Kota, the coaching capital

Written by Kiran Yadav | Updated: Apr 12 2010, 03:32am hrs
The district administration at Kota prefers to introduce the city as The Education City. Given that Kota is now synonymous with coaching institutes for IIT, thats hardly a surprise. Kota Doria and the Kota stone seem to have been well eclipsed by the institutes that now cater to IIT aspirants from all over the country. The government website itself lists no less than 129 institutes, most of them for IIT coaching. And why not, it is an industry in its own right, fuelling the business of student hostels, PG accommodations, dhabas, tiffin centres, book sellers, PCOs, Internet cafes, travel agents and more. Then there are also the conduits who help students take fresh admission in the schools there.

There are more than 200 hostels in Kota, with a capacity of 35 to 75 students each. Almost 80% of the houses here have paying guests, mostly students who have come to the city for coaching, says JK Soni, manager of Vidya Sagar Boys Hostel. Soni says the trend really caught up in the past seven to eight years. He charges Rs 6,500 for a single room and Rs 5,500 for a double-room, all inclusive. Throughout the year his hostel stays pretty much occupied, except for the brief lean season when the students go back home to appear for the IIT entrance. He is now eagerly looking forward to June 15, when the new rush of students will arrive in the city.

Vivek Paliwal is also looking forward to the date. Paliwal, along with his younger brother, opened the Caliber Mess Tiffin Centre in Vigyan Nagar six years back. In the peak season, he supplies over 150 tiffins each day to students in and around his area. I was into an electrical business earlier, which failed. Then we decided to open the tiffin service, as it promised instant returns. By gods grace, this business is flourishing, just like the business of 300-odd tiffin and mess operators in the city, Paliwal says.

Even the hotels in Kota draw their revenues largely from the coaching industry. There are about 60 hotels in Kota with around 2,000 rooms. Last Sunday, Bansals were holding their entrance test and it was impossible to find even a single hotel room vacant in the entire city. Roughly 40,000 students come to Kota each year solely for coaching.

Their parents accompany them for the entrance test to the coaching institute and revisit at the time of admission. The parents visit again to check on their wards. The bottom line is that the coaching industry is the main source of revenue for hotels here, says Abdul Salam Khan, MD, Menal Residency. Khan opened the three-star property in 2001 and has been a witness to the evolving industry. Another new hotel, Madhushree, is about to open shortly, while two other hotel projects are already underway.

Close to four lakh students appeared for the IIT entrance last year. Even by rough and minimal estimates, if anywhere close to half of them (two lakh) across India join coaching for the IIT entrance and pay Rs 50,000 each on an average, the net figure adds up to Rs 1,000 crore! And, Kota has undoubtedly emerged as the capital when it comes to coaching.