The Curious Case of Coaching in Kota: Home to the Best Engineering & Medical Coaching Institutes
Prayers scribbled by engineering & medical aspirants on the walls of the Radha Krishna temple in Talwandi, Kota. " Oh God, please get me admission in an IIT and in AIIMS for my brother. And keep my parents happy" goes a prayer. Image courtesy: catchnews.com
Ask anyone preparing to get into one of the IITs about Kota and the chances are nil that they won't have heard of the place. Situated 250 kms south of Jaipur, Kota is the 3rd most populous city in Rajasthan which has now become synonymous with the word "coaching" for everyone in India. Students aspiring to get into the best medical colleges and engineering institutes are known to make a beeline for Kota. The small town in south-west Rajasthan is teeming with more than 1.5 lakh medical and engineering aspirants who account for one-tenth of its total population.
Also read: List of best engineering coaching institutes in India
History behind Kota - the coaching hub of India
The man who started it all - VK Bansal, a mechanical engineer with JK synthetics, who started teaching as an alternate career option, after muscular dystrophy retricted him to a wheelchair. Image courtesy: Mayank Rathi, quora.com
The answer includes a mix of history and pure economics. Till the 90s, Kota was struggling as an industrial city and the final nail on the coffin came with the closing of various units of JK Synthetics in 1997 due to financial problems. Vinod Kumar (VK) Bansal, a mechanical engineer employed with JK Synthetics had already started looking for an alternative career and began tutoring class 7 students in 1981 and gradually started taking in class 10 & 12 students as well. He tasted success in 1985 when his first student "cracked" the IIT-JEE (no known as JEE Advanced) getting admission into one of the hallowed Indian Institutes of Technology. This is how "Bansal Classes" came into being in 1991.
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Also read: Is coaching essential to crack entrance exams?
Later on, faculty from Bansal Classes left to start their own coaching institutes. One such example is RK Verma, an IIT Madras graduate who taught with VK Bansal for a long time, before branching out by setting up his own brand, Resonance. Similarly, other IIT alumni set up shop in Kota to start engineering or medical coaching centres which flourished, thanks to the excellent quality of faculty and the focused approach of these coaching classes. Top medical coaching institutes like Aakash which started off in Delhi and now has 100+ study centres across India, have also established their presence in Kota. Once reliant on its industries, Kota is now a bustling town whose economic revival has been only due to the mushrooming of coaching centres. Which brings us to the main question - why is Kota the best bet for engineering coaching and even medical coaching in India?
As soon as you enter the coaching capital of India, you will be greeted by huge banners, advertisements and hoardings, featuring the "top-rankers" and the "star teachers" of various coaching institutes. Image courtesy: Rakesh Ranjan
Why is the best IIT coaching found in Kota?
This is the classic case of the chicken and egg situation where it becomes difficult to decide whether students flock to Kota because of its success ratio or whether Kota's triumph lies in the fact that the best among the engineering/ medical aspirants head its way to realize their dreams. Nevertheless, here are a few reasons why one gets the best medical coaching and engineering coaching in Kota:
- There are more than 150 coaching institutes in the town that are vying for the best students. Most of them are among the best coaching institutes in India that admit students only after they clear an entrance exam! Imagine the irony - you've got to clear an entrance exam to join a course that again prepares you to clear another entrance exam!
- The entire township revolves around the coaching of students - from paying guest (PG) houses, hostels, affordable eateries that specially cater to the youngsters, dabba (tiffin) system for students, stationery shops and even Psychiatry centres to counsel students. The atmosphere all around is highly competitive and conducive to solely focus on clearing the entrance exam. There is usually minimum scope for distraction, as every student gears up for the rat race.
The true success of the best coaching centres in Kota can be attributed to the faculty who are paid quite well proportionate to the number of "toppers" they can produce from a batch of students. Image courtesy: Rakesh Ranjan
- Kota attracts the best teachers. A sizeable chunk of the teachers in Kota are IITians, who have "been there, done that". The good pay and a challenging work-space are the main motivating factors for them. The top coaching players in town easily pay ₹ 1-2 crores to their best & most experienced faculty while the average salary of a teacher is anywhere between ₹ 20 - 35 lakh. In contrast, professors at IIT barely earn ₹ 12 - 15 lakh annually. Poaching of good teachers is quite common as the best coaching institutes in Kota compete with each other for their star teachers who, when they leave, also take along their best students with them.
- The stakes are high for every student who comes to Kota from all across India. Their parents would have invested a lot for their coaching tuition (more than ₹ 1 lakh annually), hostel fees (anywhere between ₹ 6,000 - 12,000 monthly) & other expenses. The pressure on students to perform is high and indirectly leads to better results as compared to students who prepare for entrance exams from the comfort of their own homes.