Rajasthan, the biggest state of modern India has been historically famous for its military entrepreneurship. From the beginning of the 16th century, many famous Rajasthani kings like Himu, Rana Hamir Singh, Rana Kumbha and Rana Pratap protected this land from waves of foreign invasions. However, after independence, the state has lagged behind in many of the developmental indices like literacy, life expectancy at birth and access to safe drinking water. But the situation is changing rapidly.
Kota, an old city of Rajasthan is at the epi-centre of the Rajasthani entrepreneurial wave. It has evolved as a quality education centre, providing preparatory assistance for medical and engineering entrance examinations. The city is now known as the ‘coaching capital of India.’ How has this been possible in a state where the average literacy rate is below national average? The answer lies in some brilliant entrepreneurial work.
Two independent efforts in the 1980s can be traced to the present tutorial fame of this city. Rajesh Maheshwari had been an efficient mathematics tutor in Kota. But at that time, students in Kota had to attend different tutorials for different subjects. It was Maheshwari who first thought that bringing four different science tutors under one roof would be helpful for students. He first shared this idea with his brother Brajesh Maheswari, who was a physics tutor. The brothers later spoke to KG Baishnav, a popular chemistry tutor and PB Saxena who was a well-known biology tutor. They all agreed to start a coaching centre in 1988. The centre that was initially called Laxmi Narayan changed its name to Allen later.
The centre founded by the Maheshwari brothers quickly gained popularity among students. In 1995, several of their students secured high positions in the state’s engineering entrance examination and that increased the popularity of this coaching centre.
The second effort involved (Name) Bansal who was an IIT graduate. Bansal had worked as an engineer before he took to tutoring IIT aspirants. In 1996, a significant number of his students were successful in cracking the IIT entrance examinations. These two incidents helped to popularize the city as a coaching hub and its fame spread beyond Rajasthan and within few years, the city became the ‘coaching capital of India’. It is interesting that not a single pioneering tutor was a permanent teacher of any school or college. Each one was an independent private tutor. As the words spread, more and more of such tutorials cropped up in the city. Some of them became very big institutes, catering to hundreds of students.
The success rate
The success rate is not quite clear. This is because different institutions project it differently. Generally, students come to Kota to prepare for national institutes. The percentage of successful students from Kota is good but not as impressive as it is often projected to be.
Sources in Allen informed that almost 25% of the successful students cracking the important engineering and medical entrances in India are from Kota. Kota students not only target IITs but also NIITs, state medical and engineering colleges and even science departments of well-known colleges of the country.
But while talking to students from different institutes in Kota, it could be well understood that success depended on the quality of students. The method of teaching is an important factor but comes second. Most of the students informed that the institutes academically screen them at the onset and then arrange classes accordingly. They also stated that institutes provide intensive coaching to the section that they find most promising as the fame of the institute depends on the number of successful students.
The method selecting teachers
Some of the institutes appoint pass outs of IITs, medical colleges, science graduates and the like as their faculty. They are then trained for teaching. The training may continue for two years before they are sent to take classes. Students are encouraged to review the performance of teachers. The good teachers are remunerated well. Teachers are also expected to guide promising students on a one-to-one basis. These institutes often offer financial concessions to promising economically marginalised students. Many state governments recommend good students fully free of cost.
Kota provides added attraction to those students who come from remote parts of the country that lack tutorial facilities targeted at medical and engineering entrances. It must also be stated that not all students in Kota become successful.
Many fall ill in frustration and some even commit suicide. But in spite of everything, it is noteworthy that Kota has emerged as a coaching hub in India which is a bright symbol of Rajasthani entrepreneurship.