Achin Bansal, born into a family of doctors from Kotkapura in Faridkot district, Punjab, will celebrate his number one rank in Indian Institute of Technology—Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) by downing a Patiala peg.
The 17-year-old may get into trouble for that—legally, that is—but his family is keeping an open mind. “We will celebrate in a Punjabi style,” said his father, Rajinder, who runs a hospital in Kotkapura, a town with a population of 100,000.
Achin beat 250,000 candidates to top the IIT-JEE. His rank ensures that he gets to choose among the seven elite IITs, and also the area of engineering he wishes to specialize in. “Computers.” Achin’s reply is pat. “IIT Mumbai”.
The standardized entrance exam for IITs is considered one of the toughest in the country, and tests candidates on their problem-solving skills in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Only about 5,000 students made it, representing an acceptance rate of 2%.
A number of young aspirants, age 15 and above, leave home to live in boot camp-like atmospheres in places such as Kota in Rajasthan, where coaching institutes help them prepare for the exam.
Achin received coaching during his vacations, travelling to Kota by train to attend the well-known Bansal Classes.
He says his school in Kotkapura, the Sadaram Bansal Memorial Senior Secondary School, set up by by his great grandfather, helped motivate him. “My intention was not to top. It was just to get a good rank and get a stream of my choice,” said Achin, who never followed fixed hours of study for the tough exam.
His next challenge: he wants a girlfriend.