Get to the Top

Coaching and poaching in a Rajasthani city transformed by the business of aspiration

01 April 2012

IN KOTA, EVEN THE ROADSIDE litter tells stories. Leaflets and shreds of leaflets are all over the place. In a deserted public garden, just below a bust of the revolutionary martyr Chandrashekhar Azad, I picked up one forlorn sheet, soggy with morning dew and streaked with mud. It was an advertisement for Gautam Institute, complete with a picture of Mr M Gautam, resplendent in a pink suit straight out of a 1970s Bollywood multi-starrer, bent ever so slightly at the waist, hands clasped earnestly, urging you to “Join NEW BATCH for Calculus & Coordinate”.

On the side of a nearby road, another leaflet, from “Er Rakesh Rathi Sir (Exp 15 years)”, promises that the “guidance you will receive” from him “will help you to improve your Rank exponentially”. Yet another, aimed at “11th to 12th Moving Students”, offers instruction in physics from one G Joshi Sir. To help persuade these Moving Students, the back of the pale blue-gray sheet has four physics problems (“A particle of mass m moves in the potential energy …”) along with their worked-out solutions.

A town and its USP, in these crumpled bits of paper.

Dilip D'Souza  has won several awards for his writing, including the Outlook/Picador prize. His most recent book is Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America.

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