May 28, 2009

Not joined any other

The IIT Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) results are out. Which means it's time for one of my favourite distractions from my usual trade of thumb-twiddling. You guessed it: looking at the ads issued by various coaching class outfits, each one claiming great success for their students, each one claiming the top rankers are their students.

It was easy, this time. Two days ago (May 26), the front page of the Hindustan Times carried an ad from one of these outfits, FIITJEE. The ad was a facsimile of a handwritten letter from the young man who topped the JEE this year, one Nitin Jain of Faridabad, with his photograph.

His letter was printed again in a full page ad on the front page of HT today (May 28), alongside one from one Prashanth V, who ranked #5.

Congratulations and such like to Nitin Jain and Prashanth V.

That out of the way, here are some lines from Nitin's letter:

"My result is the consequence of dedicated work of my teachers at FIITJEE, school, parents and my own hard work. ... I can say without hesitation that had I not joined FIITJEE and joined some other institute, it would have been difficult to get a rank in top 10. ... Don't confuse yourself with multiple programs. ... I had not joined any program of any other institute. I owe my AIR 1 to FIITJEE only."

Fulsome praise for FIITJEE, and that's only part of it.

Today's DNA also carries a full page front page ad about JEE results. This is from a rival institute, Aakash. "3617 Aakashians selected in IIT-JEE 2009", it says. First among those 3617 is, you guessed it, Nitin Jain. Complete with "AIR 1st Rank" and his photo, and his Aakash roll number.

The same Nitin Jain who wrote the FIITJEE letter. The same Nitin Jain who said "I had not joined any program of any other institute."

So what's going on, FIITJEE and Aakash and Nitin Jain? Whose student was this young man, really?

Something is going on, that's for sure. Recall I mentioned that Nitin's letter first appeared in HT on Tuesday, and was repeated today. The quotes above are from the Tuesday letter. I thought it was the same letter that got printed today, but it isn't. While it says essentially the same stuff, and has all that appeared on Tuesday, today's letter is a longer one, and in some respects an angrier one too. Here are some relevant lines from this more recent letter (most of which did not appear on Tuesday):

"I want to make it very clear that I had not joined any program of any other institute. Some institutes even go to extent of going to residences of students and give them some problem sets and programs for free and get them to fill forms and take photographs. I am writing this in order to ensure that no institute should claim any student's results without contributing significantly. Students must check the authenticity of the results of institutes as many unscrupulous institutes claim any student without any contribution. ... I owe my AIR 1 to FIITJEE only."

So again, what's going on? How is Nitin Jain's result claimed by two different institutes? If he claims via FIITJEE that "had not joined any program of any other institute", what is his photo, name, and roll number doing in Aakash's ad? What happened between Tuesday and Thursday?

Want to see all this stuff for yourself, do you?

OK: You will find Nitin's Thursday FIITJEE letter, as well as Prashanth's, on the FIITJEE website, here. Warning: Either increase the font size on your browser, or use a microscope. Sorry, for now I don't have Nitin's Tuesday letter.

The Aakash website has Nitin Jain's photo and rank prominently displayed on the left of the page. Clicking on it downloads a PDF (400+ KB) containing Nitin's Aakash "Admission Form", filled in his handwriting on 12/10/08, signed by him exactly as he signed the FIITJEE letters. Also in the PDF is his school-leaving marksheet and some other certificates.

What was that about "I had not joined any other program of any other institute"?

What is going on? Tell us, FIITJEE. Tell us, Aakash. Tell us, Nitin Jain, you who came first across this vast land, you who are about to enter one of our finest universities.

Are there questions to ask here about the way we educate our children? All kinds of questions? Tell me.


I wrote on much the same lines last year: Mine, Mine!.

On another note: the same Aakash ad in DNA also has small photographs of about 50 of the 100 top rankers in JEE. i.e. Aakash claims all these were its students. What's striking about these 50 mugshots is that, as far as I can tell, only two are girls.


Anonymous said...

My guess is that the Akash Institute guy went to Nitin's house and probably offered them some gift/enticement to fill that form. They somehow identified him before hand. (Someone inside of FIT JEE may have tipped Akash about Nitin being a possible top ranker based on his test performances.)

All kinds of smart people (of all ages) fill in info to get a chance to win at something and get a free gift. So I would not hold it against Nitin that he filled that form. I don't think when he filled that form he realized how it will be used.

The above is all speculation on my part; but that is most likely what happened.

Anonymous said...

> I would not hold it against
> Nitin that he filled that form.

sure, maybe you're right. hes a young guy, after all, prob'ly surrounded by sharks.

but how to explain his this statements: "I want to make it very clear that I had not joined any program of any other institute. Some institutes even go to extent of going to residences of students and give them some problem sets and programs for free and get them to fill forms and take photographs."

how did he say those things?

SloganMurugan said...

truth ends fun in advertising

Suresh said...


Multiple "tutorial" classes claiming the same successful candidate is nothing new. If you trawl through past newspapers, you'll find more such "evidence." Not that it justifies the practice.

What is noteworthy and saddening is that after all these years, the number of quality educational institutions is so small that parents are willing to pay large sums of money to these coaching classes just to increase their wards' chances of being successful in the IIT (or the corresponding medical) entrance exams. If I had time, perhaps I could make an estimate of the economic contribution of the IITs to the national economy, not through their research, but through their support of all these myriad coaching classes. It's not exactly small: from what I read, they contribute significantly to the economy of Kota in Rajasthan.

Note also that since coaching appears more-or-less mandatory for all but the very best, the system is inherently unequal. The rich parents can afford to send their wards to these costly coaching classes but not the poor parents. This is not something usually realized, or even if realized, mostly passed over in silence.

I hope the new HRD minister realizes the need for quality institutions and sees fit to encourage private funding by lessening the bureaucratic nightmare. I also hope that he (it is he, I think?) allows more institutional autonomy for existing public educational institutions particularly in setting fees, hiring faculty and also choosing their own heads. Why the HRD ministry should be involved in choosing the VC of, say, Delhi U or JNU is beyond me. For that matter, why our beloved government is involved in teaching film making (FTII) or fashion technology(!) (NIFT) is beyond me also. [Our governments can't provide decent basic education - the middle class and even the poor opt for private schools whenever they can - but yes, fashion technology is very important.]

I'm not at all hopeful but let's see.

Chitta said...

IIT topper's father sets the record straight

New Delhi: Topping exams can come with its own set of perils. And who better to vouch for it than Nitin Jain, the all India topper of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for IITs.

A day after the JEE results were declared on Monday, two top coaching institutes -- FIITJEE and Aakash Institute -- came out with full-page advertisements in national dailies vying for the title of having coached 17-year-old Nitin.

But Nitin's father NC Jain dismissed Aakash Institute's claim, saying: "Nitin was never enrolled with Aakash. A representative of the institute had come to our house last year and gave books for free to Nitin, which were never used. Nitin was enrolled with the FIITJEE's 2-year classroom coaching programme."

But JC Chowdhury, MD, Aakash Institute said: "We have the documents to prove that Nitin was enrolled with us in our distance-learning programme. We have even printed the enrollment form with Nitin's signature in our advertisements. They are making these claims under pressure from our competitors. Probably, they have been paid to do so."
But Nitin's family has a different story to tell about the enrollment form.

"Last year, when this person from Aakash gave the books for free he asked Nitin to fill up an acceptance form. The so-called enrollment form that is now being flashed in the ads is the same form," Nitin's father said.

Nitin, who will represent the country in the International Physics Olympiad in Mexico in July, said the institute had also featured Gopi Sivakanth, who stood third in the JEE, in their ads. "But when I spoke to him he denied having enrolled with Aakash," Nitin said.
Chowdhury said the allegations made by the Jains were "malicious propaganda". He said if the Jains did not issue a denial he would take legal recourse.

Anonymous said...

Let me add in continuation to what is already assumed that the form was wrongly got signed, I also accept the point and as for why they gifted any boy free books, it very clear which nobody of you noticed, guys his class 10th marksheet which is on aakash website shows that THE BOY HAS SECURED 100 OUT OF 100 IN MATHEMATICS which itself is a precursor for a topper in making.