaud Sagar Shah from very distant Pipalkoti in far away #Chamoli in #Uttarakhand for cracking the GATE exam in his first attempt. It is youngsters like him, hailing from the hills, who inspire hope for a better future.”