My experience at Dakshana Foundation - JNV Pune (2013-15)

 Today morning, I received a package. A package that I didn't expect. I hadn't ordered any books in the last 7-10 days. So naturally, I was intrigued to find out who had sent it. 

To my surprise, it was from Dakshana Foundation. 

Every year, Dakshana scholars (current and past) receive a gift from Dakshana in December, wishing them a Merry Christmas. It includes a t-shirt, a gift card that has a message from Mohnish Pabrai (Founder of Dakshana), and a yearly report of the organization. If it isn't at Christmas, they send it later in January to wish Happy New Year.

Let me just post the pictures for you.

I think I must have received 7-8 gifts by now, from 2014 to 2021. Okay, let me just check how many Christmas and New Year cards I have at home. It will only take few minutes...

So, that took an hour. But I found some. These are from the years 2015, 2017, and 2018.

I was planning on writing a post on the Dakshana foundation for a while now since there isn't much information available for aspirants looking to join Dakshana. Sure, they can check out the website but talking to the past Dakshana scholars would be more useful as they will tell you their personal experience and help you make a better decision, in my opinion. 

So, I decided to pen down my experience as a Dakshana scholar at JNV Pune from July 2013 to May 2015.


It was in March 2013, I was in 10th class at JNV Aravalli, Gujarat, when I first heard of an exam called GDST (Grand Dakshana Selection Test), conducted by the Dakshana Foundation.  Out of a class of 80 students in the 10th class, 10 students were selected to give the exam based on their academic performance from 6th to 10th. This is common throughout all the JNVs in India. Dakshana just filters the top students from all the JNVs and allow only these selected students to give the exam, which was scheduled after just 10-15 days.

So 9 boys and 1 girl were selected from our class. Toppers from both the class and I guess others were in the top 10 ranks, and if not, their performance had been fairly consistent and good that eventually got them selected. 

Anyway, we asked our seniors about the exam, about Dakshana, about JEE and what not. Basically, we had zero idea about Dakshana. And unfortunately, so did our seniors. When asked, they simply said, just give it but it's tough as only one student got selected in the last 4 years. And then that was it. 

I almost didn't register for the exam, as I had encountered some difficulty with the application no. that I hadn't noted down. But I was able to register after few hours.

About a week later, we went to the exam centre - JNV Gandhinagar. I had no idea what the paper was going to be like and I hadn't prepared. But just before I entered the examination hall, I decided to give it my best shot. I mean what's there to lose right? 

The test consisted of Logical Reasoning & Data Interpretations, Maths, Physics and Chemistry section. Fortunately, our 10th board exams had just got over, so the concepts were still fresh for the PCM section.

So I did give my best shot, doing calculations in a very little space left on the paper, my hands full of ink marks and solving problems till the last minute. And I'm glad that I did. 

I forgot about the exam afterwards and was enjoying my summer vacation in the month of May when we got a call which luckily I picked up and got to know that I got selected. While happy, I later got to know from the Dakshana website that I was the only one who got selected from my school. So, the prospect of living 2 years away from home with a totally different set of students did scare me a little at that time. 

But I took my chance. 

Years at JNV Pune

 In the week that followed, I finally got to know what Dakshana foundation really is. For GDST 2013, out of 4000+ students around 300 students were selected for JEE coaching, to be provided at various JNVs. 

I was to go to JNV Pune with 74 other students. In our batch, there were 48 boys and 27 girls. 

So I went to JNV Pune on the 1st of July.

I was once again in Shivalik house, and I quickly became friends with housemates. Also, the course was going at a fast pace so it kept me busy. The good thing about the Dakshana model is that you're just going to a different JNV. And across all the JNVs in India, almost a similar schedule is followed. From morning exercise, assembly, breakfast, classes to evening playtime and assembly it's the same in all the JNVs.

However, it still took me a month to adjust and I missed home a lot. But afterwards, I started enjoying what we were being taught in the class and then discussing it with my friends after class or evening assembly or in our hostels. Looking back I only recall the good times. 

I liked the weather of JNV Pune and loved the way they celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi. 

Not to say that I loved everything there. All of us hated the Sunday morning assembly and cleaning after that. Hot water facility wasn't available at JNV Pune which was available in my parent JNV

Occasionally, people from Dakshana foundations used to visit us to know how's everything going and help us with any concerns. Luckily their head office is in Pune so the frequency of visits was higher at JNV Pune. We also met and interacted with Mohnish Pabrai, the founder of Dakshana foundations who used to visit all the Dakshana centres once a year.

A click with the Maths and Physics faculty

Photo of Dakshana scholars during a visit by Mohnish Pabrai (First from right)

For me, it wasn't just about studies. I used to read novels a lot even during that time when most of my classmates used to study till 2-3 am. It was a refresh button for me. At the start, one of my seniors had a book called Karmbhoomi written by Premchand. So I borrowed it from him and used to read it whenever I got time after classes were over. It's a wonderful book. But again, all the books by Premchand are wonderful, aren't they? It just takes you to a whole different world.

My fascination with Premchand's books continued, and I issued a book from the library - Man Sarovar. There are 8 volumes in Man Sarovar, I had one of the volumes. But it was enough. It was a collection of small stories and there were around 100s of them in that book. And guess what, my friends started reading it too, and I remember one day I found that wasn't on my bed because apparently a lot of my hostel mates had taken a liking to it. I also read Shiva Trilogy and it quickly became my favourite book series of all time. I still remember I skipped classes for 2-3 days just to read those books. I read Premashram by Premchand, Harry Potter and the half-blood prince, Angels and Demons and the entire Lord of The Rings series during those two years. In short, books were my best friends like they always have been.

It's like what Dumbledore said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live".


Prime Academy was our coaching faculty hired by Dakshana and they had an exceptional team of faculty, graduates from IITs, who had years of experience in teaching. It all started really great for us compared to our seniors. We had great teachers, we had all the books we needed, and most importantly, we had time. 

 However, after 6 months when everything was going well,  one of the physics teachers left. So we did face some difficulties later on, especially in 12th when only two teachers were handling both theory and doubts. But overall, we had one of the best teachers who taught the concepts very well and helped us with any doubts we had. 

Our coaching classes used to start at 10 and would continue till 1:30. The classrooms (for 11th 12th Dakshana students) were in a separate location, a little away from the JNV Pune classrooms.

Afterwards, we were free to do what we want. I used to study for around 4-5 hours, mostly in the hostel as it wasn't compulsory for us to go to the class to study. I liked the comfort of staying in the hostel, studying for an hour or two and then taking a break in between to take a nap. Every day, I went to bed early at 10-10:30 and woke up early at 6 and study. 

All days can't be similar. There were days (although few) when I didn't feel like studying anything. But there were also days where I was extra motivated and have read for 12-15 hours. So, it balances out. 

A line from Bojack Horseman nicely sums it up.

Sometimes, even an hour or two per day was enough. Especially if you've attended all the classes and know the concepts. Otherwise, studying for even 10 hours a day wouldn't be sufficient. But I always made sure that I was going along with the syllabus and we had enough time before JEE Mains and Advance to revise the entire course for all three subjects.

Also, Saturday-Sundays were like a stress reliever for us. Because these two days we get to watch the TV. TV hours were Saturday night 9-11, and Sunday 10 am to 8 pm. Some of us never missed those hours. It felt so great and fresh after studying for the entire week. 

From our class, 9 students, including me, got admission in IIT Bombay. 5 in Electrical, 1 Mechanical, 2 Chemical and 1 Aerospace. Other IITs like IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Dhanbad, IIT Bhu, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee had 2-3 students from our class. 

That's mostly it. Looking back, it was a good experience.

Dakshana earlier used to select students only from the JNVs and they were given coaching at the selected JNVs. But now they also provide non-JNVs students with a chance to be a Dakshana scholar and give them 1-year coaching at their own campus at Anand Valley in Pune which has much better facilities compared to JNVs.

With the support from generous donors around the world and more and more Dakshana alumni passing out from top institutes, Dakshana Foundation has a really bright future ahead and will continue to empower intelligent kids who lack the required resources to help them achieve their dreams. I'm sure it will open new centres in India so that they can take in more students which might not be possible at the moment.

If you believe in this cause and want to contribute to Dakshana's vision, you can donate on their website using this link -

If you're a JEE/NEET aspirant reading this ( preferably a 10th class student) and want to be a Dakshana scholar, I hope it has helped you know more about Dakshana. If you want any more information, I suggest you visit their website - to know about the GDST test and how to prepare for it. You might also find past GDST papers online to help you understand the type of questions asked in the exam.

You can also write in the comment section and I will try my best to help you in your journey. 



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