Sunday, September 16, 2007

The reality of Sociology in Vajiram

First of all, let me thank you all for giving me an opportunity to share my IAS coaching experience with you. I am not here for doing a social service, nor I feel I have anything superior and special to share compared to rest of my batchmates. I am not here to prove my point either. I am here just to tell you all some empirical realities of IAS coaching in Delhi. Please don't feel I am here to settle any personal score. In fact, writing this blog is not going to affect any of the bourgeoisie shareholders of these institutes. But my mail is certainly going to benefit hundreds and thousands of students who are blindly following the mirage of competence and effectivenes of these institutes. . This blog is quite long, but your patience to read this is definitely going to make you wiser at the end, so that you can take your own independent decisions.

I am a student of M/S Vajiran and Ravi, and took coaching of GS and Sociology during 2005- 06. My name is N Karthiga and I come from a middle class family. I spent Rs 55000 in cash taking from my salary account out of some bare minimum savings that I earned hard during 2 years of my service immediately after completing my degree in Engineering. This is the highest amount we ever paid for our academics. I dreamt of becoming an IAS from the guidance we'd get from your institute, but today I feel I am tremendously betrayed and victimized by what the institute has given me in return.

We are a group of five students and consider it to be entirely unjust on our part to keep you all ignorant about what is happening to the students, and so we have put our foot down today. I am talking about our experience with the Institute's sociology Tutor, Dr. Mahapatra, for whom, we had great respect and esteem while joining the institute. We expected a level of integrity and honesty from a person of his statute, but we are surprisingly horrified to find that as a University Professor, he is corrupt and as a tutor he is dishonest and lacks complete integrity. We know we are harsh with words, may be a kind of misbehaviour as per your standards, but our observation has passed the test of around one and three quarter years, and we have now come to some concrete conclusions that we are going to share with you..

Dr Mahapatra has been bluffing most of the times in the class. As a tutor of sociology for last so many years, we expected him to be at least aware of the pattern of questions asked by UPSC and the subject matter, but neither he is having any idea of the same nor anything worth has ever been asked by UPSC from what he normally teaches in the class. Adding feather on cap of his dishonesty, he claims every year that at least 110 ( !!) out of 120 questions would be asked from what he teaches and 60% of the questions would be from his test papers. However, we just did not find any truth in his hollow claims last year and this year as well. He further claims that 50% of his students have cleared PT. My goodness!!! Out of the students we know, hardly 2 or 3 have really cleared and they have done so on their merit. Rests of them are simply bluffing. That's a fact. We leave it to you whether you believe or not. The absence of any factual data pertaining to how many students have really cleared is of great help to Dr Mahapatra for making false claims. ( Neither the institute nor Dr Mahapatra has the students' roll numbers to find out how many have cleared). We were tolerant to this extent, but then we found, his train of bluffing and bragging doesn't have any end. Before mains, during the classes he took, he claimed that the same questions asked in his test papers would be word to word repeated in the UPSC mains, but leave apart words, not even the content of those questions was matching the questions which were asked in the UPSC exam. One of our friends, who took coaching this year has told me that he has made the same false claims again in the first class. My goodness!!! This is the height of deceiving the students.

We really wonder what moral authority he has to continue as a University Professor? During one of the years, he probably got a chance to set UPSC PT questions. He brings that confidential letter from UPSC every year in the class to show his pride, but in reality, this shows nothing but his lack of commitment and integrity to both the institutions he is serving, the University as well as the Institute.

Now we would like to give you some empirical evidences to substantiate our charges. We know, you are not from Sociology background, so some of the facts you may not appreciate, but these are very vital and important and show how students at large are deceived:

Dr Mahapatra asks each and every student to buy Dictionary of Sociology, by Duncan and Mitchell and a Dictionary of Anthropology. However, our analysis of last 13 years q. papers suggests that these dictionaries are really not required to be read as the questions asked in UPSC are application oriented and not based on any of the nitty- gritties that are asked in his test papers prepares for the student from these dictionaries.

Further, they have more biased towards political science, which is not of much help. There is one another dictionary that pertains more to UPSC kind of concepts on which Dr. Mahapatra has hardly emphasized.

The test papers he gave at the end of the class last year had no questions which could be potentially asked in the UPSC. None of the questions were discussed in the class and the answers had lot many mistakes. Further, he claimed that 60% of those questions would be asked from those questions. Therefore, we spent a lot of time in preparing those question and getting confused. During such a crucial point, Dr Mahapatra was not available to solve our queries as he was busy earning money from the mock interview sessions (and helping us would not fetch him any further money, of course.)

Most of the time, in the class, he wasted our time by telling unnecessary stories from his family, talking about his children's achievements etc which did not have any relevance with the subject matter. To site few examples like his wife has 11 siblings, what his mother in law does when he visits their place etc, and boasting about his family and children.

Dr Mahapatra suffers from tremendous ideological bias. He is biased towards political science and his questions and notes are heavy with political thinkers which are though asked, but rarely in actual UPSC paper. On the other hand, his repulsion from Economics (due to personal or professional reasons) is clearly visible in his lectures and notes on Economic System. Further, his knowledge of applied sociology is very poor, and nowadays, UPSC is asking more and more questions pertaining to the same. Ignorance of the applied portion of sociology costed very dearly to us both in PT and Mains.

Dr Mahapatra has bias towards functionalism. To site an example, he has repeatedly emphasized that Durkheim is a pure functionalist, but reliable sources and texts reveal that he has used and developed the concept of social structure as well, after Herbert Spencer.

Dr Mahaptra didn't cover many vital topics in the class on which 60 mark questions are frequently asked. Some of these topics are population policy, Stratification theory of Wilbert and Moore and its contradiction by Tumin etc. He covered Science and Technology portion of Mains as well as PT in a very unorganized manner and covered a very important topic "Ethos of Science" on which a 60 marker was asked, very hurriedly. The entire chapter of Population Dynamics was willfully ignored on which a 60 mark question was asked. The same happened with the chapter of Social Policy as well, on which again a 60 marker was asked. Thus, we all were very poor in tackling questions of Applied sociology.

Dr Mahapatra seems to have a lot of anthropological bias as well. In the PT classes, he has digressed to a large extent to various anthropological details in the unit "marriage, family and kinship", which are really not in the syllabus and questions hardly asked from them. This bias is mainly because he has studied social anthropology in his alma mater and now is forcibly making us read that as well.

He even suggested such books to study which are not much relevant from examination point of view. For example, he refers a book "Sachadeva and Vidyabhushan" for definitions. Now UPSC has stopped asking questions on definition of common sociological terms like society, community association etc, which this books amply gives and Dr Mahapatra frequently asks in his test papers. However, this book largely misses the applied definitions and viewpoint type questions which UPSC is normally asking. Similar is the case of another book called Shankar & Rao, published by S Chand & Co. We suspect some spurious tie up with the publishers of these books and Dr Mahapatra based on some monetary gains.

Dr Mahapatra utters a lot many cheap jokes and shows gestures while teaching like speaking flawed Hindi etc just to make students laugh. The problem is that he does this frequently as a result of which a lot of time wastage is caused and thus, imp topics like Science and Technology, Indian Population Policy etc on which 60 markers are asked, normally get left out.

The style of question papers he asked in the regular tests is largely different from that of UPSC. Even from the test series he gave this year, we didn't find any question useful.

Now, this was a height of an extreme misguidance, which cannot be expected even from a commoner with some sense of moral values, leave apart an educated professor like Dr Mahapatra. He told the entire class that it is possible to bribe the UPSC clerks to clear PT. After hearing this, who would have faith on the polemics of hard work and rely on one's merit to qualify for this coveted exam? This is clearly spreading of the seeds of corruption.

Friends, in almost all the coaching institutes like that of yours, poor students like we are on the receiving end. We pay hefty sums of money to ultimately get what is really not beneficial for us. But in this case, the teacher himself is taking students for a ride taking advantage of their ignorance and being fresh and first timers. We can always be contacted on our e- mail id

Yours Truly,
N Karthiga and Friends

Vajiram GS: Is it worth

Long Queues for admission in October for GS PCM batch….
A huge crowd gathering around Vajiram and Ravi…..
Astronomical fees, but still people willing to join as it's considered the best institute for GS…

As a student, I encountered the same things two years back when I came from Chennai to Delhi. Though the fees was too high compared to institutes at other places, I joined as everyone said it is the best. But the reality that I faced was totally different what I call as the height of economic, educational and social corruption.
I list down the facts for all the three and leave it to you to decide whether you should join or not.

Economic Corruption:
I wanted to pay by cheque from my salary account of Chennai. Throughout my education, I have paid my fees through cheque. But here, Mr Ravindran, Director refused to accept even a local cheque!!! They accepted only draft or cash. It's very obvious that no one would pay draft as for a figure of around Rs 55000 (GS + Optional), the commission is enormous. So everyone would prefer to pay by cash…. And here is where the corruption starts.

After paying cash, they give you a manual receipt (and not a computerized or printed..). And, they take back this receipt after the commencement of the class in lieu of the identity card that they issue. Thus, students have no proof of any cash payment and clearly, it is the fuelling of black money economy. There is every reason to believe that the money they receive is possibly unaccounted.

The infrastructural facilities there are so bad that it looks like a madhouse. The classes take place in the basement of a building that has been declared unsafe from MCD in view of the building by- laws. That means, it can crumble any time. If it happens, it could be the greatest mishap as there is only one small exit from the class room and no emergency exit there. Plus, being in the basement, there is no ventilation and the situation becomes horrible when the light goes (which normally happens in Delhi) and the AC is switched off. Just imagine… 300 students sitting in a hotch- potch conditions with no ventilation and immense humidity and heat….. Yes,. this is the condition that we faced during almost whole six months. But we tolerated all just with a belief that whatever we were taught was going to be useful. But this too was utter false

Educational Corruption
Now coming to what they teach.. just a minute. Do they really teach? If you think dictating or making you write the material is teaching then yes, they teach. They only make you write and write like a donkey and nothing else, just piling up and making your life difficult. Secondly, in polity, Mr Ravindran dictates at such a fast speed that you end up with a bad hand- writing and not able to read what u wrote finally. And what a stupid reason Ravindran gives… Listen. "Instead of me walking along with you, you start running with me. By the end of the class you will develop speed for mains.". Disgusting. Mains Exam requires a speed of just 16- 18 words per minute. But here, they make you write at a speed of 40 wpm. My goodness…, a good portion of his lectures are often missed by the students.

In almost all the subjects, the material is out of focus. Ravindran teaches polity like Political Science. You just can't figure out what you should write out of his material when a question appears. Finally, he flatly blames the students for not having been able to do so.

Geography starts with Physical Geography. With due respect to Mr Manocha, you can easily figure out after a few class what kind of character he has. He teaches so much of irrelevant physical geography from either mains or prelims point of view that students start getting frustrated after seeing the actual UPSC paper. I bet if you can answer any of the UPSC questions after attending his lectures. The last portions are taken very hurriedly mainly by giving photocopied material.

In history, situation is equally worse. They teach you the entire history without telling you how to tackle the questions. The Modern history teacher reads out the questions in the class but never explains how to answer. He also only makes you write the entire history. But the most dismal issue is- there is no time management in history. The modern History teacher started with Ancient History. When he reached Medieval, another Ancient History Professor started coming. After a few days, a Medieval History teacher started coming and believe me, those were focusless boring lecture. As a result, Modern History teacher took the medieval portions hurriedly and started Modern History. But by that time, it was too late, and he could not cover even upto 1942 properly before the Prelims. He took the rest of the classes after prelims, but what was the use???
In Economy, Kathuria Sir was good in teaching, Historybut I could not find any of his material or questions coming in the Prelims. So what was the use? There was a young teacher called Gangadhar, a highly egoist person who claimed to be an IFS and was taking the agriculture and external sector in Indian economy. It was hopeless beyond even expectations.

There was not even a single current affairs class before prelims . How pathetic!! when the area covers 50% of the GS prelim paper.

It is my objective assessment that in no subject of GS, there is any outstanding teaching . I simply wasted my money but the more precious things that I wasted were my time and energy which I can never recover back.

Social Corruption
Now a question arises, why at all the students take admission in Vajiram inspite of poor infrastructural facilities and astronomical fees? The place is situated in a crowded market and there is no reading room either.

Plus, the local population there is the migrants from North East frontier who came here during partition. Needless to say, in the absence of the institute providing any accommodation facilities, we have to stay as renters in the local people's premises at their mercy Needless to say, they charge exorbitant rents and their behaviour towards outsiders especially south Indians is very exploiting and discriminatory.
Inspite of that, I chose to stay there for six terrible months with a hope that I am doing a good job for my career.

I mugged up each and every word that I wrote in the class notes and the questions they had given. But to my utter discontent , not even a single direct question came from their notes. I am not exaggerating. It's a fact. The result was, I, along with many, could not clear PT- 2006. There was hopelessness and despair all around.
Now let me bluntly raise a point. Most of the students go there with a hope that the questions they give are 'important' from prelims point of view and the questions asked in UPSC are based on what they teach. THIS IS TOTALLY FALSE BEYOND ANY DOUBT.

And finally, the behaviour of their staff is too indifferent, insensitive and pathetic. there is no direct number where you can call and get Mr Ravindran and the staff is normally reluctant to transfer line to him In these two years, I could never get Mr Ravindran on telephone. Just the way you have to meet a bureaucrat, you have to wait in a long queue of students to meet him and yes, his attitude is also truly bureaucratic in nature
So friends, you all must be thinking who I am and why I am doing this negative publicity of an institute. Well folks, I am an unsuccessful 2006 candidate who cleared prelims this year and writing mains this October- November. I do not intend to create any negative publicity of Vajiram. I just want to warn the students of the consequences I faced.

I am also not an agent of any other coaching institute. Otherwise, I'd have made some positive publicity of that institute as well. I am just a simple individual, who treats IAS aspirants a community. And if you can spend some time and energy in writing this blog without any monetary cost, what's the harm? I have anyways wasted thousands of hrs in hopeless classes and millions of Joules of energy already.

So folks, if you have a lot of money, time and energy to waste and you are not serious in clearing prelims in one attempt, then
Please Join Vajiram
N Karthiga