This is one news that can make Prime Minister Narendra Modi feel proud of. The BJP-led government in Maharashtra, in order to give higher and technical studies a push, on Wednesday, appointed a road-side ‘chaiwala’ as its education brand ambassador.

After a series of controversies involving actors Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, who were brand ambassadors for various schemes, Fadnavis government has perhaps decided to play safe by picking a layman, instead of a celebrity, to strike a chord with the youngsters and motivate them in dreaming big.
Somnath Giram (30), a Pune-based tea-seller, had recently hogged limelight when he cleared chartered accountancy (CA), beating all odds. Son of a humble farmer from Solapur district, Somnath, had left home in 2008 when pursing BCom became impossible for want of funds.

“As an ambassador, he will be visiting universities and sharing his experiences with students on how to ‘earn and learn’,” said Sidharth Kharat, deputy secretary, higher education department, adding that the success story of this chaiwala is truly inspiring.

Higher and technical education sector in Maharashtra has been in distress for the past few years. While colleges and varsities are accused of imparting inferior quality education, several colleges, including engineering and management ones, are closing down every year as students simply can’t afford them. Drought in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions and global economic slowdown also abetted to the growing number of dropouts, say professors.

With Giram’s inspiring success story of “earn and learn”, the Fadnavis government hopes to encourage those youngsters who struggle for funds to complete their higher education.

Speaking to dna over phone, an ecstatic Somnath said, “It was in 2008 that I landed in Pune with an empty pocket and no skill to try hands on. I managed to open a small chai tapri (tea-stall) in Sadashiv Peth area. The business grew along with my desire to pursue higher studies. I sat late into nights, studying.”

Somnath used to earn Rs10,000-12,000 a month but most of it used to go in rent. “I used to hire people during my exams, which reduced my profit margin. But my aim was clear. I wanted to study as I realised it was the only option which can change my life,” he said.

The determined boy gradually completed his BCom, MCom and then CA which has success rate of less than 5%, that too mostly with self-study. Somnath has now started practicing as CA at a rented office in Pune. “I have hired a boy to run my tea stall now,” Somnath tells with great proud.

“But with the new responsibility of brand ambassador, I am a bit worried. I don’t know how to give speeches,” he laughs. When asked if he would like to become a politician, as a chaiwala has become the prime minister, Somnath doesn’t hide his ambitions. “I would love to join politics. Don’t know if I can become PM but I can dream of becoming finance minister of Maharashtra.”